Reunions are the best, and they’re so incredibly easy to have in Richmond – the airport’s right there, after all. Know someone who’s flying in one day and leaving the next? No problem! Just meet them in Richmond for dinner.
This was exactly what my mom and I did with Kevin and Lina, good friends from a land far, far away. Australia!
My mom met Lina when they were just young dames, both living in Penticton. Lina later met her husband Australian husband Kevin while travelling in Israel, and for the last three decades they’ve been Down Under. She and my mom have always kept it touch, and once in a blue moon actually get to see each other in person. On this particular occasion they had a layover in Richmond on their way to visit family, so I finally got to meet this famous pair. AND bring them along on the job!
It’s a moderately-sized restaurant, and very lively – perhaps not the place to bring anyone who’s hard of hearing. The large, busy kitchen is visible through a wall of windows, so you can watch as dumplings are cooked in an endless cloud of steam, and chefs stretch hand-made noodles.
I’ve heard the owners are Taiwanese, so the food is Shanghainese-style with a twist. In other words, it’s slightly fusion, as is almost anything you’ll find in Richmond. That’s what keeps things interesting.
Lina doesn’t eat meat, so we ordered a few dishes with pork and beef, but mainly stuck to vegetarian options, of which there were many!
We had the xiao long bao ($6.95), vegetable dumplings ($7.95), stewed eggplant (without pork, $9.95), deep-fried peanuts ($3.95), Shanghai fried noodles, ($8.95), green onion pancake ($2.95), pancake with beef ($5.95), and spinach with bean curd ($4.95).
The peanuts arrived first, and while it wasn’t terribly obvious they’d been deep-fried (they seemed more roasted than anything), they were heavily salted and so addicting. They were mixed with crunchy shards of seaweed, and I proceeded to sprinkle them over everything else I ate. Sorry for the slightly blurred photos – my camera died and so I had to use Kevin’s, and I wasn’t very good with it. Thanks for saving me Kevin!
Dinesty’s xiao long bao were quite small, which I liked. It makes them easier to pop into your mouth and appreciate all that hot soupiness. The wrappers were relatively thin, the pork was tender, and the filling very juicy.
The vegetable dumplings won in the aesthetics department, however. They were brightly coloured and finely wrapped, as well as beautifully-flavoured.
The stewed eggplant was wonderful. The glistening, purple slices were soft without being soggy, and in just the right amount of sweet, slightly-spicy sauce. Highly recommended, especially for vegetarians (just be sure to ask for it without pork).
Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret: the Shanghai fried noodles + deep-fried peanuts = just about the most satisfying noodle dish ever. It’s so easy and comforting to eat; the thick noodles are coated in a dark, savoury, soy-based sauce, and tossed with bok choy. Add the crunchy saltiness of the peanuts, and you’re set. Set for life.
We ordered two versions of the green onion pancake, one plain (so Lina could try it) and one rolled with thinly-sliced beef. In my opinion, either of these are a must-order at Dinesty.
They’re slightly reminiscent of a roti, though definitely not for the gluten or oil-fearing crowds.
Finally, we had the spinach with bean curd, which is a tasty yet healthy way to round out a meal. It’s served close to room temperature, and I thought this version was particularly fresh and delicate-tasting. It also tasted great when mixed with the other dishes. The greens are actually Chinese spinach, which is a little stronger in flavour – am I right to call it “yin choi”?
Overall, I would highly recommend Dinesty, especially to first-time diners in Richmond. Not only will you get exceptional food, but it’s a relatively easy place to navigate. The servers are friendly, the menu is well-designed, and better yet, it has pictures! You won’t have to feel like you’re guessing with your order. But be warned, it’s very busy and they don’t take reservations, so you may have to wait a few minutes if you arrive at peak dining times.
I am so, so happy I finally got to meet Lina and Kevin, and hope it’s not too long before we’re sharing food and stories together again.
And remember: a layover at YVR isn’t a wasted day, it’s an opportunity to eat xiao long bao!
ps – A question for those of you who know your dim sum in Richmond: this Friday I’m taking my mom and some of her friends out for dim sum. We need a restaurant that’s quite close to the Canadaline, that’ll impress the heck out of them, and that I haven’t been to before. Suggestions? Thanks!
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available
A good place to go with a group