When talking with Lien Yeung, it’s impossible not to get excited about food. I had the pleasure of chatting with her, with visions of dumplings in my head as our conversation unfolded. The dynamic and incredibly personable CBC reporter and social media editor is the ultimate eating insider, tweeting and posting Instagram pics and stories about her latest dining adventures. Her Instagram profile description reads, “Let’s eat, drink & be merry!”, which are definitely words she lives by. Her curious and adventurous palate has taken her around the world, including Spain, France, and all over North America. One of her favourite places to eat is right here in Richmond.
It’s no surprise then that Yeung was invited to co-host this year’s Chinese Restaurant Awards’ ceremony, which took place March 7, 2017 at the River Rock Show Theatre in Richmond. “It was lovely to connect with that restaurant community and to hear about the tasty things that I need to try,” she says.
Yeung grew up in the Lower Mainland in a Chinese Canadian household where food was a celebrated priority. “My comfort food is Chinese food. That’s all my mother has ever cooked, and even if she makes Western food, there’s a Chinese flair to it,” says Yeung. Her mother specializes in Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine, cooking dishes like soy sauce chicken, “golden sand” spareribs, as well as perfectly steamed fish.
Astonishingly, as a child, Yeung was a picky eater when it came to dumplings, particularly har gow. Yeung only liked the wrapper and didn’t really care for the prawns inside. “Growing up I wasn’t that into it [har gow]. One day in high school I had an epiphany, ‘Why don’t I like har gow?!” There was no turning back after that.
And while Yeung lives in Vancouver, she’s a huge fan of the Richmond food scene, eating there at least once a week. She’s been dining in the city her whole life; plus, her husband’s family is in Richmond, which gives it an added draw. Her love for the city stems from its wide variety of people and cuisines. “It’s the diversity. There’s something to be said for the huge mosaic that we have. Richmond is the ultimate example of that,” she says, particularly raving about the city’s food that is “as authentic as what you would get at home.”
Dim sum is what she craves the most for lunch. You’ll often find Yeung at Empire Seafood Restaurant (London Drugs Plaza, 200-5951 No 3 Road) due to its elevated dining experience. “Food is very important, but atmosphere is really important to me too. Empire has huge windows, with a lot of natural light. And their service is really good,” she explains. She tends to go for classic dim sum items, including the once-disliked har gow, chicken feet, and baked BBQ pork buns.
She’s also crazy about the shrimp and chive steamed dumplings at Dragon View Chinese Cuisine (1298-3779 Sexsmith Road), although she warns diners to expect a very busy restaurant.
It’s at this point in our conversation that I start to get really hungry, such that I want to drive somewhere and wolf down dumplings once we’re done talking. Like me, Yeung has a weakness for xialongbao, especially liking the versions at Shanghai River (7831 Westminster Highway). “It’s a great spot if you want to do a big dinner with friends. It’s got lovely ambiance.”
She also recommends the XLB at Dinesty Dumpling House (Aberdeen Centre, 2788-4151 Hazelbridge Way; 160-8111 Ackroyd Road). Or, she sometimes buys the frozen ones at Dinesty’s retail location in Continental Plaza (1168-3779 Sexsmith Road) and steams them at home. She adds that ready access to dumplings at home can be dangerous for your waistline!
Yeung also finds food solace in steaming bowls of noodle soup, at establishments like Chef Hung Taiwanese Beef Noodle (Aberdeen Centre, 2800-4151 Hazelbridge Way). “I love the soup with slices of fatty beef, which are so good. They’re almost smoked,” she says.
She feels that a gem is Pho Lan (6950 No 3 Road) for their high quality beef noodle soup: “They have lovely pho. The soup is really flavourful, and the beef is really tender.”
Yeung’s family also loves gathering together over hot pot at home. When they do, they shop at Golden Summit (100-8211 Westminster Highway) for what Yeung believes are the best meatballs and seafood balls in town. They’ve tried a number of different places, she says, and they haven’t found balls “as fresh, bouncy, and tasty as theirs. My must-try is the pork-stuffed Fuzhou fish balls.”
Because Yeung’s husband is Japanese Canadian and her in-laws are great cooks, she’s become very discerning when it comes to Japanese cuisine. She appreciates the authentic nigiri creations at Sushi Hachi (8888 Odlin Crescent), and also frequents Steveston’s Ichiro Japanese Restaurant (110-12011 Second Avenue) for their breadth of offerings, geared more to a Western palate, and beautiful presentation.
She gets particularly excited reminiscing about the spicy tuna and salmon cold udon at Gyo-O (3779 Sexsmith Road). “It has spicy sashimi. It’s spicy, but there’s a hint of sweetness in there. It also has a lightly poached egg, which is really runny. It’s gooey and full of udon and a little seaweed,” she recalls. In other words, it’s the ultimate mélange of delicious ingredients. She also suggests heading to Seto Japanese Restaurant (155-8460 Alexandra Road) for their nabeyaki udon soup served in a clay pot (nabe) with prawn and vegetable tempura on the side.
In terms of food court finds, Yeung says her husbands likes Saboten in Aberdeen Centre (3180-4151 Hazelbridge Way) for great katsu curry.
The deep fried chicken wings at Aberdeen’s Wu Fung Dessert (3220-4151 Hazelbridge Way) are one of her favourite snacks. “Those are so amazing. Those are to die for!” she raves.
The best thirst quenchers, says Yeung, are sold at Parker Place’s Cherry Fruit Juice & Icy Bar (1515-4380 No 3 Road) where she usually orders the red bean mochi icy.
As for her next eating adventure, Yeung was taking mental notes as she co-hosted the Chinese Restaurant Awards. CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice (140-8100 No 2 Road) “came out of left field for everybody,” which definitely intrigued Yeung. Plus, she got to meet the young owners whom she found inspirational.
She’s also been drooling over social media pics of mango-themed dessert places, like Mango Mama (155-4231 Hazelbridge Way) and Mango Yummy (6564 No 3 Road), and intends to visit them soon. Perhaps she’ll try one after her next dim sum outing in Richmond!