Echoing Asia’s steam-shrouded hawker markets, Richmond’s busy food courts are well known among hungry locals craving comfort food favourites. And for visitors, these authentic food courts are also a great, low-cost way to kick-off a culinary adventure in the city.

The food courts at Aberdeen Centre, Lansdowne Centre, and CF Richmond Centre—plus hidden gem President Plaza—each have their own fans. But among the most authentic places to exercise your taste buds is Parker Place. A five-minute walk from the Aberdeen Canada Line station, this clamorous, cafeteria-like hot spot is lined with mom-and-pop counters serving cuisines from Taiwan to Shanghai and from Vietnam to Hong Kong.

Read on for details on some of the home-style stands we discovered on a recent visit. Then plan your own dining excursion to find your very own favourites among the 20 or so Parker Place food court counters.

Joy's Taiwanese Food - Photo: John Lee
The food court at Parker Place is full of delicious options. | Photo: John Lee

Lai Taste

There’s a large array of dishes available at this friendly Vietnamese counter, so give yourself plenty of time to peruse the photo menu boards. The first thing you’ll notice? The low prices. Nothing is even close to $10 ($6 or $7 is typical) at Lai Taste and that includes everything from a hearty curry chicken on rice dish to a fortifying noodle soup bowl with tofu and lemongrass fishcakes. A good place to buy several dishes to share, be sure to add some crispy spring rolls to the mix.

Don’t miss: Lai Taste’s crunchy Vietnamese subs are justifiably popular. Fillings vary from grilled sausage to pork cutlet and they each come with a cup of milky Hong Kong-style tea or coffee—all for the bargain price of $6 or less.

Sub from Lai Taste - Photo: John Lee
Try one of the subs at Lai Taste. | Photo: John Lee

Joy’s Taiwanese Food

A steady stream of take-out regulars keeps this orange-and-yellow hued counter as busy as a street food stand on a Friday night in Taipei—and many of these long-term fans are buying the good-value party trays to take home for their families. An array of classic but well-executed rice, noodle, and dim-sum dishes is on the menu here—popular orders include beef and wonton noodles in soup as well as deep-fried chicken thigh with rice—but there are also some intriguing smaller dishes to consider.

Don’t miss: The made-to-order Taiwanese pork bun is a juicy, butter-soft slab of pork belly, sandwiched between soft bread and slathered with light peanut sauce. It’s easy to wolf down too quickly, so consider ordering two at the same time.

Joy's Taiwanese Food - Photo: John Lee
Try a pork bun at Joy’s Taiwanese Food. | Photo: John Lee

Shanghai Goodies

With its team of food-preppers working away out back, this busy, fancy-free stand does a brisk trade in brothy noodle soups (go for the one with the meat balls) as well as soft, glistening steamed dumplings with a variety of fillings—the perfect shareable side dish for your table. Most dishes are under $7 and if you’re keen to try a traditional Chinese snack while you’re here, pick up a tea egg: boiled in tea, they have a rich, marbled patina and only cost $1.

Don’t miss: Perhaps the ultimate comfort food, the large, deep-fried wontons here are a delicious treat. Expect to eat these crunchy, soft-centered morsels with ravenous eagerness but let them cool first: piping hot, they can squirt hot juice right across the table.

Wontons at Shanghai Goodies - Photo: John Lee
Wontons at Shanghai Goodies. | Photo: John Lee

Yummy-Yummy

With one of the largest menus at the Parker Place food court, the tiny kitchen at this Hong Kong-style stand covers a lot of ground: from bargain eggs-toast-and-luncheon-meat breakfasts (served all day) to heaping noodle combos topped with everything from fish balls to beef brisket. Add some deep-fried fish cakes if you’re feeling particularly hungry, and wash it all down with a malty cup of Horlicks (especially if it’s cold outside).

Don’t miss: If you’re looking for a dish to share at your table, Yummy-Yummy’s Richmond Fried Rice is ideal: filled with prawns, veggies, crabstick slivers, and chopped fried egg, it’s surprisingly filling and more than enough for two to three diners.

Fried rice at Yummy-Yummy - Photo: John Lee
Richmond Fried Rice at Yummy-Yummy. | Photo: John Lee ​

Rainbow Café

It feels like this veteran Parker Place drinks and dessert counter—run by a hardworking older couple—has been here forever. Fruit juices, egg rolls, house-made bubble teas, and freshly-prepared bubble waffles keep them busy but when you’re standing at the counter, look down at the stainless steel rack in front of you: it’s where the little packages of Dragon’s Beard Candy are kept. And it’s the product that has put this Parker Place stand on the map for many local sweet treat-lovers.

Don’t miss: A traditional Chinese confection, Dragon’s Beard Candy is like a fusion of cotton candy and super-sweet baklava. Pick-up a package of six ($4.75) and you’ll soon be sinking your teeth into a peanut and coconut-infused treat with a unique “wispy” texture.

Dragon's beard candy - Photo: John Lee
Dragon's Beard Candy at Rainbow Café. | Photo: John Lee ​

If you go:

Cash is king at many Parker Place food court stands. Most counters are open from 11:00am to 7:00pm daily. English is widely spoken and most menus are fully translated as well. Lunchtimes can be very busy but diners typically eat quickly. Sharing tables is also common, so if you spot an empty seat, ask if it’s free and you’ll likely be invited to sit down.

Two extra ways to enhance your visit: check out the recently renovated golden shrine outside the food court’s side entrance. And, if you’re a roast pork and barbecued pork fan, join the queue at the extremely popular Parker Place Meat & BBQ, a few steps from the food court. It’s the perfect place to pick-up some carnivorous delicacies for home.