Hot Lady Hotpot #1185 – 8580 Alexandra Road Richmond, BC (604) 303-0086
I need to get this preamble out of the way first…This restaurant does not have an official English name. The banner in front reads 麻辣妞妞火鍋專門店. Urbanspoon translates these characters (perhaps via a contributor) to mean “Hot Lady Hotpot”. My Chinese friend prefers to call this place “Spice Girls Hotpot”.
The characters 麻辣 translate to “ma la” or “numbing and hot “, the signature spicy Sichuan flavour combination. The next two characters 妞妞 “niu niu” both stand for “little girl”. The next two characters 火鍋 are “hotpot”. Finally the characters 專門 mean “specialist” and 店 means “inn” or even “place.” So…this restaurant tis called “Hot and Numbing Little Girls Hotpot Specialist Place.” Hmm…
I think I’ll stick to “Spice Girls Hotpot” – Urbanspoon bedamned.
Qoola Frozen Yogurt & Fruit Aberdeen Centre 4151 Hazelbridge Way Map Richmond, BC (778) 297-5488
Qoola’s profile first came to my attention last year when there seemed to be a lot of buzz around their opening in the Metropolis at Metrotown shopping mall. With their emphasis on fat/gluten free frozen yogurt, fresh cut fruit, organic grain waffles/crepes, the whole concept reads like a feel good, very West Coast-inspired offering. Throw in their initiative in using bio-degradable and recyclable products, the whole operation has “BC tree huger” written all over it. Now with shops in this popular Richmond mall, as well as in Victoria, BC, the Qoola wave is slowing spreading across the province.
The signature menu item is the fresh frozen yogurt which is available in three flavors (original, chocolate and green tea) and supplanted by other monthly flavors. For edible snacks, there is also something called the Q-Waffle, which is a whole grain waffle topped with various toppings and a mound of the frozen yogurt. I watched as a few other customers ordered this and was amused at the confusion the self serve yogurt stations caused, especially with the older clientele that I witnessed.
The Summer Night Market 12631 Vulcan Way Richmond, BC (604) 278-8000
With school back in session, the leaves beginning to fall off the trees in my neighborhood, and the slowly shortening daylight hours, I’m reminded that the summer is winding down. Albeit, the warmer temperatures are holding strong this week, so its feeling nice to have our summer season extend even longer this year. And with just two more weekends to go before this year’s rendition of The Summer Night Market in Richmond comes to a close, I thought I’d type up some quick thoughts on my experience this year…
When things such as annual festivals or public gatherings grow over the years due to the success of the original or early years, its both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, its wonderful that a small concept can become something that’s sustainable and has organic growth and continued popularity. More offerings, great number of attractions – all good things from my perspective, especially when something grows from something very small initially.
Shibuyatei #125, 2971 Sexsmith Road Richmond, BC To be confirmed: (604) 779-0053
Simple is best. An adage that applies to many things in this thing called life, including something we all love, food. Lately, I’ve been all about uncomplicated flavors and limited combinations of ingredients that tell a story on my taste buds. Smart cookery and unpretentious offerings are my current targets when it comes to dining out. Give me something that’s comforting too and well you’ve got something right in my wheelhouse. An old stalwart, Japanese ramen, is right up there in my favorite foods of all time.
I’d been notified in July that a new operation was about to set up shop at a busy intersection in Richmond, formerly occupied by a sandwich business. The end of July marked their opening and as a few weeks had passed (and having received some insights from members granted a pre-opening audience) I finally made my way out for a lunchtime meal. Inside, remnants of the previous tenant were apparent from the still fresh business handover, with some temporary signage hung outside for the Tokyo-style of ramen being produced by Shibuyatei.
Bushuair 121-4600 No 3 Road Richmond, BC (604) 285-3668
Those who are familiar with Bushuair know that it is infamous for two things: its many names (it has been called Gordon Park, Aroma Garden, the Xiangcai Museum/Pavilion, and now finally Bushuair); and its menu is peppered with hilariously endearing Chinese to English mistranslations.
Hunan cuisine will probably never attain the level of acceptance of Sichuan food in this part of the world. Hunan and Sichuan share some similarities – they are both known to be spicy cuisines that rely on the chili pepper for much of their flavour profiles. Hunan cuisine is more assertive in its use of chilies. Hunan cooks use fresh and pickled chilies about as much as dried. One type of Hunan dried chili – Hunan White Chili is particularly incendiary in the Scoville scale of chili pepper heat. It is this heat – which can go on unabated throughout the meal – that provides a challenge for the prevailing Cantonese palate here. Sichuan cuisine has the potential to reach this level of spiciness, but more often than not, the dishes are mitigated by a a balance of sweetness and spiciness…and most importantly of ma la - or the numbing heat introduced by Sichuan peppercorn. (The Sichuan peppercorns provide an antidote to the chili pepper’s capsaicin.)
X.O. Vietnamese Style Food Yaohan Centre, 3700 #3 Road Richmond, BC (604) 231-9878
The food court in the Yaohan Centre is probably the first time I’ve ever experienced an Asian mall food court in the GVRD, thinking back on it now it probably goes back a good decade or so. While my memories are somewhat faint, I recall the supermarket there (before the arrival of the T&T’s of the world), as the only place that had those distinctly Asian food products and ingredients all under one roof. Strangely, I can also remember once upon a time, there being a ramen place in this exact food court and having it there are a youth.
Its pleasing to know this place is still around and seemingly prospering. I usually stick to one side of this area where the fast food chinese stalls are, and the noodle place on the corner. And thus this time, I thought I’d venture to the opposite end and see if there was anything of interest. After doing a walk-by of all the spots, passing on some barbecued duck, noodles, etc. the hot pans of simmering curry dishes at X.O. Vietnamese Style Food caught my eye. Kind of an unusual combination I thought. Though they did have the typical Vietnamese soup noodle item that I have way too much of these days.
Katsu-ya Sushi 7900 Westminster Highway, Unit 101 Richmond, BC (604) 232-9770
As I think back to foodosophy‘s early days, I can recall a lot more random outings like these where I had no specific eating intention or destination but ended up taking the proverbial “bullet for the team”. While in Richmond dealing with some business matters recently on this particular block, I did so again and ended up ducking quickly into the nearest place to warm up (man, is it ever cold these days!) and get a quick meal rather than seek out something specifically and have to drive around this city which tends to have its own logistical challenges. While I did not engage in a wider round of choices from their menu as I was dining for one (Follow Me Foodie ate other items apparently) at Katsu-ya Sushi, I did end up having much the same kind of experience. Here is my take on things…
A simple setup, I knew immediately that I had to make a quick call. Keep going or step back out (into the cold). The temperature won and I resigned myself to asking for a spot for one. A female server glanced over to an empty table (another was occupied by a group of four men, who seemed to be their on their lunch break, and looked to have been employed at a construction site judging from their steel-toed boots). I received the laminated menu sheet and decided to play it safe and go with one of their set combinations. “A”, I think it was. Strangely, the woman did not say a single word to me when I entered, gave my order and when I went up to the til to pay. I think there was some shyness and language issues involved, so can accept that.
Nan Chuu Japanese Izakaya
1160-8391 Alexandra Road
Its been a while since this visit to Richmond actually took place, but as with many restaurant experiences, something that happened remains strongly ingrained in my memory that I just can’t shake and its what I’ve come to associate with Nan Chuu as a result. Marketing and branding experts would call this a touch point or moment of truth – when a customer comes into contact with any dimension of the restaurant and something is noticed, assessed and interpreted about the enterprise. For me on this particular weekday evening (incidentally not too early or late enough to avoid the horribly inadequate parking situation near this part of town), it was the a flurry of awkward service interactions that disrupted the enjoyment of an otherwise decent array of dishes sampled.
It stemmed from an apparent lack of training or preparedness on the part of both the experienced Japanese-speaking veteran servers and those who clearly had no idea what a waitress is supposed to do. The language barrier between the Japanese and Chinese speaking staff was apparent to me. From what I could overhear from the obvious floor manager/lead wait staff member, there was also a new girl who had recently come to BC after a working-holiday stint in one of Banff’s better known Japanese restaurants. She seemed to know what she was doing from the get-go, but was getting some finer tips from her team lead. There were two other girls who looked identical to eat other with their dark colored hipster glasses and long dark hair, and my guess would have put them at barely being legal to serve alcoholic beverages.
Now that we’re rolling into the fall season and coming back from various journeys over the summer, I thought it would be a good time to do another one of these consolidated posts and provide an update on previously visited places again as a refresher. The links throughout will lead you to original posts and/or commentary on follow up visits. If in doubt if you’ve viewed them all, please do a search on the main page for all your queries…
Previous editions of multi-restaurant/monthly recaps: 1, 2, 3, 4
O’Tray (Tianjin Flavours)
2285 – 8181 Cambie Road President Plaza
The topic of street food often comes up in discussion amongst this city’s food-obsessed. We longingly look to Asia where street food has been elevated to artform. Or even a few hundred kilometers south to the city Portland deemed a streetfood mecca by the American food press. Portland has hundreds of street carts serving fairly mediocre, but sometimes great streetfood. “Why do we have to settle for hotdogs and chestnuts?”, we ask rhetorically. Now that the City of Vancouver’s street food initiative is underway, we finally have some hope. But if you look hard enough, you will find street food here….but not on the street. Street food lives in the city’s Asian food courts.
Those who have been to Singapore know the story well. The city (perhaps my favourite city in which to eat) used to have thousands of quasi-legal food carts and stalls that served often sublime (but inexpensive) food. In the spirit of modernization, the Singapore city government forced all these stalls to operate within government regulated “hawker centres” or food courts. Many of these are built into the parking stall levels of mid-rise residential buildings.
Guu in Aberdeen
4151 Hazelbridge Way
I’ve come out and said it beforebut my personal desire to explore the full realm of the Vancouver izakaya scene is not exactly the strongest. Again, its not that they are bad or a terrible bastardization of this unique genre of dining out found in Japan, but that the context is lost on me and my memories of many izakaya outings overseas has ruined me and thus nothing will ever compare. I’m sure I’d say the same for other specific segments of popular national food from around the globe if I had the similar depth and breadth of experience such as say in the diverse Liguria regional cuisine of Italy or the so called ‘rainbow cuisine’ that is reputed to be available in Southern Africa. Any transplanted replica outside of those regions would just seem, well, how can I put it… “off”?
I suppose I should relax this hesitation I feel whenever I hear the names of well known joints such as Hapa, Kingyo, and so on. Believe me I’ve tried. And a pair of visits to the Guu chain should be proof that I’m not all that stubborn in my beliefs. This particular post is about the Aberdeen location, found in that shopping mall in Richmond best known for drivers in the parking lot who feel that there is nothing wrong with holding up a long line of cars just to secure a precious parking spot near one of the mall entrances.
Hakkasan Contemporary Chinese Cuisine
110-2188 #5 Road
Taking a cuisine with the length and depth of history that Chinese cooking has and making bold adjustments and giving it a contemporary twist in an environment like Richmond, that is stocked with a multitude of restaurant choices from the east Asia region. must be acknowledged for its bravery. Hakkasan does just that with their aim of bringing the visual impact of traditional Chinese dishes and ingredients to the forefront, in this out-of-the-way location in an industrial/commercial district of this waterside city. Supported by an eye-catching website and a rotation of various special and tasting menus (with no fear about raising some culinary sustainability flags by showcasing one right now on shark’s fin), this sleek operation has found a way to rise above the field and make some inroads with the local food loving community.
The regular dinner menu is separated out into groupings that one would normally find with Chinese restaurant menus (e.g. by protein, rice/noodle, dessert, etc.) but without the numerical references that go into the hundreds that you can find on occasion at those all-purpose Chinese places that try to cater to a very generic audience. After being seated and examining our choices, including the higher priced promotional tasting menus, my dining partner and I settled on the monthly dining special – priced at around $29/person.
12111 3rd Avenue
An early morning visit to Steveston village precipitated the need to indulge in that classic weekend jump start – bad coffee and breakie in a greasy spoon – as we were in dire need of some sustenance and were tired of driving and walking around. Just another random stop resulting in a brief foodosophy posting, I swear if not for the sake of filling up space on this blog, I’d probably never step foot into them. :)
Situated across the street from the relic buildings of an old cannery and a museum featuring the same, as well as a pub next door, the Steveston Cafe is a definitive example of a small town breakfast joint. Nothing extravagant on the outside, and indoors, full of young families, and older folks who are probably on some kind of fixed income support and appreciate the low prices of diners like this.
While there is still general interest in checking out the new hot spots as well as venturing into random finds, it seems lately there is a draw also to those places we’ve been to before that were either eye opening on first glance or generally consistent in subsequent visits that keep bringing us back. Here’s a few more updates on previous foodosophy write ups…
Shoryumen Noodle House
7100 Elmbridge Way
It has been a while since I was last in this area of Richmond. In fact, my main purpose of driving out there was for other reasons and I just happened to come across this hijacked car park that is now devoted to three separate food trailers and is chain-link fenced off in its own little private prison yard. I’m curious to see if there is any further expansion or perhaps a more properly cordoned off area, perhaps with some increased commercial sponsorship to make this more than just a stand-and-eat attraction. If anyone can do it, its those astute, savvy, well-monied Chinese business people who have made Richmond a well known foodie destination.
Of the trio of stands currently occupying this space, the one serving up the most familiar (to most) food is perhaps Shoryumen. Quick and easy Japanese soup noodles. With all of the competition in the Vancouver area for ramen being prepared in more proper environments, I had my serious doubts that anything remotely adequate could be made out of the back of a trailer.