Hakkasan – Richmond, BC

Hakkasan Contemporary Chinese Cuisine
110-2188 #5 Road
Richmond, BC
(604) 273-9191

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.

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Balans Café – London, UK

Balans Café
Unit 1034, Southern Terrace
Westfield Shopping Centre, Ariel Way
London, UK
+44 020 8600 3320

Open every day for lunch and dinner
Monday – Friday & Sunday: 9:00am – 11:00pm
Saturday: 8:00am – 11:00pm

The London Underground, also affectionately known as “the Tube”, is a convenient way to navigate the city when you are car-less in London.  Ironically, not all of the rail network is even below ground.  With its distinct logo, the stations are easy to pick out from the street, making for effective navigation by tourists and locals alike.

In the West London district is an area called Shepherd’s Bush.  Walking around the green park common area, I found it had an interesting character – with a balanced mixture of small businesses and eateries, outlets of larger corporations, entertainment complexes and residences.  As I made my way up and down the streets, just exploring on my won, I saw an assortment of people, some young, some old, some working class and some dressed up like they have a white collar office job.  With the large hub of transportation (including a large bus terminal), the area seemed to my novice eyes as a transit-heavy spot, with intersecting modes and lines of transport shutting people into and out of the core of London city.

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Negative Space – Richmond, BC

Negative Space Chinese Restaurant
1030-8888 Odlin Crescent
Richmond, BC
(604) 821-0755

The naming of this restaurant situated in a strip mall just off the intersection of Cambie Road and Garden City Road in Richmond is to me, a fine example of twisting things around and boldly challenging the perceived connotations of the English words, in a weird reverse psychology sort of way. After all, who in their right mind would deliberately name their fledging business, and a service-oriented one to boot, with such a word that suggests interpretations and feelings such as ‘invalidating’, ‘unaffirmative’, and just out right ‘refusing’. Even upon first read, to me it gives the sense of an empty, barren place – again, not the ideal word association for a restaurant, the kind of business that welcomes and needs customers and to be full to make a profit. Alas, perhaps I’m reading too much into it and there is a rationale or explanation behind it. Maybe it was taken as a direct English meaning from the Chinese language characters, or is just another sad case of bizarre English translation?

In any event, I only came upon it as I had mistakenly forgotten that Sushi Hachi around the corner is not open for lunch, and I made the turn and came across their still open sigh, even thought it was getting late into any lunch time service, approximately 2:30pm. With little else to choose from as I was on foot, my friend and I decided to enter the establishment. An uninterested fellow was slouched on a chair near the cashier, and seemed to be watching a computer screen of some kind. A younger boy who was apparently the lone server quickly showed us to an empty table (there was another pair of customers inside already) near the corner window. As we sensed they were shutting things down soon for the lunch service, we quickly picked two of the basic combination plates, both featuring a meat, some veggies, a soup and a side of steamed rice.

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