If you daydream about eating good food, the recent shifts in the Richmond dining scene will get you excited. During an interview in Richmond, Michelle Dunn, director of communications with Tourism Richmond, said there’s been an emergence of “newer and more modern representations of Chinese cuisine” in the city. She also noted that there are more “boutique” restaurants specializing in high-end Asian or western dining.
With these trends in mind, the Straight did some research (aka gorging) and checked out some of the places that are generating buzz. Here’s what’s sizzling.
Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant (Empire City Mall, 101–4600 No. 3 Road, Richmond)
Make sure to visit this jewel of new Chinese dining in Richmond, where splashy white décor and chandeliers match chef Tony He’s exuberant Guangdong cuisine. Dim sum is an elevated experience: siu mai are dusted with black truffle shavings, and the pastry for the mushroom tarts is delicate and flaky. Service is impeccable, with manager Wallace Chan expertly guiding diners through selections that exhibit what he describes as a modern, fusion culinary sensibility. For dim sum, he recommends deep-fried radish, shrimp, and fish paste croquettes that are adorned with bonito flakes, and for dessert, finely textured steamed brown-sugar egg sponge cake. The dinner menu (presented on an iPad) is equally refined, with dishes like diced veal stir-fried with gai lan in wasabi sauce.
Uncle Lu (1101–3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond)
It appears that all the cool kids have moved on from nearby Pearl Castle, another Taiwanese bubble tea café, to Uncle Lu, where braised pork hock is the big draw. The tender meat has a generous amount of fat and arrives sliced, with a spicy garlic sauce for dipping. Other classic Taiwanese dishes include fermented soybeans with oysters, five-spice stewed pork blood and intestine, and dried radish omelette. A wide variety of noodle soups are available for slurping, like versions with spicy beef, chicken nuggets, and hot-and-sour broth. And you can’t leave this modern, gold-accented room, lit by hanging red lanterns, without a taro coconut milk tea or a litchi slush.
Sisters Kitchen (Richmond Public Market, 1880–8260 Westminster Highway, Richmond)
Just past Xi’an Cuisine, the popular hand-pulled noodle stand, a new food-court option that specializes in spicy Chongqing dishes has opened. Some of the menu board is in Chinese only, but staff are super-friendly and happy to translate. Grab a bowl of the hot-and-sour sweet potato noodles with soybean paste, or the cold, thick mung bean and rice noodles in chili sauce—the counterperson claimed these items are particularly popular with women. And don’t forget a glass of water, since the heat from these noodles builds exponentially with every bite. Other offerings include beef rice noodle soup, braised pork with rice, and stewed pork trotter congee.
Old Buddies Seafood Restaurant (1120–8391 Alexandra Road, Richmond)
Dumpling alert! This elegant establishment serves what just might be the best wontons in the Lower Mainland. They’re gargantuan, stuffed with shrimp and ground pork, and can be ordered in chicken broth (with or without noodles and sui gow dumplings), on top of lo mein noodles, or deep-fried for snacking. Those who choose not to have wontons (sacrilege!) can opt for another noodle soup combination, such as curry beef tendon or pork hock and kidney. There are also fried noodles, such as shredded-pork chow mein. Congee ranges from bowls with fresh lingcod to salty pork, preserved egg, and dried oyster.
CAVU Kitchen Bar (5911 Minoru Boulevard, Richmond)
Located inside the Hilton Vancouver Airport Hotel, CAVU—an aviation acronym that stands for Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited, or ideal flying conditions—is a sleek, stylish spot for enjoying casual bites with a global twist. Executive chef Alex Hancock deftly reinvents tired deep-fried calamari: he coats his version in tandoori-spiced cornmeal and serves it with papadums, tomato chutney, and lime cilantro raita. Or try the Lobsta Burger, which according to Hancock is becoming legendary. “It’s a beast,” he says during a conversation at the restaurant. Open wide for a decadent mouthful that consists of an eight-ounce beef patty topped with Atlantic lobster, arugula, and herb Mornay sauce. Thursday evenings feature local DJs and vocalists.
Smokehouse Sandwich Co. (108–5188 Westminster Highway, Richmond)
Gourmet sandwich shops are popping up around Richmond, from Zee’s Grilled Cheese in Steveston to this destination for smoked meat. Other than the bread, everything at Smokehouse is made in-house, including the delicious smoked meat. The joint is modishly hipster, complete with exposed brick, vintage furniture, and Mason jar pendant lights. By phone, chef/co-owner Rico Verzosa explains that the sandwiches are inspired by Richmond’s cultural diversity. Hence, the Sarah features tamarind chicken with Southeast Asian slaw and ginger sesame oil. The Samson, with coffee-crusted strawberry-glazed beef brisket, alone is well worth the trip.