September 09, 2010 | | Comments 71

Looking at Richmond’s Food Courts in a Different Light — The Parker Place Food Court

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.

Cheh!

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?

Connie's Curry Kitchen (Parker Place) on UrbanspoonShanghai Goodies (Parker Place) on UrbanspoonJoy's Taiwanese Kitchen (Parker Place) on Urbanspoon

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  1. James says:

    Hey Ben, This is exactly why you hit your milestone the other day. You uncover and demystify good eats in such detail!

    I love the food @ Parker Place and think I’ll being heading that way again soon when I’m back from Toronto next week.

    Keep up the good work bro,

    James

  2. Chris says:

    oooo…you should try the marinated duck in one of the stalls. It is excellent!!

    • Crispy Lechon says:

      Yes!! The marinated duck Chiu Chow style. I love it. It’s the stall right next to Joy’s Taiwanese Kitchen.

      • Ben says:

        M-a-r-i-n-a-t-e-d D-u-c-k C-h-i-u C-h-o-w S-t-y-l-e … on it! Will go for it the the next time we’re in Parker Place.

        Anything else? How about the stall called Good Food? They seems to have a wide variety of food but am not sure what’s good.

  3. Crispy Lechon says:

    Hi Ben, I’m glad you like the food in Connie’s Curry Kitchen. Actually, that is the stall name listed in the Parker Place website. You might be right. Connie could be the nice lady serving in the counter. I’m surprised that they didn’t increase their prices because of HST. I usually order 2 items there, pork intestines and beef tripe. Hey, I counted 4 mentions of my name Crispy. 5 if you include the “crispy cucumber”. LOL

  4. Thomas says:

    I dont know if this counts. But there’s an asian food court in Henderson’s Mall near Coquitlam Centre. Mostly Korean stalls but a pretty decent Shanghainese stall too.

  5. fmed says:

    This is great, Ben. I usually go to get roast pork at Parker Place…and get couple of packs of Dragon’s Beard at the stall at the end. I rarely go to Empire Center…but I will remediate that soon!

    Is this the beginning of a series of foodcourt blog posts then?

    • Ben says:

      Hi fmed: He he he … I had been going to a few food courts, more than I usually do. Used to just go and grab the food but I thought I should focus not just on the food court but on the stall and their specialties. This trip to Parker Place opened my eyes that there are so many great eats … and stories to tell that yeah … I want to do proper justice and cover the better stalls as best as I can. I need everyone’s help to navigate all these places. I think the readers will like a series on Asian food courts.

      Ben

      • Elaine says:

        I hate the Dragon’s Beard there =S I remember it being really dry and hard. Night market ones are the best!

      • fmed says:

        There is one more food court: the one at H-Mart on Robson St. Korean stalls and a Sushi stall at the very end.

      • fmed says:

        The Singapore Jerky at the very end is pretty good too…not Bee Kim Heng good, but good for Richmond.

        • grayelf says:

          I tried the jerky from there (they give samples) and found it too soft and “wet” — maybe an off day? I also got some from the stall in Aberdeen on the main floor (IIRC) and it was a bit mealy and too fishy tasting for me. Bee Kim Heng is the winner and still champeen for me, despite it’s higher cost per pound.

          • LotusRapper says:

            Hey isn’t Bee Kim Heng on Fraser at 26th ? I seen their sign when I go buy my frozen dumplings etc. at Gah Lok Dim Sum

          • grayelf says:

            It sure is. And BTW I’m not sure I ever thanked you for the Gah Lok referral, which I also got from bdachow on CH. Super nice guy there who explained all the mysteriously wrapped packages and how to ID them by the string configuration :-).

          • LotusRapper says:

            Isn’t that cool ? Like they have an entire cryptic system of ID-ing the sticky rice wraps. I wonder if it’s proprietary and each shop has their own string configuration.

            BTW Grayelf, Fmed said there is another vendor in President Plaza(??) who makes better frozen jiaozi/dumplings than Gah Lok. I don’t routinely go to Richmond for my shopping, and Gah Lok is mere minutes from my home by car, so until a President Plaza visit I’ll continue to go to GL.

          • grayelf says:

            I’ve tried the dumplings from the place in PP twice, and taken them home frozen too. Deffo worth trying…

  6. Lily says:

    Within the boundaries of Vancouver, I could only think of two Asian-style food courts: Chinatown Plaza (where Floata Seafood Restaurant is) and the food court on the 2nd floor of the International Village (down by Abbott and Keefer). The three stalls at Chinatown Plaza are pretty “crappy”. They serve cheap quality but fair portions of food at low prices. If management were really serious about setting up an Asian-style food court, a la Richmond, they should really vet who their potential tenants are. I think there’s real potential down there. It could be an attraction in Vancouver Chinatown to have a variety of “real” Chinese street food available. Plus, an attached parkade… At International Village, I ate dinner prior to a movie upstairs at the Chinese stall at the end. I bypassed the steam table fare for a Taiwanese style beef noodle. I had to ask for it by pointing to a hand-written poster for it. It was made to order, and I was quite pleased with the quality. An existing food court with possibilities.

  7. Elaine says:

    Yesss sauce is jup! Hehehe!

    I loved going to eat at Parker Place when I was younger with not much cash =P

    • LotusRapper says:

      And jup goes with rice :-D

      Sheesh, of your list I’ve only been to the FC’s marked by (LR):

      Aberdeen Center (LR)
      Parker Place
      Empire Center
      Yaohan Center (LR)
      President Plaza (LR)
      Pacific Plaza
      Richmond Public Market (LR)
      Crystal Mall in Burnaby (LR)

      I’ve never even set foot inside Pacific Plaza.

      My favorite FC so far is RPM.

  8. Chris says:

    I used to eat at Parker a lot when I was younger but I haven’t been there in ages for a meal!

    There’s actually one stall in that food court (I don’t know the name, it’s the last one on the left side of your food court picture above the Curry Kitchen photo) that makes absolutely fantastic “wind sand chicken wings”. That’s the literal translation from Cantonese, they’re a type of fried chicken. There’s a stall in Aberdeen that has become pretty well known for this type of chicken wing, but I think this place in Parker is even better.

    My favourite FC is Crysta Mall because of this one stall that has super good shao long bao and this other stall that has fantastic Red Bean Rice Ball drinks. I have both every time I’m there!

  9. Pinoy Gourmet says:

    Hi Ben Actually the food court at International Village is not bad given its proximity to Chinatown and downtown,A lot of Asian office people eat lunch there and there is a Korean themed food court of about 10 food stalls all Korean except for 1 lone Japanese one at the 2nd floor of H Mart on the corner of Robson and Seymour.Great for your Bulgogi,Bibimbap fix and finally one near the corner of Pender and Hornby with Filipino,Chinese,Indian,Greek and others under 1 roof

  10. Crispy Lechon says:

    Some suggestions in Parker Place:

    1. Lohan Chai on rice in the veggie stall. I order that whenever I feel I need to add some veggie in my diet.

    2. Spicy wonton in the Shanghai stall. I personally havent tried this but I read in a food blog that it is good there.

    3. Pork potage soup with noodles in Joy’s Taiwanese stall. We call it maki-mi in the Philippines. They used to have a Taiwanese restaurant along Granville in Richmond across from the PetroCanada gas station. They were one of the first Taiwanese restaurants in Richmond.

    4. Icy dessert from that dessert place. I also get the tofu-fa (tofu pudding) with taro topping from there. Its actually cheaper there than that tofu place near Aberdeen mall.

    5. Roast duck and barbq pork on rice from that barbq place beside Connie’s Curry Kitchen. Their barbq meats are decent and they give you bigger portions.

    6. Deep fried chicken wings from that Vietnamese stall. I think this is the one the other commenter mentioned.

    There are other good eats in PP like baked pork chop on rice etc. I just dont normally order them.

    In the Pacific Plaza FC, I usually go to the Hainan chicken rice stall. It’s pretty good and I think as good or better than the one in Empire centre. Its also cheaper. I guess you know me by now. Im uber cheap. LOL.

    • Crispy Lechon says:

      Correction on the Hainan chicken stall. It’s actually in Admiralty Centre foodcourt. Ben, thats another Asian foodcourt to add to your list. Its on the second floor of the building where the Taiwanese bakery Maple Castella is located. Corner of Odlin Crescent and McKim Way.

  11. Pinoy Gourmet says:

    Crispy I guess you must really know whats good in Parker Place,But the Asian population of population is not only in Richmond and not exclusively Chinese,Thats why the Korean themed Food courts of downtown Vancouver and Coquitlam and the Indian dominated food courts of Surrey are also worth exploring

    • fmed says:

      A food court tour through Coquitlam and Surrey would be fantastic. I’ve been to Henderson Place in Coquitlam – it is a bit of a ghost town. Are there others that I am missing? Where are the Indian themed ones in Surrey?

      • Ben says:

        *clap* *clap* *clap* … I have no idea there are so many Asian food courts. I would certainly love to check out Indian themed ones for sure. Too many east Asian ones already! Ben

        • LotusRapper says:

          I can see a new Chowtimes eating series …… 8GFCGV: 8 Great Food Courts of Greater Vancouver :-D

          • Ben says:

            Hi LotusRapper: He he he … writing a 8GFCGV series would be a lot cheaper than 8GTCC. It would be cheaper for our dine outs too. Ever since the dastardly Hated Sales Tax was forced on us, we do feel that dining outs are more expensive. Ben

      • LotusRapper says:

        Never heard of East Indian FCs, but if one were to stroll down Scott Road (120 St) between 96 and 88 Ave and hit all the strip malls it’d be sort of the same idea ;-)

        Or Main @ 49th, but I notice all the new shops popping up there tend to be clothing-related.

        • fmed says:

          A variant of this quest is the “stripmall restaurant tour”. That opens it right up as there are so many excellent ones situated in stripmalls. Lots of Korean ones in Coquitlam that deserve some coverage, for example.

          • LotusRapper says:

            That would be even better (at least for me), whereby the requisite walking between strip malls would facilitate calorie expenditures :-)

  12. Pinoy Gourmet says:

    fmed regarding the H-Mart Food Court,You have to try one with Korean noodle soups and stews near the middle of the food court.My Korean officemate says that its really authentic with home made Korean noodles and the Sushi is served Korean style with red pepper sauce as an option instead of wasabi

  13. iluvtofish says:

    There is an asian food court on 152nd street in Surrey in the mall where TNT is (across from Guildford. Its smaller but has basically the same types of stalls, Taiwanese noodle, Vietnamese Ban Mi, Curry King, Bubble tea etc..

  14. PinoyGourmet says:

    Ben,doing the 8 great Asian food courts of greater Vancouver might be fun to do and much more affordable for those with more modest budgets.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Pinoy Gourmet: If I remember correctly, this was organized once before in vanchow. Maybe that is the best way to organize one? But seriously, I can’t take on anything else although food court events sound like a great idea. :-) Ben

      • LotusRapper says:

        A $55 budget (per person) can probably cover all 8 food courts, lol !

        I have another idea …… at each of 8 FCs, the selection of food vendors will be drawn randomly amongst the participants, such that the participants don’t have a “choice” in which vendor to go other than the one they drawn. Also, each person would be allotted a fixed budget (ie: $10). That would IMO make quite an interesting “potluck” of dishes to come together and be shared.

        Sounding this could be a Van Chowdown event too.

        Ben – you wish to take on an inaugural 8GFCGV event, based on the approach above ? They might be fun and cheap “fillers” in-between 8GTCC dinners.

      • grayelf says:

        There have been three “official” Vanchow chowdowns at food courts: Feb 2010 at Crystal Mall
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/691117?tag=search_results;results_list

        Apr 2010 at President’s Plaza (can’t find the linK)

        and June 2010 at RPM and PP http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/715225?tag=search_results;results_list

        • LotusRapper says:

          So following that cycle we’re overdue for one …….

          I’m kinda tied up this entire month with being Mr. Mom (Mrs. LR out of town). I’d LOVE to organize a chowdown at some time, but this time around it could end up being an embarrassingly “epic fail” if I can’t make it last minute. Sorry !

  15. etranger says:

    There is an H-Mart on Robson downtown with a food court upstairs. It is a good place to get a cheap meal. Down the block is the new Japadog restaurant.

    A food court tour (or for me, visit) would be fun because I would have a very hard time ordering with no Cantonese in a loud and high pressure environment!

  16. Frank says:

    Hello all…what a great post and thread…

    I agree dollar for dollar nothing beats the Food Court scene in Richmond…being from Nanaimo with lack of variety for me it is like going to Disneyland

    thanks to all for the suggestions – will be definitely going to check some these new places out this weekend after we go to Chef Bo’s new place

    cheers
    frank

  17. Gloria says:

    I’d recommend trying the “Dan Dan Mien” @ the Shanghai place, it’s delicious. Not like many places Dan Dan Mien, its a bit drier and cheap too! Give it a try, it’s under $5 as well.
    Their ja jang mien is good too (lots of chopped garlic FYI)

  18. Yes Ben the “jup” if I understand your english translation of the sound correctly should be sauce! Kind of like ket sup or bat sup….ketchup or white sauce.

    Hehe, Shanghai shumai is basically sticky rice. :) But most places that I know of don’t term it as shumai to confuse people, they call it sticky rice dumpling.

  19. LotusRapper says:

    OK, I’m going out to Parker Place FC tonight ! Taking LR Jr. and my parents. Hope they don’t close too early (ie: before 7pm).

  20. TimeToChow says:

    wow very impressive list of fc. as usual ben you uncover and share so much.

    parker has some interesting eats for sure. all well documented here in the comments section. Connnie’s is a good choice. i prefer the one in yaohan for the mixed meat. it’s the same stall as the one that serves the fried chicken and beside cafe d’light. i think it is called wa fung.

    been to all except pacific plaza, which is on the second floor of where sushi hachi is if i am not mistaken. what is good here? i imagine similar to the admiralty(hk cafe, noodles and light lunch) and catering to the businesses in this area.

    crispy lechon, is the hainamese chciken rice stall at admiralty serving other items as well and located on the right corner on its own when you are facing the stall?

    will have to try the shanghai stall next time i am at parker.

    LR, what did you end up having at parker? they do close around 7. i think crystal has some very good selection. but rpm has better value. but to me a food court should have more choices and options. ben you should explain what food court centers are like in Singapore and Malaysia. i cant think about it. it makes me hungry…..

    • Crispy Lechon says:

      Hi TTC. IIRC the Hainan chicken stall also have a good beef brisket on rice, pork tongue and other internals. They also have different styles of cooked chicken aside from the Hainan style. Yes the stall is at the end on its own. I think its across from the elevator. Its run by a nice husband and wife team.

    • Ben says:

      Hi TimeToChow:

      We went to Pacific Plaza just a few days ago. It is a dead mall but they do have interesting stalls. I think I do have something interesting to write about that place but I’ll leave it for next week. After the lunch in Pacific Plaza, we walked over to Admiralty. While we did not eat there, the stalls are much livelier. We would definitely want to go some day soon.

      Food courts in Malaysia? I think I’ll leave it to some other time and make a proper post about it. The variety in food courts and glutton squares is so astounding that it’s impossible to capture properly in comments. It is a dream of mine that one day we have a Malaysian style glutton square opened in Vancouver with 20 stalls ringing the square. I know it will be a hit with Vancouverites … and if that comes to fruition, will empty all the HK Style Cafes, BBT Houses, food courts and dessert houses in an instant. I am sure it will half the attendance in the Richmond Night Market too. LOL! Ben

  21. [...] Some one mentioned that the Parker Place food court also has the stall that is famous for the wind-sand chicken wings. I thought this stall would also be one of the original “gangsters” of the sand-wind chicken wings. Moreover, we wanted to make a return visit to Parker Place to have a closer look at the Shanghainese food stall. Our earlier blog entry on the Parker Place food court is here on this link. [...]

  22. [...] you remember this post when I said I was beginning to look at Richmond’s Food Courts in a different light, I listed eight food courts and so far done five of them. I had written at some point Aberdeen [...]

  23. Lissa says:

    Ben, I’m dreaming too on the Malaysian food court style square right here in Vancouver. Boy, will it blow everyone away. Right now, I just want someone to open an authentic mamak stall here.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Lissa:

      Yeah, I dream that one day I could operate a Malaysian style glutton square. He he he … I was driving along No 3 Road in Richmond and you know, there is an empty, quite useless spot behind the Brighouse Skytrain station. That spot would have been PERFECT for a mamak stall (complete with flying roti canai and pulled tea/teh tarik) … or even better, a complete glutton square. People coming back from work, gets off the Skytrain and then “lepak” at the stalls. Yeah, that would blow away Vancouverites. It will even make the Richmond Summer Night Market looking sad in comparison. LOL!

      But, logistically, it will be challenging. It is the weather, the health codes, the authenticity and most importantly the pricing that are some of the few things that weighs so heavily against the entire idea. To me it MUST be outdoors or else it is just another food court. To me also, it must be CHEAPER than anywhere else — or else it will be another of the overpriced food cart food in Vancouver. Most importantly, it has to be authentic … food prepared by the people who had been doing the same thing for generations.

      It’s a dream. Wake me up! LOL!

      Ben

  24. LotusRapper says:

    I was at Parker Place last week to do some errands. Got a bit hungry from the wafts of delicious pungent smells emanating from the food court. Well I just had to go satiate my hunger …. duty calls ! Ended up at Shanghai Goodies, and ordered the “thin crepe wrap with Chinese doughnut”. I thought this was the traditional sesame “shaobing” sandwiching the crueller. Wrong. The order came and it was a large thin pan-fried green onion pancake wrapping the freshly-fried crueller. Oh lordy. Or maybe it was more “oh lardy” …… there was more than enough flaky lardy goodness in this monstrosity to push my bad LDLs past the end of the gauge. And it was totally delish. Had I had a cardiac arrest on the spot, at least my last bite was heavenly :D

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