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Category: Richmond Page 1 of 12

G-men Ramen Steveston

We were in Steveston and looking for lunch. Though this being a Saturday, the historic fishing village was busy and all their popular spots saw lengthy lines.

So wanting to eat sooner than later, we stopped at the new ramen place that just opened up, Steveston’s first. Although, had I known the restaurant was without air conditioning, I might have reconsidered our idea of hot noodles in broth on a hot summer’s day. None-the-less here we were, two amongst many with the same idea. We were able to grab two stools at the very back bar. And there we would be ignored by the busy staff, after we ordered and they delivered our two bowls of ramen. To paint a better picture, it was a struggle to get our bill to settle up and leave. This was despite a line at the door for those wanting to dine in.

I went for their most popular choice, the miso ramen, I added butter and corn to it for $2.50 more, and added an egg for $1 more. Authentic chicken and pork broth with their homemade miso seasoning and thick noodles. This was already a rich serving, and I don’t think the butter made a difference in that regard, except for additional calories. I did like the sweetness the corn added and how they popped with each bite.

My guest ordered their “RCMP” ramen advertised as being “addictively spicy”. She too added an egg, because after all ramen isn’t the same without a soft boiled egg. It was exactly as she expected, spicy with a bold red broth, but manageable in terms of heat.

Everything was good, but one bowl isn’t enough to properly assess the restaurant, especially since their menu is one of the largest I have ever seen at any ramen place. On top of 8 different types of ramen and all their variations, “G-men “ also offers plenty of appetizers from mixed nuts to a chicken dip with crackers, raw octopus to pickled squid. They have salad with and without seafood or meat, plenty of sashimi as is, seasoned and in combos. There are rice bowls and poke bowls, and a section just dedicated to deep fried and bbq items.

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 travel all the way to Steveston for ramen, and when there I would choose somewhere to lunch that better showcases the town. However, for the locals this serves as the only, and therefore best place for ramen in Steveston. Don’t deny your cravings.

G-MEN
3711 Bayview Street, Richmond BC, V7E 3B6
604-275-4636
gmenatsteveston.com

Grandma Liu Hot Pot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Big G Fried Chicken Steaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

BlackBall Taiwanese Dessert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Win Win Chick-N, #ChickenWingsChallengeYVR

I was bestowed the honour of judging Vancouver Foodster’s latest challenge: Chicken wings. A food that I fancy myself an expert in, given the amount I have eaten in one sitting, and as a whole.

I am always appreciative of his challenges and my participation in them. They get me out and about, traveling around the Lower Mainland, trying restaurants I would never otherwise get a chance to. And today’s competitor: “Win Win Chick-n” is a perfect example of that. I have been to Steveston a handful of times this year, and with each visit, never thought to order fried chicken by the water. And little did I know, I was missing out.

The shop is small, a couple of places to sit in doors and a few more right outside, under the sun. Though if they are all taken, their chicken does travel well, and a picnic in Steveston always sounds like a grand idea.

I came down to tried their chicken wings, but made sure to try a few of their regular menu items as well. We started off with their regular fried chicken. Drums and thighs lightly breaded and deep fried. They are pre-made and kept warm under a heat lamp, behind glass. And surprisingly, this did not affect its quality or taste. They were just as crispy and just as warm, served over a sheet a wax gingham, nestled all cozy in one of their compostable cardboard boxes. The wax paper is necessary as they are oily and their grease does eventually seep through the box. As for the flavour they had a warming amount of spice. Definitely more zesty with character than that of your regular fast food chicken chains.

I found their wings (the #chickenchallengeyvr entry), similarly breaded and spiced like their original above, but packed with even more flavour. Although this might just be so because of their size; there was a greater seasoned skin to dark chicken meat ratio per bite. Either way I wasn’t complaining. “Win Win Wings”, pressure fried wingettes and drumettes seasoned in salt, pepper, garlic, and their in house breading mix; which is dairy, egg and nut free. Each order includes 10 pieces of drumlettes and winglettes. I preferred them on their own, but with the full pieces of chicken, I rather have each dipped into their gravy.

Their gravy was also prepared ahead of time and allowed to stew in itself. Kept warm in a soup vat and scooped to order into a waxy paper cup. The gravy had a great consistency, runny enough to scoop and drink, and thick enough to glop and dip. Slightly peppery, it adds a meatiness to the chicken, without masking its poultry essence.

But what was the most memorable side for me was their “Filipino style macaroni salad”. This was a sweet and tangy macaroni with a sauce that reminded me of a less intense, more tomato-based ketchup. This was mixed with ground lean beef and slices of cocktail sausages. The owner explained that his mother had prepared him this dish on several occasions, and he wanted to share its tasty and comforting nature with his customers. I concurred, hailing for South East Asia, this too reminded me of the sweet style pasta my mother prepared for our family, and therefore my childhood. Needless to say, I scraped the cup clean, and would recommend this a side and base to your box of chicken. Otherwise the classic option of fries or mashed potatoes are also available.

And lastly, for dessert we had to try one of their purple yam (ube) cakes. These are prepared freshly daily by the owner’s sister-in-law, he declared her a seasoned pastry chef, and I would agree. This was the best ube cake I have had to date. It tasted like ube through and through. It wasn’t overly sweet with whipped cream or dense with a rich sponge cake. It was light and fluffy and a great way to balance out your heavy and greasy meal before. Well crafted and well thought out.

It is also worth mentioning that the owner is so friendly and welcoming. You could feel that he was passionate about preparing great chicken, and that the community celebrated him for this. Most telling was one of his loyal customers coming in, gifting him with a lamp shaped like a chicken. The customer had saw this at a garage sale and bought it for his favourite chicken shop as decoration. With us, he took the time to explain what it was we were having and asked for feedback on how to improve. We also spoke about their online social media success, and how he was so humbled by it all. They will be hitting 1 year old this July and will continue to turn heads and increase appetites.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WIN WIN CHICK-N
12160 First Ave, Richmond BC, V7E 3M2
778-297-5818
winwinchick-n.com

 

For the other Vancouver Foodster Chicken Wing Challenge contest and to vote for your favourite for the people’s choice winner, visit the link below.

http://vancouverfoodster.com/chicken-wings-challenge/

Richmond Night Market 2019

I eat and drink from 33 new and returning favourite stalls at this year’s Richmond Night Market.

It’s that time of year again, the weather is better and the crowds are flocking down to the Richmond Night Market. With so many more food vendors this year, let me help you plan your visit by highlighting some of the new and noteworthy at North America’s largest Asian themed, outdoor market.

 

For the vlog version, check out my latest video now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

The following is a accumulation of all that I have tried across my first 5 visits of the season. First the favourites that are back for another year.

“Chef James” continues to be a fan favourite for meat on a stick. The charismatic chef dawns a white coat and a microphone, inviting passerbyers over to try the market’s tastiest skewers. Deliciously seasoned meat and seafood on sticks flamed kissed on the grill.

Here we had a sampling including lamb, beef, chicken, shrimp, and pork seasoned in cumin. And doughy buns drizzled in a tangy brown sauce.

Their grilled and unseasoned sweet corn is also very popular.

“Big beard” also serves up bbq meats on sticks. And their skewers are also served in a branded paper cup, just like at Chef James’ booth, but I found them less seasoned and even bland by comparison.

I was a fan of their deep fried squid drizzled in a sweet chilli and mayo. Chewy tentacles that are just as fun to eat as they are tasty.

For even more squid “Squid Feast” offers up deep fried squid whole on a stick, or as chopped up tentacles. Be warned, the line is long and the squid could be over cooked like this serving. The sweet chilli drizzle I asked for did help give it some moisture and layered interest.

All this fried food makes you thirsty, and I really like the fresh juices from the “Sugar cane juice stall”. Pressed on location, this sugar cane drink hydrated and satiated. Not to mention the plastic heart shaped cup it came in, with matching heart shaped nib was precious.

Spiral-ed potatoes deep fried and coated in dry and wet sauces and seasonings of your choice, are still very popular year after year. But now, for those who want a single serving, or to not have to eat a whole giant potato in one sitting, they offer mini “rotoatos”, at the booth with the same name. We had our’s dressed in sour cream and roasted garlic pepper.

“Itofu” returns after having won the best tofu category from Van Magazine, a new category that seems like it was made for them. Here, we tried their parfait with coconut jelly, red bean, and pearls. And naturally it was a subtle dessert with the tofu as the focus. Refreshing and light for those who don’t like an overly sweet dessert. But basic and bland when competing against the likes of the condense milked flavoured shaved ice below.

“Mango Yummy” is a market favourite, especially their mango mochi shaved ice, which is exactly as it sounds and oh so tasty. A sweet and cold treat that almost tricks you into thinking you are eating healthy because of the fresh cubes of mango that tops it.

Similar in the ice cream, fruit, and flavoured ice department is “Icy bar”. For variation we enjoyed their “summer special icy” with fresh strawberries, mango, basil seed (chia seed), strawberry puree, coconut milk, and tapioca sago, served over shaved ice. I enjoyed it more like a drink once the ice cream melted down and I stirred things up.

Speaking of stirring, the “Mango” stall offers slushes. We ordered their “summer rainbow”, a drink that is different in colour and flavour from layer to layer. It was fun to navigate your straw up and down, landing on their purple grape, yellow mango, red berry, or green kiwi; and drawing in a sip. I thought it was be interesting to see what would happened if I mixed all those layers together, the result: a less appealing, and less easy to drink cold beverage.

You can get even more fruit and ice cream from the “Teapresso food truck”. Their elegnat parfaits served in plastic champagne flutes are great to look at, but impossible to eat. The ice cream melts and with no where to pool, this drips down your hand. The ice cream itself is available is matcha, vanilla, or a twist of both. We then latter because why have just one when you can have it all.

Light bulb shaped bottles are still making their way around the market. At “Rainbulb” you choose your beverage by its colour, and they glow thanks to a little LED light blinking at the bottom. Each hue is a different fruit flavour, and you are encouraged to choose by colour. Tonight it was purple, a berry fizzy soda.

“Mamak La” is a night market staple for Malaysian fusion. They put on a show, hand flipping their crispy and fluffy roti. Then stuffing it with familiar comfort foods like Mac and cheese, pizza, and even banana and chocolate.

It is like a quesadilla but with better dough. The made to order roti makes all the difference. The Mac and cheese is a great satisfying snack, and best enjoyed warm while the dough is crispy and the cheese gooey.

Their new dessert option gives you salty dough and sweet chocolate, a winning combination and a new way to enjoy the classic banana and cocoa pairing.

“Asomi mochi” with their whole strawberry stuffed mochi balls are back. Available in matcha, purple yam, chocolate, double strawberry; and now a cheesecake filled option. The regular is my favourite flavour and having it filled with a graham cracker hinted cheesecake cream, instead of the regular red bean was a switch up I fully enjoyed.

“Fries and Things” serve up the easy to eat and fun to share fries with a variety of game changing toppings. Melted cheese, buffalo sauce, and Japanese mayo. But their claim to fame remains the pho fries. Crispy sticks of potatoes topped with green onion, bean sprouts, ground beef and a tangy brown sauce. It tastes exactly like pho, the same sauce and topping over potato instead of noodles.

“Fish sticks” is exactly as it sounds. Battered and fried pieces of fish, skewered and seasoned. Choose from flavours like lemon pepper and spicy salsa. We had the classic tartar sauce paring, a zesty garlic dusting, and the Japanese influenced sweet mayo with shredded seaweed. Easy to eat, and best eaten fast before they flake off the skewer. Served on the stick you don’t a dish or plate to eat over and off of.

“Okonomi Bites” is once again serving their Japanese style poutines. Your fries, gravy, and cheese, but with traditional Japanese ingredients. Like the Japanese pancake with the name of the stall. And the vegetarian Agedashi tofu that has chunks of fried tofu sprinkled over top. We ordered the pork tonkatsu that had pieces of pork cutlet chopped up, and covered in sweet mayo, bonito flakes, and green onion. All great add ins, but I don’t feel like they really adding anything to the serving of fries.

“Mr. Crabzy” is back with their deep fried crispy crab balls on an actual claw. Not only does the claw look great, but it also serves as an easy way to get a grip on the crab cake for hand to mouth eating.

We also got a taste of their more regular looking deep fried shrimp balls. But if given the option, I would choose the claw every time.

And with all this fried and salty foods you are probably looking for something to wash it down. “Milk Cha” offers their blue based, butterfly pea flower teas in a bevy of flavours and if you get their split cups you can try 2 different ones in one serving. Winter melon and Thai black tea and Papaya and Taro. The colours look bold and rich, but the flavour fell short. Using powders they taste artificial and almost watered down. I would have liked them creamier as a milk tea.

Like with “Yummy Yogurt”, a new drink booth to the market. A thick sip of tangy yogurt flavoured in peach, mango, or strawberry. They made for a great palette refresher, full of probiotics to help in digestion after all that you eat. We tried the purple rice which was the mildest and our group’s favourite. The strawberry was on the sweeter side, with more fruit than dairy. And the “secret” flavour we discovered with a nice fragrant honey dew.

The last stall above and the following below are a handful of the new ones worth checking out this year.

“Zzim drumsticks” offers up Korean braised chicken, bringing attention to the fact that there is more than one way to prepare chicken in Korean cuisine, than simply frying. Available in hot or regular, it is best enjoyed by dawning plastic gloves and eating it with your hands. I personally find using your hands makes the food more enjoyable.

The chicken is so tender, and the mix of rice cakes and vegetables in the cup makes it more fulsome. The sauce is also so rich and tasty that you want to drink in like soup. Be warned, the spicy version, does deliver the heat.

“Tuk Tuk’s” Thai inspired panna cottas are quickly becoming a Night Market favourite. Cups of coconut milk, Thai tea, and Thai green tea panna cotta topped with a made to order fried dokjok (a Thai biscuit). The process to make them is fascinating to watch.

The panna cotta is a little too rich on its own, slightly overwhelming with the creaminess of coconut, and the bitterness of the green and Thai tea. But each is best enjoyed with chunks of the cookie that tops it, they help to balance things out. I would come back just to buy a box of them. If I had to choose one flavour it would be the coconut panna cotta with the squid ink cookie, the ink doesn’t add any flavour, it just has a nice contrast with the white dessert.

“Say! Cheese” is the booth offering gimmicky goodness this year. They are the stall giving us rainbow coloured grilled cheese sandwiches that you can stretch ear to ear. For the best results do your cheese pull slowly and as soon as you get it hot off their grill. As for taste they are more than just mozzarella cheese on white bread. With a condense milk drizzle and ricotta chunks they have elevated the grilled cheese, for a sweet and salty snack.

Looking for a lighter sandwich? New to the Richmond Night Market is “Salty’s”, offering mounds of fresh lobster dressed in cream sauce with celery and dill, stuffed plentiful into a toasted buttery bun. A little on the pricey side, but we are talking about the premium product that is lobster. They are brought to you by the same owners of the now shuttered “Crab Park Chowdery”. I advise getting just a half order, a full is plenty of the same taste, plus there are so many more stalls to try.

Because you definitely want to save room for dessert, and “Fluffy Soufflé’s” Japanese style jiggly pancakes. Light and fluffy eggy batter, meets breakfast food extraordinaire, turned dessert with fresh fruit and sweet creams and spread. To be honest I liked them as is, but can’t miss out on ordering them with the colourful toppings, and one by one, I tried them all but chocolate.

Like the sour and tangy topping of the sweet grapefruit.

The slightly bitter matcha with sweet red bean and mochi.

The salty and sweet crushed Oreo crumbs with salted cheese foam.

And the strawberry, pretty in pink with a more artificial strawberry flavour. But the fresh berries topping it makes up for this.

At “Afghan Yum” we were treated to their mantu, a popular Afghan street snack, similar to tortellini stuffed with meat. A saucy bite with nutty and creamy notes from the sauces and pops of freshness from the pomegranate.

“La Meza Grill” is serving up Filipino fusion, and one bite tacos served up in fried wonton cups. Lechon tacos, pork and tofu sisig, pork and chicken bbq. Each cup is full of bold flavours and easy to eat, perfect in a crowded market setting.

“Macc Shack” offers up a variety of Mac and cheeses, hence the literal name. But sadly we only tried the 4 cheese version, instead of their kimchi, taco, or pulled pork; which sounded a lot more interesting. This was a pretty standard serving that I wouldn’t gravitate towards, given everything else surrounding it.

From “Fusion Wrap” we had the Kimchi Beef. A green onion pancake topped and rolled up like a burrito. A little watery, but plenty tasty. I would crave a taste like this again, out of preference.

I also really liked “Nori Express” and their savoury offering of sushi built like tacos. The seaweed is battered and folded as the shell, the sushi rice is loaded in first and the fish of your choosing follows it. I fully enjoyed the “sushi noritaco”. Made with yellowfin tuna, eel sauce, and vegetable. It was full of flavour and textures. I especially liked the crunch of the fried seaweed. The spicy Alaska sockeye salmon, spicy mayo, vegetable sushi taco was good too, but I preferred the tuna and its ponzu seasoning more out of preference.

“2 sweet guys” are battering and deep frying fruit and sweets, topped as you like. We had the deep fried cookie dough to start. Balls of cookie flashed fried then drizzled in condense milk and topped with rainbow sprinkles and Oreo crumbs, (as we wanted). Other topping options includes a chocolate or raspberry drizzle, and mini marshmallows.

The deep fried watermelon was an interesting concept, one I was excited for, but did not enjoy. The fruit was warm and cooked, and in comparison to the batter not sweet and even bland. An odd sensation that need not bare repeating.

At “The Taco Tigre” they offer Asian inspired street tacos, reinventing the way you enjoy popular flavours like banh mi and beef pho. We tried one of each of their chicken banh mi taco, their 5 spice pork belly taco, and the beef pho taco. Each tasted like its promised name. I especially liked the bean sprouts from the pho taco. I didn’t really get enough of a taste of them, so wouldn’t mind going back for another trio.

Not new to the Lower Mainland, but new to the night market is Bella Gelateria. Serving up their trademark creamy and stretchy gelato out of bins. With an impressive selection to boot. Matcha green tea, coconut, chocolate sea salt, lavender, black sesame, and earl grey tea to name a few. We dug into a double scoop of yuzu citrus and Akbar Mashti.

There was a stand offering mitten crab roe topping either rice or noodles. And with each serving it is made further indulgent with the sheen of gold flake. I wanted more meat and sauce over this serving of plain noodles, you don’t get a lot for the price. The gold gimmick was nice, but ordering it was confusing as the booth doesn’t have a name and majority of it is left in Chinese.

And if you are done eating, or looking for something different to do, the market does offers new games and attractions to keep you or young ones entertained. Bouncy pony rides and a rainbow net to climb on, at a cost. Performers on stage, spinning rides, and arcade games with oversized prizes. Plus plenty of assorted goods vendors to shop from.

Each visit is always a delicious time. But be warned they are getting busier and more popular so the crowds are getting more concentrated and the lines will you waiting longer. So go early, get a zoom pass to skip the line and move briskly. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RICHMOND NIGHT MARKET
8351 River Road, Richmond BC
604-244-8448
richmondnightmarket.com

Yuu, traditional Japanese tapas

It feels like summer in spring and one of my favourite fusion Japanese tapas place is reminding us that they have a unique way for you to stay cool while still enjoying the deliciousness of ramen.

I have been to this restaurant a few times before, but thanks to their ever evolving menu there are plenty of reasons for me to return time and time again.

Located in a busy out door plaza, it is easy to get to with free parking available. And with plenty of seats and staff at the ready, getting a table is as easy as walking in and pointing to one. The staff are all attentive, rushing to you with the slightest eye contact. Ready to answer questions and take your requests from a very easy to navigate menu. There are plenty of coloured photos to point and order from. A collection of Japanese favourites and a handful done with North American twists. Like their new ramen to go cups that you shake up like you would a salad. These were 100% customizable and include topping choices like kimchi, crispy fried onions, and crushed up hot cheeto dust.

As tempting as that was, my guests were visiting from London and were more keen on a traditional Japanese dining experience so we had a collection of tried and true favourites.

We had the popular street snack “takoyaki”. Octopus dough balls dressed in okonomiyaki sauce, shredded seaweed, and bonito flakes. These were soften globs of dough with a chewy chunk surprise inside. A classic snack that tastes just as you’d expect it to and no different from the last set you tried.

Their gyozas are made in house, pan fried and served sizzling on a hot plate. Crispy dough covering chucks of pork meat, that are great for sharing. They are so good that they have earned themselves a coveted spot on Tourism Richmond’s “Dumpling Trail”. A self guided tour that highlights and recommends where to get the best dumplings in all of Richmond.

The deep fried tofu in house special is another popular Japanese appetizer. Crispy tofu in a light soup-sauce, slightly salty but more on the sweeter side. This made a great option for the vegan of our group. But sadly it was only one of two menu items that met her dietary restrictions. (The other was a teriyaki vegetable hot plate.)

I really liked their mentaiko (pollock roe) udon for its flavour and texture. Pan fried noodles generous coated in a creamy white sauce with plenty of fish eggs. The latter offered up small pops and a unique texture to accompany the slippery, thick strands of noodle. And the various mushrooms and onion embedded offered some chewiness and some freshness to the mix. Overall this left me with a great feeling in my mouth.

We also ordered one of their Japanese hot pots, wanting to experience the traditional set up; which included a pot equipped with a towering spout sticking out from its centre. But sadly the menu misinformed and they didn’t actually have any such pots available. None-the-less the stewed root vegetables, fish cakes, seafood balls, and tofu bobbing in the soy flavoured dashi broth was still delicious. As a whole this dish was warm and comforting, a clear broth that was deceptively tasty. This is something I would love sick and would crave on a rainy day.

We also had some of their deep fried, crispy, boneless chicken as a side to their novelty “beer ramen”. The juicy chicken came to the table hot, coated by a crispy breading.

They made great side and contrast to the cold ramen in bonito broth with white egg foam top. The latter simply added a sweetness to the broth, and finished off the imagery of a foamy beer. You pulled long noodles out from the stein and slurped them up just like that, or were able to top your noodles with accompanying edamame, pickles, green onion, wasabi, and seaweed.

“Yuu” is also known for their fun drinks. Like the “Grapefruit mojito”, sans alcohol. Grapefruit, soda, and fresh mint. Served in coloured layers, you stir everting up for a sparkling beverage.

But one of their most popular is their slushes garnished with a syringe. This is the “calpis melon shot slush”. The melon syrup looks toxic with its neon hue, but is super refreshing with the icy yogurt slush base.

 

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.
I only wish they were closer to my home and easier for me to travel to more regularly. I love their traditional dishes and adore all the fun they have with their food. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

YUU
1111-3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond BC, V6X3Z9
604-214-7722
yuutapas.com

Ramen Taka, Aberdeen Centre

“Ramen Taka” has opened a second location, and now you can get their Hokkaido style ramen in Richmond’s “Aberdeen Centre”. An opening that has already seen many line up to try their soup noodles, most notably finished off with a scoop of sizzling liquid lard.

Like their original location this new one is happy with a small cluster of tables, a few bar seats, and a family style large share table. The lighting is also the same; giving the room a golden glow from hanging incandescent bulbs.

The only empty wall space is home to their mascot, sketched in black and white. An eagle with out stretched wings looking fierce. Fitting considering, “Taka” does mean “eagle” in Japanese.

The menu is the same from Vancouver to Richmond, although it is worth noting that it has changed several times, since the popular Japanese ramen chain has made the Lower Mainland their home. They are here to offer up their traditional Hokkaido ramen, but are also open to their customer’s feedback. Each table has comment cards and pens, which gives the diner the ability to rank their food and service, as well as leave the restaurant suggestions on how they can improve. “Taka” has taken the latter to heart, and now offers up the ability to customize their ramen for your palette. Like the ability to have less or no lard. And more recently a creamier noodle soup.

Hokkaido style ramen uses a clear broth with plenty of lard, and is traditionally saltier than other versions of ramen. But for the Vancouver appetite they have created a “Vancouver special soup” that gives diners a heartier and ricer broth: paitan. “Paitan” is a creamy white tonkotsu broth made with pork bone. And today would end up trying both this new version and their classic, in order to compare the two.

But first appetizers, and their Hokkaido fried chicken that cannot be missed. An order of the “Zangi” is available in either 4 or 8 pieces. I suggest getting the latter because one taste is not enough and you won’t want to share. Juicy, white meat chicken with pockets of fat, made crunchy in a thick and jagged batter. Each nugget is gently seasoned to allow the natural flavour of the chicken to come through. Dare I say, this might be my new favourite place for fried chicken!

We also had to try the “Kakuni” given how delicious it looked in photo. The menu was right in describing this as “Melt in your mouth braised pork belly”, served in a pool of their tasty “special sauce”. The meat was so tender around the sinew of fat, and so juicy from the sauce it soaked up, that it had a different texture to it. Different than chewy and stringy pork meat; it was almost like liquid, which easily broke down from the weight of your tongue. The sauce was also super tasty, I didn’t want to waste a drop of it, so wished we ordered some rice to absorb it all with.

Next, we moved on to their ramens. Ordering two bowls of the “Dragon’s Dewdrop Shoyu” flavoured with soy sauce. First was the “Paitan”, easily identified by the murky broth. Once again, this creamier version came to be due to the request and preference of their North American clientele. It was definitely creamier as promised, but the fullness of the flavour is missing. Something that you do get in full from their original “Dragon’s Dewdrop Shoyu”, below.

I highly recommend coming for their clear soup noodles, this is what they are known for and you can get a version of the one above from every other ramen shop. But you can only get the “Dragon’s Dewdrop Shoyu” from “Ramen Taka”, and it is worth traveling for. This is a great light broth for first timers. It is simple and clean when it hits the tongue, but then unpacks its flavour the more you take in. Each spoonful leaves a film of oil on your lips, just so you know the fat is there. Here, you don’t need many toppings. The ones included simply add a change in texture; like the perfectly soft boiled gooey egg, the crispy to chewy seaweed sheet, and rubbery bamboo with its distinct bitter note.

The only down side, you can’t take anything you don’t finish home. When we visited, the lids of their to-go bowls didn’t connect. We were told to make it fit, and this photo is the result. We showed the server and he was satisfied with the outcome. I, however, was less then impressed; soup doesn’t travel well already, now you are adding a hole to the equation!?

 

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.
I would visit the downtown location first, due to its proximity to my home. Although when in Aberdeen and looking for traditional Japanese style ramen, this is the one to visit. A soup base like no other and sides so tasty. I would come back just for the chicken. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

RAMEN TAKA
Aberdeen centre, 2nd floor
2780-4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond BC, V6X 4J7
ramentaka.ca

75 West Coast Grill, Halibut Festival

Tonight I was invited down to “75 West Coast Grill”, the restaurant attached to the “Marriott” in Richmond. It was once “American Grille”, but has since reestablished themselves as a modern restaurant featuring Pacific Northwest cuisine. They are dedicated to using fresh and local ingredients, and tonight I was here to taste this change first hand.

Parking is within the hotel, you check in at the restaurant to validate. Located right at the lobby, it is a stone’s throw from the concierge’s desk. Past the bar, you follow the curve of the hall, all the way to the dining area. We grabbed a table by the window to enjoy the hub of the busy street as our scenery.

Given that my visit coincided with their “Halibut Festival”, it was only proper that I ordered a plate of the white fish in season. That and both the hostess and our server raved about it. They spoke to how people have been flocking in to the restaurant for it, and how all the staff have been enjoying it daily. The price isn’t listed, you get to choose how the fish is prepared, which starchy side it comes with, and what sauce covers it all. The combination you choose dictates the price you pay. You can either have your fish pan seared, flame grilled, or blackened. For sides, each plate includes a healthy serving of seasonal vegetables, so to it you can pick between roasted fingerling potatoes, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, or jasmine rice. And for sauce a citrus beurre blanc; a mango salsa with pineapple, red pepper and cilantro; or a Thai curry sauce. Seeing as our server was so keen on this special, I took her advice on how to have it: pan seared with roasted fingerling potatoes, in the citrus beurre blanc. She did not steer me wrong. I am typically not a fan of cooked fish, but with halibut like this I could see myself enjoying it more regularly. This was a well balanced and fulsome serving. The vegetables were perfectly cooked to a firm crisp, similar to the texture and taste of the potatoes. But what made this plate was the sauce. I could drink a cup of it.

By comparison, I wasn’t so hot on their “10 oz AAA Rib Eye”. I acknowledge that rib eye steak is typically a fattier cut, but this thin piece had more gristle than meat. It at least had a good char to it. But sadly we were left with more roasted wild mushrooms , baby tomatoes, and roasted garlic mash side; all sitting in a red wine jus. I also found the sauce a little basic, I wanted more depth from it; like what I got from the beurre blanc.

On the other had, I got all the flavour I was looking for in the “Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese”. The shared serving is pictured above, and I would recommend getting it as a side. It is best enjoyed in between bites, given its one tone flavour profile. Served in a skillet these chewy and gooey spirals were heavily coated in an aged cheddar, mozzarella, and gruyere cheese mix. All topped with a roasted jalapeño fondue and a herb panko crust. This would be great anytime, but especially as a hangover cure, a late night snack, and as leftovers; like how I enjoyed mine. It was creamy, buttery, and fishy with the lobster. Although I didn’t find that the lobster added anything to the pasta. There was plenty of it, but several chunks I happened on were on the drier side.

The “Seafood Crab Cakes” were also nice, crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside, with a good amount of shredded seafood in each round. It was best with the romesco aioli, but the radish and pea shoot salad that topped it, absorbed most of it.

It is also worth noting that if you get seated in one of their booths, it is outfitted with an outlet and the ability to charge any device, with USB ports.

 

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.
A nice reimagining of the “Marriott” Richmond’s restaurant/bar. Classic food in a friendly setting. A solid option for the travel and the cautious diner; wanting a taste of BC, outside of Asian food in Richmond. Don’t deny your cravings.

75 WEST COAST GRILL
7571 Westminster Hwy, Richmond BC, V6X 1A3
604-232-2804
75west.ca

River Rock Casino, brunch

When I think of brunch spots, I don’t immediately think of Richmond as a destination, however “River Rock Casino” is about to change that with their introduction to brunch. As of March they have introduced Sunday brunch to their “Curve Lounge” menu, and today I had the opportunity to get a closer look at it all, dish after scrumptious dish.

This is part of “River Rock Casino’s” goal for the year ahead, to get back to entertainment with a food focused plan. The goal, to get visitors in for a fun night at the casino with live gaming and entertainment coupled with great drinks, to spend the night, then enjoy a comforting brunch the morning after. A “greasy morning breakfast after a night of indulging” featuring plenty of butter and carbs.

“Curve Lounge” is located in the foyer of the casino/hotel, just behind a set of ascending staircase. They offer happy hour specials, a late night menu with live music, an open patio during longer summer evenings, and now brunch on Sundays from 11am to 2:30pm.

Our morning began with some drinks, which included the launch of their build your own Caesar bar. Here, it is a choose your own adventure of spirits, rims, spices, and assorted house made pickled garnishes.

You begin by rimming your glass with lemon juice then follow it with either their house made steak spice, bacon bits, or a Parmesan black pepper mix. Next, you choose your liquor between vodka, tequila or gin. The bartender helps you with this part, adding ice over top. For now they only offer the Motts Clamato juice, with the hope of bringing more tomato based juices to their line up. You fill your glass then season with the classic Worcestershire sauce, cracked pepper, and chilli flakes (if you like).

And finally my favourite part: the toppings, where the world is your oyster. You can choose between two kinds of olives, dried sausages, bacon bits, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, celery, bacon strips, corn segments, pickled green beans, pepperette, jalapeño, dill pickles, cornichons and shrimp. Technically there are no limitations on stacking, and no restrictions on how many of each; but a good rule of thumb is, if you can’t carry it from the bar to your table you have gone too far.

However, if the decision making process is too much this early, just choose one of their premade creations. “The dark and dirty” features vodka with olive juice. “The social”, beefeater gin with a bacon Parmesan peppered rim. And “The little devil” features olmeca gold tequila with a spicy chilli flake rim, Tabasco, and jalapeño.

If you need something caffeinated to perk you up, they also offer Starbucks coffee from their pour over station. It’s best to ask for help from the staff here, as you can burn yourself.

The food portion of our meal began with a little treat from our chef. It isn’t on their brunch menu, but I think it should be added. These are “Okanagan Apple fritters” and they are available at the casino’s West A food court. They are squishy balls of dough with chunks of apple. Each is covered in a thick coating of melt-in-your-mouth powdered sugar that sticks to your lips and coat your tongue. Half the fun is licking your fingers clean of its tasty cinnamon and sugar.

For those who like a sweeter breakfast “Curve” offers a “Cinnamon toast walnut crunch”. Dark rye French toast, cinnamon candied walnuts, whipped mascarpone, and brown sugar glaze. This was the brainchild of their cooking team embracing creativity. The chefs were asked to come up with some great ideas and this one “won”. Here, their dark rye sits and soaks in egg for two days. The use of rye is suppose to give it more chew, but I found the French toast soggy. Though this could have been because we waited to long to eat in order to take photos. I did however get the dark coffee notes that were described. This was an interesting twist, but I wanted more crunch from it, the walnuts although candied helped, but they left me wanting more of its texture and it’s sweetness.

My favourite dish was the “Curvalicious rancheros”, I found its presentation fun and the taste and textures most balanced. Farmhouse sausage, brunch potatoes, black beans, house roasted pepper sauce, crisp tortilla, pico de gallo, fried hen’s eggs and guacamole. (Note: I liked how their menu gussied up eggs by calling each a “hen’s egg”, fancy.) The tortilla is baked to a crisp and they stay that way through the duration of your meal. They ate like nachos with a dull spice. Saucy, crispy, fresh, and tangy. Light and hearty all at once. Great as a healthier breakfast option and even better as a late night snack, shame that it’s only offered 11-2:30pm on Sundays.

The name says it all. The “Hangover healer” is that greasy burger you want to eat after a night of heavy drinking. Shaved beef, bacon, fried egg, cheddar, and a bacon hollandaise sauce; all between two sweet buns from a local bakery. The buns made all the difference, it reminded me of Chinese style cocktail buns. Its sweetness paired well with the salted pile of meat, the freshness of the tomato, and the pickle for tang. All coated in the sumptuous, rich bacon hollandaise sauce that would continue to win me over below.

The “Proper butcher Bennie” was similar to the above, in richness and meatiness. But with two burger patties on a toasted English muffin, along with cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, bacon hollandaise, fried tomato, and their kid Cali sauce. Served with a side of their brunch potatoes. It is also normally served with two fried eggs, but they gave us poached for a more visual sensation today. This was like bacon and eggs elevated in a convenient to eat hand held. And I say hand held because the English muffin was tough to cut into, much like the over cooked beef patty. But the bacon and hollandaise hides most of that behind its crispy and creamy tastiness.

The “Almost English breakfast” is for those who want a more fulsome meal. The traditional eggs, sausage, bacon, and brunch potatoes; but to it add roasted mushrooms, black beans, grilled tomato, and toast. All that was missing was some ham to make it a proper London breakfast. It was hearty assembly, yet healthy tasting. A very clean serving with no excess oil or grease. Even the bacon felt lean between your teeth. And the sausage dull with flavour, where you expected and wanted a fatty and zesty bite.

And for the vegetarians they do have you covered as well, we didn’t try it but they have a customizable dish called “The lousy hunter”. (I enjoyed the playfulness of its name.) Roasted seasonal veggies, brunch potatoes, black beans, house roasted pepper sauce, crisp tortilla, pico de gallo, guacamole, and a fried hens egg should you choose.

In between courses we snacked on their bowl of “Curve social nuts”, served in the lounge at night. A mix of corn nuts, peanuts, and rice cracker seasoned in a barbecue sauce.

And for dessert our heavy feast ended in a plate of fresh fruit and one bite desserts. Although this is only available through their banquet and catering options. On top of a rainbow of gold flake topped tropical fruit this platter also included chocolate truffles, lemon tarts, chocolate mousse cups, and chocolate covered strawberries. Only the macaron are not made in house.

 

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.
“River Rock Casino” now gives traditional brunch seekers a new place to visit when in Richmond. Come for the game play and stay for the breakfast the morning after. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CURVE
River Rock Casino Resort
8811 River Road, Richmond BC, V6X 3P8
604-273-1895
riverrock.com/dining/curve

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