It’s hard to be hungry for long in Richmond. With 800+ restaurants, a unique food court scene, and a steam-shrouded Night Market that just kicked-off its 2019 season, the city offers a heaping buffet of tempting places to eat.
But for many locals—and savvy visitors who’ve done their dine-out homework—there’s one area worth visiting time and again. Bookended by No. 3 Road and Garden City Road, Alexandra Road is one of the shortest streets in Richmond. But its three-block stretch houses dozens of close-packed eateries, many of them clustered in mini strip malls radiating from the main drag.
Food Street 101
Nicknamed ‘Food Street’ a few years ago, Alexandra Road serves-up an astonishing array of authentic Asian cuisines in one compact area. From Vietnamese pho and Korean barbecue to Japanese sushi and Hong Kong comfort dishes, the biggest problem is choosing where exactly to satisfy your appetite.
First-timers might need a few insider tips, though. During the day, Alexandra Road looks like an unassuming thoroughfare with scuffed concrete sidewalks and overgrown grass patches. But the street transforms in the evening, when the neon storefronts flicker to life and locals start arriving en masse at their favourite joints.
Restaurants are clustered in strip mall enclaves along Food Street. | Photo: John Lee
Keep in mind that many (but not all) Food Street restaurants open from 5:00pm and some are extremely popular with chatty groups of late-night diners. Tuesday is also closing day for some establishments, so check ahead before you head out. And keep in mind that many places here only accept cash. Karaoke fan? Why not make a night of it: Alexandra has several spots to showcase your winning song renditions! And finally, parking can be tight here, but the Canada Line’s Lansdowne Station is just a five-minute walk away.
Ready for some culinary adventuring? Read on for details on some of our favourite Food Street restaurants and dishes, and keep in mind that most staffers are more than happy to offer suggestions if they’re not rushed off their feet (menus here have English translations and English is widely spoken).
Max Noodle House
#190 - 8291 Alexandra Road
Enter under the red awning to find a comfortable but fancy-free interior lined with wooden tables and some sought-after booths. It’s quite small so you might have to wait for a seat here, but service is brisk and efficient: the busy wait staff generally has little time for extra chitchat. Luckily the menu is easy to follow, divided into sections such as Noodle in Soup, Lo-Mein, and Congee. Not surprisingly, noodles (lo-mein is a ‘dry’ version of the brothy noodle soup approach) are extremely popular on this Cantonese menu, while the restaurant’s wontons are a satisfyingly-silky delight that regulars keep coming back for.
Don’t miss: The lo-mein dishes, made with slender egg noodles. We loved the Two Kinds of Toppings version, to which we added velvet-soft wontons and a heap of crunchy gai lan (Chinese broccoli).
Lo-mein comes in several varieties at Max Noodle House. | Photo: John Lee
Xiaolongkan Chinese Fondue
8320 Alexandra Road
This recently-opened restaurant occupies a handsome building with traditional Chinese murals on one exterior side. But it’s the sumptuous interior that catches the eye: rows of marble-topped tables, a water feature studded with little red fish motifs, and a series of curtained booths that make dining a grandly theatrical affair. Wondering what ‘Chinese fondue’ is? This is actually a fancy hot pot restaurant, which means you should gather some friends and dive right in (not literally), cooking your beef, fish, and veggies at your table in a brothy, bubbling pan that comes in several tasty options. Expect excellent service here.
Don’t miss: The hot pot. If there’s a group of you, consider a broth pot that’s divided into three different spice levels, ensuring everyone’s tastes are covered.
One of the best tables in the house at Xiaolongkan Chinese Fondue. | Photo: John Lee
Deer Garden Signatures
#2015 - 8580 Alexandra Road
Head to the alfresco second level of Venezia Place strip mall and join the chatty younger crowd at this bright, Hong Kong-style café. A fun, good-value option—many dishes are under $10—the menu ranges from fish soup combos to colourful sandwich-and-fries combos (unagi option included). Many diners here like to snag a large booth with their group and dive into some shared appies, including spring rolls, marinated pig knuckle, and pan-fried white turnip pudding. Thirsty? Add a milky Hong Kong tea, served in a barrel-shaped metal cup.
Don’t miss: The fortifying pork cutlet curry is bright yellow and nicely spiced; it comes with a dish of heaped rice entertainingly encircled by tater tots.
A fun take on pork cutlet curry at Deer Garden Signatures. | Photo: John Lee
Seto Japanese Restaurant
#155 - 8460 Alexandra Road
Alexandra Road has several Japanese eateries, but this stalwart has legions of fans. With a nondescript interior (beige walls, office-like ceiling panels), they save all their effort for the kitchen. Hot dishes such as ramen and donburi are available but it’s the quality, super-fresh sushi and sashimi that should pique your interest, including squid, scallop, sea urchin, and many more. There are good-value sushi combos (we like the BC Combo) and this is also one of the rare Food Street spots open for lunch: order a Lunch Box for a variety of tasty morsels.
Don’t miss: The belly-filling Seto Sushi Boat for two, complete with sushi, sashimi, tempura, oysters, and more.
#113 - 8571 Alexandra Road
Sharing isn’t quite so easy at this small Korean dessert joint, which specializes in frozen bingsoo bowls and fish-shaped taiyaki pastry treats. Perfect for a sunny day escape, the bingsoo—imagine a creamy, snow-like sweet dessert with fresh fruit—comes in a generous portion that seems perfect for sharing with a loved one. But once you start, you’ll wish you’d ordered your own. Popular with sociable teens and young adults, arrive off-peak here if you’re keen to snag one of the handful of small tables, arranged under a ceiling that’s studded with illuminated snowflakes.
Don’t miss: The mango bingsoo is a top seller for good reason: it’s capped with glistening chunks of fresh mango and a mound of fresh cream.
Mango bingsoo from Snowy Village. | Photo: John Lee