Short trip report - Richmond & Vancouver
We came from the Bay Area, only stayed two nights, but tried to cram some things in. Though I did not ask for suggestions, most of my choices were from reading this board. I would have liked to try some of the non-Asian restaurants, but my wife was clamoring for Chinese after years of hearing that Vancouver had the best Chinese in North America.
Sun Sui Wah in Richmond: two of us got salt and pepper Dungeness crab, braised goose web, a personal size order of abalone and snake soup, and baked tapioca pudding. The soup was good, with the abalone and snake in strips that you could still bite on. The coating on the crab was very good; aromatic, almost non-existent in thinness, not oily. The meat was a little drier than perfect, but I realize this can sometimes be an issue with crab dishes that are fried. The texture of the goose web was perfect, soft and gelatinous, but my wife thought the flavor wasn't quite there. The baked tapioca was very dense, so the red bean puree filling that was more liquidity was welcomed. This was probably too much food, but hey, we only had two nights in town.
International Summer Night Market in Richmond: Got a variety of stuff, but the standouts were the meat on a stick and...gotta say it, the tornado potato. We got the meats--lamb, chicken, and chicken wing--from the first stall, not the guy with the full on chefs coat and hat. I'm sorry to not having noticed the name of his stall, because he was a jovial fellow and grilled our meats to order (well, the wings were previously fried). The spice and cumin flavor were spot on, and the cut of meat was better quality than those we got for super cheap on the streets of Beijing. There is now a 2 dollar per person entrance fee for this night market.
Jade in Richmond dim sum: Got in before 11 am to get the 20% off discount. We had the deep fried tofu, supreme dumpling in soup, steamed mushroom dumpling (with truffle oil), steamed spareribs with pumpkin, and pan fried pork & shrimp dumpling. In retrospect, we probably didn't order too wisely. The Chinese name for the tofu dish included 金沙, which led me to believe it would be a fried salty egg batter dish that shows up in crab and pumpkin dishes. But this rendition was just a regular deep fried tofu. Very hot and tasty, but not what we expected. The pan fried dumplings and spareribs were both so so. The first didn't have enough of a sear on the dumpling so they seemed kind of limp, and the latter was unremarkable in taste or texture. The skin on both the mushroom dumpling and supreme dumpling were both pretty thin and good. The mushroom dumpling was good on its own; the addition of truffle oil didn't seem to belong. The English title for the supreme dumpling doesn't capture what this dish was about. 佛跳牆, or Buddha Jumps over the Wall, is a luxury dish that features things like abalone, shark fin, fish maw, ham, scallops, sea cucumber, mushrooms, etc, so this dish would be more appropriately titled as dumpling in supreme broth. The dumpling was similar to a shrimp wonton, and the clear soup had little pieces of fish maw, dried scallop and possibly shark fin in the soup. The soup did not taste like a Buddha Jumps over the Wall soup to me, but it was very good nonetheless. The large windows throughout the restaurant is very pleasant.
Bella Gelateria: Akbar Mashti (Saffron, Rosewater) and Salted Hazelnut. Seeing all the financial district foot traffic, I was glad to not be working in your city, because this place is outstanding and expensive. The gelato melts pretty fast, but devouring them is an easy task. Loved it.
Marutama Ramen in Vancouver: they had no problem with us sharing a bowl of tamago ramen and an order of yaki cha shu. Asked for the noodles to be on the harder side. I'm not sure I've had chicken based soup for ramen before, but this tasted very good and comforting to me. Egg was pretty nicely soft boiled, though it could have been warmer; the whites took on the soy flavor. The grilled pork belly was good. The option of paying 1.50 for additional noodles seems like a very tempting option.
Kingyo on Denman: Agedashi Tomato, sashimi 5 kinds, whelk sashimi, beef tongue and Kobe beef grilled on stones. The fish in the sashimi course did not make a big impression on me; the scallop and shrimp were very sweet. Whelk was tender enough. For whatever reason, the beef tongue seemed to lack flavor, enough with some salt or soy. The Kobe beef was very marbled. We tried to keep it pretty rare, but one piece got cooked close to medium well, and was still incredibly juicy and tender. A must get dish. I forgot to ask what cut the beef was. Amazingly, equal to beef dish was the agedashi tomato. I liked how some of the fried batter of the tomato fell off and dissolved into the broth, making some of the broth thicker. This
was by far the most inexpensive dish, but a very generous bowl, and just full of flavor.
Thomas Haas in Kitsilano: pistachio almond croissant, orange blossom brioche, chocolate truffle with champagne, and passion fruit vanilla truffle. I liked the flavor of the croissant, both its butter self and the pistachio filling, but the croissant bites a bit hallow. There doesn't seem to be enough layers for my taste, with the center being very airy. The brioche and truffles all good.
Fisherman's Terrace in Richmond dim sum: Lobster congee, beef tendon and stomach, shrimp and spinach dumplings with dried scallops, pork dumplings with tobiko, and tofu, shrimp & enoki mushrooms wrapped by seaweed. With the exception of the shumai, which was fine, the other three dim sum menu dishes were perfect. We love long cooked beef tendons, and this was one of the best renditions we could recall. The other two with shrimp were beautifully cooked. The congee with a small whole lobster was very good as well. The congee base itself had a very fine texture, with a noticeable, pleasant flavor. The congee did not take on much of the lobster flavor, but the lobster meat was not badly overcooked, so this was a fair trade off. We had never seen this congee dish or the seaweed wrapped dim sum item before, and they lived up to the high hopes. Possibly the best meal out of a happy eating trip.
The Chinese restaurants in Richmond all had better level of service than that seen in the Bay Area. Teapots all poured with no obvious problems, which is an annoying and seemingly easily fixable problem that many Bay Area Chinese restaurants have.
Pearl Castle Café in Richmond for bubble tea. The drinks themselves were nothing to write home about. The tapiocas were very good, softer and chewier than the average boba place.
And that's it, wish we had more time. Vancouver is a beautiful city; from what we saw, Richmond maybe less so, but those endless rows of restaurants sure look pretty too.
Sounds like a great trip, thanks for the report.
If you ever have the time the Canadian ferry to Sidney, Vancouver island is nicer and a more scenic trip than the US ferry, unless you want to stop on one of the islands. Liquor in Washington and Canada is a little spendy.
Richmond Chinatown is fairly recent, I think it took off after the Hong Kong lease ending. Was told all the competition keeps prices down, though there seems to be plenty of money around.
Canadian dollar has been falling after being over par with us dollar. Easy to use credit card but many cards charge a foreign exchange fee of 3 percent, some charge no fee.
We are visiting Vancouver from Los Angeles next week. Thanks for the heads up! We are looking to try Jade, night market, bella, and fisherman's terrace.