By Nikki Bayley
Just 20 minutes away by transit from downtown Vancouver, Richmond has an abundance of ethnic cuisines and is recognized the world over as being one of the best places to sample Chinese food– much of which can be found in the small strip malls and shopping malls dotted around the city. Don’t be put off by the inevitable language barrier and lack of English menus, adventurous foodies will be rewarded if they go exploring. Just follow the advice of former Sai Woo chef, Keev Mah who is one of the city’s finest chefs and a serious Richmond food court fan. Go ahead and try his top five places to eat.
Lai Leung Kee Noodle House
The Empire Mall, 4540 No. 3 Road
What to eat: Braised Beef Brisket with Hor Fun.
“This is a strip mall opposite Chef Tony restaurant, a Cantonese place that’s been getting a lot of buzz and good reviews, and inside the mall, you’ll find a small food court which has a Hong Kong-style cafe, a barbecue place and a chicken place; my favorite thing here is the noodles. Ask for the braised beef brisket with hor fun, their ‘pushcart noodles.’ In Hong Kong they used to have independent street vendors selling these inexpensive noodle dishes with braised meat, veggies, seafood or offal. They make a good version of the ‘cart noodles’ here and it’s really cheap and tasty.”
President Plaza Mall, 8181 Cambie Rd.
What to eat: Tianjin wrap
“I like the crêpe that they have here called the Jian Bing, Tianjin style. If you travel in China, most cities will have a version of this, it’s millet and bean flour with eggs and a sweet kind of bean sauce like you have on Peking duck, plus hot sauce, a little cilantro and inside there’s a crispy cracker. Every city does it a little differently and that’s the surprise in this one. It looks like a won ton wrapper but they make it themselves and it’s got a really nice texture. It’s a classic Chinese breakfast and eaten by millions of people every day, but you don’t see it here, it complements well with their hot and savoury tofu.”
Central Square, 4231 Hazelbridge Way
What to eat: Pineapple Bun
“There’s always a line up here, it’s a very popular Hong Kong-style cafe where they do a few western-style items and Cantonese as well. The milk tea is very good, but everyone comes for their ‘pineapple’ bun (which has no pineapple in it, it’s called that because its sugary checkered top looks like pineapple skin.) In the Lido, everything is in Chinese so you’ll need to ask for an English menu if you eat in, but you can stop by and get an oven-fresh pineapple bun with a thick slab of butter to take away. Sugar, butter, fat, it’s so good!”
Aberdeen Mall, 4151 Hazelbridge Way
What to eat: Hainanese chicken
“This is one of the largest malls in Richmond and the Canada Line connects right to it so you can just walk off the train and it’s right there. You’ll need to bring cash as they don’t accept cards here, but Cafe Delight does a great boneless Hainanese chicken. It’s very tasty and consistently good, it’s quite a light meal, the chicken is aromatic and savoury, It’s lightly poached and it comes with ‘oil rice’ which is cooked with some of the chicken fat and chicken broth which makes it so delicious!”
Fresh Meat and BBQ Shop
Parker Place, 4380 No. 3 Road
What to eat: Roast Pork
“The barbecue here is wonderful, they have amazing roast pork. They roast the whole pig and do it in a very authentic spit-style technique. You can order whole suckling pigs from them, if you want. When you get to the counter they’ll ask if you want lean or fat, I always get half and half roast pork that gives you the best of both worlds. The crackling is best eaten immediately.”