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By Brittany Tiplady

When visiting a new city, choosing where to eat can be a daunting task, especially when the options are abundant! Metro Vancouver has an incredible amount of culinary options to enjoy, so, why not book a food tour and let your guide make the restaurant selections for you?

Don’t know where to start? If you’re in the mood for fantastic Asian cuisine (Metro Vancouver has no shortage of that!) check out this list of tours available in Metro Vancouver.

A Wok Around Food Tours

Robert Sung’s guided food tours are unparalleled. Mr Sung is a third-generation Chinese Canadian who was raised in BC’s food hospitality industry–his family has been involved the industry for over 70 years. As a member of the  Chinese-Canadian Historical Society of BC and a current member of the Vancouver Chinatown Revitalization Committee, Sung has a wealth of local, culinary, and cultural knowledge.

A Wok Around Food Tours offers guided culinary and walking tours of both Vancouver’s historic Chinatown and the colourful, hustle and bustle of Granville Island.

Richmond’s Dumpling Trail

Okay, it’s not actually a trail of dumplings, but it’s pretty close! For those who like to keep their food tours independent, this one is for you. The Dumpling Trail maps out a carefully curated selection of 20 restaurants “serving up some of the most delectable dumplings this side of the Pacific.” Download the Dumpling Trail map directly from their website and set sail on a delicious self-guided expedition. Stretchy pants highly recommended.

Vancouver Dim Sum Chinatown Tour

If you’ve been wanting to do Dim Sum in Vancouver but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. For $75, Canadian Craft Tour guides will take you on a guided tour adventure to some of Vancouver’s best hidden gems. Sample dishes like har-gow (delicious steamed shrimp dumplings, packed with flavour), char sui (white and fluffy steam buns stuffed with BBQ pork or vegetables), xiao long bao (steamed dumpling with pork and broth filling (think inside-out wonton), and sweet egg tarts to top it all off. Vancouver’s Chinatown is the largest in Canada, so why not take the time to learn more about its rich history, and vibrant cuisine?

Vancouver Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Tour

West Coasters are fortunate to dine on some of the best Japanese food in the country. Dating as far back as 1877 when the first immigrants arrived to the West Coast, the traditions have grown from small fishing villages to complex and distinguished high-end restaurants.

Canadian Craft Tours also offers a Japanese cuisine and sushi walking tour through downtown Vancouver’s incredible selection of Japanese restaurants. Drink pairing options are available with Sake, beer, and cocktails all on the menu! Book this one for only $25 per person.

Vancouver Food Tours Modern Chinatown Tasting Tour

Vancouver Food Tours are offering a modern spin on the traditional Chinatown food tour. Warning: this experience doesn’t cover the more traditional restaurants in Chinatown, so prep your palate for some fusion-fare. Take a tour through the new offerings popping up Vancouver’s growing Chinatown, while drinking, and dining to your heart’s content and learning about what’s new just east and west of Main Street. This $115 guided tour includes four courses and drink pairings at each location.

Photo credit: Tourism Richmond

By VisitRichmondBC.com

If you feel like eating some of the best Asian food available but don’t have a car, don’t worry! You can hop on the Canada Line Skytrain, Metro Vancouver’s fully-automated rapid transit line that connects travelers to Richmond’s diverse culinary scene. Bring your appetites because this easy-to-navigate self-guided tour is bound to fill you up!

Richmond Brighouse Station

Located in the heart of Richmond city centre, Brighouse is the first stop on the Canada Line, and it’s also where our tour begins. Your self-guided food tour begins at Pepper Lunch (150-5951 No. 3 Road). With over 200 branches in Asia, this particular Pepper Lunch was the first one to open in Canada. To get there, head for a leisurely stroll north along No. 3 Road for about 1.5 blocks towards Westminster Highway. Located on the west side of the street, you’ll find Pepper Lunch tucked away beside a TD Canada Trust. Shake, stir, mix – it’s that easy to enjoy a sizzling hot teppan plate of steaks, pastas or curry rice. We recommend the beef pepper rice combo ($11.70), which comes with miso soup and your choice of drink. Definitely a stop worth checking out!

Beef Pepper Rice at Pepper Lunch | image by Tourism Richmond
Beef Pepper Rice at Pepper Lunch | image by Visit Richmond BC

Lansdowne Station

Taking the Canada Line one stop north, Lansdowne Station is the second stop on the rapid transit line. Located just in front of one of Richmond’s many excellent shopping destinations, Lansdowne Centre, this particular station is also the one closest to Alexandra Road, which locals refer to as ‘Food Street.’

Food Street | image by Tourism Richmond
Food Street | image by Visit Richmond BC

To get to Food Street, simply head north on No. 3 Road for two blocks, and turn right at Alexandra Road. Known for having over 200 Asian restaurants in a stretch of just three blocks, Alexandra Road has a restaurant for every taste. From dim sum to afternoon tea, to ramen and late night snacks, there’s a restaurant that serves every kind of Asian food imaginable here.

It’s easy to let your taste buds wander here on this three-block stretch, but here are our top two picks for Food Street for a complete meal. Our biggest tip: Bring cash! A lot of the restaurants on Food Street will only accept cash payments instead of debit or credit.

Vivacity Restaurant
110 – 8351 Alexandra Road

Vivacity Restaurant aims to give their diners an experience they won’t forget! Using only the freshest local ingredients, Vivacity offers a dazzling array of dishes for dim sum and dinner services. Featuring Chinese classics with a twist from the co-owner and chef, David Li, Vivacity promises to delight your taste buds. We recommend the char-siu bao, the oyster and century egg congee and their shrimp rice rolls for dim sum.

Bingsoo at Snowy Village Desserts | image by Tourism Richmond
Bingsoo at Snowy Village Desserts | image by Visit Richmond BC

Snowy Village Desserts
2000 – 8580 Alexandra Road

Snowy Village specializes in a photogenic sweet treat that has been dominating locals’ Instagram feeds and fueling their sugar cravings recently. Bingsoo, a Korean shaved ice dessert is the current ‘it’ dessert and a must-eat item. At Snowy Village, when you order a bingsoo, staff pile a metal bowl with a tower of creamy shaved ice that has the texture of fluffy snow. Your snowdrift-in-a-bowl is then crowned with your choice of toppings – mango, strawberry, blueberry, injelomi (sweet rice cake), matcha, oreo, chocolate or cheesecake. Bring a friend – a small size is enough to share for two people!

Aberdeen Station

The next stop on the Canada Line is Aberdeen Station, also known as the centre of Richmond’s thriving Golden Village. Richmond’s three Asian malls, Aberdeen Centre, Yaohan Centre and Parker Place Mall are all within easy walking distance from here.

Don’t be afraid to poke your head into the various strip malls found in the neighbourhood – you’ll find Lido Restaurant (4231 Hazelbridge Way) hidden away in a corner at Central Square, on the corner of Browngate Road and Hazelbridge. Try one of their famous pineapple buns – a delectable Chinese pastry without any actual pineapple – with a slab of butter… or double butter, if you dare.

Aberdeen Centre food court | image by Tourism Richmond
Aberdeen Centre food court | image by Visit Richmond BC

After indulging in one of Lido’s famous pineapple buns, walk off those calories at Aberdeen Centre (4151 Hazelbridge Way), Richmond’s largest Asian mall. Still feeling hungry? Head on up to the food court located on the third floor of the mall. Here, you’ll find a huge variety of food stalls serving everything from Chinese street-food snacks such as curry fish balls and bubble waffles, to Singaporean delights such as Hainanese Chicken Rice and Japanese dishes such as sushi and ramen. Wash it all down with a Hong Kong-style iced lemon tea. For more food options, you could also check out the two food courts at Parker Place and Yaohan Centre.

Bridgeport Station

Your tour of Richmond via the Canada Line ends at Bridgeport Station. Not to be mistaken with Brighouse Station where your tour began, this station is the connection point for all trains heading for the Vancouver International Airport or for folks heading to downtown Vancouver.

Head over to the River Rock Casino Resort (8811 River Road) via the skybridge at the station to enjoy The Buffet at River Rock. Located above the casino floor, The Buffet treats guests to a spectacular view of the Fraser River. Offering everybody’s favourite dishes, it has become a popular dining spot for special occasions, resort guests and casino-goers.

Satay at the Richmond Night Market | image by Chung Chow for Tourism Richmond
Satay at the Richmond Night Market | image by Chung Chow for Visit Richmond BC

At night, walk over from the station to the Richmond Night Market (8351 River Road). Follow the bright signs and look for the tents – that’s where you’ll find one of Richmond’s Asian night markets with over 100 food stalls serving everything from Asian street food snacks to inventive desserts, such as the egg waffle parfait. Our top food stall picks at the night market include Chef James’ Meat Skewers, Ohana Poke (pictured at the top of this page), Hurricane Potatoes and Lao Er BBQ Squid. Admission is $3.75 and it’s open on weekends and holiday Mondays this summer through to October 10.

Canada Line in Richmond | image by Al Harvey for Tourism Richmond
Canada Line in Richmond | image by Al Harvey for Visit Richmond BC

By Alexis Baran

Coastal and multicultural are the flavours of Vancouver’s most recognized specialties. To get to know the unique bites (and sips) Vancouverites love to munch, start with these eleven favorites:

JapaDog

Vancouver’s original most-talked-about food cart serves Japanese-inspired hotdogs. Bask in the salty, sweet, and spicy tastes of seaweed flakes, teriyaki sauce, miso, wasabi and kimchi. There are multiple locations in downtown Vancouver, including an indoor location at 530 Robson.

Japadog | Photo: are you gonna eat that | Flickr
Japadog | Photo: are you gonna eat that | Flickr

B.C. Rolls

British Columbia’s signature sushi roll is done in many ways, but the one consistent ingredient is grilled savoury and chewy salmon skin. Get them at just about any sushi joint in Vancouver.

B.C. Rolls | Photo: Leila Kwok
B.C. Rolls | Photo: Leila Kwok

Coffee

Busy Vancouverites are often particular about their favorite liquid pick-me-up, and love their pour-overs and flavoured espresso drinks. Some local chains to try are Milano Coffee, 49th Parallel, and JJ Bean. But don’t forget the many cozy independent shops to be found who take their coffee very seriously. Try soy or almond milk to replace traditional milk and cream at almost any place you find – dairy-free options are standard here!

Coffee | Photo: protographer23 | Flickr
Coffee | Photo: protographer23 | Flickr

Salmon Candy

B.C. smoked salmon glazed with maple syrup or local honey is smokey, salty, sweet, and impossible to stop eating once you’ve started. If you want to save some as a gift for family back home, make sure you get a little extra for yourself – more than you thought you needed even, It is seriously addictive! You can find it at Granville Island Public Market and Fish Counter on Main Street.

Salmon Candy | Photo: Carol M Chan
Salmon Candy | Photo: Carol M Chan

Spot Prawns

These beautiful pink creatures are large, sweet shrimp fished in the waters surrounding Vancouver in the month of May. Most fine restaurants in Vancouver serve fresh prawns when available, such as Yew at the Four Seasons Hotel, and the annual Spot Prawn Festival is held every year on Granville Island.

Spot Prawns | Photo: West Restauraunt
Spot Prawns | Photo: West Restauraunt

West Coast Oysters

West coast oysters are a taste of the freshness of the ocean itself. Kumamoto, Kusshi, and Fanny Bay are some of our local varieties, and oyster houses will have a variety to try, along with knowledgeable servers who can recommend a type for every taste. Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House, Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, and Merchants Oyster Bar are excellent places to start.

Oysters | Photo: Joe Fortes
Oysters | Photo: Joe Fortes

Dungeness Crab

Large meaty crabs are harvested along the west coast, and trapping them yourself for dinner is a local pastime, but you don’t need to get in the water to enjoy them in many local restaurants. Some great places to try Dungeness Crab are Blue Water Café & Raw Bar or Hawksworth.

Indigenous Cuisine

Salmon, fiddleheads, elk, and other native west coast foods make for a warm and hearty meal. Indigenous foods are proof that the land was rich with delicious ingredients and diverse flavours long before we called it “Vancouver.” One place to try it is Salmon n’Bannock Bistro.

First Nations Cuisine | Photo: Degan Walters
First Nations Cuisine | Photo: Degan Walters

Chinese Cuisine and Dim Sum

Richmond, where the native Chinese languages-speaking population is over 40%, is considered to have some of the best Chinese food outside of China. In Vancouver, you can get a taste in Chinatown. Places such as Floata Seafood Restaurant serve excellent dim sum as well as a variety of traditional and modern dishes.

Chinese Cuisine and Dim Sum | Photo: Tourism Richmond
Chinese Cuisine and Dim Sum | Photo: Tourism Richmond

Japanese Ramen and Izakaya

There are few things cozier than tucking into a steaming bowl of ramen, or gathering with friends and sharing hot sake and a table full of various izakaya dishes. Izakaya is a tradition originating from sake shops in the Edo period (1603-1867) where customers could sit down for drinks and bites. Today in Vancouver, izakaya is a range of diverse Japanese bites with a flourish of Japanese spirit -infused beverages. You can find it all over Vancouver, but particularly in the West End neighbourhood, at places such as Kingyo on Denman.

Izakaya | Photo: Kingyo on Denman
Izakaya | Photo: Kingyo on Denman

Famous Cuisine: Vij’s Curry and Tojo’s Sushi

Vikram Vij and Hidekazu Tojo are two of Vancouver’s most iconic chefs, lauded by everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Martha Stewart. Vikram Vij has restaurants in Vancouver and Surrey. Tojo’s is located in West Broadway in Vancouver.

Tojo’s | Photo: Leila Kwok
Tojo’s | Photo: Leila Kwok

By Visit Richmond BC

If you haven’t tried dim sum before, think of it as Chinese tapas – irresistible dumplings, noodles and fried snacks – that just happen to be the best way to start the day. Literally translated the expression “dim sum” means “touch the heart,” but to those who love Chinese food, what it really means is tender dumplings, fragrant soups, crispy spring rolls, pillowy steamed buns and savoury bites of braised meat. Dim sum is a parade of small plates usually served between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and a terrific way to explore one of the world’s great cuisines.

The tradition of dim sum originated in the ancient teahouses along the Silk Road in southern China’s Canton province. Travelers would stop for a refreshing cup of tea accompanied with savoury snacks. Back then, the tea was the main point of the meal and still is for many Chinese, which is why they don’t say they’re “going for dim sum,” they “go yum cha,” or “go drink tea.”

One of the best places in Canada to experience dim sum is in Richmond, especially in the city’s many Cantonese restaurants. But whatever region their cuisine hails from, most Chinese restaurants will serve some sort of dim sum, as do Richmond’s food courts and supermarkets.

What you need to know about dim sum (yum cha):

Go early, because the best dim sum restaurants get busy fast and at peak times lineups of more than an hour are not unusual. It is also best to go in groups of at least four so that everyone gets to taste as many nibbles as possible.

When you are seated, a server will bring you a pot of tea, which will typically be a simple jasmine tea unless you ask for something else, such as the sophisticated Iron Buddha, fragrant oolong or “pu-erh,” the dark, musky brew that is definitely an acquired taste. Remember that it is rude to have the spout of the teapot pointing at anyone at the table, and when the pot is empty, simply leave the lid askew and someone will refill it.

The server will also bring menus. The days of trundling steam carts are long over, and now guests order off the menu, which can easily run to a couple of hundred items. To make it simpler, many restaurants also hand out paper menus (in both Chinese and English) with boxes to tick off beside each item. Each diner should select two to three dishes to share among the table.

But what to choose? Perhaps the best place to start is with three of the most popular dim sum dishes: the delicate steamed shrimp dumplings called har gow; the savoury steamed pork dumplings called siu mai; and spring rolls, crispy fried packets filled with meat and vegetables. They will arrive with small saucers of hot sauce; savvy guests will also order the XO sauce, a spicy condiment made from dried seafood and chilis.

Other popular dishes include: steamed buns filled with barbecued pork; “sticky rice” steamed in lotus leaves; wide rice noodles wrapped around beef, shrimp or barbecued pork; braised sheets of tofu stuffed with a shrimp-pork filling; pot stickers that are steamed and then pan-fried; steamed beef meatballs; spare ribs in black bean sauce; deep-fried squid with salt and chili pepper; the savoury rice porridge called congee; and “Phoenix claws,” braised chicken feet that may appear intimidating, but are surprisingly delicious.

And don’t forget the sweets, such as mango pudding, egg tarts and deep-fried dumplings filled with red bean paste.

Other regional cuisines have their own dim sum specialties as well. At Szechuan restaurants, which are known for their lavish hand with hot spices, you may find wontons drizzled in chili sauce or spicy dan-dan noodles (darn-darn mien). Taiwanese restaurants favour exotic textures and flavours, such as fritters stuffed with dried, shredded pork (sarn-jin bao). And the new dim sum darling is the Shanghai dumpling (xiao long bao), a savoury little bundle of pork wrapped in delicate dough and steamed so that it creates its own broth inside.

Finally, when it comes time to pay, make sure you have cash — many Richmond restaurants don’t accept credit cards (and many don’t serve alcohol, either.)

Dumpling_Fisherman'sTerrace_edited

Where to dim sum:

Here are a few Richmond restaurants known for their exceptional dim sum.

Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant
#101 – 46100 No. 3 Rd. (Empire Mall), 604-279-0083
Website

Chef Tony He is building an empire including four restaurants in China and one in Los Angeles with exuberantly opulent decor and equally opulent cuisine. Book a private room, then feast on his signature dim sum, including siu mai topped with fragrant black truffle, sumptuous wild mushroom pastry and tender bitter melon noodle stuffed with shredded chicken.

Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant
4151 Hazelbridge Way (Aberdeen Centre), 604-303-9739
Website

Just steps away from the Canada Line stop at Aberdeen Centre, this fine-dining Cantonese restaurant is a big, posh room with glittering crystal chandeliers, attentive servers and terrific dim sum, both classic and creative. If you feel daring, try the platter of cold meats, including jellyfish and beef shank.

Jade Seafood Restaurant
8511 Alexandra Road, 604-249-0082
Website

This is a grand restaurant, decorated in soothing greens and sparkling chandeliers, Jade is known for its exceptional dim sum, stellar seafood and the creativity of its chef, Tony Luk. He has a passion for high-quality ingredients and adds a modern touch to classic Cantonese fare: everything here is as fresh and flavourful as it can be. Dim sum here is an extravaganza that simply must be experienced.

Sea Harbour
150 – 8888 River Road, 604.232.0816
Website

Su Hang
100-8291 Ackroyd Road, 604.278.7787
Website

Dinesty Dumpling House
#160 – 8111 Ackroyd Road, 604-303-7772
Website
Note: It is ideal to have a Mandarin-speaking colleague when making reservations here.

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