Brendon Mathews is a wealth of information on Richmond’s vibrant food scene. As a devoted Richmond resident, food judge, and freelance food writer, Mathews can dish knowledgeably about everything from the best siu mai in town, to the most lip-smacking bowl of noodle soup. I got the scoop from him (with his characteristic wit) on some of his favourite food haunts.
How long have you lived in Richmond?
I’ve lived in Richmond since high school. I am completely smitten with the Asian diversity in Richmond, especially as it applies to our restaurants. If it’s available in Asia, chances are you can find it here.
How long have you been a food judge (Chinese Restaurant Awards, and the Vancouver Magazine Awards)?
I’ve been an awards judge for almost a decade now. The thing that makes it so challenging is the sheer number of places we look at for both awards, and winnowing down the field in an environment of such high quality.
You work in Richmond as well. What are your favourite places to go for lunch with colleagues?
If I’m going for lunch with someone who’s unfamiliar with the level of cooking in Richmond and I suspect they’d appreciate a different experience, I love taking them to a high-end dim sum spot, such as Jade (8511 Alexandra Rd.), Kirin (7900 Westminster Hwy.), Golden Paramount (8071 Park Rd), Chef Tony (101-4600 No. 3 Rd.), or Sea Harbour (150-8888 River Rd.). It’s always exciting and gratifying to expose someone to something new. People that can appreciate it really enjoy seeing how refined great dim sum is.
Steamed crab dumplings at Golden Paramount. (PHOTO TARA LEE)
Where do you and your family dine out?
My family and I really like well-priced and easy Cantonese on nights when no one feels like cooking, somewhere like Old Buddies Seafood (8391 Alexandra Rd.) or Double Double (128-4600 No 3 Rd.).
Double Double’s Seafood Congee and Chinese Donut. (PHOTO LINDSAY ANDERSON)
What are some under-the-radar restaurants in Richmond?
Under the radar? Richmond doesn’t do under the radar. There is a network of Chinese grannies that spread data faster than any fibre optic cable. I’m not plugged into the network, but you can tell it exists by the fact that places I’ve never been will be hot all of a sudden, and when I try them, the conventional wisdom prevails and they’re excellent. It also works in reverse. Last month’s hot spot will have a cook leave, and seemingly most of the clientele will too. I love the fact that Richmond diners reward excellence while punishing complacency.
What’s the latest Richmond restaurant that you’ve checked out for the first time?
The last new place I tried was a spot artfully named Cantonese BBQ (1438-8388 Capstan Way). It has really excellent meat on rice and deeply flavoured broth on the side.
Which restaurants are on your list to check out?
Keeping up with the new openings in Richmond is almost impossible since we’re in a mini boom of Northern-style Chinese restaurants serving immigrants from China, rather than Hong Kong. I’m interested in a spot called Morals Village (1200-4540 No. 3 Rd.), underneath Shiang Garden.
Can you recommend a noodle spot?
My favourite noodles in the city are the hybrid Korean Chinese duck noodles at Man Ri Sung on the top floor at Aberdeen Centre (4151 Hazelbridge Way), or the Taiwanese beef noodles at Chef Hung directly one floor down.
Mathews heads to Chef Hung for a good bowl of Taiwanese beef noodles. (PHOTO LINDSAY ANDERSON)
Where do you go when you’re craving dim sum, or dumplings?
My favourite dim sum spot is Empire (London Plaza, 200-5951 No. 3 Rd.). My favourite dumpling is the xiao long bao at Top Shanghai (120-8100 Ackroyd Rd.). In fact, everything at Top Shanghai is really great.
The xiao long bao at Top Shanghai are a top favourite. (PHOTO LINDSAY ANDERSON)
What are some of your go-to comfort dishes in Richmond?
I crave wonton noodles when I’ve been away. Tsim Chai (8251 Westminster Hwy.) is great, but plenty of others will fill the bill, if need arises.