Here we are, the 365th post. We’ve said that number so many times over the past year that my friends have actually nicknamed me “Three Six Five,” and I guess now they’ll have to back to calling me Lindsay. An entire year of eating and writing DONE, just like that.
When I took on 365 consecutive days of eating in Richmond and writing about it, I learned things. Many things. Here are some of them:
First and foremost, I learned far more about Asian food than I could have possibly anticipated. This job gave me a foundation for Asian cuisine that otherwise would have taken me years to establish, and I’m grateful for such a remarkable culinary education. I was exposed to so many new ingredients and dishes, and am now pretty darn capable with a pair of chopsticks.
Importantly, I also learned I have SO MUCH MORE to learn about Asian food.
I learned that Richmond is home to some of my favourite foods – I just hadn’t tried them yet. Tan tan noodles, XO sauce, pineapple cocktail buns, rousong, hot pot, fresh taro bubble tea, sticky rice rolls, miso black cod, black fungus, baked tapioca pudding, Peking crispy duck skin wraps, and bibimbap are now some of my most beloved comfort eats, and I can’t believe I’d gone 27 years without them in my life.
I learned that with time, I could learn to like tripe and Hainan chicken, though I’m still deciding whether or not I can learn to like sea urchin. However, I do think I aptly described it when I called it “ocean-flavoured butter.”
I learned that no matter how many times I try durian, it will never stop tasting like sulphurous eggs marinated in a stew of sweaty socks, and that maybe it’s just a food to which I’ll have to admit defeat. You win, durian, so take your sweaty sock stew and get outta here.
I learned it’s not that hard to eat at a restaurant by yourself, and that if you don’t have a common language with your server and/or fellow diners, it doesn’t really matter. All that’s required is a shared appreciation of food, the ability to point, a friendly smile, and a few enthusiastic head nods.
I learned that salmon fish and chips are AMAZING, and deserve just as much street cred as deep-fried halibut.
I learned it’s possible to adore eating pure gluten, especially when it’s soaked in sauce and served cold. It’s ALSO possible to find a flourless chocolate cookie that’s so good, I’ve considered tattooing “I LOVE THIS COOKIE” down my forearm with an arrow pointing to my hand. That would mean I’d always need to be holding a cookie, or else people would be confused.
I learned that in Richmond, you can visit an awe-inspiring Buddhist Monastery, explore a century-old decaying Finnish fishing village, and fling yourself down a trampoline half-pipe all in the same day.
I’ve learned that Hurricane Potatoes at either of the Richmond night markets are worth the lineup and the money.
I learned it’s possible to eat out every day for a year and still feel good. I didn’t end up gaining weight, but even if I had, I promised myself I wouldn’t obsess about the scale and instead focus on health. I strongly believe that physical and mental strength are far more empowering than feeling skinny, so I worked out, ate plenty of vegetables, pounded back ginger-fortified smoothies, AND continued to eat cookies and cake with my usual enthusiasm.
Though I already knew it to a certain extent, I learned that food is truly an exceptional way to connect with strangers; I now have many wonderful friends and acquaintances in Richmond because of it.
Finally, I learned a great deal about myself. This job was my first foray into the public realm, and I discovered it’s both an intimidating and extraordinary place to be. I learned I absolutely love writing and photography, and want to continue with both; this edible realm is truly where I’m meant to be, and I’d like to thank Richmond for showing me that.
I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve a lot to learn.
For my 365th meal, the wonderful ladies of the Tourism Richmond Communications and Marketing departments joined me at Bamboo Grove, a renowned Chinese restaurant located on No. 3 Road across from City Hall. From the front you certainly wouldn’t think much of it, but from the back it’s all elegance.
The restaurant wins multiple Chinese Restaurant Awards each year, and we ordered several of their well-known dishes. These included the crab meat and fish maw soup ($19.95); stir-fried Alberta beef with mala peanuts ($27.95); stir-fried clams with bean sprouts and chives ($24.95); seafood fried rice with tobiko ($15.95); and stir-fried Alberta pork toro with Chinese celery ($18.95). It was an excellent meal.
The fish maw and crab soup was mild and lovely, kicked up with a drizzle of red vinegar. Visually, it was a striking dish.
The pan-fried rib-eye (an award-winner) was one of the best dishes I’ve had in Richmond all year. The beef was perfection: juicy, so tender, and exceptionally flavourful. The chilies added just the right amount of spice, the asparagus brought some green, and the peanuts were there for crunch. I had three helpings.
The clams with chives dish were recommended to me by two guys who know their food, and I can see why they love it so much. The garlicky chives worked so well with the crunchy bean sprouts, and the clams were out of their shell so they could absorb the sauce. Killer dish.
The pork dish was very good and I loved the crispy sugar snap peas, but flavour-wise it didn’t stand out as much as the others.
The tobiko fried rice was made with very al dente rice, and the table was divided on whether or not this was a good thing. We all loved the pop of the tobiko peppered throughout it, though some people thought the rice was too firm, while others loved its firm texture. Either way, we all agreed it was innovative!
For dessert we had red bean soup and a wickedly good coconut pudding, with a bit of condensed milk poured on top. Their ginger milk custard is also supposed to be phenomenal, but it must be ordered ahead of time (same goes for their well-known chicken with shrimp mousse).
Thank you Bamboo Grove for an outstanding last supper!
So, now that I’m done, how can you continue to use the 365 Days of Dining campaign as a resource? Great news: in addition to the 365 blog posts on www.365daysofdining.com, which will remain online, I’ve has compiled a series of Top 10 ‘best of’ lists which will be featured at www.tourismrichmond.com, and a Best of 365 Dining Guide will also be released this summer.
They’ve also developed a few other interesting resources and stats that you can view here – apparently I drank an average of 585 cups of tea this year and ate 79 desserts! Actually, that’s 80 if you add in the coconut pudding from last night.
As I sign off on this 365th post, here’s a message from me to you . In case you can’t watch it, I will just say this:
Though 365 is done, Tourism Richmond has more in store for all you food fans! Check back tomorrow for their newest food adventure – this time YOU, my readers, can get involved….
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available