It’s a blog takeover! Guest Editor for the day Dee de los Santos of Vancouver’s Gastrofork takes us to her favourite spots on Richmond’s “Food Street.”
Alexandra Road (dubbed “Food Street” by locals) may not be Richmond’s longest road, but within its three-block radius is a remarkably large selection of different places to eat. When mentioned, the first thought that usually comes to mind is hot pot and ramen. But there is so much more than cold weather comfort food here that often gets overlooked.
Think Japanese izakayas, numerous Chinese cafes and Korean eateries. There are cute dessert places that serve up real fruit bubble tea and larger restaurants that serve up traditional Chinese cuisine. Parking can be difficult to find during dinner time—carpooling and taking the Canada Line SkyTrain (which is a quick 5-10 minute walk away) are your best bets.
Although there are many restaurants on this road, these three are worth highlighting and should be on your must-visit list!
Seto Japanese restaurant (8460 Alexandra Rd.) is very unassuming on the outside. But inside, you’ll be warmly greeted by their staff. Each booth is blocked off, so you’ll get privacy with your party that you normally won’t have anywhere else. The menu selection is large and offers many Japanese dishes you typically can’t order anywhere else in Vancouver.
One of these dishes is their Ochazuke—Tea on Rice. This appetizer or side dish is rice served with either salmon, pickled plum or seaweed and green tea, served on the side for you to pour onto your dish.
The green tea is poured in a similar fashion to cereal in milk. The tea balances out the fragrant, salty salmon and seaweed over the rice, making it an interesting dish to savour.
Another delicious dish is their Kani Cream Croquette. It’s a mix of crab, cream and a hint of coconut in a breaded, deep fried package.
Chawanmushi is a popular Japanese dish that is essentially steamed egg custard with different ingredients inside. The chawanmushi I ordered had a variety of vegetables, scallops and fish in it. At the few other Japanese restaurants I’ve had it in, there were only one or two items inside, so Seto is the best place I’ve seen this dish prepared.
If you’re feeling less adventurous, or maybe just really hungry, you can order the Complete Dinner for one ($30) which comes with either sushi, chirashi or N.Y. steak as a main and either sunomono or gomaae, tempura, chawanmushi, miso soup and ice cream. It gives you a good scope of what the restaurant is capable of.
I had the Chirashi and this dinner could be split amongst two people if you order other appetizer dishes on the side.
Another fantastic place to check out is Haroo Korean Homestyle Cuisine (8580 Alexandra Rd.). As the name implies, this Korean restaurant feels more like eating at a Korean home. The space is warm and inviting with great charm to even the smallest of details.
Their menu is filled with the usual staples at Korean restaurants like bibimbap and bulgogi, but also comfort dishes like tofu soup and one of my favourite dishes: tteokbokki (rice rolls).
It’s an absolute must to order their Pajeon (Korean-style pancake). Their pancake is crispier than most places, and that’s exactly how I enjoy it. There are some vegetables—green onions, onions, peppers—and also some seafood (octopus tentacles) in it. This dish is large and perfect to start off your meal.
Before your main meals are served, you are given a small bowl of congee and the typical pickled dishes. These are a great touch and a staple to Korean cuisine.
Another dish of note is the Bibimbap: there are several toppings you can choose from, but my favourite is Bulgogi (grilled marinated beef). This hot, stone bowl is served with a healthy amount of vegetables and rice, and an egg on top. The best way to eat this is to mix all the ingredients when it arrives at your table and let it sit for a little while to let the rice become a little bit crispy.
Leisure is definitely in its own category when it comes to decorative choices. While by definition Leisure is a dessert cafe (8391 Alexandra Rd.), it certainly feels like you’ve been transported to a European tavern or home once you’ve stepped inside. The chairs, tables and main bar are heavy wood pieces and the numerous frames depict places in Europe.
Besides its eclectic design, it’s mostly known for shaved ice and fresh fruit milk teas. A prime example of their fresh fruit milk teas include the Taro and Papaya Milk.
The Taro Milk Tea (left), as you can see is not an unhealthy purple colour that you’ll probably experience at most other bubble tea places. Since they use real taro as opposed to powder, you’ll have the real taro taste and bits in your drink. I find that this taro is less sweet than the powder, which makes it that much more enjoyable.
The Papaya Milk is also made with fresh fruit and is at a nice level of sweetness.
There are desserts you can order from Leisure; their signature would be their shaved ice. But the Caramel Pudding is also quite popular here. There are several ways you can order the caramel pudding, and if you’re feeling extra fancy, I suggest you go with the Caramel Pudding Sundae option. The pudding is wedged between two scoops of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream making it an indulgent treat.
Leisure also serves Japanese Cheesecake, a light and airy version of the dense cheesecakes we’re used to. Every bite feels like a light but creamy taste of heaven.
If you’re looking for authentic eats and dishes to savour, you’ll want to make the journey to Alexandra Road. There are so many places to explore and so little stomach space! Come hungry and bring a couple of friends to try a variety of different dishes at these restaurants.