In Vietnam, a cyclo is a three-wheeled bicycle taxi. In Richmond, Xyclo is a friendly Vietnamese restaurant that was our lunchtime destination for a recent bicycle excursion.
Richmond’s West Dyke Trail leads to Steveston. (PHOTO: CAROLYN B. HELLER)
It’s a sunny autumn morning, and I’m pedalling along Richmond’s West Dyke Trail with my husband Alan and my friend Debra. We’re out for a leisurely ride to Steveston to savour the still summery weather.
On the West Dyke Trail, a flat gravel path for walkers and cyclists, the city feels far away. The path skirts Sturgeon Banks, a marshy 21,000-acre estuary with tall grasses and cattails swaying in the brisk breeze. If we squint, we can almost see the Gulf Islands across the Straight of Georgia.
Belted Galloway cows resemble Oreo cookies. (PHOTO: CAROLYN B. HELLER)
As we pedal, an occasional runner jogs by, and we pass an elderly couple holding hands out for a morning stroll. We notice a herd of unusual looking cows grazing on the edge of the marsh—black with a furry white stripe circling their middles. I later learn that they’re Belted Galloways, a heritage breed sometimes nicknamed “Oreos” because of their dark ends surrounding the cream-coloured centres.
We pressed on to Steveston, ready for lunch. Although Steveston has no shortage of places to get your fish ‘n’ chips fix, we thought that our bike excursion deserved a bike-themed meal.
Actually there’s nothing especially bike-oriented about Xyclo Vietnamese Cuisine, a tiny Asian eatery one block from the Steveston waterfront, besides their name and their pedicab logo.
Xyclo’s Ultimate Sampler plate. (PHOTO: CAROLYN B. HELLER)
Always eager to try as many foods as possible, I took our accommodating server’s recommendation for the Xyclo Ultimate Sampler ($15). My plate came piled high with salad rolls (fresh shrimp wrapped in delicate rice paper, served with peanut dipping sauce); spring rolls (filled with ground pork and fried); a skewer of barbecued pork meatballs; and a generous tangle of rice vermicelli topped with lemongrass chicken and more barbecued pork.
Lemongrass Chicken Vermicelli at Xyclo. (PHOTO: CAROLYN B. HELLER)
Debra’s and Alan’s dishes were almost subsets of mine. She chose Lemongrass Chicken on Vermicelli ($9) served with pickled carrots and daikon, while he opted for a Rice Plate with a Pork Chop, grilled chicken, and a small salad of finely shredded cabbage and lettuce ($9).
Pork and Chicken Rice Plate at Xyclo. (PHOTO: CAROLYN B. HELLER)
While everything tasted fresh, my unexpected favourites were the juicy pork meatballs and the crisp spring rolls. Other flavours were slightly muted, so we made liberal use of the hot chili oil to spice up our meal.
We briefly debated finishing our lunch with the tempting fried banana. Since we didn’t have a cyclo driver to pedal us home, we got back on our bikes and chose to save that treat for another day.
If you go:
You can take your bicycle on the Canada Line to reach several of Richmond’s cycling routes. Aberdeen Station is one block from the Middle Arm Dyke Trail, which follows River Road and connects to both the West Dyke Trail and the Railway Greenway.
From Aberdeen to Steveston via the Middle Arm and West Dyke Trails, it’s 12 kilometres each way.
The Railway Greenway is a paved multi-use trail that parallels Railway Avenue. It’s less scenic than the West Dyke Trail, but it’s more direct and faster to cycle. From Aberdeen to Steveston on the Railway Greenway is 9.5 kilometres each way.
Xyclo Vietnamese Cuisine (3804 Moncton St., 604-275-1011) is open daily from 10:00 AM to 8:30 PM.