Admiralty Center Food Court on McKim Way, Richmond

Here is continuing on the series of Asian food courts in Richmond.

If 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 Center and the Richmond Public Market but to this series it doesn’t count as our visit was so long ago. So three more to go!

  • Parker Place (link and link)
  • Empire Center (link)
  • Yaohan Center (link)
  • President Plaza (link)
  • Pacific Plaza (link)
  • Admiralty Center
  • Aberdeen Center
  • Richmond Public Market

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I guess a lot of people does not know this small little business center tucked in McKim Way, let alone know that this building is called the Admiralty Center. Not many people know too that this building has a respectable food court in it too.

Parking is available by the right side of the building. It is not apparent to many people but there is a small entrance that leads to a double storey car park. We just discovered this car park. We had always either park at Top Gun’s car park (which we now think we should not have!) or park on the street.

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The Admiralty Center must have been named after the famous business district in Hong Kong. This is one of those buildings that sprung up during the days when immigration from Hong Kong was at its peak.

One would have thought that this is a dead business center but it is fully tenanted. We thought the businesses here looks overwhelmingly Cantonese.

The food court is located at the second floor of the building.

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The food stalls too are overwhelmingly Cantonese too. You don’t get that “cosmopolitan” air you get like in the Richmond Public Market or Burnaby’s Crystal Mall food court. Why even the Parker Place food court has Taiwanese and Shanghainese food. Here it is entirely Cantonesey.

It is not a big food court. Just eight stalls — eight very good stalls. We were quite surprised that there were a lot of customers. We arrived there before noon on a Saturday and it was already half-filled but past noon, the place was bustling. I see a lot of them came in families coming for lunch after Saturday classes for their kids. When Arkensen and Nanzaro was younger, their Saturday mornings are filled with some activities or other (like Chinese classes, music, sports) and then we would go out for lunch in the afternoon. Yes, I can see many of the customers on that Saturday are like that.

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I am on a single minded track for the Chicken Rice. I cannot remember who now but someone told me in an earlier post that the Hainanese Chicken Rice in Admiralty Center rocks.

There is only one stall that sells Chicken Rice, so it was no mistaking which stall it is. It is called the M&W Food Kitchen.

I like the service. The lady who manned that counter was helpful and chatty. I was standing in front of the stall for a while unable to decide what I wanted because there were so many to choose from. Without me even asking, she said “take your time. we have … ” and went on to describe their dishes. Most of which went swoosh over my head because she was explaining in Cantonese.  She said that the stall has been here for one year only.

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This is what made me so indecisive (click picture above to show it in larger image). You see they not only have Hainanese Chicken. Apparently they are chicken specialist.

As you can see, there is Gwai-Fei (empress) chicken, Gong-nan chicken, Salt-baked chicken, Hand-pulled chicken, Hainan Chicken. They have other beef items too but I was told their chicken is what matters.

So there I was unable to decide which chicken dish I wanted.

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If I must say so myself, I think I am gifted at charming food court ladies. So I charmed the lady at the counter and said I can’t decide and I wanted every of the four (five?) chicken dishes but I don’t want to order five dishes. I stood back and thought some more before I stepped forward and asked her if she could give me two types of chicken on the rice. She was a bit hesitant and said wait a minute while she see if Sifu (definition here) agrees or not. She came back smiling saying it’s just for me.

So I walked away with a plate of … (more…)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 … (more…)

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“Wind Sand” Chicken Wings from Parker Place Food Court

You folks who read Chinese would have heard about “wind sand” chicken wings before. Not me.

For the past few weeks, several people had commented on chowtimes or sent me emails about “wind sand” chicken wings. And yesterday, neige-tyro commented about the Taikoo being an original gangsters of wind-sand chicken wings. I just had to find out what “wind sand” chicken wings are … and why that name.

It turns out that I HAD wind-sand chicken wings before, just that I did not realize it. It was in Taikoo (blog entry here) that I had them. I did not know it was called wind-sand chicken wings. I thought it was just plain out deep fried chicken wings.

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Some once 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.

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From the way the name wind-sand chicken wings is pronounced in Chinese, we knew it must be a Cantonese stall. The thing is, the food stalls here in Parker Place is mostly Cantonese. We went around every stall looking at the menus knowing that we can never trust the English translations. A few of the stalls has “deep-fried chicken wings” but we are looking specifically for wind-sand chicken wings.

It was hard reading hundreds of menu items in the stall. We knew what the Chinese characters roughly looked like for wind-sand. Finally found it in the Parker Good Foods stall (just next to the popular Joy’s stall). It was the smallest of prints on the menu on the wall. Moreover it was handwritten too. It was only later when we sat down that we saw the BIG words in Chinese on the wraparound of the counter (the last six yellow colored characters in the picture above).

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Here it is … the Wind Sand Chicken Wings from Parker Good Food.

A quick visual comparison between Taikoo’s (see image below) and Parker Good Food shows that Taikoo’s is better.

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Chicken Wing at Taikoo

Price wise, it is $5.50 for four wings in Parker Good Food and in Taikoo, it is $3.75 for three wings. So it is about 15 cents cheaper per wing in Taikoo’s.

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It is a good thing that the lady who manned the counter was really chatty. So I said to her, “What a strange name for chicken wings. Why do they call this the wind-sand chicken wings?”

I would have been happy if she just told me the answer in a single sentence but she went into a long story. LOL! I like her.

She told us that in the old days in China, (more…)

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Pacific Plaza Food Court, Richmond

I can’t remember who now now but someone told us that there is a stall in the Pacific Plaza Food Court that serves good laksa … one that would give Bo’s Laksa the run for the money. That is an interesting comment because Bo’s Laksa to us is currently the king of laksa. To dethrone him would not be easy … but yeah, I am hoping that someday someone will serve laksa better than his … with cockles.

With RAW cockles!

I was away on work last week. It was a grueling three days of workshop that I had to facilitate and by the end of it I was just totally exhausted. I mean, I ate well but I can tell you that Atlanta is a culinary wasteland. I had lots of steaks. I had lots of fried chicken and collard greens. But at the end of it, I really crave Asian food. So, at the Atlanta airport, I was already discussing with Suanne over the phone where we are going out for food the moment I land at YVR.

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There is no better place than to go to a food court. We decided to go to the Pacific Plaza to check out the laksa there hoping that maybe, just maybe the laksa there would be even better than Bo’s laksa.

The Pacific Plaza is a mall that many people know it’s there but not know what the name is. It is located on Cambie Road and Odlin Crescent. It is also the building where the very good Sushi Hachi is.

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The Pacific Plaza is not exactly a shopping mall. There are many small businesses here catering undoubtedly to the Chinese community. There is a few odd religious operations here too. Suanne and I don’t normally have a reason to come here at all.

Most people will never know that there is a food court here. See the lady standing on the second floor? Well, that is the entrance to the food court. From afar you would think it is just another office.

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Yeah … just one little sign.

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The food court is not too big. It is definitely the quietest of all food courts we have seen in Richmond. Even the food court in the Empire Center is busier. The customers there seems to be people who works in the area. This is so slow here that everyone … customers and operators were all fixated on the Chinese serials showing on the TV. It was showing an old Canto TV series called “Chern Ching” (translated as Love Of The Family) … the only one series I had watched from start to finish eons ago.

Only five stalls were opened — all of which were pretty interesting. All the stalls that are opened have a large offering with lots of signs pasted on the stalls. We counted about 5 other empty stalls.

But we like it. Like the FC in the Empire Center, we like slow, quiet food courts like this. The food offering seems pretty good too as you will see later. You don’t really need a lot of stalls in a food court to be good. All you need is just a few good stalls.

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Gee Taste Good is the name of the stall that we were coming for the laksa. They describe themselves as South East Asian Specialty.

This was more than expected. There are a lot of Malaysian food served here, not just laksa. And they are in pictures too. It seems like this stall had been featured several times in the print media before which they proudly show.

As much as we wanted to try other dishes too, we decided to stay the course and go for the laksa.

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This is it … the laksa that is supposed to as good as Bo’s laksa. You can order this either with chicken or with prawns. We asked for chicken as chicken is the most common meat served with laksa anyway in Malaysia.

We asked that this be made extra spicy. Depending on the ingredient ordered, it is between $5.50 and $6.00 a bowl.

So, how was it? (more…)

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O’Tray Noodle in President Plaza Food Court, Richmond

Honestly, I never had the desire to visit the President Plaza food court.

We had been there several times before over the years. What I saw there did not impress me at all. It looked like a dead food court to me which to an extend is true. I have never seen this food court with crowds anywhere the likes of Yaohan Center or Crystal Mall. Each time I go to the President Plaza it is to go to T&T.

My indifference is there even though the local chowhounds had been raving about this stall called O’Tray.

But … oh boy … I realize now what I had been missing! This is one classical case where ONE stall made all the difference to the food court. I think if we take O’Tray away, the President Plaze FC will lose 1/2 of their customers overnight.
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O’Tray is located in the President Plaza food court. The anchor tenant of President Plaza is the very popular T&T Asian Supermarket which happens to be the only T&T in Richmond. That is if you do not include the Osaka Supermarket which is basically the same as T&T.

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The food court is located on the 2nd floor of President Plaza.

Let me get this out of the way first and foremost. The entire food court was just recently forced to close by the Vancouver Coastal Health. This happened on July 30th and the cause of this was pest infestation and unsanitary conditions. All of the stalls were asked to close for one week except for one stall, Always Good, which was forced to close for one whole month. This led me to think that the source of the infestation was from one stall but the collective inaction of the other stalls caused a huge damage to its reputation.

Frankly, that did not deter us from going there. If this thing does bother you, I suggest you stop reading.

The first thing we did when we were at the FC was to walk around the stalls. They were noticeable cleaner … very clean as a matter of fact. I kept peering into the kitchen, the floors, the corners, the areas under the table, they were clean. I guess the operators learned a huge lesson.

The Always Good stall remain closed. Everything is stripped clean. The fridge with the glass window is empty. No sight of food or boxes or anything like that. We were wondering if they are ever going to re-open since it is already past 1 month since the closure order.

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O’Tray Noodle is the stall at the furthest end of the food court. It is the one which is the brightest because of natural light from the foyer.

BTW, does anyone know where the Irish sounding name of O’Tray came from?

It is run seemingly by a couple who are very friendly and very helpful. You see, I ask silly questions sometimes. Learning that O’Tray is a Tianjin stall, I asked where Tianjin is and which province it belongs to. Yeah, to some of you this is so elementary but really I am just re-learning my Chinese heritage.

Well, Tianjin apparently is a city close to Beijing and it does not belong to any province at all. The city is one of the five municipal cities under the direct control of the federal government.

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In many respects, Tianjin cuisine is similar to Beijing. However, one big thing with Tianjin cuisine is their love for tofu.

I love their menu. Just look at the prices first.

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We did not bother to search the chowhound archives for recommendations. At least the lady at the counter was friendly. So we asked her for recommendations (she speaks good English).

Without hesitation she said #1. It is the Tianjin wrap. Not even knowing what it is, we went with her suggestion. We watched her making this and asked if we could take pictures … why, she even slowed down for me to take shots. Seems like she had done this before and many people had taken pictures of her in action.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTde5qKgFvk]

Like Sambamaster from Portland who incidentally sent me the video of the food courts he had visited recently. I was glad to see this video because it showed how the Tianjin Wrap was made.

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The lady told me that the Tian Jin Wrap is based on a recipe that is … (more…)

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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 (*).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 … (more…)

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Yunnan Cross Bridge Rice Noodle from Xiang Yuan Qiao in Crystal Mall Food Court, Burnaby

Let’s take a closer look at one of the lesser provinces in China.

I am talking about the province of Yunnan.

Here. See the map. Yunnan is the southern most province and it borders the South East Asian countries of Burma, Vietnam and Laos. If you are familiar with geography in the area, it is green and forested … more forested than anywhere else in China.

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And yet it is a poverty stricken province. One third of the population are made up of several ethnic minorities which has a lot of cultural similarities to the South East Asian countries. As a matter of fact, Yunnan has more ethnic groups in the whole of China. Because of its natural beauty, this province thrives on tourism. Most of the tourism are internal. The world is still too focused on the Shanghai, Beijing and Xian.

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If there is one dish that is unique to the province of Yunnan, it is the “Crossing Bridge” Rice Noodle (过桥米线). You can get it throughout the province.

I went to a stall just last week and came across the board above. Did you notice the headgear of the figures above. That is not Han Chinese but is of one of the ethnic minority groups.

I like the way they narrated the origin of the dish. It’s kind of hard to read the small print, so, I had reproduced it below:

Cross Bridge Rice Noodle is a special dish of Yunnan. It is originated during the Qianlong period, nearly 200 years ago. There is a popular legend regarding its origins.

It is said that a scholar in Mengzi, who was preparing for the Imperial examination, went to an island in the Na Lake everyday to study. His wife went across the bride to the island to bring his meal to him. Owing to the long distance, he had to eat the meal cold everyday.

Accidentally, his wife discovered that a greasy chicken soup is not easy to get cold. What’s more, fresh ingredients, such as seasonal vegetable, fresh meat and so on, can become edible by putting them into this kind of boiled soup.

From then on, the scholar could have a delicious and hot meal everyday. Because his wife went across the bridge everyday, the rice noodle made this way was named as Cross Bridge Rice Noodle.

By now, the Cross Bridge Rice Noodle has a distinct development. The most important factor in this noodle is the soup. It was made with natural hen, pig bone and ham. It needs to be boiled for over 6 hours until the soup become savory and the oil from these are distilled.

The next thing worth mentioning is the ingredients. There are two kinds of rice noodles. The proper kind is the slim one, which is good at keeping the flavour of the valuable soup. The ingredients can be divided into two categories: vegetable and meat. The vegetable used are dependent on what is in season. The meat is focus on slice. The thinner the better, so the slice meat is one of the characteristics of the Cross Bridge Noodle.

Last but not least, the process of eating is special. The right orders are as follows: firstly, put the meat slice in the soup, then the vegetable, the last one rice noodle. Minutes later, a hot colorful and delicious Cross-Bridge Rice Noodle is ready.

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It is not a fancy place where I got the Crossing Bridge Rice Noodle. I came across this in the food court in Crystal Mall in Burnaby.

This stall is new. I think this stall used to serve Korean food. Anyway, you won’t miss it because it is located right on top of the escalator. I was more drawn to this place because of the story behind the dish.

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While their specialty is the Crossing Bridge Rice Noodle, they have other dishes too. I thought that the Cucumber with Spicy Sauce was particularly cheap at $1.75 and so I got one to try. I like this and often order this in Sichuan restaurants.

The cucumber is fresh … crunchy and cold. It doesn’t look spicy isn’t it? There are no tell tale chili flakes. The sauce wasn’t even red. But it is spicy alright. Real nice spicy.

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I was kind of disappointed when they served the Crossing Bridge Rice Noodle. They dump everything into the hot pot. No fun!

They should have served it in the traditional method … (more…)

Continue Reading Yunnan Cross Bridge Rice Noodle from Xiang Yuan Qiao in Crystal Mall Food Court, Burnaby

Choi House Special Chicken and Lai Leung Kee Deli in the Empire Center Food Court, Richmond

The Food Court in the Empire Center is a place that I like a lot.

I know this is strange especially when you consider that the Empire Center is an almost dead mall in comparison with the other indoor Asian malls in Richmond (for example, Aberdeen, Yaohan, Parker Place and the Richmond Public Market).

The quietness of the mall is what I appreciate especially when I just wanted a slow, quiet meal. There are no ambiance to speak of at all. No service to talk about too. The only thing that matters here is the top-of-the-class food.

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Although there are just about 10 food stalls in the food court, some of my favourite dishes are found here. I blogged about the Claypot Ostrich Rice and Steamed Rice with Lotus Leaf from James Snacks (see post here) last month. The Claypot Ostrich Rice is the very dish that won Gold in the Food Court category in the 2010 edition of the CRA.

Today, I am going to share with you two other stalls which serves excellent food that is worth checking out.

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The Choi House Special Chicken is our recent find. This stall is oddly sandwiched between a hair salon and a wedding boutique. It is just a counter with no food in sight. At a fleeting glance, you might not even know it is food stall.

The Chinese name of this stall translates to the words “Salt Baked Chicken”.

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The menu mesmerized me. It is all about meat with combination of words like chicken, duck, beef, pork, squid and ox mixed with words like tongue, tendon, legs, balls, ribs, kidney, feet, and wings. You may click on the pictures above to read the menu.

Normally, I would expect that duck dishes are more expensive than chicken dishes. But here, the duck dishes are cheaper. I am not sure why but it could be that they serve only free range chicken.

For a meatatarian, this is the type of food I like. I need some of you to help me categorize this food.

This is definitely Cantonese style food. The Cantonese are famous for its Siu Mei which includes the roast pork, BBQ pork, sausages etc. The meat stuff in Choi House is not siu mei. They don’t roast or BBQ it. It is lighter. I was about to categorize this as Lou Mei but what do I know, right? Is this considered as Lou Mei?

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Look at it!

The above is half a chicken which costs $12. They call t his the House Special Spicy Chicken (Boneless). I don’t know why they even call this “spicy” when it is not spicy at all. Maybe it is because they are saying that they use spices to make this? *shrug*

This chicken is served cold. We were instructed to keep it … (more…)

Continue Reading Choi House Special Chicken and Lai Leung Kee Deli in the Empire Center Food Court, Richmond

[CRA 2010 Signature Dish] Xiao Long Bao 小籠飽 from Wang’s Shanghai Cuisine

Updated: 15th March 2011: This restaurant is closed and it has been replaced by Xu’s Wonton House.

I sometimes go to the food court in the Crystal Mall for lunch during the week days — particularly on days that I really don’t know what to eat. With quite a few restaurants and a well represented food court, it is no wonder that this Asian mall is always packed at all hours of the day.

Tell me, what is the one commonality of a successful Asian mall? It is always the food. Any self respecting Asian mall must have great food outlets. All other businesses are just the supporting cast.

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The food court in Crystal Mall serves almost exclusively Asian fare, mostly Chinese.

I believe the biggest draw factor to this food court is the price. It is here that you could get a good and filling lunch for just $5. I can’t think of another place which offers so much variety at these low ball prices.

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The food court is located on the second floor. Underneath it is an open market where you could get fresh fruits at really cheap prices. See the stall on the right? That is a popular Chinese BBQ stall which I sometimes get roast pork to go.

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There must be almost 30 stalls here in the food court. It is often chaotic. Despite the masses of humanity here, it is surprisingly not too difficult to get a table. It is because the tables gets opened up quite fast. It could get testy if you are not used to the crowds here.

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The stall that I headed to was the one located at the furthest end of the food court. It is called Wang’s Shanghai Cuisine.

I was there for their Xiao Long Bao which had just won Silver in the Food Court Category of the 2010 Chinese Restaurant Award.

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This stall has got to be the one which has the most number of staff in the entire food court. I counted at least eight people working non-stop.

This is because making xiao long bao is a manual, time-consuming affair. It has to be made fresh because it has a very short shelf life.

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You can see them pleating the xiao long baos with such consistency and speed. Despite all the labour involved in making this, it is interesting that it is still so cheap.

There is a 15 minutes wait time in this stall. You actually see your xiao long bao being made in front and then passed to the kitchen for steaming.

Chinese Restaurant Award 2010 ♦ SILVER in the FOOD COURT Category ♦ Xiao Long Bao 小籠飽
Chinese Restaurant Award 2010 ♦ SILVER in the FOOD COURT Category ♦ Xiao Long Bao 小籠飽

Here it is — the Xiao Long Bao from Wang’s.

You know, I was kind of surprised that the XLB from Wang’s are mentioned in the CRA 2010 because I had better ones before. I think it is because … (more…)

Continue Reading [CRA 2010 Signature Dish] Xiao Long Bao 小籠飽 from Wang’s Shanghai Cuisine

[CRA 2010 Signature Dish] Claypot Ostrich Rice 沙煲沙茶駝鳥肉飯 from James Snack 占士叻, Empire Center, Richmond

The Chinese Restaurant Award list does not only list dishes that are from restaurants. It goes the extra mile to even include dishes from humbler places like food courts. So you see on the list dishes that will cost over $100 (eg. Alaskan King Crab) and simpler dishes like a $4 Xiao Long Baus from a food court.

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There are a number of Asian food courts in Metro Vancouver. For us the best is the one in the Aberdeen Food Court. There is also the food court in Crystal Mall (Burnaby), the Richmond Public Market and Parker Place (Richmond) — all of which are always packed during meal times.

With so many great food courts, there is one that flew under the radar. It is the one located in the same strip mall on No 3 Road where Hon’s used to be. It is called the Empire Center.

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I have a feeling not many people even know there is a food court in there. We were there three years ago when we tried the Snake Soup and Stewed Beef organ Noodles (see blog here). Since then we had never stepped into that food court.

Amidst some Chinese Herbal and Ginseng stores, this food court has that laid back feel to it. In some sense, it is quite dead for an Asian mall. Here, everything moves in a very slow pace — a world of difference from the other Asian food courts. So you can see customers enjoying their food while watching Chinese serials on the TVs hung from the ceiling.

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Right in the middle of the food court, is a stall called James Snacks. I am not sure why this is called snacks when what they really serve are full meals.

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Click on the image above to show larger view if you can’t read it.

Festooned all over the stalls are signs of their dishes. We were there for their Claypot Ostrich Rice. They call the claypot, sand pot which I think is a direct translation from the word “sar bow”.

Their claypot rice ranges from $6 to $9 and includes versions of:

  • preserved sausage
  • minced meat with dried squid
  • diced chicken with dried octopus
  • beef with preserved vegetable
  • minced meat with salted mustard
  • spareribs with black bean sauce
  • free range chicken with mushroom
  • frog with ginger sauce
  • ostrich with BBQ sauce

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Be prepared to wait! We were told that the claypot rice will require a wait time of 30 minutes. This is because they start cooking the rice in the claypot when you order, i.e. from scratch. The wait wasn’t that long for us but still it took 20-25 minutes for ours to be ready.

They will take down your name and call you when the claypot rice is ready.

Chinese Restaurant Award 2010 ♦ GOLD in the FOOD COURT Category ♦ Claypot Ostrich Rice 沙煲沙茶駝鳥肉飯
Chinese Restaurant Award 2010 ♦ GOLD in the FOOD COURT Category ♦ Claypot Ostrich Rice 沙煲沙茶駝鳥肉飯

It was super hot when served. The soy sauce is given on the side. The whole pot sizzles and steams when we pour the soy sauce into it.

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The ostrich meat tastes like … (more…)

Continue Reading [CRA 2010 Signature Dish] Claypot Ostrich Rice 沙煲沙茶駝鳥肉飯 from James Snack 占士叻, Empire Center, Richmond