Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Where to Eat in Richmond, Vancouver, British Columbia


This article is part of the one-month road trip series, The Great Northwest North American Wine Road Trip, during which we'll visit wine countries in Oregon, British Columbia, and Washington. Follow along in real time on Twitter with the hashtag, #NWRoadTrip.

With over 200 restaurants within a 15-minute walk from our hotel, we had a lot of dining options. The Richmond neighborhood, a 15-minute Skytrain ride from downtown Vancouver, has one of the largest Chinese populations outside of China, and these people love to eat. In addition to Chinese restaurants, you can select from Korean, Taiwanese, Japanese, and more. But there’s one major problem: The restaurants are hiding in plain site, and ravenous travelers will have to break out of their typical way of doing things in order to get an authentic taste of the East. I mean, don't be like these guys:


Explicitly, many of Richmond’s best restaurants are hidden inside of strip malls, and it’s a surreal experience to see entire marquees filled with Chinese characters. But, after one taste of the king crab at Vivacity Restaurant, you’ll be glad you persevered. Vivacity Restaurant serves traditional Cantonese Chinese cuisine, and the menu is so vast that you could eat there every day for months without ordering the same dish.


Entering, the day’s specials and the market price for the king crab were written in Chinese. We were seated by an English-speaking waiter who offered a number of recommendations and then took our orders; we were pretty simple guests: the king crab please.


Alaskan king crab is a delicacy in any culture. Our king crab cost $18 a pound, weighed 11 pounds, and could have fed an army. As part of the dining experience, the waiter presents your seafood, and he showed us the full size of our crab:



At Vivacity Restaurant, you can order your crab in a multiple preparations, and our waiter recommended steamed with garlic, salt and pepper, and with curried rice. These simple descriptions were deceptive, and the preparations were both beautifully uncomplicated and yet refined. The steamed preparation was simply perfectly steamed crab covered with gently sautéed garlic and chopped scallion.



The salt and pepper preparation involved gently deep-fried crab topped with carefully sliced-and-deep-fried garlic and grilled jalapeno, onion, and red bell pepper.



The rice came served inside of the crab’s giant shell, with a mix of shrimp, scallops, egg, and curry and other spices. I wasn’t a big fan of the rice, but the other preparations were light and awesome. The steamed crab is for purists, and the salt and pepper offers a crunch.





For four people, Vivacity Restaurant recommends ordering a starter soup for the table and two-to-three plates. Here’s a list of the other recommended dishes provided by our waiter:

Deep-Fried Squid with Pepper & Salt—$17
Spare Ribs with Honey & Garlic—$17
Sweet & Sour Pork with Lychee—$17
Scallops with Honey & Walnut—$17
Pan-Fried, Sliced Beef with Garlic and Onion—$17
Green Beans with Spicy Minced Pork—$16
Hot Pot with Assorted Meats, Seafood, & Tofu—$19
Yang Chow Friend Rice—$15
Flat Noodle with Beef & Bean Sprouts in Soy Sauce—$17
"The House Special" with Fried Noodles, Seafood, & Meat—$17
And here’s a list of other restaurant recommendations provided by locals I met along our journey:

Jap-a-Dog Food Truck, the one, the only!
Roaming Dragon Food Truck, Pan Asian combined with Mexican; short rib tacos!
Shanghai River, serves the traditional cuisine of Shanghai, China
Hog Shack, a BBQ joint in Steveston that specializes in pulled pork, Smoked Lover's Platter, "Burned Ends" (not on the menu; order a week in advance); craft beer
Suhang Restaurant, one of Richmond's best Shanghainese restaurants, specializing in marinated bean curd, rice cakes, and pickled vegetables
Leisure Tea & Coffee, for bubble tea, coffee, and finger foods 
Haroo Restaurant, excellent homemade Korean comfort food
L'Opera Patisserie, a great breakfast pastry spot

Also, if visiting Richmond over the weekend, make sure to check out the Richmond Night Market and the International Summer Night Market. With more than 150 food stalls, these markets serve up a huge selection of Asian cuisines. Expect to find such dishes as Japanese takoyaki, hurricane fries, mini donuts, skewered seaweed, squid pancakes, roasted yams, fresh duck wraps, and fresh dragon’s beard candy. Check the websites for hours of operation. Open May-September/October.

Enjoy!



Portions of this article include information obtained during a press trip funded by the Richmond tourism board.

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