Vivacity Restaurant on Alexandra Road, Richmond

OK, fine.

I will use the words “duc beet” and not “tak peed” to describe something that is unusual or special. At least this rhymes with the Vietnamese word “Dac Biet” which means the same thing.

We were out looking for some “duc beet” dim sum last weekend. Of late, we had been searching for “duc beet” type of dim sums. As you know we don’t particularly like the run of the mill dim sums like siu mai, BBQ Pork buns and har gow … stuff like that. They are boring. It is the same as salmon sushi and tuna sushi if you know what I mean.

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So we went to Vivacity. This is a popular Chinese restaurant located smack in the middle of Richmond’s glutton street of Alexandra.

Vivacity used to be on No 3 Road and Cambie until 3 years ago. They were forced to move to this new location to make way for the Canada Line Construction.

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Vivacity is big. It is busy. And it is noisy.

The customers here are mostly well heeled as this is a slightly upscale restaurant. The prices were not too bad but this is not the kind of place you would expect $2 dim sum plates for sure.

Yeah, they have chandeliers. The captains are in suits and very professional. I like their service and no snobbishness in them. Remember I told you about the “tai yan” service at Jade where they gives you extra attention if you have an expensive car fob on the table? Well, the service here is not anywhere like that. We were well taken care off and the captains do go around chatting with their customers.

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I just love this place. OK I know. I fall for things like gold colored seat covers and double table cloth. I just enjoy the ambiance here … particularly the noise and the bustle. Felt like Hong Kong.

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Click on the menu above to show it in full width where you can read them easier.

The sections called Chef’s Suggestion and Chef’s Special was the two sections we focused on. To us this is where the “duc beet” dishes are found.

Normal dim sums are $4.00 to $4.50. Their special dishes are $7 to $8 but then they are bigger servings so it is not that expensive. I would say that their prices are comparable to most other places of similar class.

Actually, come to think of it they do not have a lot of “duc beet” dishes.

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Several friends told me that their signature dish is not a dish. It is a sauce. They make great XO sauce.

We almost forgot about it until we noticed that on the table next to ours. As they were just seated, the captain brought over a saucer of the XO sauce to their table even before the tea came. The captain personally delivered that because the customers apparently is their regular customers.

We had to ask for it too. That was even before we ordered our food and we did not know of any dishes this would go with. We just wanted to taste it.

Their XO sauce is not spicy but particularly shrimpy. We all like it.

Remember to ask for it when you are here if they don’t give it to you.

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The Deep Fried Crispy Milk Custard ($5.35) was duc beet to us. It came in a dish of ten pieces and served with granulated sugar on the side.

Actually the sugar is … not necessary but it sure enhanced the sweetness. Yeah, I ate it with the granulated sugar … much sweeter.

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The outside skin is slightly crispy with barely any hint of oil. On the inside it was moist and creamy with a slight sweetness from the milk custard.

This is a good dish which I think many people will like.

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Suanne loves fish heads and fish belly. She like picking the flesh from the bones. I know … not many people, particularly non-Asians, see little point in a dish like this.

The Fish Head & Belly Hot Pot was $9. The fish parts were deep fried separately with big pieces of bone in. It was wonderful and juicy. All the “jup” (sauce) is not to go to waste. So we ordered steamed rice to lap up the “jup”.

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But that is the whole point. These type of meat has added flavour and texture unlike filleted meat. It is a lot of work I know but it DOES taste better.

Other than the fish, the ginger and green onion is great, especially those that were caramelized and they stuck to the pot. Scraping off the pieces from the sides of the pot is the best part.

Suanne ate the lion share of this dish. At the end she had the highest mound of leftover fish bones on her plate.

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Isn’t these buns gorgeous?

Yup, for this one we spied our neighboring table and asked the captain for this one. Apparently this is not on the menu and it is one of those items they bring around to the tables. Ask specifically for this … you will love this.

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This is called Empress Bun and is $4 for a plate of four.

It is extremely light. Any lighter, I think it will float in the air. 🙂 Just kidding.

But just look at the bottom of the bun. I was just resting the bun on my thumb and it made a dent on it.

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The bun was light and fluffy and very soft. I wished that the filling inside were a bit more bigger though. If it was bigger I’ll give them 120% marks for this. Just because the filling is not as much as I like, I’ll give them 110% marks.

As you can imagine, the bun is sweetish. As for the filling, I think they are limited by the ability of the lightness of the bun to hold it in.

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We would not have ordered this if the name did not have the word “XO Sauce” in it.

This is called the Stir Fried Rice Roll in XO sauce ($8) on the menu.

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Perfect execution. We all like it a lot. For $8, it was quite a good serving enough for two or three people at dim sum sizes.

I like the long strips of Chinese sausage which was very good. The prawns were of respectable sizes and springy.

We had always called this type of noodles ”Lo Shee Fun” which is translated as “rat noodles”. Does Cantonese people from HK usually call this the same too?

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Our boys wanted the Steamed Pork Dumpling ($4.35) and so we ordered this. They loved this but I thought it was nothing particularly special.

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The captain recommended us the Steamed Chinese Sponge Cake with Nuts ($4). We had so much food already, we all decided not to touch this but have this packed to go.

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The name Crispy Egg Donut with Honey & Sesame ($4.50) sounded so “duc beet” but when we saw it … cheh!

If we knew it was this, we would not have ordered it. It’s not that we don’t like this type of dim sum item but it’s nothing “duc beet”.

Anyway, they served us honey, sesame seeds and shredded coconut on the side.

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It is up to us to dress it as some like it sweet and others don’t.

Arkensen just ate it plain whereas Suanne loves lots of honey on it.

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I don’t really fancy this because I find it dry.

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Oh, we also had the best Steamed Bun with Egg Yolk & Custard we ever had. It was $4.35 for 3. The server told us that we must eat this when it’s warm. The filling was very oozy and the egg yolk has a sandy texture to it.

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It was not too expensive but definitely a place we like. We like the chatty service from the captains. We like the bustle in the restaurant. Some people likes a quiet morning over a little food but I just love busy, noisy places for a weekend morning.

The food is not too bad too. So if you have no plans for breakfast on the weekend, you might want to consider checking this place out. Oh … ask for the XO Sauce if they don’t give that to you.

Vivacity Restaurant on UrbanspoonBusiness Hour

7 days a week

Dim Sum: 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Dinner: 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm

This Post Has 41 Comments

  1. There’s a glutton street in Richmond? Why was I not informed? 😀

    1. Chubbypanda: You had been there to glutton street before I am very sure. It’s just a name coined by me and no one else is using it. Most people call Alexandra St as Eat Street. I thought glutton street sounds better. 🙂 Ben

  2. Did you notice #68 on the menu? Deep Fried Squid with Pepperoni. I thought that was a little too “duc beet” when I went there last month. Then I saw a table order it and realized that it was another case of a menu item poorly translated from Chinese. It was actually Deep fried squid with chili peppers 🙂

    1. Hey Marvin: Glad to see you on chowtimes. We were actually aware of the item #68 and thought when did pepperoni get onto as dim sum menu. Yeah, it was nothing fancy as we found out and did not order that dish. Ben

      1. It was translated into German, maybe. Pepperoni in German is little peppers. Big peppers are paprika (not the spice, which IS actually dried red Hungarian peppers, ground to a powder).

        Germans don’t eat spicy food, so it doesn’t necessarily mean the little hot peppers.

        1. Hi etranger: Interesting. I had always thought that the word Pepperoni means the type of salami you get on pizzas. I just check wikipedia here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepperoni … and it is saying what you just said. Ben

  3. i think u want want to change lo shee fun to lo shu fun cause shee sound very similar to no 2 when u go to washroom

  4. I think those are called “Silver Needle noodles” 银针粉 in Hong Kong.

    1. Hi Winnie: Thanks for pointing this out. I went to wikipedia and read this entry about Chinese Noodles http://goo.gl/qQLXC … Out of the 24 types of Chinese noodles described, the “Silver Needle Noodles” is listed last. This noodle, known as as lo shee fun, is very common and popular in South East Asia. Is this type of noodles not common in HK/Southern China? Ben

      1. It’s also very common in Taiwan…it’s generally called 米苔目 in Taiwan (or 米篩目 for Hakka).

  5. Deep fried milk is a weakness (yeah, another one) of mine so thanks for pointing out they have it at Vivacity… I think…

    1. Grayelf: “I think”? LOL!

  6. Reading the order sheet, it looks like they have discount during certain time of the day. I dont read Chinese so I cant really figure out the discount. Also your bill has 20% discount stamped on it but it doesnt look like its been calculated.

    I like gnawing at fish head and stuff too. That dish you have there will be good with plain congee. Another good dish at Vivacity is Steamed Fish Maw with Shrimp Paste. Yum

    1. Hey Crispy!

      Top part says for #101 to #108 says “Special only served between 9am to 11am”.

      Bottom says “Dim sum items #11 to #50 is 20% off Mon-Fri from 9am to 3pm, Sat/Sun place order before 11am”.

      1. Thanks for the translation Buddhagirl. Its good that their discount is valid till 3pm on weekdays. Most dimsum places that offer discounts only give it till noon. Thanks again.

      2. Hi Buddhagirl,

        nice name, anyways i was wondering if u can help me figure out how to get to vivacity restaurant in richmond on the canada line because i want to try going there one day by myself and having dim sum.

        1. Here you go, Ray … the walking directions from the nearest Canada Line station to Vivacity: http://goo.gl/sDX4M … about 1/2 mile … 10 minutes walk. Ben

    2. Crispy: You are more observant than me. I don’t really spend time reading receipts (not even when I post it). I think it’s a men thing where we have tunnel vision and can only see the bottom line. If the price seems quite OK, I’ll just pay up. That’s how I am. *shrug* Suanne on the other hand reads the receipt more closely. Ben

      1. Ben,

        Would it be strange if i went to dim sum by myself.

        1. I guess the answer is best left to yourself to answer, Ray. It is better to have more people for dim sum. That way you could try more variety of dim sums. Ben

  7. Hi Ben, I always order the deep fried crispy egg custard as it’s a favorite of my kids when we go to Vivacity. BTW, “lo shee fun” is more of a S.E. Asian (Hakka) term. In Hk, they call it “Ngan chum fun” or Silver needle noodle. I find there’s a difference in texture between the 2, the HK version is more “QQ”…if you know what I mean! I like to “kon-low” my lo shee fun with mince pork, BBQ pork, fish sauce, garlic infused oil & deep fried shallots…very delicious esp with lots of pickled jalapeno!

    1. Hi HM: How would you describe “QQ”? Suanne said that she heard this word used a lot by Taiwanese in particular. Anyway, the silver needle noodle is indeed different. The types I am familiar with is much shorter that makes it easy to eat with a soup spoon. The ones that I had in Vivacity is a lot longer. Ben

      1. “QQ” in Taiwanese term means “springy”, yunno…like “ngan” or “song-hao” in Cantonese. Hope this explains, but Buddha Girl may do a better job explaining the term….LOL!!

        1. Got it. I think I know how to use that “QQ” word now. 🙂 Ben

        2. “QQ” is a local slang in Taiwan means “chewy” (嚼勁).

  8. Hi Ben,
    Do you know if they sell the xo sauce in bottles? I’m always looking for great xo sauce or chili sauce in general. I must have about 6-7 bottles in my cupboard at all times. I bought the chili sauce you recommended from Tsim Tsai noodles and it’s great. I also bought a bottle of XO sauce from Poco Ocean in Coquitlam which was also quite tasty. My favorite so far is the Lee Kum Kee hot XO sauce but it’s quite expensive for a large bottle. I could eat it by the spoonful though….:-). Last year, Bo from BLK also made me a bit tub of Burmese dried shrimp/chilli/onion conconction that goes great with steamed rice. Any chance that Suanne knows a great recipe that she could post? Or does anyone else have a favorite brand of chili/xo sauce that they find superior that the rest?

    1. Buddha Boy makes XO sauce at home. Actually his dad used to make it a lot at home too!!!

      So far I still like the XO sauce from TG because lots of “lieu” (料).

      1. Hi Buddha Girl: Alright! One more thing to add to the menu for the TG dinner … XO Sauce with lots of “lieu”! 🙂 Ben

        1. How sad….I’ve love to come to that dinner but I’m hosting our bookclub that night. Thanks Ben for the recipe….there seems to be a lot of recipes floating around the internet. I’ll have to put my mind to it one day, combining the best of the various recipes and make a big batch. I imagine the house will need to be aired for days after the process though….:-).

  9. Oh wow! I ate Deep Fried Crispy Milk Custard only once maybe 9, 10 years ago at the restaurant in Parker Place. When I tried ordering it again, they said they don’t make it anymore nor any other places I’ve gone to over the years. Great to know Vivacity has it. The Steamed Bun with Egg Yolk & Custard looks good too….. hungry!

    1. Hi Lissa:

      I had deep fried crispy milk custard at Bo Kong (vegetarian restaurant) and also at Koon Lock. Both places charge around $10 for these items. After seeing that at Vivaciy is only $5.35 during dim sum, it seems the cheapest. I have to give it a try one of these days 🙂

  10. Hi Ben,
    The XO sauce looks great! I’m wondering if it complimentary because of the higher dim sum prices. I love this savoury sauce with my dim sum but a lot of restaurant charge for it. I can’t remember the price but when I asked for it at West Lake Restaurant (E. 34th & Victoria Dr.) in East Vancouver, I was told how much it was for a saucer of it and asked whether or not I still wanted it. Thinking back, the prices at West Lake were comparable to Vivacity, and there’s no dim sum discount.

    1. Hi Lily: That gives us an idea to go check out Western Lake for dim sum tomorrow. I read about their XO Sauce too. Gosh it is $2 a saucer … almost the price of a dim sum dish! Ben

      1. Hi Ben,
        You’re right. That’s what they charge for a saucer of their XO sauce. Let us know if it’s worth it. As an aside, you should try their Chan’s village style noodle. It’s on the other side of the dim sum menu where the specials are. It’s a dollar cheaper than Kam Loong Wah on Kingsway and very delicious. Another of our family’s favourites are the Steamed Prawn Shiu-Mai with Dried Scallops (#15) and the Pan Fried Chive Dumplings (#31). Be warned, the dim sum portions are very large, but we like it this way. Western Lake opens at 9 am but the specials aren’t served until 10 am. Make sure to call ahead for reservation (604-321-6862) like at 9 am when they first open. You will still probably have to wait but they will put you ahead of non-reservation customers when you register your arrival at the entrance/podium. Enjoy!

  11. Prince Restaurant has a very fine specimen of fried milk, but you have to put up with the staff attitude to get it :-).

  12. We went there for lunch today. I’m not much into dut beet stuff but those we like to eat most often; stuff you don’t want order Ben 🙂

    Stuff we ordered: empress bun, deep fried milk custard, egg yolk custard bun (I know, too many custard buns already), 3 mushrooms cheong fun, foong chau, preserved egg/pork congee, steamed pork dumplings and mango pudding.

    The deep fried milk custard was a big let down. Nothing like yours. It wasn’t moist & creamy but like tofu. Maybe it was in the fridge and they just heated it up. 🙁 Empress bun & egg yolk custard bun were good. Had the same kind in some other restaurants before. I like the 3 mushrooms cheong fun. More mushrooms than other restaurants. What wowed me was the congee. It was full of stuff unlike some places where it’s just congee with with preserved eggs and pork thrown in. Of course, my kids love all the food.

    Will definitely come back here again. And oh, the XO sauce was good as well. I felt I didn’t order enough food to go with the XO though, LOL!

    We paid after 1pm and was given 20% off the regular menu.

    1. Hi Lissa:

      Thanks for the detail report. Yeah, Vivacity is definitely better than Royal Dinner and Dance. I think you are probably right that the Royal Dinner and Dance is closed because I saw the lights were a bit dim when I drove past the last few times. I’ll make a note to stop and check and let you know.

      Ben

  13. Thanks a lot ben, for your directions but well, im taking the bus so do ur directions still work?

    1. Goodbye, Ray. 🙂

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