218 days in, I’m still finding many new places in Richmond, some of which have been under my nose the whole time. Take Empire Supermarket, for example, which is a part of the Empire Centre shopping plaza on No. 3 Road, an area I’m often in. I’d never even noticed the store before, but was only alerted to it the other day when I Googled “Richmond sushi.” The map indicated a little sushi supermarket within the store, so I decided to check it out.
Well, glory be – Empire Supermarket turned out to be a one stop shop for dinner! Not only was there sushi to choose from, but also Chinese BBQ, De Fresh Bakery, and this.
Of course I didn’t actually get it. Durian and I are not friends yet.
Empire Supermarket also has a section with Chinese herbs, a huge fresh fruit and vegetables department, an extensive meat and fish counter, and just about anything else you could want.
Just across the parking lot there’s Yummy Dumpling and a frozen dim sum store, so while the little shopping plaza might seem modest in comparison to big malls like Yaohan, it has plenty to offer – especially when it comes to dinner.
According to Google maps, the sushi stall within the supermarket is called “Fuji Sushi,” though there was no signage on the stall that I could see. I therefore wondered if it’s still operating under that name. Anyway, by the time I arrived, they weren’t producing any more rolls, but the ones they had left were on ultra-discount, as in $2-$3 per package. Something to note for you bargain-hunters! I got a salmon California roll, and combo box with an avocado roll and three inari sushi.
Then I headed on over to the BBQ stall, and got a box each of BBQ pork, and roasted pork (each small container cost about $3). There was also roast duck and free-range soy sauce chicken on offer.
Next, I went and searched for the best looking bag of shrimp chips I could find, because it’s a snack I can’t seem to leave an Asian grocery store without. I settled on “Tempura” shrimp chips from the Philippines. FYI, They’re a Quality Product.
Finally, I headed over to De Fresh Bakery, which is attached to the supermarket but operates independently. The woman was very sweet, pointing out things I might like to know (when she saw me holding a cocktail bun she said “those are filled with coconut,” and I just smiled and pretended like this wasn’t about the 947th cocktail bun I’ve bought in Richmond so far). I also purchased a winter melon pastry, and a mango pudding, all at about a buck each.
I walked out of the store with a big ol’ smile on my face, because I knew my roommates were going to love me. And they did.
As far as pre-made sushi goes, it was pretty tasty. My favourites were the avocado roll and inari sushi. Great vegan options!
The BBQ wasn’t extraordinary, but it was good. Unsurprisingly, I preferred the leaner BBQ pork over the roast pork.
The roast pork was a little on the chewy side. It had a hearty, crunchy, crackly rind, however.
Dessert was tasty – the coconut bun had a solid amount of coconut pasty inside,
and I think this was the first time I’d had a winter melon pastry (aka “wife cake”) since my visit to Kam Do Bakery. The flat, round pastry is filled with pale green winter melon paste; it’s delicately sweet, with a strong vanilla essence to it.
The mango pudding was slightly too sweet for me, but the mango flavour was strong, and there were chunks of fruit in it.
All in all, a big dinner for three people came to about $15, so if you love exploring new grocery stores and are on a budget, try picking up dinner in Empire Supermarket. You can hit up the BBQ stall and go meat-heavy if you wish, or you can opt for vegetarian by choosing appropriately from the sushi stall. Don’t forget dessert, or snacks, or even durian gelato, if that’s your thing. You never know what’s hiding in a grocery store that itself has been hiding for six months. You just never know.
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian (and vegan) sushi options available