Let’s face it, while cooking a big turkey with all the fixin’s for family and friends can be incredibly rewarding, sometimes it’s much less stressful to go out to eat and let someone else do the work for you.
Many restaurants are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but, fortunately, many establishments in Richmond can come to your discerning palate’s rescue. Not only will they be open, but they also offer mouth-watering alternatives to the traditional Christmas meal.
Here are five places where you can dine out on December 24th and 25th:
Christmas often involves a bringing together of loved ones over good food. Hot pot adds an interactive dimension to the get-together that can be very enjoyable–and delicious. Yuan’s Chuan Chuan Xiang (Aberdeen Centre, 2792-4151 Hazelbridge Way) is the Richmond location of a chain that hails from Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province, where they’re known for their spicy take on hot pot.
While there are many hot pot establishments in town, Yuan’s specializes in “chuan chuan,” an iteration that uses bamboo sticks for skewering many of their ingredients before they’re cooked in hot broth. Depending on how fiery you want it, you can opt for a spicy or non-spicy version (or a split pot with both) of the restorative pork broth, which comes with mushrooms, ginger, dried goji berries, dried red dates, green onion, tomato, and cucumber. The restaurant adds a mixture of dried chili peppers, garlic, longan skin, fermented bean paste, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns to transform the base broth into a tongue scalding experience.
The fun of hot pot is the sheer range of ingredients you can choose from, in this case selections such as beef tripe, pork belly, black fungus, quail eggs, and lotus root. You can also choose to partake in the sauce bar (such as mashed garlic, sesame oil) for heightening the flavours of your hot pot items.
Here on the west coast, sushi has become a go-to option for many during the Christmas season. It’s a crowd pleaser, great for group ordering, and a welcome contrast to conventional holiday eating. Fortunately, Richmond’s dining landscape features some of the finest sushi on Canada’s West Coast, spanning traditional restaurants with exactingly crafted nigiri, to more casual establishments that showcase creative rolls and dishes.
Mega Sushi (3131 Chatham Street) in Steveston falls within the latter category, with a menu that is particularly playful when it comes to their specialty rolls. The Blue Ocean roll features red tuna, hamachi, salmon, radish sprouts, and avocado, all in a soy wrap, topped with tobiko. The “Sexy” roll is packed with crowd-pleasing ingredients like avocado, imitation crab, tuna, salmon, ebi, and tamago, wrapped in thinly sliced cucumber. Not just a sushi joint, the rest of the menu includes donburi, udon noodle soups, and various teriyaki options.
Santa himself would probably be craving dumplings at Suhang Restaurant (100-8291 Ackroyd Road) after his long night of delivering toys. This destination for top-notch Shanghainese cuisine offers some of the finest xiao long bao in Richmond. The generously sized dumplings boast fragrantly sweet broth, a thin wrapper, and substantial pork filling. (In short, these are highly satisfying.) Other dumplings on the menu include wontons in chili and peanut sauce, shrimp and chive dumplings, pan-fried pork and shrimp dumplings, and steamed veggie dumplings.
Other Shanghainese specialties are also available, from more rustic dishes like pan-fried rice cakes with pickled vegetables and pork, to more elevated dinner fare such as braised sea cucumber with seafood. One of their show-stoppers, which requires pre-ordering, is their beggar’s chicken, which consists of a whole chicken stuffed with sticky rice, water chestnuts, egg yolks, and edamame before being encased in lotus leaves and bread dough and then baked. The result is tender, juicy, and bursting with flavour. It’s a culinary centerpiece for the holidays.
Focused on Chinese Muslim cooking, Silkway Halal Cuisine (110-8188 Saba Road) offers many dishes that originate from Xinjiang in northwestern China, home to a substantial Turkish Uyghur population. The room itself is elegantly inviting, with dark wood Chinese décor, many traditional framed pictures, and red accents.
The halal menu excels when it comes to their lamb dishes, such as fried diced lamb coated in chili powder and whole and ground cumin; lamb soup; and fried sliced lamb with diced Xianjiang naan.
The bread, iconic of the Uyghur people, can be tried as part of the restaurant’s Chinese beef or lamb burgers. The rest of the offerings are extensive, with items like braised chicken, Xinjiang style; boiled sliced beef in hot chili oil; sautéed shredded potato with green chiles; and handmade fish and chive dumplings.
With all the rich holiday eating that inevitably happens, you may start to crave the classic comforting staples. In Richmond, this includes a cosseting bowl of steaming congee on a wintry December day. Double Double Restaurant (128-4600 Number 3 Road) does a particularly good version, with over a dozen different ingredient combinations. They include watercress and fish balls; fresh oysters; dried scallops and gingko; crispy minced beef; and sweet corn. Preserved egg and salted pork is a classic option, with the saltiness of these add-ins contrasting the more neutral taste of the congee. Double Double’s congee has a creamy texture, with pronounced pork broth flavour. The finishing fried peanuts on top add crunchy nuttiness to your spoonfuls of rice porridge.
The congee comes in individual portions, or in larger bowls if you feel like sharing. Definitely order the youtiao (doughnuts) as well, since they’re a lovely accompaniment, especially when dipped in the congee. The menu features a range of other items, such as BBQ pork and mushroom rice rolls, dried scallop and egg white fried rice, and salt and pepper squid tentacles.
Overall, each of these five Richmond restaurants, with their unique non-turkey creations, will give you a Christmas meal to remember.