October 21, 2010 | | Comments 54

Yaohan Center Food Court — Go After 6PM

A long long time ago, we used to go to Yaohan … a lot. Those were the days when we did not have a job and when we decide to dine out, it is to this food court. It was the cheapest and the mostest food that we could get. Yeah, those were the days way before chowtimes when food was not central in our lives — getting our money go a longer way was.

At some point we stopped going to Yaohan. The reason was parking. It is always full, especially around meal times. Getting a spot is close to impossible because there are a few cars idling on each parking lane waiting for someone to vacate a spot. It was THAT bad … and it still is.

So we often just go a couple of rounds around the car park and if we don’t find a spot, we give up. Sometimes I will drive over to President Plaza next door and park in the multi-level parking. But whatever you do, do NOT try to park in the parking lots in front of Rainflower or Canadian Tire. They are very efficient in towing away cars. Be warned!

The name Yaohan was very famous around Asia. It was one of the biggest if not the biggest supermarket chain in Asia. But over time it fell on bad times and went out of business. It was quite a shock when it happened but I guess retail and supermarket chains comes and go every now and then.

The Yaohan Center, located north of Cambie on the No 3 Road, still retains the logo and the name. It no longer has anything to do with the long gone Yaohan. The anchor tenant today is another supermarket called Osaka. Osaka is actually owned by T&T who in turn has recently bought over by Loblaw. Yes, the Osaka Supermarket is the culprit that causes that perpetual traffic jam at the Yaohan Center.

The other culprit for all the cars is the food court. This is a nice food court. It is bright and clean, unlike many other Asian food courts in Richmond. Other than the much newer Aberdeen Center, this is perhaps the best Asian food court there is.

I can see that it food court is well managed. The stalls are diverse enough with a lot of major Asian cuisines represented … and most of them are pretty good.

We used to come here for the rice/noodle combo meals. It was the cheapest rice/noodle combo meals we knew of and I think to this day it is still the cheapest.

The reason is because of these three stalls side by side. These three stalls serves pretty much the same thing and they compete neck to neck with one another. The three stalls are Chun Hing Cuisine, Golden Rice Bowl and Pak Tak. Everyone who comes here regularly has their own favourite, I guess. For us, it is the one on the furthest left, Chun Hing.

We like Chun Hing simply because their food looks the most delicious. I like the way they pile up their food very high in a mound. They have about 25 varieties to choose from, just like the other stalls.

The prices in all three stalls are the same actually. You can choose three items ($5.99) or two items ($5.50) together with steam rice, fried rice or fried noodles. Yeah, we always go with the 3 items. I wonder how many would want to go with the two items combo when it is just 50 cents for an additional choice.

But here is a tip … you want a great deal, you must go just before 6PM. Yeah, we deliberately went at 5:45PM that day just to stake out the stall for you all. LOL! Also, we had to get a strategic table so that we can provide you visual proof of the synchronized maneuver by each of the three stalls.

You see … everyday at 6:00PM sharp, this happens at the same time …

Yeah, they flip the sign over and that’s when everything goes a lot cheaper!

From 2 items for $5.50 or 3 items for $5.99, it suddenly becomes $5.50 for FOUR items. :-) Yeah, in those days when money was tight, we dine out at Yaohan at 6PM … no reservation required.

Value for money … lookee, lookee! I am not sure but I think it is cheaper than the Richmond Public Market. In those good old days when the After-6PM-four-item-combo was even less than the current $5.50, we could feed the whole family for less than $10. Our boys were toddlers and they shared our food.

I remember those days. Life was a lot more simpler with lesser care in the world.

I loved the honey garlic pork (left) today as much I did then. The one on the right is deep fried chicken, another of my favourite choices.

These stalls makes excellent “choy” (a generic Cantonese term that refers to any food that goes with rice or noodles) and my theory is that it is because they make these everyday. Over the years and doing this repeatedly, they had perfected their rendition of these dishes.

So yeah … just go to Yaohan’s food court one of these days. Go just before 6PM and wait patiently at the table and see them change the sign board. Then get to the counter as fast as you can and order FOUR items before anyone else does. Yeah, behave like a kiasu Chinese and get a kick out of getting on top of everyone.

:-)

Look at the paper towels they gave us. It was pretty good ones, don’t you think? I think you have come across those ultra thin ones from the other Asian food courts that I hate so much. At some other food court stalls where they give you the ultra thin ones, they pull a face if you ask for another one. Some stalls are terribly stingy for something that costs them sub-cents.

So, yeah … I consider the Chun Hing stall generous.

The serving for the 4 item combo meal is really big. So big that Suanne and I shared the same plate.

Suanne also got something light. It was the Soy Pudding with Ginger Syrup from the Fook Po Thong stall. This is $4 and very gingery. Suanne loves this a lot … just not my kind of thing.

Hey … actually, the other stalls in this food court also does price switching at 6PM, not just the three rice/noodle combo stalls I mentioned here.

As a matter of fact, you should also go to the sushi section of the Osaka Supermarket at the same time. Yeah, at that time, a supermarket worker will be putting on lower price stickers on the sushi items. Many people know about this already and they will be hovering behind the back of the poor girl and grab the sushi once the new stickers gets tagged. It is generally about 50 cents cheaper at the Osaka Supermarket.

In those old days, the above was my “squab”. That is when I decided to give myself a treat, I would go for the Deep Fried Quail from Datang BBQ Express stall.

This is so cheap. Today it is still as cheap. It is just $6.50 for three. BTW how did you like their poses? :-)

So each of this is just slightly over $2 when a squab is $16.

Can anyone tell me why the price difference?

The quail is good … very moist, slightly too greasy but it is what makes it good. The flesh is enjoyable.

The Curry House was another of our favourite stall. It is a pseudo-Malaysian stall. Not really authentic but at those older days, it was one of the best there was.

We often get the Fried Koay Teow from Curry House. Theirs is $7.28. This is passable for fried koay teow … at least for Vancouver, this is good enough. For Fried Koay Teow, my favourite is still the Malaysian stall in Crystal Mall.

We asked for extra spicy and yes, it’s spicy enough.

So … here you go … the Yaohan food court! Tell me if you have a favourite stall or favourite food from this food court.

Curry House (Yaohan Centre) on UrbanspoonDatang BBQ Express (Yaohan Centre) on UrbanspoonChun Hing (Yaohan Centre) on UrbanspoonFook Po Tong (Yaohan Centre) on UrbanspoonGolden Rice Bowl (Yaohan Centre) on Urbanspoon

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  1. Su-Lin says:

    What a trip down memory lane! I used to go there with my parents, usually on the way home from the Chinese temple in Richmond. Thanks!

    • Ben says:

      Hi Su-lin: Am glad to know you are still reading chowtimes! I read your every post too although I did not leave any comment. If you do come back to Vancouver one day you must let me know. Ben

  2. Erick P. says:

    Ben, you’re making me hungry even after I’ve just eaten breakfast! Never is a Richmond visit complete without buying groceries at the T&T and having a quick snack at the food court. We also like the Chun Hing stall out of the three. If I can make one small criticism about these stalls, it would be the fact that they pile up all the food that the food gets cold very quickly.

    I went there for lunch one day and I must have been one of the first ones in line and while the food looked and tasted good, it was lukewarm at best. Still, I can’t complain getting all that food for under $6.

    Another favorite stall is the the one on the far left selling congee. Their congee comes up scaldingly HOT and I’ve burned my mouth a few times due to my impatience.

    IIRC, these stalls have even a super special closer to 8pm where they sell 3-4 entrees for $10.

  3. hamsup says:

    I LOVE Yaohan centre. The parking is not bad if you have patience.

    Another cheapo eats idea is to wait till closing. This is when they are desperate. Although you may feel like a beggar… you can bargain your way down to even greater savings. This usually occurs when they take whatever is left over and start packing 2-3 items into those tin foil dishes. (pre-packed up for you).

    Have you tried the lemmings food company? It’s at the corner close to the korean stall. They have huge pan fried chives pancakes.

  4. Ryan says:

    Hi Ben,

    Reading your blog for about two years now, and I just want to say it’s fantastic.

    I liked how you were able to capture the exact moment of the price reduction – kudos.

    On a business side of things, I don’t get why business always do these promos as it conditions customers to go only during certain times that they would have gone anyways. I mean, 6pm is normal dinner time, so no need to have a promo. I used to work in a sushi place like Osaka, and what we noticed is you would have no sales from about 5-6pm, then at 6pm, when you sell everything on discount, you sell out, but smaller profit. Those people buying at 6pm discount – if no one discounted, then they would buy from you at full price (they need to eat afterall) and also they spread out the business so you are not swarmed. I can understand discounting just before you close for a perishable item, but at 6pm??? during prime eating time???

    Just my 2 cents.

    • suri says:

      Actually the sale doesn’t start until 7pm, that’s right after dinner for a lot of people. They finish their dinner at the restaurant and pass by Yaohan to do some shopping.

      There is not a lot of shoppers before closing time that is 11pm for Yaohan. After all, this is Vancouver, it gets pretty cold at night. Not a lot of people want to go out.

      • Ben says:

        Hi Suri: I am not sure if this had changed or what. We were there at 5:45PM to wait for the price change at 6:00PM. He he he … I got the EXIF data on the photo as an evidence that the sale starts at 6PM and not 7PM. If it is important, just download the picture on your desktop and show the picture properties and you can can see the exact date and time the picture was taken. Wanted to set the record straight. :-) Ben

        • suri says:

          I was talking about Yaohan deli section not food court though cuz the post I replied was talking about sushi place like Osaka.

          • Ben says:

            Oh I see! :-) Sorry. I thought you were talking about the foodcourt. Yeah, maybe you are probably right that Osaka price change is 7PM. It had been a long time since I bought the sushi in Osaka.

  5. iluvtofish says:

    Yes, Chun Hing is our favorite stall out of the three. They recognize us now and if we decide to buy from another stall for a change, we have to sneak around so they don’t see us! There is always plenty of parking on a weeknight after work. We usually get two of the 4 item combos (after 6pm) for the three of us and have plenty left over afterwards. It may not be gourmet but it is satisfying and cheaper than cooking at home.

  6. Adelaide says:

    Too funny. I only ever go into the Food Fair if I get a hunkering for that squab. It used to be 3/$5.00, but obviously they had to raise the price sooner or later. And the reason is also because trying to find a parking spot there gives you an aneurysm.

    I also go to the malaysian curry place sometimes. I try to avoid those combo places as I find they must use more MSG, as I’m slightly allergic to that.

    I prefer T&T Supermarket (in Vancouver and Burnaby), so I get my groceries there, and not Osaka. But upstairs, there is this hair salon that sells name brand hair products for the cheapest I’ve seen in the retail hair businesses.

  7. Cici says:

    Chun Hing is my favorite as well. I’m addicted to their beef short ribs…..even though it’s soooo greasy.

  8. Frank says:

    Hello Ben and ll – yes, one of my families favourite places as well – but if you wait a little longer until around 7:30 PM to 8:00 PM then you really get a deal…yes, parking is a bear – we usually park at Aberdeen then make our way to Yaohan through PP

    The 3 stalls Ben mentioned start to sell either 3 combos or 2 combos for $10 – one day I was there bought 6 combos – I had enough food for the entire week!!! LOL

    cheers
    frank

    • Ben says:

      OMG, Frank! We both think alike! Yeah, it is a good idea to get a big tray of the food (like honey garlic pork, etc) that can keep and have this the whole week long. I can live with that and I know Suanne will most definitely live with that too … especially if that means she doesn’t have to cook one more dish everyday. Then after the whole week of the same stuff, I get so sick of it I swear I’ll never have that again. Guess what … a couple of months later, the cycle repeats itself. I am a creature of habit. Ben

  9. agingteen says:

    Ben,
    I love how you captured the poses of the squabs before eating it!haha!
    Yaohan has a good food court, it was actually the first ever food court in Richmond I ever went to. The congee house next to chun hing is very nice also for a snack!

    agingteen

  10. Yan says:

    OMG, yes, I remembered Yaohan when I was in Singapore. Haha, you mentioned “kiasu”. Boy, I have not heard that word for a loooong time already!!!

    • Ben says:

      Hi Yan: He he he … Kiasu is very much alive today. So is Kiasi and in Asia, Kia-jinghu. Ben

      • We ate at a place in London called Kiasu on our recent trip. After that meal, we were all kia-puy.

        • Ben says:

          LOL! That is so funny! Is there really a restaurant called Kiasu? Singaporean restaurant I presume?

        • Ben says:

          Oh found the website of the Kiasu restaurant here: http://www.kiasu.co.uk/
          How was the food there?

          I like how they describe themselves:
          Kiasu… food from the straits. Kiasu is London’s new restaurant on Queensway, with an owner afraid of being second best.

          Since opening three years ago, Kiasu has been winning rave reviews from both locals and the media, with cuisine at that derives its influence from The Straits (of Malacca) and its Far Eastern neighbours. In the Chinese Hokkien dialect, the word Kiasu means, ‘afraid to lose’ i.e. ‘afraid to be second best’, this fear is alleviated by the spectacular food you’ll find at Kiasu.

          • Yan says:

            Yes, being a Hokkien speaking Singaporean, lets just said that kiasu is what we are and yes “kiasuism” is very much alive. Can’t believe there is actually a kiasu restaurant. Yaohan in Singapore used to be my hangout after school. What memories… and good old days! Ben, thanks for the triggering some happy memories of my childhood with this blog!

  11. suri says:

    You must try Thai Square at Yaohan Food Court. It’s operated by Thai people. It’s pretty authentic. It’s more authentic than those Thai restaurants that are operate by Chinese in Vancouver.

    PS: Please don’t get offended. I am not saying if you are not from that ethic group, you can’t cook that particular food. My experience is that 9 out of 10 Japanese or Thai or Mexican restaurants that are operated by Chinese just can’t help themselves to put their own spin, meaning they put their Chinese ingredients in it. You know sometimes you really just want to see what the authentic one tastes like.

    Since Ben likes spicy food, try their noodles in very spicy version. It will make you sweat. I am curious if it’s spicy for you.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Suri: I know that Thai Square stall. I can’t miss it because of the large Thailand flag on the stall. I think that is the one stall that shouts out its ethnic origin, unlike for instance people may not know that Curry House serves Malaysian’ish food. But I had never tried the Thai Square before. I actually don’t go much to the Yaohan Center anymore but if I do, I’ll try the extra spicy version of Thai Square’s noodles and let you know. It takes a lot to make me sweat when it comes to spicy stuff for me. Ben

  12. nova says:

    this is my favourite food court! Pak Tak has the best fatty pork, mmm…thanks for the great post!

  13. Ipoh Mali Pam says:

    Love the kiasu comment. I used the word “bangsat” the other day and got a kick outta it! Is the Malaysian foodstall at the Crystal Mall still the best? Haven’t been there for a while.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Ipoh Mali Pam: I like your name! If you are Ipoh Mali Pam, I am KL Mali Ben. :-) Every time I hear any girl from Ipoh, I think of pretty girls. They have the prettiest girls with the fairest skins (and the richest dads too!) in the whole of peninsular Malaysia. People says that it’s in the water. You reckon? Anyway, I am just shocked that an Ipoh girl will even use the word “bangsat”! LOL! Anyway, here is a very good Singlish site where they list the meaning of Singlish words. Oh to your serious question … the Malaysian foodstall in Crystal Mall is just only good for Char Koay Teow. Their other dishes are just so-so … actually they are below par. Ben

  14. Geo says:

    I agree with Suri. Thai Square is a great little place for authentic Thai food. A real hidden treasure. We order from the board on the wall and recommend any of those dishes.

  15. grayelf says:

    I’m with Suanne on the ginger soy pudding… drool. And I heart the chorus line of quails — very Folies Bergeres.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Grayelf: Enjoyed the dinner yesterday. Here is the link to the Excellent Tofu shop Suanne was saying yesterday. They specializes on tofu pudding of every kind. They are a very traditional Cantonese snack shop. There is no equivalent at all that we know of in Vancouver. If you like to make it at home, Suanne has the recipe here. It is call Tau Foo Fa and have simple ingredients. The problem is timing is everything with this recipe. Suanne had perfected it and it comes out real nice all the time. She makes it every now and then at home which I enjoy a lot. Ben

      • grayelf says:

        Thanks for the info — the recipe reminds me of trying to get panna cotta right. Simple ingredients, all in the technique, right?

  16. Pinoy Gourmet says:

    Geo does the Thai place also go on sale at 7pm?

  17. Pinoy Gourmet says:

    Suri sorry to burst your bubble,But Thai Chinese can cook very decent Thai food,Sonya the owner of Tang Thai on Robson which won among the 3 critics choice for Thai Food in Vancouver Magazine s restaurant is 3rd generation Thai Chinese and it is considered one of the most authentic in Vancouver PinPin considered one of the best Filipino restaurants here is owned by Filipino Chinese

  18. simon says:

    I used to visit the yaohan food court regularly when we stayed at the radisson but now, it is around 30-40 min walk just to get here. I would come around 6-ish to pickup a cheap combo for the next day. There were a few times when I got there close to closing where one of the vendor offered it at $3. Ah those were the days…,

  19. Teresa says:

    the Yaohan mall food court has to be one of the best food courts in the lower mainland. If you go back again to the curry house, you should try their hainese chicken combination..great deal and very tasty too

    • Ben says:

      Hi Teresa: I agree. The Hainanese Chicken in Curry House is very good. In the days before chowtimes, this was the only place we had Hainanese Chicken Rice. Ben

  20. Geo says:

    Hey Pinoy Gourmet:

    Unfortunately, have not been to Thai Square after 7pm. In the past, I usually go to the Yaohan food court after 7pm for the take-home deals. Haven’t done it in quite a while though.

  21. LotusRapper says:

    I always get parking easily behind the mall building (the back side). Don’t follow the herd, Chowtimers !

    On a curious note, can anyone tell me why there’s an Osaka (owned by T&T) and another T&T in President Plaza a few hundred meters away ?

    As for the food, those high piles of foods can be deceptive. I’ve watched several vendors carefully over the years and, whatever you point to, they try to pick out your portions from the back and bottom of the piles (hence the bits that’s been there the longest). The gai-lan at the top of the heap will invariably be greener and crispier than the ones you actually get on your plate. Not to sound cynical, just sayin’.

    I happened to eat there last week by myself, before shopping at Osaka (yes, for the record LR ventured out to Richmond ….. driving). Bought a 3-item + rice combo from the pho stall (sorry, I generally don’t pay attention to FC vendor names) after 7pm. Food was better than I remembered, or maybe I was just simply hungry at 7:30pm. Pleasantly surprised that the chopsticks I got were fairly normal-sized (unlike Crystal Mall’s FC which usually give you chopsticks the diameter of toothpick !

    I love having these spontaneous, cheap, fatty & cholesterol-laden meals by myself.

    • Ben says:

      Hi LotusRapper: I think you’re just plain lucky. The parking behind the mall building (the east side of the building) is even worse because that section is so small. He he he … I can relate to your description of the spontaneous, cheap, fatty meal by yourself. I enjoy doing that. I’ll take something along to, get something cheap like the chap-fun and a nice cold drink (usually milk tea) … not a care in the world. The whole food court will be bustling all around me but I am in my little cocoon’ed world. The simple pleasures of life. I can see me doing this everyday when I am an old man someday. LOL! Ben

      • LotusRapper says:

        “The whole food court will be bustling all around me but I am in my little cocoon’ed world. The simple pleasures of life. I can see me doing this everyday when I am an old man someday. LOL! Ben”

        Cue to the 10:00 mark:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjElbFxUANY

        Which gent will you be, Ben ? :-D

        • Ben says:

          LotusRapper: That should be the one with the dark glasses. :-) Hey, I mentioned eating alone but if I am with foodie friends, yeah, that would pretty much like it. I can imagine that is how our chowdowns will be in 20 years with fmed, grayelf, js, ts, keev, lotusrapper, joe, pinoy gourmet, michelle and a few others. Occasionally, maybe dylan would join us with his grand kid. Oh, I wonder what happened to cripsy. I am missing his comments. Ben

  22. pinoy gourmet says:

    Once upon a time Osaka was a separate supermarket chain aligned with Yaohan,So T&T set up a branch at Presidents plaza which is affiliated with the former owners of T&T.Osaka went bankrupt and was bought by T&T which operates it and the other Osaka s to compete against itself sort of like Starbucks owns other chains like Seattles Best to compete against itself.They want to be the largest and second largest Asian supermarket chain in Canada

  23. pinoygourmet says:

    Hi Ben,I am so proud of myself for being Kiasu,I offered a stall owner 50$ for all the food in 4 serving trays.He took it but I cannot mention who because He said the other merchants will be mad He undersold them.Each tray had like 10-15 portions each and the food filled up 3 shopping bags.Now I really have food for a week.Thanks Ben for the tip and guys dont hesitate to bargain

    • Ben says:

      Bravo, pinoygourmet! *clap-clap-clap* :-) You have now set a precedent and more people are going to try what you did! I don’t think I can do that … am not kiasu enough and too kiasi! Ben

  24. Lissa says:

    Hey Ben, I’ve been reading your blog for years and this is the first time I’m writing. Didn’t know you are from Malaysia too. I haven’t been to Yaohan for a long time (hate the parking) but seeing the reviews here will try the Thai food. I tried the Malaysian stall in Crystal Mall once and that’s it. It wasn’t that great. But if you say the char koay teow is good, I’ll go for it, LOL!!

    Btw, does the food court open for lunch?

    • Ben says:

      Hi Lissa: Apa kahabar! To your question, yes, Yaohan most definitely opens for lunch. I am not sure what time but I would think they are opened by 11AM, if not 10AM. Ben

  25. gillbates says:

    wahlau! kiasu wikipedia entry oso got…

  26. TimeToChow says:

    the congee is indeed very hot. and easy to burn your lips esp with the chinsy spoon and plastic container.

    i think there are too many similar dishes from the 3-4 stalls that serve the combo’s. i like that chun hing(i think) have some chinese soup options. and the quasi viet place has the occasional interesting dishes. i never get the combo with rice/noodle. instead make steam rice at home and get the dishes to go. i think it’s 4 dishes for $15 or less. its a great deal. FYI RPM’s ‘combo’ stalls are marginally cheaper than yaohans’. though they have less of a selection.

    at yaohan the bbt is also a good deal i think some under $3-4. i usually get the herbal tea instead, cause it’s better for you.
    there is also a HK style cafe stall that serves good quantity of food and decent value.
    the mentioned thai place is indeed decent. you can specify your preferences and he will cook accordingly. the hk style malaysian food is not bad. i’ve tried most of the items and cant complain about the quality, but certainly wouldnt praise any of the items.
    the bbq stall is never busy enough and freshness matters when it comes to chinese BBQ meat.
    the corner northern dumpling stall is certainly interesting. Wish the items would be fresher. i think fmed and dylan has made some comments or posted on it more.

    parking here is always difficult no matter where you go, even worse on the weekends.

    • Crispy Lechon says:

      The rouijamo from that northern dumpling stall is pretty good. I think that was what fmed and Dylan raved about.

      The korean stall next door has a pretty solid bibimbap too.

  27. Katy says:

    I love Yaohan’s food court (and Osaka); it’s my favorite food court. I always find excuses to stop by here as much as possible. =P I’ve also been going to Juice King for years… it’s my second favorite place for bubble tea (first is Bubble Queen).

  28. Sarah says:

    The 3 competing stalls have jacked up the price incredibly by now. The 4 for 3 choy (dishes) used to $5.5 and now is $7.9. The customer service is from non existence to terrible. Totally rude and unprofessional people!! Do NOT visit and RUN!!

    • LotusRapper says:

      +1

      I was there about a month ago, not having been for quite a while, and saw how the prices have all gone up. I never cared much for the customer service (it’s a food court, for pete’s sake) so that’s a moot point, but $8 for 3 items + rice feels steep nowadays.

      Head on over to Richmond Public Market food court, or Parker Place, or Empire. Better variety and choices, IMHO, but without the convenience of T&T nearby.

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