“Oh yeah, I love tendon.” As soon as the words left Garrett’s mouth, I knew I’d be bringing him and Megan along with me to try some new foods. Not just any people like offal, but the friends of mine who do get put to work. Add to that the fact Megan has never had bubble tea, and it was decided – back to the Richmond Public Market we would go!
I got a Mango Green Tea with pearls, and Megan had a Black Milk Tea with pearls, both half-sweet. The teas themselves were decent, I liked the pearls, and the prices ($3 each + $0.50 for pearls) were right. Megan was happy with her inaugural bubble tea tasting.
We chose Chef Liu Kitchen because it has a number of Taiwanese ‘snack’ items on the menu, meaning we could get a few things that would be easy to split. Not only that, but those snack items were interesting! The menu included beef noodle soup, a number of fried chicken options, and offal; for anyone not familiar with the term ‘offal,’ it means the parts of an animal used as food that aren’t skeletal muscle. Chris Cosentino is an American chef known for his culinary and educational work with offal, and his website, Offal Good, has plenty of information on the topic. It’s part of the ‘nose-to-tail’ movement that’s growing in popularity in England and North American, though in many Asian and European cultures, the use of animal parts deemed ‘alternative’ by North American eaters is everyday food. Since I have yet to see deep-fried duck’s neck thus far, we decided to try that, as well as the marinated intestine and some spicy dumplings. Technically, only the intestines are offal, but none of us had eaten neck before (other than in a stock), so it still seemed properly out of our comfort zones!
I’d told Megan and Garrett that the lady would be surprised with our order, and her reaction was priceless. Pure, amused, shock. She didn’t try to talk us out of it though, which I appreciated. We sat near a group of at least twenty older Chinese gentlemen, who were engaged in some sort of board game. There were boards and round, flat, wooden pieces – can anyone tell me what game that might have been?
Let’s start with the dumplings (10 pieces for $6). They’d been topped with finely diced chili, chopped raw garlic, and spicy oil; they smelled incredible. And when they said spicy, they meant SPICE-AY.
I ate the least chili oil-covered one, and my mouth still burned like the fire of a thousand suns. The dumplings themselves were excellent, filled with well-seasoned pork and wrapped in tender dough.
The pieces of deep-fried duck’s neck ($4.50) were rather intense in appearance, but tasty. They were chopped into 2 inch pieces, and the geometric shapings of the vertebrae stood out against the dark exterior.
You eat them like chicken wings – just pick ’em up and strip off the meat. They’re not plump with meat, and kind of chewy; it’s a bit like jerky, actually. They were different, but good!
The marinated intestine ($4) was also nice. If you’ve never had intestine before, then the tough thing to get over (at least for me) is the texture, as it’s quite chewy. The flavour from the marinade was deep and rich, like a concentrated pho broth. We liked them!
If you’re new to the world of offal, then perhaps this is a good way to ease yourself in. The Richmond Public Market is one of the most casual places you could possibly go, and if you can’t manage every last piece of intestine, then hey, it was a good start.
Megan and Garrett, you two are offal-eating all-stars. What shall we go for next?
Chef Liu Kitchen (at the Richmond Public Market)
Menu is meat-heavy
Parking available in Public Market’s parking garage