Continuing my brilliant knack for going to places that are closed, I recently ended up in the Empire Centre food court with one place in mind, and found it locked up tight.  Since I’m no stranger to this situation, I wasn’t phased a bit.  Simply turn half a degree, walk two steps, and you’ll be at another restaurant.

Especially if you’re in a food court.

What was half a degree and two steps away?  The meat hanging in 1st Choice Cafe’s window.  There’s something about the scored, blazon red pork, and the dark, roasted ducks that always pulls me in.  It’s a sight so very emblematic of Chinese bbq, just as cases filled with cured salamis speak of western Europe.

Almost the entire menu at 1st Choice Cafe is various kinds of meat and meat combos; there’s roast duck, free-range chicken, honey pork, crispy pork, and short ribs, as well as various bubble teas and fresh fruit juices.

I asked for a lunch recommendation, and the lady suggested the honey pork and roasted duck combo with rice.  Sold, for eight bucks.  I also ordered a fresh watermelon juice, which came in a giant cup and cost $3.50.

When they pulled the pork from the case she asked “no fat?” and I said I sure!  It’s like she knew my aversion to straight fat.  Then, when I asked if she added anything to the watermelon juice (which was vibrantly pink and refreshing) she said “bit of sugar.”  Alrighty.

Our conversation continued as follows:

Lady:  You pregnant.

Me: ____________.

Lady:  Pregnant?

Me: Um, no.

Lady:  Oh.

You can mark down August 23rd, 2012 as the date when Lindsay Anderson was first mistaken for being ‘with child.’  I can tell you the situation was made a lot less awkward since I don’t speak Mandarin and she didn’t really speak English, and that it was far less scary than the first time I found a grey hair on my head.  I think her assumption derived from the fact I was wearing my rain jacket, and both of the front pockets were filled with my phone, iPod, and various other bulky items.  Or because I asked about my drink’s sugar content.  Or maybe I just ate too much breakfast.

Whatever it was, it certainly didn’t stop me from eating.

The pork was decent – not as good as Parker Place‘s – but the real show-stopper was the duck.  It was INCREDIBLE.

The skin on this particular piece wasn’t crispy, and yet I still enjoyed it.  It was so rich, salty and tender, I wouldn’t have stopped eating if someone had approached and asked if I was carrying TWINS.  Then there was the meat itself!  Soft, flavourful, and ever-so juicy.  The order came with rice and cabbage, and could have easily fed two people.  Two people out of the womb.

If you go to 1st Choice Cafe, make the duck your first choice, with an unsweetened watermelon juice as your drink.  And ladies, take the phones and iPods out of your pockets BEFORE you approach the counter.


1st Choice Cafe

Empire Centre food court, 4600 No. 3 Road, Richmond BC

Bring cash

Not vegetarian friendly