Empanada Hut – Richmond, BC
#1065 – 5300 No. 3 Rd
After my eye-opening experience in Calgary having some excellent empanadas at Empanada Queen in Pizza Roma with foodosopher, I was in a desperate hunt to try and find something similar back in Vancouver. My initial search led me to Empanada Hut, located in one of my least favorite areas in the Lower Mainland (aka “Ditchmond”) and to bring me down even further, inside a dreary looking shopping mall. To show how anxious I was, I braved the rush hour traffic with some of the city’s worst and unskilled drivers that make Richmond notorious, and even drove down the brutal No. 3 road to find this place.
Upon locating the establishment within the food court, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had made a dreadful mistake. First off all, the poor older woman hidden in the kitchen seemed to be stressed out, washing some pots and pans. I was finally able to grab her attention and ask her how her day was. She replied “very busy”, as it seemed she had recently lost another woman who worked there, and now it was all on her to keep the place running. I felt sorry for her.
As I scanned inside the heated glass enclosure with trays of the baked items, I learned my first lesson about this place – if you want access to the whole selection, come at lunch and not in the evening. By this time, around 6pm, only the seafood one remained. She did say thought that it was the variety that went best with her homemade salsa, so I took her word for it.
Tearing it open, I immediately knew the time spent under the heat lamps all day had taken its toll. While still crispy, it felt dried out in a way. I felt the seafood mixture inside also had a slight funky smell to it. I tried covering it up with the accompanying condiment, but I couldn’t make it through the whole way.
Seeing a three-piece cheese and drink combo on one of the overhead sign boards, I ordered those as well. She wasn’t sure she had enough left so I asked her to check and she even brought the tray from the refrigerator out to me to view. She still had plenty, so got the deal.
A few minutes in the fryer and they were ready. Or so I had thought. If you do a direct comparison to Empanada Queen, you’d notice the difference in the cheese, or more specifically the level of melt. Pictured above, see how its not quite soft throughout? I’m thinking too much time spent in the cold fridge really chilled them down, and more time was needed in the fryer? The runny goodness that we had in Calgary, was not to be had with this one. I think a clear piece of evidence of the importance of making these to order. The outer shell also didn’t have the light, fluffy texture either, and was instead just crunchy and brittle.
So in conclusion, I felt really disappointed. Perhaps I just had it too good in Calgary?