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Category: Central Richmond Page 1 of 8

Com Vietnamese

Today I met up with my friend at one of her favourite restaurants in Richmond. She frequents it enough to have the staff recognize her. Which is telling, in terms of her thoughts on the place.

I was excited to dine with her today, but getting into the restaurant would be difficult. Their free parking lot out back was poorly designed. It had small stalls that was impossible to get in to, if the stalls to its front and its right were occupied. Though through sheer luck we both managed to find a spot. Typically they are busy, but this Wednesday they were especially slow, which meant empty parking stalls and any table of our choosing.

Lit in twinkle lights and striped with red panels, the restaurant it is easy to spot driving by. Inside, the decor is modern. Bleach wood furnishings to match the bar. Glowing orbs and patterned lamp shades offered romantic ambiance lighting. We were seated at a booth with decorative tiles embedded onto its table top.

When it came time to order, my guest selected all her favourite dishes to share, and none of them disappointed. We passed on the more common vermicelli and rice plates, and pho; and opted instead for dishes more unique to “Com”.

These were extra crispy “pork spring rolls”, cut in halves and served with fish sauce for dipping. Filled with carrot, taro, black mushrooms and glass noodles, it had a herbal flavour and great crunch.

The fried “Chicken wings” were one of my favourites. We had a choice between having them caramelized in fish sauce or prepared with butter and garlic. We had the latter and it was amazing, and everything that I want in a chicken wing. Crispy skin, juicy dark meat, flavour through to the bone, and a rub that you want to lick off your fingers when you are done.

The “Fish cake soup” is the one I will recommend coming all the way for. A flavourful clear broth seasoned with the unlikely, but delicious duo of dill and tamarind. And not that it needs anymore flavour, but the herbaceous fish ball, the squishy fish cake, stewed tomatoes, fresh chilli, fried garlic, and fresh green onion give it even more depth.

“Com’s” Vietnamese crepe is my guest’s favourite rendition of this egg based pancake. Theirs is filled with spiced pork, prawns, green onion, and plenty of bean sprouts. And it came with instructions. Our server recommended that we cut the whole pancake down to size with the knife and fork provide. And then taking those thick chunks, and wrapping them in lettuce, to be dipped into fish sauce. It was bland as is, but amazing with a full soak in punchy fish sauce. It citrus and tang balanced out the predominantly eggy crepe.

To drink my guest ordered a fruit juice cocktail from off the “Booze free” menu. The “Typhoon” was passion fruit, lime, mint, and ginger beer muddled.

I had the steeped “Ice Vietnamese coffee”. It came all assembled with vanilla and coconut cream mixed in, over ice. They also have it available with the more common place condense milk, but I thought I would give this rendition a shake. I still got the flavour of the coffee, but with a subtle coconut cream finish. Good, but next time I will order it with condense milk instead.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
If I allowed myself to visit restaurants I like often, this would be one on the list. (I don’t because I rather visit new places to learn and write about). I enjoyed everything and now want to come back to see how good everything else is. It is a little on the pricier side for Vietnamese food, but it is certainly worth it for the flavours you get, and the full satisfaction you leave with. I highly recommend this one. Don’t deny your cravings.

COM VIETNAMESE
7688 Alderbridge Way #120, Richmond, BC V6X 2A2
(604) 285-2654

Jade Seafood Restaurant

Today I was touring around a couple of travelers from the UK, and we decided to start our day off with some dim sum in Richmond.

“Jade Seafood” is a fairly new restaurant with a modern, non-descript exterior. Inside, after a second floor walk up, there was enough glitz and glamour to confuse it with a high tea salon. Marble walls, ruched curtains, crystal chandeliers, and a light feature crafted using golden ribbon. This was an open room that easily converts, and sits everyone at a wedding reception. A live seafood tank and a fully stocked wine bar sits at one end of the restaurant. We sat at the other, by the large glass windows. On the vaulted ceilings above us hung adorned chandeliers that served as a juxtaposition, from the casual nature of share plates for breakfast.

My guests weren’t too familiar with Chinese cuisine, so I took the helm and ordered for us all. I haven’t been to this restaurant prior, so ordered based off of my previous dim sum experiences.

The restaurant offers both a fully Chinese and/or a fully English dim sum menu. But regardless, if you know what you want, majority of the staff are able to communicate and interpret in conversational English. The following is what we shared between 3.

The “Whole abalone and seafood dumpling in soup” wasn’t what I expected. This was a small bowl for one, with a chewy whole abalone and two wontons bobbing about. It tasted no different than wonton soup, with a clean and clear chicken-based broth.

As a great way to try a few different dumplings, the “Assorted three kinds of dumplings” is the way to go. “Steamed mushroom dumplings”, “Steamed crab meat dumplings”, and “Steamed shrimp dumplings”. They all tasted as expected, the same chewy wrapper stuffed full with its namesake filling.

As a fan of durian and gummy textures, the “Durian glutinous rice dumpling” was a delight. Sweet fibrous fruit, in a chewy sticky mochi-like shell.

The “Steamed Sakura pork dumplings” was just like regular pork dumplings. I got exactly what I expected from this classic dim sum staple.

The “Chinese donut rice roll” was crispy on the inside and chewy on the outside, a texture that is great with a double dip of the sweet peanut butter into tangy oyster sauce.

I really enjoyed the “Egg tofu and enoki mushrooms with vegetables” dish for both the taste and texture. The egg tofu was soft like pudding, it and the shredded vegetables were coated in a thick gel-like sauce for easy slurping.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great spot for dim sum in Richmond. There are many others to consider, but this one is recommend by Tourism Richmond for their made to order dumplings. Don’t deny your cravings.

JADE SEAFOOD
280 – 2811 No 3 Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 2B2
(604) 249-0082
jaderestaurant.ca

Chef Tony dim sum

Everyone is always surprised to learn that I have never tried “Chef Tony’s” before, so what better chance than today. I was meeting up with two writers from out of the country. For one it was her first time in BC, for the other she is a frequent traveller from Seattle to Vancouver; and whenever she is in town and looking for dim sum, her go-to is “Chef Tony’s”.

Located in a plaza, the restaurant is easy to spot from the road, with plenty of free parking available by adjacent businesses. The exterior is pretty non-descript. But once inside, the bombardment of accoutrements has your head on a swivel.

By the door is a waiting area, made cramped by honey comb shelves showcasing plum wines and ceramic figurines. Wooden furnishings un-sat and a collection of celebratory photos of Chef Tony and his many famous clients.

In the dining area, glittering crystal adorned chandeliers hang above tables. Their rainbow shimmer reflects off the lacquered panels covering the walls and wrapping around the bar. Out of place were the segment of red that were peppered across; and the lone pillar that glowed blue with silver cross striping surrounding it. It all had the hallmarks of a night club or lounge, but for dressed up dim sum and small plates. Although the familiar patterned carpet and white cloth tables at majority of other Chinese restaurants, were also present. Made a little dressier with chopstick holders and spill proof spouts on their tea pots.

Mid day on a Tuesday it was packed, so our reservations came in handy. And these were reservations that actually held the table and allowed to be seated at the time requested. Not just your name on a list, and when you arrive you are the next in queue.

Each seated table is given a menu. A list with colourful photos with descriptions in both Chinese and English. Using it as a guide, you tick off what you want to order from the check box sheet. This latter is Chinese only, but with a bit of detective work, using the item’s numbers as reference, you can navigate the check boxes fine enough. The items we ordered were recommendations by Tourism Richmond, and what my guests found appealing based on experience and visuals. Tried and true staples, and fan favourites when dining with Chef Tony. The restaurant prides themselves on using high-quality ingredients for their dim sum items, with a focus on quality over quantity/size.

The “Black truffle pork and shrimp dumplings” is one of their hallmarks. They are smaller in size compared to most interpretations, but you also 5 instead of the typical 4. Their size is so that you can easily pop one into your mouth, whole. “Chef Tony” is one of the first Cantonese restaurants to use truffle in their siu mai. There was no missing the distinct truffle flavour in this little bundle. A fresh and delicious meaty bite with the smokiness of truffle to put a new twist on this staple.

Similarly, their har gao takes a tangent from all the others. “Shrimp matsutake dumplings”. They are the the only dim sum restaurants to use matsutake mushrooms in their har gow. The rich earthiness of the mushrooms changes the flavour with subtleties.

Not your typical dim sum fare, but an interesting dish just the same is the half order of “Marinated chicken trimmed with black truffle flakes”. A familiar taste in the cold, yellow chicken; but given a twist with the black truffle. A unique flavour that I found myself wanting to repeat, as you almost forget what it is like and need to remind yourself with another piece. I am not a fan of the greens, but was able to pick past them and enjoy the oily, cold, and tangy chicken. A unique sensation on its own, now elevated with the almost briney truffle flavour.

I enjoyed the classic “Baked BBQ pork buns”. Perfectly rounded dough baked to perfection and glazed with honey for an extra touch of sweetness. With it and the sweet bbq pork filling this ate more like a dessert. I could have used more filling and larger chunks of meats.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the “Steamed egg sponge cake”, this one came highly recommend and I can see why. Best served warm and fresh, an eggy and delicious sponge that is fun on the tongue. A neutral cake that kept you going back for chunk after chunk. I could eat a full serving by myself.

The “Coconut jelly dessert” is definitely one you order for novelty. They are so cute shaped like rabbits, but I wish the serving was a given a little more finesse in its presentation. As for flavour it tasted more like tangy yogurt than coconut fruit. I didn’t like it on its own and wanted some condensed milk drizzle or simple syrup to sweeten up the serving.

“Pan fried taro and preserved pork cake” I liked the flavour, but not the texture from the large chunks of taro. Not my favourite rendition.

The “Diced pork, chive and Chinese donut rice noodles” was a good one. I was surprised and delighted by the nice crispy texture of the fried Chinese doughnut. But wanted more depth from the dipping sauce. Either some sweetness from pork floss or the typical peanut butter, for a good mix of salty and sweet.

The “pan-fried diced pork pandan bun in casserole” came to the table smelling amazing; with sizzling onion against a hot cast iron dish, caramelizing. They looked good but lacked flavour. I didn’t get any pandan from the green bun, and wanted more filling to enjoy with it. If you like pandan, you will be disappointed with this one.

My guests fully enjoyed the “Baked durian paste pastry”. They liked the flaky pastry that crumbled under their bite. I found it chalky and the durian in it too fibrous. I also didn’t get the durian flavour I wanted from this, it was cooked, whereas I wanted fresh melt in your mouth durian. If you like durian, you may be disappointed by this one too.

The “Black squid ink salted egg yolk buns” is an item worth waiting for; and we did wait for it, literally. They forgot our original order and when we inquired about it, they forgot to look into that. Though we did eventually did get our buns steamed to order. The colour is striking, a deep black with a splash of gold. Inside a liquid filling that pools in the bun like water does in a cup. Be warned it is hot and we did burn our tongues with its custard core.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I can see all the hype. They offered creative updates to your dim sum favourites, and utilized elevated ingredients to dress up your meal. Definitely worth checking out and one worth visiting for those who love a dressier dim sum and truffle. Lots of truffle items available. Don’t deny your cravings.

CHEF TONY
101 – 4600 No. 3 Road, Richmond BC
(604) 279-0083
cheftonycanada.com

Samsoonie Noodle & Rice

Richmond’s “Dumpling Trail” brought me to “Samsoonie” for some Korean style dumplings.

Located in the corner of an outdoor plaza, you might miss it, if you didn’t know what you were looking for. Luckily the map on the “Dumpling Trail” brochure is easy to navigate. On a Thursday mid afternoon the restaurant was empty. All its wooden tables and chairs left un-sat. It was a homely restaurant with hand written signs, various ads for alcohol posted throughout, and their featured menu items projected on a blank screen towards the kitchen.

We grabbed a seat by the window and began sifting through the tiny print of the fully laminated menu. It was easy to read with the names of dishes written in English, Chinese, and Korean characters.

When it came to appetizers you had your choice between dish size. A larger serving for a about $4-6 more. We started with the “Pan fried dumplings”, a crispy shell housing pork and green onion filling; just as the brochure recommended it. It was charred and chewy, best serve still order.

Another dumpling option is their “Boiled wontons”. Easy to chew and swallow in one bite. I tasted the pretty distinct flavour of sesame, which got diluted from the extra water pooling at the bottom of the dish. The sauce below helped in this regard.

Before our appetizers arrived, we were given a bowl of chicken broth soup, a side of chilled bean sprouts, spicy kimchi, and a vinegar based dipping sauce. As I mentioned, the latter complimented either dumplings well, if you wanted more zip.

To round out our meal, we followed our two appetizers, with something more concrete. The “Beef bulgogi” came sizzling on a hot plate. The crackling oil fully cooked the beef, giving it a charred essence, along side the hefty amount of onions and cabbage in this. There were plenty of flavours to enjoy with the side of rice. Although it would have been nice to have some sauce for the rice, and for it to become more crisp from its time on the hot plate.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Overall, a great option for Korean cuisine in Richmond; with not only Korean classics but their take on Chinese and Japanese cuisine as well. Come for the dumplings and stay for the noodle and rice. Don’t deny your cravings.

SAMSOONIE
8211 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC V6X 1A7
(778) 297-7798
samsoonie-noodle-and-rice.business.site

Parklane Chinese Restaurant

With so many possible dim sum locales in Richmond, it is hard to sort through them all and pick any given one. Especially if your best options are within walking distance of one another. Today I was here at “Parklane” thanks to Richmond’s dumpling trail. If not for the brochure and guide, I would not know that this place existed. Especially considering it is within spitting distance of “Empire seafood restaurant”, which also serves dim sum and is more well known with triple the square feet. But reality is “Parklane” is just as good, if not better. This is due to the smaller dining crowd they have to tend to, and the staff’s ability to see to them all. We even had the managers checking in on us and asking how everything was. A rarity, in my experience.

Their is nothing really standout about the restaurant decor wise. The typical patterned carpet under foot, a series of round tables draped with white cloths, and light fixtures bedazzled with sparkling crystals.

The menu is easily a novel at 117 options. You read and check off what you want with the sheet and pencil provided to you, when you sit. My guess wasn’t all that familiar with dim sum, so I kept our orders relates to the “Dumpling Trail”. She was able to reference the brochure for what she liked visually, with a description to boot.

I ordered the classic “har gaw” and “sui mai” combo. Dim sum for beginners and guaranteed to please with its comforting flavours. The “Steamed shrimp dumplings” were packed with prawn loaf, chewy chunks under a starchy shell. No complaints.

The “Steamed pork dumplings” had the same shrimp, but to it more pork. The pork meat reminded me of the kind you l get in a serving of steamed short ribs. Tasty and tender, with bits of fat interlaced.

The “Deep fried taro root dumpling” is either something you hate or love. A very unique dish that gives you crispy battered shell, chalky mashed taro, and gummy minced pork at the core. I liked the taste okay, but the mix of textures aren’t my favourite.

I much more preferred the “Deep fried green tea balls”. The menu didn’t list it, so I was surprised to discover a core of liquid salted egg yolk cream, hiding under the layer of chewy green tea paste, and crispy fried dough my shell. Best fresh, and soggy with oil if you try to reheat.

In short the “Dumpling Trail” does not disappoint. Another great restaurant vetted by Tourism Richmond, and one worth checking out for tasty dim sun and delicious dumplings.

PARKLANE
7997 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC V6X 1A4
(604) 273-0888

Hot Star Large Fried Chicken

My guest and I met up and started our meal with dessert, so now after four cakes we were both craving for something savoury, salty, and hearty. Her mind went straight for deep fried chicken, and lucky for us, Richmond has a new one.

Made popular in the lower mainland by the Richmond Night Market; and the ability to pose with a slab of chicken, larger than the size of your head. That was “G-Star”, a replica of “Hot Star”, originating from Taiwan. My guest believed that someone saw how well “G-Star” was doing and decided to bring the original rendition to Canada, as this franchise.

The restaurant is pretty straightforward. A row of tables on either side. On the wall on the left was a series of photos presenting the extent of their menu. Easy to entice, easy to order. Photos of their chicken in its various formats, and a couple of their drinks.

On the right hand side, a visual instruction on how to eat their chicken. The recommended first bite, where to watch out for bones, where the meat is the juiciest, and which pieceto end your meal on.

You walk up the the back counter and order from there. Which might be intimating when the restaurant is empty and they have 3 employees behind it, and two more visible in the kitchen, awaiting your decision. The menu is splashed above the counter, a series of drinks, followed by their specialty chicken steak, more chicken served different ways, and the sides. The latter was interesting, not just your typical fries and slaw with chicken, but spring rolls, corn on the cob, rice, and even fried buns.

However, it was disappointing to see that parts of the menu was listed as “coming soon”, with menu images obscured by the declaration. Disappointing, because I wanted to try their melted cheese stuffed chicken, and their regular take on fried chicken.

Nonetheless, we ordered to dine in, but they don’t have any plates, plastic or otherwise. They suggest eating off the paper bag, over the plastic one, you receive with your order. It was too hot and too hard to eat holding it, so knife and fork over plastic it was. And needless to say, it wasn’t an easy or great dining experience.

Having tried the large steak from “Big G’s” I can’t help but compare the two now. And right away, I can tell you they aren’t the same. Two completely different products with the same premise. A hammered out and flattened piece of dark meat chicken, battered and fried with a series of available seasonings. This seasoning mix and their textures is where they differ. I found “Hot Star’s” salt and pepper original cutlet more saltier and more tangier for starters. And the meat juicier at “Big G’s”.

What looks like a lot of meat is actually, 40% bone and you are left scraping what little meat there is left to better satisfy. I had the “Korean large fried chicken”, but didn’t taste much or any of the sauce. I felt it was stickier in texture because of it, and did make out the sesame seeds that were stuck all over it. But it didn’t taste much different than the regular below.

My guest got the “Original large fried chicken”. Available in salt and pepper, seaweed, spicy, plum, and curry. She enjoyed the former the most. Once again, not much different than mine, just more of its gritty crusty texture coming through.

Things did get salty, so it was nice to have a drink and side to help change the taste. I found their soda the perfect palette cleanser, especially my “Blue curaçao yogurt” drink, its creaminess cut through the deep fry easily. My guest enjoyed her “Grapefruit mojito” just as much.

But the real star of our meal was the “fried king oyster mushrooms”. They weren’t too dry or too chewy. The mushrooms popped with juice and gave the meal some freshness.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid a revisit, but they won’t be my first choice for fried chicken in Richmond. Don’t deny your cravings.

HOT STAR
1623-4791 Mcclelland Road, Richmond, BC V6X 0M5
(604) 370-1955
hot-star.ca

Moo19 Cake Boutique

Seeing their cute cakes online, I was eager to try them for myself. So when I was planning on meeting up with a friend in Richmond, we made this one of our destinations. “Moo19” started off and specializes in wedding and event cakes, customized elaborate works of art. And today they have their very own cafe. A location to pick up orders and have a slice or two as you wait.

You walk into their small cafe and are immediately taken a back. A picture of decadence and luxury compared to the out door strip mall that they are a part of. The decor has the makings of an upscale wedding reception, to match their gourmet confections. You don’t know which way to look first.

From the window, a display of cakes lures you in. Like a cityscape, 4 towering cakes sit perched on free standing pedestals. One resembled a cascading tower, another a merry go round, and there was even one made to look like a snow globe with “glass” bowl. If this spoke to the desserts before us, we were in for a treat.

A crescent moon or giant letter “C” (depends on how you look at it), decorated in gold paper flowers and white leaves sits on the floor. An old prop, turned into a fun photo op.

Past it, is a collection of grey tables and chairs, framed in gold; the former branded with the cafe’s logo. They matched the counter behind, and the shelves that arched around it. Here, is where you place your order. The cakes pre-made behind glass, and waiting to be chosen. Similarly, the drinks slow dripped and ready for pouring at a whim.

Coffee and/or tea is slow dripped through a specific contraption that looks like an hour glass. Melted ice pools through a paper filter, each drop collected in a pot, waiting at the bottom. Enough liquid to fill a glass at any time.

You couldn’t tell what was what, and the menu was no help. Chinese characters beside monochrome photos. When I asked for the English version, there was none; and when I asked the clerk behind the counter what each option was, she wasn’t able to articulate. She had to run to the back to have it translated.

Given all that effort, we felt obliged to order a couple of glasses. A peach ice tea and a grapefruit iced tea. Both light, with faint hints of their promised fruits. Good enough, but not necessarily worth the $6.25 asking price. But then again, I didn’t get to learn the full extent of the beverage. It was however, a decent pairing with our desserts below, given they both weren’t that sweet.

Based on the menu, the signs, and the language proficiency of the staff, it seems like they were only catering to mainland Chinese patrons. Not even other Chinese dialects, with the simplified Chinese characters used.

I should have clued in when I saw the LED quote at the back of the room. My guest wanted a photo with it, until she tried reading it and noticed what it said (or didn’t say).

But at least their cakes were signed with English name cards. You definitely order with your eyes here. The first few single serving cakes are shaped like coconuts, Rocky Mountains, and prickly rounds. The second set of cakes, the more classic sponge layered with cream slices; and a couple of rolls, round out their collection. And we were able to try one from each.

Due to the lack of English and communication defunct, the manager came out from the back and offered the “uji matcha roll” to us, complimentary. And we were very appreciative that he did. This ended up being our favourite of the 4 cakes, and the one I would recommend if you are ordering for taste. The slight bitterness was highlighted well, it played off the sweetness of the cream.

I ordered the the “Litchi raspberry cheese mousse cake” and the “mango pineapple mousse cake” for presentation. The former was Aladdin themed and inspired. The rich reds and blues reminded you of the magic carpet. Inside this perfectly spray painted bulb hid 5% cake, 5% raspberry jelly, and the rest foamy and smooth mousse. The flavours jibed well and the dessert was easy to eat, minus the guilt of destroying such a splendid piece of art. Even the hand craved feather was edible, but be warned: mind the tooth pick at its centre.

Similarly the “mango pineapple mousse cake” was a visual treat. A solid white chocolate teddy bear sat atop of a bulbous cloud. You had your choice between the bear covering his ears or one concealing eyes. It was either see no evil or hear no evil. Similar to the mousse cake above, this was more smooth foam than cake, with very little sponge and gel. Tangy with the tropical fruits, but so light you couldn’t differentiate between the two.

For more sponge and a more classic flavour, look to the “Ferraro shortcake”. Sponge cake and cream layer by layer. It had a very faint chocolate flavour to it, more milky cream than anything else. I would have also liked more hazelnut flavour, or to be able to taste it a little.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Overall a great little cafe for stunning desserts and plenty of photos ops. I will definitely keep this one in mind, to see what else they come up with (hopefully it will be listed in English), and for my future exorbitant cake needs. Don’t deny your cravings.

MOO19
165-8171 Ackroyd Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 3K1
(604) 750-6666
moosartstudio.com

Grandma Liu Hot Pot

I was really excited to stumble upon this new Sichuan style hot pot place in Richmond’s Union Square. Here they offer made to order, individual hot pots with your choice of ingredients.

The restaurant is fairly simple, seats on either side of the room, and a counter in front of an open kitchen. You order and pay, then pick up your tray, and seat yourself based on table availability. We choose ours under a collage of cartoon pig posters. Next to the cart of help yourself drinks and utensils.

But your journey starts by the door, where a refrigerated unit keeps a selection of meat, seafood, noodles, and vegetables in plastic bins cool. You grab a large bowl and a pair of tongs and begin picking and curating your perfect bowl of hot pot. Though keep in mind you are charged by weight: $2.99 per 100grams, and the bowl adds to this weight itself. We went for one of each of the meat and seafood options, selecting the occasional vegetable along the way. Though a better strategy would be to choose the lightest cuts of meat and the leafiest vegetable for the lightest weight. As in avoiding the lotus root and potato sections, along with any of the ball; and instead loading up on the thin slices of lamb and pork, the chunks tofu, and all the lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and bok choy you desire.

More unique ingredients include seaweed knots, quail egg, vermicelli bundles, spam, Chinese doughnut, dried egg, Chinese sausage, two types of tripe, bamboo shoots, and congealed blood.

Next, you bring your collection to the counter where it is weighed. Our 6.5 grams of food came to around $20, which is a good decent deal and amount of food for two to share. And if you want your meal a little more hearty you can add on a bowl of rice for $1.50.

Your hot pot is then finished off in the kitchen. Where all the ingredients are separated and cooked individually at their own cooking times, to avoid over boiling. And before it is reassembled you are asked what sauces you want with sesame, garlic, and chilli as options. We opted to have our spice on the side for my sake, although the typical preparation for this is to have the broth super spicy.

This practice originated long ago in China where the dish originated (as was explained to me by “Picky Diner”, an expert when it comes to Chinese cuisine). Back then this was seen as commoner’s food. The hot and spicy flavours used was meant to hide the lack of quality in the meat served. Innards like intestines were commonly used as protein, based on their price and accessibility. Whereas currently in the China’s dining scene, hot pot is served more like this, with plenty of variety in its fresh ingredients.

As of our serving, the broth was fantastic, it was rich and savoury, delicious to sip. With hints of Sichuan peppercorn that offered mild heat and pops of their trademark numbing effect. None of our chosen ingredients needed a dip in any sauce, each was fully flavoured by the soup they sat and stewed in.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
If this was more accessible to me, they would see me here more regularly. I like the idea, the ability to customize and have fun with your food, and the finished product. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

GRANDMA LIU HOT POT
8388 Capstan Way Unit 1463, Richmond BC, V6X 4A7
604-370-5015
grandma-liu-noodle.business.site

Big G Fried Chicken Steaks

This popular Richmond night market treat now has its own store, so that you can have giant pieces of chicken all throughout the year. Located in Union Square in Richmond, they serve as a quick lunch or snack spot, frying up chicken and other sides.

Set up like any fast food restaurant. You order at the back, reading off the menu above the counter. You pay first and when ready your number is called and you take your tray to any available table. It is worth noting that they except debit, whereas many of their neighbours run a cash only business.

On the right side of the restaurant are photos of their combos and menu items on display, serving as inspiration on what to order. On the left, their trademark photo of a woman holding up a piece of chicken, showing you how it’s larger than her head. A popular pose that many have imitated and used on their own social media channels, myself included.

Although there is plenty to order, chances are you will be having the “jumbo chicken steak”. Available in original, seasoned with salt and pepper; or in a bevy of flavours like bbq, Cajun powder, jalapeño powder, seaweed powder, hot sauce, and even coated in mozzarella cheese.

The original is so flavourful that you don’t really need additional sauces or seasonings. It is my pick. A piece of chicken breast pounded down and stretched out to achieve this elongated length. Though half of it is bone. It tastes like the Taiwanese style popcorn chicken you get at bubble tea places. Just as crispy and salty, with more coated skin than meat. The flavours penetrate the batter and skin through to the actual chicken.

If you are looking for more chicken in a different way they have options in various sizes and shapes. Chicken strips, nuggets, and popcorn. And plenty of deep fried sides to go with it like potato, yam, tofu, oyster mushroom, shimeji mushroom, squid balls, and fish cake. For something more fresh grab a coleslaw or radish salad. And for a more fulsome meal their chicken is available as a combo with rice, noodle, or noodle soup. Enjoy it with a fountain pop or bubble tea.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Good, but there is something more enjoyable about having one at the night market versus sit downing in a fast food setting. A convenient snack, but not a destination. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BIG G’s FRIED CHICKEN STEAK
8338 Capstan Way #1231, Richmond BC, V6X 4B5
604-278-9661

BlackBall Taiwanese Dessert

Today I was invited down to “Black Ball” in Richmond to taste their Taiwanese style desserts and teas. This is their first BC location, their first Canadian location is in Toronto, with a second to come. They have yet to open so this was a great way to get to know them before they do. Although, as a result all the information below may be subject to change.

They are located in Union Square with an all windowed corner store. This is a prime location with seating across 2 floors. In fact, despite them not being open, in the 2 hours we were there 6 potential customers walked in wanting a treat.

They have a very cohesive brand, highlighted by their ball mascots. Animated balls with stick arms and round eyes decorated the half curtains that hung over each window. A couple of human size black balls sat on a counter and on their themed cart. Additional colourful balls appeared in their wall mural, interacting with humans. A cityscape in China with train, hot air balloon, and signature Chinese architecture.

The balls are also used to signify their membership. Instead of points cards you will get a fuzzy black ball on key chain, each with its own word bubble saying. And I would come back just for this. VIP members get a larger ball to signify their paid for membership. This also gives them a discount on all menu items. A dollar difference on everything, and it is good all across Canada.

Their square shaped bowls also have their mascots painted on. And if eat your way to the bottom of your dessert, you will find a ball waiting for you there as well.

As media we were given a taste of each and every one of their ingredients. Every ball and jelly that you can use to customize your Taiwanese dessert. They really wanted to showcase the quality of them all and just tasting each it was clear. The following was grouped together as complimentary flavours.

Fresh grass jelly, red bean, peanuts, grass jelly flavoured ice crumble, konjac jelly, and taro and yam “Q” cubes; served with a dairy creamer imported from Taiwan. “Konjac” is a jelly produced from the natural fruit fibres of an Asian plant. It is popular for its limited sugar and lack of calories. It is mostly sought out for gelatine-like texture. The “Q” cubes are one of their signature items, each is handmade and contains 95% of the named ingredient. The taro is 95% taro and 5% starch just to have it hold their shape. And you could taste the difference, it was like you were eating either root vegetables made into a chewier bite. All together, such servings as 100% customizable. You pick and choose your favourite for an ideal mix of textures, flavoured in a sugar syrup with the addition of milk for creaminess. As personal preference I passed on the peanut and red bean, as I am not a fan of their gritty texture.

The second bowl of ingredients were flavoured with real lemon fruit. Aloe vera, coconut jelly, crystal boba, ai yu jelly, taro and yam balls, and winter melon flavoured ice. Here the yam and taro only contains 75% vegetable fibre, the remaining 25% is a binder, giving them more of a chewy texture. This was a more refreshing serving, lighter with the citrus; and I preferred the more common combination above.

To get a little bit of everything above you can order their “Black ball supreme” a bowl flavoured like grass jelly with two creamers. Taro and yam Q cubes, red bean, grass jelly, konjac jelly, taro and yam balls, and grass jelly flavoured ice. It is enough to feed a family of 3-4. And at $18.90 ($17.90 VIP member price) you are saving by sharing this instead of getting 3-4 individual bowls at $7.50 ($6.50 VIP price).

Next, we tried their matcha offerings and all of their mini chewy balls. Their matcha jelly had the perfect jiggle of a jello-like product. Both versions use premium matcha, but the paler coloured one contains milk. Neither were overly sweet, allowing you to take in plenty and savour the matcha flavour.

Their shaved ice is drizzled in matcha syrup and condensed milk. Here, you can top it with any combination of the ingredients above or below. But I found it so tasty, that I would enjoy it as is.

The mini balls were packed full of flavour. Red bean, black sesame mini ball, yam mini ball, rice ball, matcha mini ball, and taro mini ball. The black sesame and matcha are exclusive to “Black Ball” and definitely the most memorable. They tasted exactly as promised with an easier chew, in smaller bites.

They also have several drinks utilizing the same ingredients with similar flavours. I didn’t taste any of them, so will simply be giving you a visual look here.

Honey lemon ai yu jelly tea. Purple sticky rice milk with mini taro and yam. Winter melon tea with a cream cheese foam.

Fresh black tea with milk. Winter melon with mini balls taro and yam.

And lastly they also offer waffles and ice cream. They were pressed to order and good, but nothing really different that all the other waffle desserts out there. If you make your way down here I would suggest sticking to all of their specialties above.

Waffles with chocolate sauce, banana slices, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It tasted exactly as you expect it too.

Waffles with dice strawberry, condensed milk, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a chocolate wafer stick. This too delivered on what you’d expect.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Definitely the best of such Taiwanese desserts I have tried so far. The quality of their ingredients makes all the difference and their theme makes them memorable. Make sure to follow their social media and be on alert for their actual opening. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BLACK BALL
8300 Capstan Way Unit 1061, Richmond BC, V6X 4B7
blackball.com.tw

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