I had been thinking about my limited forays into food courts … and how I had been missing out on some of the best food there are.
I was trying to count the number of Asian food courts that I know. I was surprised that we have eight Asian food courts in Metro Vancouver. Seven of them, understandably, are in Richmond. The lone one outside of Richmond is the Crystal Mall food court in Burnaby.
Here are the ones I know of:
- Aberdeen Center
- Parker Place
- Empire Center (*)
- Yaohan Center
- President Plaza
- Pacific Plaza
- Admiralty Center
- Richmond Public Market (*)
- Crystal Mall in Burnaby (*)
And of these, about the only ones I regularly go to is the ones that are marked (*).
View Richmond’s Food Courts in a larger map
I go to the Crystal Mall FC just because it is close to my place of work and they have cheap and fast food. We go to the Richmond Public Market mainly because of the shaved ice.
The only place that we like going back again and again is … might be surprising to you … is the one in the Empire Center. Some people don’t even know where Empire Center is, but they do know where Hon’s used to be and where Shiang Garden is. I bet a lot of people does not even know there is a food court there.
So we asked ourselves … what is it that we like about the Empire Center’s FC? It has to be that it is very quiet and relatively unknown. We like the slow pace and the quietness. We go there also because we enjoy the food in three of the stalls and we blogged about it here and here.
Then I was thinking … if these three stalls (James Snacks Claypot Rice, Choi House Specialty Chicken and Lai Leung Kee Meat Organs) are what practically makes us comes back again and again, what about the others food courts? What are their so-called anchor tenants? What are the stalls that fills the food court everyday … and that everyone talks about?
I thought that is an interesting topic … and I thought that it will be something that you would be interested to read about … and to discuss about too. I find that food courts are interesting because people seems to know the people behind the stalls … and also stories.
So, I am going to start with Parker Place today. The reason I am starting here is because Crispy Lechon told me in this post about Tri-Pot that there is a stall in Parker Place that has about the same type of food but cheaper.
We go to Parker Place … a lot. It had always been because we wanted to buy roast pork which we like a lot (see write-up here). However, we had never eaten in the food court, neither do we have a desire to check them out. Until now.
It was an eye opener the day we decided to eat there. The place was absolutely packed. It is almost impossible to get a table. We had to stand behind a table who is finishing up just to get a table. Everyone seems to be doing that … get a table first, have someone sit and secure the table while other go get the food. If you are not used to this chaos, you better stay away.
We counted about 15-20 food stalls and they are widely represented with very few repetition. There are Shanghainese, Vegetarian, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Taiwanese, bubble tea, snacks … you name it. Now that we had a closer look at each of the stalls and the menus, we were very impressed and thought that this is a place we would love to come back several times just to check out the more interesting stalls.
Crispy said that the stall that sells the meat organ dishes is called Connie’s. We went two rounds and couldn’t find any stall with the name Connie’s. We had to check the comment again on chowtimes. Apparently, he said Connie’s Curry Kitchen. Seems like he knows “Connie”. He must be a regular that he is on a first name basis with Connie.
It was a good deal like Crispy said. It is just $4 for two types of meat of your choice … and for $5.50, I get to choose … three types of meat and along with it a choice of noodles too.
The lady who took my order is very friendly and very patient with me despite how busy the stall is. You see, I can’t read the Chinese signs and I had to ask her how the ordering works. Moreover, the place was so noisy that I couldn’t hear her properly and had to ask her to repeat several times. I like her. I wonder if she is Connie.
The three items I ended up with is (from top, clockwise) … pork skin, pork intestines and beef tendon. It was great!
The biggest satisfaction is that it is so ridiculously cheap.
For the noodles, I had the yee mein which was equally superb. I need to also call out the soup … very flavourful. They asked me if I wanted to add some “jup” to the broth and I said yes. I got to choose the “jup” from the various meat options. What is the word for “jup”? Sauce?
Suanne headed to the Taiwanese stall called Joy’s Taiwanese Kitchen. That stalls seems to be the most popular stall in the Parker Place FC. We see lots of people milling around that stall.
She got the Taiwanse Pork Sauce on Rice which we know is the cheapest rice dish you could get in any Taiwanese restaurant. It is so common and it is always the cheapest rice dish.
This one above is $3.75. While there are a lot of rice, it was just pork sauce on rice. There are no pickles and other stuff you normally get as extra ingredients. This is a good and cheap meal.
Suanne also got the Spicy Cucumber for ($3.50) from Joy’s. The cucumber is soggy and not as crispy but at least it is still had the crunch.
The spiciness is different from the ones we normally had in Sichuan restaurants. The chili sauce here looked clear (not red) but the spiciness still packs a punch.
After out meal, we took another round the food court. I was really impressed with the Shanghainese stall above.
What I was impressed with is their prices. None of the items on the menu is above $6.25. Most of them at $4 only.
And some of the pictures of the food were things we had never seen before … particularly this one …
This is called the Shanghai Siu Mai ($3.75). We were already full but we wanted to give this a try. It was hard asking them what it is and we just went by the name and the photo.
We half expected that this is some kind of a soup dumpling. I mean, Shanghainese cuisine is famous for their Xiao Long Bao.
No it was not a soup dumpling. Shaped like a money bag, the size is quite big and heavy. For $3.75 and the amount of food, we thought it was a good deal.
Actually it is just filled with sticky rice with mushroom in it.
I thought it was something more than that. Still it was pretty good and am sure a lot of people will like it. Actually, I shouldn’t complain. After all, it is just $3.75.
Yeah, despite this, we are going to come back someday to just cover this stall.
I am sure many of you have been to the Parker Place food court before. For those of you familiar with this food court, let us know what is your favourite stall … and what is the must try dish.
Hmmm … which food court will I cover next?