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Category: Richmond Page 1 of 13

Sanbo Chinese Restaurant

For our latest food blogger meet up, our group decided to take advantage of the timing, and themed our dinner around Chinese New Year, (which actually lasts for 15 days). We made “San Bo” our destination, given that a few of us have been before and have vouched for the food.

The restaurant is located in an outdoor plaza, with plenty of parking available. The restaurant is easy to spot with its bright awning marked with a spiny king crab. Normally the restaurant is bustling, but given the medical state of emergency that is plaguing the world currently, there was nothing but a quite whisper at this Chinese restaurant in Richmond. Many of the tables remained empty during our 2 hour dinner.

Our group of 7 gathered around a large table centred by a lazy Susan. We ordered based on things returning guests have had and liked, and to it added on a few interesting sounding dishes. The English menu is fairly easy to read, but with very little photos and names/descriptions like “preserved ham”, you aren’t quite sure what you will be getting.

Our feast began with a lotus root and pork bone soup that we would serve ourselves. A murky broth that was warming to the bone. Deliciously satisfying with bits of meat to maw on as you sip. So good that I helped myself to another serving immediately after finishing the first.

The “Whole Soy chicken” comes highly recommend, and you have to order it ahead of time, given the need to marinade the chicken for an extended period of time before. The end result: the chicken’s skin was flavourful with sweet soy, but the actual chicken meat a little dry for my tastes. It was good, but comparatively, this wasn’t my favourite of everything we had. There was just so much good food to follow.

Like their “Famous curry beef tendon” this is one you order for its texture. Jiggly pieces of tendon, firm meat, and potatoes boiled for so long that they almost melt; all coated in a sweet curry with a slight spiciness. This was of my favourites that I would order again.

The “Crab and sticky cake special sauce” came with some theatrics. The crab was fished out of the tank live, and presented to our table before preparation. You are paying for it by pound, so this way you get to assess the size and freshness of your meal to come. In this case it was 2.8lbs. I like the taste of the crab in the peppery sauce, but the amount of work you have to put in to cracking its shell and peeling meat from it, takes away from its deliciousness. Especially as this dish does tend to cool down fast. Either way, I was plenty happy simply chewing on the rice cakes that surrounded it. I did try the guts\brains of the crab for the very first time. It was so bitter and acrid that I immediately spit it out. I have seen guests fight for it, but this one was not for me.

I also really enjoyed the “Spicy shrimp with vermicelli hot pot”. It came sizzling, remaining warm well into the meal. We didn’t order any rice, so this served as the carbs/base you wanted to eat, with some of the more protein forward dishes. Although it was plenty tasty as is, especially with the large butterflied shrimp that topped it.

The dish that stole the show for the table was the “House special salted egg with deep fried fish skin”. At $28 you get this much, made fresh to order. It is well worth it when compare it to the pre-packaged bags of salted egg yolk fish skins that are trendy now. But bring friends because it is a lot, and I personally couldn’t see myself eating more than 4-5 pieces at most, in a sitting. It is best enjoyed right when it hits the table, warm. Although is just as crispy and crunchy towards the end of the meal as well.

The “Fish lips and duck feet” we ordered based on its name, and the novelty of saying something so bizarre aloud. Chewy textures saucy in a thick gelatinous stew. Another one you order for texture and its unique mouth-feel.

Feeling like we needed some greens to balance out the deep fried items and all the meat and seafood, we order d the “Garlic pea tips”. This action is very typical at most multi-course Chinese feasts. I am not a fan of the texture of wilted greens, so passed on this one. Besides, reading its name I expected crisp peas in pods.

The “Sweet and sour pork” was a classic, not something I haven’t had before, but much better prepared than I have had it previously, at food courts stalls. Sticky and sweet chunks of breaded meat that hit the spot with a balance of refreshing pineapple and sharp peppers.

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.
We were skeptical about being able to finish it all, but impressed ourselves. The food was that good, and we left plenty satisfied because of it. Overall, an amazing meal, I can see why half of our party wanted to return today. I have no qualms over a revisit in the near future, and simply ordering everything we had tonight. Don’t deny your cravings.

SANBO
4600 No 3 Rd Unit 121, Richmond, BC V6X 2C2
(604) 278-2616

Yue Restaurant, dim sum

Today I was invited to dim sum in Richmond. Here, to try the long standing “Yue Restaurant”. They are already well known for delicious, traditional Chinese food since 2017, when they moved into this, their new location. Their cuisine represents the history of Southern China, and they pride themselves on classic cuisine, not focused on presentation and “image”. Instead, they are focused on how they can improve on well regarded recipes. And with all their chefs bordering on over 20 years of experience they are well on their way. All the above, was a little background lesson we learned from Ron, who runs the restaurant with his family. He warned that they are often busy for dim sum, and that 10am is the best time to visit to ensure the best food and the best service, quoting that “the early bird gets the worm”.

Our large group was given access to one of their private rooms. Two full sized tables and two smaller ones covered in white cloths, with a lazy Susan on the former two, for easy self serving. Their menu is easy to navigate with coloured photos of everything. Ideal for those who don’t know all the dishes, or are not very familiar with dim sum. The following is all that we shared as a large group. All the popular dim sum items, the award winners, and a few of their special dishes for dinner.

Their “Steamed Prawn Dumpling” was one such dish that won an award: “social media choice for best shrimp dumplings, 2017”. It was exactly as you’d expected from a winner. A great flavour from the solid prawn loaf and a chewy starchy skin over it.

And what’s ha gao without siu mai? The “Steamed Pork Dumpling with Crab Roe” was large and juicy, with plenty of meat. No complaints from this one either.

Similar to the prawn dumplings in its steamed shrimp-loaf like filling, but dyed green and pinched shut to look like a leaf. The “Steamed Prawn and Spinach dumplings” were more fragrant with an herbaceous-ness from the greens.

At “Yue”, they make their steamed rice rolls a little differently. All the would be fillings and ingredients are mixed in with the rice roll batter. This ensures a more even ratio of dough to filling. Not as photogenic, but familiar to me, as this is how my mother use to make them for us at home, as well.

But here, they offer up three different flavours: “Steamed Rice Rolls with Beef”, “Steamed Rice Rolls with BBQ Pork and Corn”, and “Steamed Rice Rolls with 3 Kinds of Mushroom”. Good, but it tasted mostly like the light and sweet soy sauce that was drizzled over it.

I was a big fan of “Steamed Spare Ribs with Pumpkin”. Both elements were tender and delicious. This was exactly as expected, and as I wanted from one of the dishes I always order during any dim sum service.

The “Deep Fried Shrimp and Cheese Spring Rolls” had a great crispiness to them, with plenty of salty and garlicky flavour. I didn’t really get any cheese though.

The “Pan Fried Turnip Cake” was soft and gooey, with firm bits of turnip and pork. It finished slightly sweet.

This one was so good and it went so fast that I forgot to grab a cross-section photo of it. “Pan Fried Sticky Rice with Dried Seafood”, wrapped in a thin layer of egg omelette. This was a nice way to have sticky rice, easy to serve and easier eat. It had a crumbly texture with a seafood powder that stuck to the roof of your mouth.

The “Baked BBQ Pork Buns” are more like a dessert: Sweet filling and a sugar crumb topping. Meaty, but a great dish to help transition your into dessert territory.

The “Steamed Egg Yolk Bun” oozed yellow with a sweetened, grainy centre. This served as a nice salty way for those who don’t like things too sweet, to end on some sugar.

Their “Baked Durian Tart” was also award winning. It was a nice light rendition, but for someone who likes the actual flavour of durian there wasn’t enough of it, in my opinion. Even with the durian cream centre and the additional spread smeared over top of the flaky tart’s crust. I also don’t like durian warm as it was baked here. Having it chilled would have made this dish fresher, which was missing for me.

I preferred the “Baked Egg Tart with Milk Puff Pastry”. A smooth and creamy egg tart with a nice flaky contrast from that of its shell.

We also got into some meatier dishes, more suited to a sit down dinner. Like the “Pan Fried Vermicelli with Beef and Bitter Melon, in a Black Bean Sauce”. This was such an interesting presentation, a full meal set like a pie. You get a mix of crispy and regular noodles to enjoy with the tender beef and the slices of melon true to name. An interesting dish, but the bitter melon didn’t have me convinced.

I much more prefer the “Pork Hock with Maggi Sauce”. It reminded me of dry ribs at a bar, but a whole lot tastier and a lot more meat to pull off bone.

The “Singing Beef Brisket and Rice Rolls in Pot” also won an award in its category, at the Chinese awards. It was nice stew, plenty of chunks coasted in their deep and meaty gravy. I just wanted a starch to eat with it.

Everyone’s eyes grew large seeing the “Fried Squabs” hit the table. Served in a tray that mimicked a bird cage, and was revealed as such. You don’t get too much meat from this, it is more for the delicacy. A small fowl with an extra crispy skin, they had me thinking of bbq duck.

The cold appetizer tray” included spicy jelly fish, marinaded baby octopus, surf clams, smoked salmon, and braised beef shank. A classic dish done with flourishes that included a dragon fruit and cucumber trim and cucumber flowers with Marciano cherry centres. A great dish to wet the appetizer with, easy to pick and nibble, on with a great collection of textures to chew through.

The “Pork Rib in Special Spicy Sauce” was another stunner. Several large ribs connected and presented as an arch on the plate. Heavily crusted and sitting atop of a pool of neon red chilli oil. Though when it came to the flavour it was too salty to enjoy as is, and definitely needed some plain white rice to deflate most of the seasoning. However, aside from the crumbly crust, the meat didn’t have much flavour. It also wasn’t very spicy despite the colour.

Another familiar, family share-style dish was the fried oyster and pork with greens and mushroom. This served as a mild dish, and a nice way to sneak in some vegetables. The syrupy gel that coated it all gave things a nice gummy texture.

We then did some a la carte ordering, the table picking out some items they have had in the past and had enjoyed. I wasn’t quick on the ball, so didn’t capture the following as a full order in my photos.

This is what was left of the “Steamed arrow root dumplings”. It was cilantro heavy with a crisp-ness from the chopped up chestnuts; a nice contrast to its chewy shell.

The “Deep fried bean curd sheets with prawn and chives” were like a spring roll, except with a different wrapper. The bean curd wrap added sweetness and a layered flavour, more than just prawn loaf. It would have been better with a sweet and spicy chilli sauce on the side.

For some traditional Chinese desserts we had the “Tao Jiao”, peach resin cake. It is also referred to as the “Poor man’s bird nest”. The cake had a floral and coconut essence, with the white fungus embedded throughout for texture.

The “lychee and sweet olive jello” was the perfect cold and refreshing dessert to end our heavy and sumptuous meal on. An effective palette cleanser, accented with some osmanthus.

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.
A stand up place for some authentic dim sum and/or dinner. Plenty of dishes to please and the general consensus is that it was all delicious. A safe bet for your next, need to impress meal. Don’t deny your cravings.

YUE RESTAURANT
110-8351 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 1C3
(604) 233-1219

Money Tea

We were in Richmond today, and having made the drive down, we thought to explore the scene a little. And with a speedy search on Instagram we found just the place, for a quick drink and some fun photos.

This is “Money Tea”, the aptly named tea bar located in the Continental Shopping Centre (not to be confused the the money loan centres). With its name and lucky cat motif it was themed in good fortune. The exterior inviting with happy cat banners and a collection of happy cat statues on display. Each, waving you in, from their spot on the yellow shelves. Each round and plump, with squinted eyes, paw up, and surrounded in opulence.

Inside, the theme explodes with more smiling cats splashed across table cloths, multiple of them painted on wall murals, and as cartoons papered on the wall. You saw the collection of lucky cats dressed as samurais, a fisherman with a big catch, a geisha; and different breeds of cat including black, calico, and Siamese.

But the wall that caught my attention was the one covered in lucky red pockets. And to be honest, I was more excited by this and the scenes above, than the drinks we would order at the bar.

Their drink offering includes coffee based drinks, tea steeped with fruit, flavoured green tea with a milk foam, flavoured teas, milk based beverages, fizzy fruit water, milk tea, layered juices, and yogurt based drinks. It is hard to choose just reading off the written menu, so our group found ourselves ordering from off of the photos posted by the bar/counter.

The “Yangleduo series” is one of their most popular drinks for its presentation. It utilizes the famous fermented probiotic milk beverage as a base; flavouring it with either lemon, passion fruit, grapefruit, or peach. The finished blended product is served up the in large plastic bottles, shaped like the classic Yakult container. It serves as a fun takeout bottle, and keep sake. We had the passion fruit flavour and it included the fruit’s black seeds bobbing at the top. It was a mild flavour with the tang of yogurt.

I also ordered the “blue velvet coconut milk with peach plum” for its aesthetics. The sky blue hue in contrast to the opaque white milk was appealing. From the counter we watched the “gum” get poured into the tall plastic cup, then the milk; before a blue power gets diluted in water, then sifted over the drink. The blue bleeds in, colouring it, but not actually flavouring it. As a whole, it tasted like a diluted coconut milk, with the gum offering a nice jelly-like chew. Not my favourite for taste.

I much preferred the “peach gum brown sugar milk”. It had the sweetness I wanted in such a drink, with the classic flavour of milk tea and the texture of the chewy peach gum to round it out.

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.
A fun spot for a quick drink. The drinks aren’t much different from other like cafes, but the cute theme definitely makes it worth stopping by. Don’t deny your cravings.

MONEY TREE
3779 Sexsmith Rd #1116, Richmond, BC V6X 1J8
(604) 370-7083

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

Westcoast Poké, FEAST: Asian Dining Festival

Today I was back at Richmond, in town for another “Feast: Asian Dining Festival” destination. This is the annual event that gets diners down to Richmond, with the goal of seeking out over 30 participating restaurants. Running from now until November 18th, “Feast” offers you a chance to try somewhere new, at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

For my journey to the island city, I was loaned the use of the 2020 “Subaru Ascent”. And although Richmond is convenient to get to via the Canada skytrain, nothing beats a comfortable ride in a well build vehicle. And it got us safely to “West Coast Poke”.

There are a handful of poke places vying for your attention, but this one focuses on ingredients from the west coast and themes their bowls as such. And with the “Feast” menu you are able to try two of them, with 2 of their house made drinks, and a side of your choice, all for $25. And truly this is such a great deal. More than enough food for leftovers, and a drink that compliments all of the above.

You are able to choose between 1 of their 5 classic bowls and have it assembled to your specifications. You choose your base from brown rice, white rice, or greens. And how spicy you want things, then what crunchy toppings you’d like to finish it off with.

I choose the “Tidal” poke after noticing the “fresh-in” tag beside its name, but regret not getting any tuna or salmon because of it. Prawn, togarashi, scallion, pickled red onion, cucumber, pineapple, avocado, jalapeño, gochu garlic aioli sauce, and a citrus ponzu sauce. I enjoyed all the flavours, but would have liked them with fish instead.

My guest had the “Smoke” Poke, a spicy bowl with a warning of a chilli pepper logo by its name. This one featured albacore tuna, a burnt miso chilli oil, Thai chilli, scallion, jalapeño, cucumber, radish, ginger, spicy crab salad, pineapple, and a miso ginger glaze. Minus the heat, I preferred the flavour and the fish of this more.

But what really stole the show for me was the side salad. You had your choice between a fruit and seaweed salad, but when you see the name “crack salad”, that is clearly the one you get. It did not disappoint, this crab based salad had me going back for more. And I thought of mixing it to my shrimp bowl to give it more depth. The “crack salad” is made with crab, mango, avocado, cucumber, fried onions, a miso ginger soy, a maple soy sauce, and chopped nori.

For drinks we got one of each of their options, a nice mild peach tea and a sharp and refreshing lemonade. Made in house ahead of time, and poured into individual plastic cups for each dispensing.

Worth noting is how friendly the staff on shift were, we closed the shop down and told them we would rush as to not keep them later than necessary. However, they reassured us that it was quite alright, as they would still be here cleaning up anyways. They even offered us additional slices of avocado and portions of miso soup, as to not have to waste any of it at the end of the night.

The “charred nori miso” was brilliant. You got a nice umami flavour from the mushrooms they used. It warmed you up, which is a nice contrast to the served cold chilled seafood rice bowls before it.

We enjoyed everything so much so, that we decided to order two more bowls to go, to be able to try more of their menu. My guest ordered the “Pacific” bowl, as she was toying with either this or the smoke bowl earlier. This is their most popular bowl and a lot less spicy with albacore tuna, cilantro, cucumber, pickled red onion, crab salad, pineapple, mango, and a green mango curry sauce. It was fairly light and citrus forward, whereas I prefer punchier flavours like the feature bowl below.

I was intrigued by their “Hola Hola” poke bowl, it read like and tasted like nachos. Hot chilli cheese over a taco salad. Made with albacore tuna, pickled red onion, radish, black beans, blackened corn, avocado, a smokey sriracha aioli, and a tortilla chip crunch. Definitely a heavier bowl, and one for those who like the flavours of tex mex.

Glad to have been turn on to this poke franchise by “Feast: Asian Dining Festival”. For more of the other participating restaurants, check out their website below. https://asianfeast.ca/

WESTCOAST POKE
11666 Steveston Hwy #3030, Richmond, BC V7A 1N6
(778) 297-1138
westcoastpoke.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

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