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Category: Central Richmond Page 1 of 9

Sitting down with the HK BBQ Master himself

“If you don’t enjoy your own food how can you expect others to”. – Anson, owner & operator of HK BBQ Master

Ever since Netflix’s “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner” came out, with the first episode featuring “HK BBQ Master”, they have seen longer lines than usual and an increase in popularity. All thanks to the celebrity of Seth Rogen and acclaimed Chef David Chang, of “Momofuku” fame.

And since then I yet to revisit. So when touring around a foodie from New York, I figured, what better reason to return to the popular hole in the wall, than this?

Located in the parking lot of Superstore in Richmond, one unfamiliar with the area might not find them all that easily. Although, the line that snakes out the door is a dead giveaway. Plenty of bodies trying to cram themselves in to this confined space. This, despite the fact that they have recently renovated and are now the size of three businesses. But I can still recall the past where they were but a narrow corridor serving up their traditional Hong Kong style barbecued meats to go. This 2019 expansion now gives more customers the ability to dine in, and the opportunity for us to sit at our table and enjoy the bustling ambience today.

“HK” closes at 8pm every night, and they are continuously finding themselves selling out by 7-7:30pm. In fact, they restock their reserves daily in order to ensure freshness and quality of their product; basically only ordering what they need for the day. So you know it doesn’t get any fresher than that. They are also so popular that they have 3 chefs prepping for next day’s service, all day; and 2 chefs cooking for today’s service, the entire day.

Today we were treated to the full extent of their menu. A feast that included a sit down with the second generation “HK BBQ Master” himself. He served up sides and stories of the craftsmanship that went into his food. Time and care that sets them apart, and have resulted in the dying of this art.

His favourite dish is their slow cooked soy chicken. The secret is in the soy sauce dressing. The same vat of the stuff has been used and reused for over 20 years now. They keep adding more herbs, spices, and rock sugar to elongate the mix. The result, a delicious light and dark soy chicken that is poached for 25 minutes. Each piece dark or white meat is deliciously tender. It isn’t too salty browned with soy, but flavoured thoroughly enough to enjoy as is. Rice is available, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You want to save room for all the meat to follow.

Next is their most popular menu item: the Bbq pork; the one coloured in red, not to be confused with the one that has crispy skin. Our host described the former as the easiest way to approach their cuisine. A nice safe start to the introduction of HK style barbecue meats. This was slow cooked in a bath of wheat honey. They allow the meat to soak in it twice, resulting in pork with crispy edges and a soft and tender caramelization to it. Our host estimates that they go through about 400lbs of this meat a day, depending on the day. This too was simply amazing, one of the best renditions I have had, the extra honey soak was worth it, sweet and saucy, fatty and delicious.

The roasted pork belly is the one with the crispy skin. And with the recipe at “HK BBQ Master” it is made even crispier. Described to us like “bacon”; here, they marinated the belly meat top to bottom. Adding salt for the crackling, and cooking it at low heat. It was tasty, with little fat, though a little on the dry side for me.

My favourite of their meat products, is the roasted barbecue duck. I found the meat used here leaner than I have had at other restaurants. They also use a different type of sauce, ensuring there is plenty of a juice in the final product. The skin is roasted with a vinegar and sugar coating, where it air dries overnight, and then is cooked up to 45 minutes under one temperature. The finished product was tasty enough, but I wished we had meatier pieces over bone, and thicker cuts of breast meat to enjoy. It is served with their own home made plum sauce, a nice way to brighten up each piece, although it is just as good without it.

They also have a green onion dip and a squeeze bottle of homemade soy sauce as condiments. The green onion and ginger sauce is best with the chicken above. It too is made fresh every day. It adds a nice salty, herbal quality to the chicken. And the soy sauce is diluted from mix used in their soy marinate, but watered down and further sweetened.

If you are looking for something fresh, grab a side order of their vegetables for the table. This is typically a stewed leafy green sauced up and sautéed. I am not a fan of the texture of such vegetables so skipped out trying this.

But I highly recommend their soup. I don’t know if it is on rotation, but today we had their vegetable soup made with dry and fresh leafy greens. It is referred to as “Silver and gold soup”, given the colouring of the two types of vegetables used. I was surprised by how much I liked it. It replaced water for me during the meal. It was plenty flavourful, yet light enough to offer a break in between all the heavier meats.

The food was as good today as it was the last time I visited, and the time before that, and so on and so forth. But as for the future of “HK BBQ Master”, the young entrepreneur plans to expand his operations with a second location. A journey that begins with putting this learned skill and experience of HK style bbq down on paper. A written version to be used as a tool to train a new generation of cooks. Not just preparation with a feeling, but to be able to control the quality of a larger quantity of bbq meat.

There was also the mention of menu expansion including the potential for noodles, jerky, and marinated items; much like you would get from any traditional Hong Kong barbecue meat vendor. Until then, myself and many more Vancouverites and tourists will be more than happy with the current selection.

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? – Yes.
This is definitely something you will crave again. Everything was delicious and it was comforting. You felt full, but without feeling gross from having eaten too much with too much grease. Worth the hype and all the buzz, and one to check off the foodie bucket list! Don’t deny your cravings.

HK BBQ MASTER
4651 No 3 Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 2C4
(604) 272-6568

CAVU Kitchen Bar

When you think Richmond you think Chinese food; you conjure up images of noodles, dumplings, and stir fry. But what if you don’t want any of the above, should you have to travel out of the island city in order to get a decent burger or a grilled steak? Well “Cavu” doesn’t think so. And they are helping those with that very dilemma, by offering them Pacific West Coast fare across their new winter menu. Hot off the heels of their “Le burger week” win, this menu includes two new burgers worth traveling for, as well as a collection of tasty shareables and delicious desserts.

Located in the hotel’s lobby, parking is easily accessible and free for diners. Once within, the restaurant ushers you close with an open entry way. It feels like your average hotel lobby restaurant with dark furnishings and floors, television screens for entertainment, and plants for visual interest. Nothing stand out, apart from the random words splashed across specific walls, foiled in gold. “Unlimited”, “visibility”, and the cut out ceiling labelled as such.

Our group grabbed the large high top, share table that divided the casual bar with the more formal dining area (minus the tv screens). Christmas was in the air and on the tables with buckets of candy canes, glass jars of baubles, and ever green trees set a glow. But I was most enamoured by the fact that our table had outlets built into it. I was able to charge my phone with no more than a cable.

We began our meal by snacking on thinly sliced, gently salted potato chips. Their light airy texture so addictive that our group found ourselves finishing it all, as we waited for our first course to arrive.

With it I had the “Berry coconut margarita” a feature cocktail for the season. Made with 1800 coconut infused silver tequila and chambord, with a beet root rim. This was a nice enough drink, fruity and easy to finish. Although it wasn’t one that spoke to the holiday, its popular flavours, or its warm and smokey tones. With the coconut and candy sugar rim, this drank tropical, more like punch that you gulp, then something to be slowly sipped and savoured for warmth.

My favourite dish of the night, and the one I would order again, had us starting the night on a high note. The “Mediterranean labneh” is a soft cheese spread served with arbequina XV olive oil, dukkah, figs, olives, and rosemary. With so many elements to sort though, its taste was dependant on how you smeared and topped your chewy pita bread. Worth nothing is that you are given more cheese than bread to spread. So either lay it on thick, or double your order of pita as a precaution. They make the labneh in house, from scratch. And even though it is made from mostly yogurt, its telltale tartness doesn’t move forward. You only get a pleasant tang to it. The cheese was easy to spread, thick like cream cheese, with extra sumptuousness from the olive oil. I especially liked a slice of fig to finish it off. This side would have been great with wine.

Next, we had the “Cavu fried chicken basket”. Extra points for the presentation of this one. Available in spicy or medium, the colouring of both looked the same: orangey-brown. For more heat, dunk your jagged-battered chicken nugget in to the iconic flavour of Frank’s Red Hot.

Although I preferred the spicy version as is, already well flavoured. But I did find that both versions had a little too much breading, causing it to feel dry and almost over cooked.

The burger that won them “Le Burger Week” was their “Le Big Mac N Cheese Burger”. An 8oz beef patty topped with melted cheddar, bacon, and ketchup. All sandwich between two Mac and cheese croquettes, repurposed into burger buns. Crispy on the outside, elbow macaroni packed on the inside. This is the type of comfort food I crave for after heavy drinking. But sober, I wanted more gooey raclette cheese to moisten things up with. There was also not enough stringy cheese with in the Mac and cheese patties for my tastes. And the beef burger was a little over cooked, a pinker centre would have been nice. But here, we discovered their kimchi ketchup, just came in handy. Not typically paired with this dish, but it should be. In fact, the condiment should be bottled up and enjoyed with everything. It has what you like about ketchup, but with additional sweetness and a kick from the preserved cabbage. They also have a garlic aioli that would have helped pull this together as a burger. But instead, I happily ate it deconstructed like pasta with ketchup.

Just as impressive is their “baller burger”. You want it for the name alone. Another 8oz patty, but this one is topped with sautéed lobster claws, asparagus, arugula, dijonaise, and a Béarnaise sauce. All set between a toasted brioche bun. This was basically a surf and turf made more practical to eat, as a handheld burger. Although things did get messy with all the oils and juices running down your hands. It made the vegetable soggy, and left you wanting a slice of tomato or sweet pickle to brighten things up, which was available on the side.

I was not a fan of the calamari. “Crispy chilli fried squid and prawn” with sesame puffs; seasoned in togarashi spice, shishito pepper, green onion, yuzu aioli, and chilli. The flavour was interesting: peppery, salty, and savoury. But the texture of the breading came across as ashy and chalky. Here, a creamy aioli would have helped course correct things, and add some cooling balance that the dish needed.

If you are looking for something light and lean, the “pan seared Lois lake steelhead” is a good option. Tender, flaky fish sitting on top of a rösti potato (a Swiss dish of grated potatoes formed into a small flat cake and fried.) and braised leeks; all in a pool of saffron butter sauce. The potato ate like pasta in its starchiness, but was overwhelmed by the butter sauce. Out of personal preference, I would have like a red tomato sauce with tang for the salmon, much like the one below.

The “Cioppino” (fisherman’s stew) was a collection of seafood in a spiced tomato broth. Rockfish, mussels, squid, prawns, onions, and bell peppers. A beautifully coloured bowl of neon red with sprigs of green leaves and herbs, and the pink of the watermelon radish peeking through. Thought was put into this presentation. The squid rings were my favourite part, they were beautifully prepared with a great chew. Although I preferred this whole, more as a soup; slurping up liquid and dunking toasted focaccia slices into it like a sponge.

The “stout braised beef short rib” was a generous serving. The meat was tender and easy to pull part. However I found it too salty and its flavour flat. The vegetables and jus on the side helped, but there was not enough to have some steak mushrooms, peas, or carrots with each bite. I would have also preferred the potatoes mashed and whipped smooth for a similar texture that that of the meat, one that would have had the vegetables pop more.

For dessert we had “Molten chocolate cake”. It didn’t really have a melty ganache centre, as we had thought it would (based on the name and description). It would have been nice to have the cake served warmer, fresh out of the oven. And utilizing the scoop of custard ice cream that topped it as a cooling agent; and then later, a sauce, when it melted over the chewy chocolate cake, with hazelnut notes.

Altogether I preferred the “spiced rum and raisin pudding”. I am more partial to a vanilla base dessert, and definitely I got it here. Bourbon vanilla ice cream, candied pecan, salted caramel, and toasted marshmallow. It looked and tasted like cookie dough with a nice burnt caramel finish.

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? – Yes.
I wouldn’t necessarily travel the distance for a meal, but for more show stopping burgers like the baller one up above, I can see myself returning for another go of the place. They are best for the hearty, “stick to your ribs” kind of stuff. There were some hits and some misses, but over all it was better than I expected. Quality food and some creative dishes for fall/winter. Don’t deny your cravings.

CAVU
Hilton Vancouver Airport Hotel
5911 Minoru Blvd, Richmond, BC V6X 4C7
(604) 232-5001
cavukitchenbar.com

Meetrice Noodle, FEAST: Asian Dining Festival

“Feast” is the 2nd annual Asian dining festival that encourages guests to travel around Richmond, trying out a collection of restaurants. From October 18th to November 18th, all those participating have created specialty menus that allow you to try their cuisine at a deal. With over 30 different restaurants to try there is something for everyone including tidbits from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Persian, and Indian cuisine.

And in order to get me to Richmond and around the island city, I had the use of the 2020 “Subaru Ascent” for the week. And although Richmond is convenient to get to via the Canada skytrain, nothing beats a comfortable ride in a well build vehicle.

Tonight I found myself at “Meetrice”, a restaurant chain originating from China that has made its way to Canada. They specialize in rice noodle soup served with some assembly required. But I will now remember them for their decor. It wasn’t what I expected from this cafe, but more the scene of a bakery or high tea salon. Plenty of pink with pink walls, pink and white paper flowers, and pink panther stuffies straddling clouds.

I was further impressed by what waited for each guest at their table. A paper menu to check off, branded napkins paper wrapped spoons and chopsticks, and paper cups with cartoon drawings for water. All these little details elevated the experience.

We were here specifically for the “Feast Asian Dining” menu, but it was no where to be seen. I had to ask for it, and watched our server dig for it behind the counter. I thought this was a miss, given the savings from off of the limited time only menu, and the likelihood of those like myself visiting just for it. The four items on the “Feast” menu is available normally off their regular menu, but until November 18th you save a couple of dollars on their most popular dishes. We enjoyed all four.

To start, we ordered a couple of drinks. My guest had the “white peach milk foam oolong tea”. A chilled beverage that grows on you. Best when you stir in the sweet foam that transforms the drink.

I ordered another peach drink, for its pink bottle with a pink witch on it. I figured it matched our setting. It was a dessert soda best enjoyed as a float, very sweet and almost artificial. It was not complimentary to the meal before, but fun nonetheless.

If you are visiting for the first time the “No.1 selling rice noodle” (it’s actual name) is definitely the one to get. Regularly $11.95, it is now $9.95 and well worth the price. You get enough food for two, and its interactive component adds a little fun to the meal. Everything is served separately. The tomato flavoured broth with thin slices of beef came bubbling in a heated bowl. Be warned it is hot, and without a verbal warning, you will probably get burnt by it; my guest and I both did. The rice noodles came in their own bowl, much like each ingredient in its own separate sauce dish. Altogether the latter was presented in a wooden box, serving as one of the most memorable presentations I have seen. Quail egg, persevere vegetable, spam, and wood ear mushroom amongst others. You can dump everything in all at once and mix it all together, or did what I did and craft your ideal bowl, following the instructions craved on to the wooden box. Clumsy for some, but fun for a foodie like me. It suggests starting with the vegetables and moving your way to the noodles at the end. The order taking consideration the cook times for each item.

I fully enjoyed the delicious tomato broth, well developed with real slices of tomato. I would be happy drinking a bowl of it as is. And just as well because the noodle doesn’t really soak up any of the flavour of the broth. It acted more like a filler, with the topping adding a collection of textures to chew through.

The rest of the items were $1 less during the event. The “Deep fried chicken nuggets” were Taiwanese style popcorn chicken, seasoned in 5 spice and a hint of cinnamon, for a very distinct flavour. It was tasty enough to keep you going back for more, but the chalky texture of the corn starch breading distracted. Our remedy was to dip each nugget into some sauce, to add much needed moisture to it. We found the drippings from the chicken below ideal.

“Mouth-watering chicken” with chilli oil sauce and peanuts was exactly as my guest remembered the dish to be, when he last visited Asia. A chilled chicken, much like Hainanese chicken, but topped with plenty of garlic and chilli. I suggest scraping some of the latter off, before puckering from all that salt in your mouth. I wanted some rice with this, or at least some shredded nappa cabbage on the side to mix in with the overpowering sauce. It wasn’t too spicy, nor did it offer me the sensation of mouth watering.

And the last discounted menu item was the “Beef and chopped chilli on rice”. Comfort food to a tee. Fatty and stringy tender beef, served with firm rice, and plenty of sweet soy sauce and sesame to flavour it all. Simply delicious.

Overall a great restaurant that I would like to come back and try more of. And if it weren’t for The “Feast Asian Dining” festival I would have never known it existed. But be warned, they only accept cash or debit here. For all the other participating restaurants and how you can take advantage of the festival specials, visit the link below.
https://asianfeast.ca/

MEETRICE
1080 – 8580 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 4B3
(604) 370-0981
mengziyuan.com

#asianfeast #subaru #subaruBC #richmondbc
@feast_asian, @docksteadersubaru, @subarucanada, @wolfesubaru @wolfesubaruonboundary @richmondsubaru_bc, @jpsubarunorthshore, @jpsubarucoquitlam, @jpsubarusouth

Kanpeki Teppanyaki, FEAST: Asian Dining Festival

“Feast” is the annual Asian dining festival that encourages guests to travel to Richmond and taste from a collection of its restaurants. Each of the participating establishments have created specialty menus that allow you to try their cuisine at a special cost saving price. And it is not just Chinese food, but restaurants serving Korean, Persian, Japanese, and Indian cuisine are included as well. From October 18th to November 18th, you too can visit over 30 restaurants to try something new, or something you might not otherwise want to, at full price.

In order to get me to a handful of them I was loaned the use of the 2020 “Subaru Ascent” for the week. And although Richmond is convenient to get to via the Canada skytrain, nothing beats a comfortable ride in a well build vehicle.

My first restaurant was “Kanpeki Teppanyaki”. Since I had to travel to Richmond to pick up the vehicle, I might as well stop at one of the restaurants for a late lunch. They are open at 3pm with an extensive happy hour menu, perfect for the after work crowd, or the ones trying to avoid rush hour traffic driving into Vancouver. But we were here to try their limited release Feast menu, and needed to save room for that.

$50 gives you 10 course and then some, which includes appetizers, a show on the Teppanyaki grill, and a dessert. Meant for one, we shared an order and found ourselves plenty full. Although if you didn’t, you could order off their regular menu after, and there certainly is plenty to consider. Premium wagyu beef, raw seafood towers, fresh abalone and uni, and plenty of sushi.

For our “Feast” feast, the first course was a mixed greens salad with an Italian dressing. I was impressed by the inclusion of fig slices amongst the shredded carrot, cherry tomatoe halves, cucumber, and leafy greens. However there was far too much dressing up top, and this took away from all of that. It is better to toss it first, which is hard to do in the small bowl it was served in.

The “Chef’s daily appetizer” varies so what I have might not be what you get. A trio of seafood forward tasters to help open the appetite.

The mound of crab meat was buttery with a sweet finish. I just wished it and the micro greens were sitting on top of a cracker to round out the bite more. A base to give you more texture to chew through, than whispy threads of crab.

The fresh oyster was satisfyingly crisp with the ponzu sauce.

And the “tako” (octopus) chunks were cut down to the perfect size, making them enjoyable to chew through. Each cube tasted refreshing with a light citrus dressing, accompanied by thinly sliced cucumber.

Our appreciation of the deep fried oyster was dependent on timing. My guest enjoyed it just fine, eating it right away. Although by the time I got to my portion, it was soggy with an unappealing sponge-like texture. It also didn’t taste great, giving me an out of place sour cinnamon flavour. In short, always eat the deep fried items first.

The “Seafood miso soup” had plenty to sift through; with clam and crab meat in shell, tofu, and seaweed. The soup was smokey and very flavourful.

Next came the teppanyaki portion of our meal, just as much of a show as it is dinner. Your food is prepared on the heated metal plate at your table. A trained chef tosses, stirs, and shovels with two metal spatulas. They don’t put on a performance here, like they do at other such dining experiences; no fancy egg cracks or onion volcanos. This is Hong Kong style teppanyaki, where the emphasis is on the food, and it showed today.

You are given a collection of sauces, though truthfully you won’t need them. A lemon sauce, a cocktail based one, and a sesame sauce; all made in house, much like the spicy xo sauce scooped to serve.

First to kiss the flame was a jumbo tiger prawn, caramelized in butter. This is one of the largest and juiciest I have had the pleasure of eating and it did not need any saucing.

The rest of the meat and vegetable were seasoned to our specifications. The “foie gras usuyaki” had the foie gras grilled with green and fried onion; then wrapped in a thin slice of beef. The excess oil from the foie gras is saved to be used to better flavour the fried rice to come. Here, is where the sauces above came in handy. The meat was bland and needed some salt and kick. I liked the spicy xo sauce with it the most.

I fully enjoyed the fried rice. It starts with a cracked raw egg, and to it rice and corn is added, green onion is folded in, then a handsome amount of tobiko to finish it off. The result, a very tasty fried rice that I wanted to enjoy alone. The foie gras drippings didn’t go unnoticed, and I enjoyed the mini pops the tobiko offered.

The “Angus beef tenderloin” was perfectly prepared to a medium rare. Seared with fire and cut into cubes for easy sharing. This too was incredibly well seasoned. Especially tasty when paired with the vegetables below.

The “Deluxe fried vegetables” were multicoloured peppers, cabbage, and carrots. Fried crispy with butter, this too didn’t need any additional seasoning.

Where our meal lacked was the ice cream for dessert, available in either green tea or mango. Everything was so amazing and uniquely them, so to end on store bought ice cream, with ice crystal chunks embedded with, left the set at a lower standing.

Overall this was a delicious meal, where the value is in the ability to watch it being assembled before your eyes. This was very much so a show that got you hungrier for what was it follow. A nod to the charming staff who delivered on this, with light conversation and a warming invitation to enjoy what’s before you. The service was great, my tea was never cold, and our setting was well looked after. And at $50 for the full experience, I highly recommend this opportunity if you have never had teppanyaki before!

Once again this $50 Feast menu is only available until November 18th, so best to take advantage and order sooner then later. For the other participating restaurants and what they are offering during this festival, visit the link below.
https://asianfeast.ca/

KANPEKI TEPPANYAKI
8351 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 1C3
(604) 821-1323

#asianfeast #subaru #subaruBC #richmondbc
@feast_asian, @docksteadersubaru, @subarucanada, @wolfesubaru @wolfesubaruonboundary @richmondsubaru_bc, @jpsubarunorthshore, @jpsubarucoquitlam, @jpsubarusouth

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

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