Last night, I discovered the best kind of surprise parties are surprise parties with a Mad Men theme. For our friend Dave’s birthday, everyone donned Don or Betty Draper-style outfits, ate Peaches and Cream Jello Mold salad, and drank fine Scotch.* We had so much fun.
*It was actually beer out of plastic cups, but authenticity can be a little on the expensive side, you know?
I left my costume-search until the day before, and knew exactly where to go: just east of No. 3 Road on Granville Street in Richmond, where there’s a restaurant called Wing Kee sandwiched between two thrift stores – Value Village and the Animal Protection Society.
I figured it would be perfect – lunch and the chance to score some sweet, thrifted finds. I arranged to meet my friends Brad and Donna there, who are visiting from Toronto and Saskatoon, respectively.
They’re siblings, and both former treeplanters who I cooked for – I catch up with Donna whenever she’s in town, and it’s always incredible to hear what she’s been doing since I last saw her. She never says things like “I got a goldfish” or “I started yoga.” No, she says things like “Well, in a few weeks I’m heading to Haiti to work as a nurse” (last visit) or “I joined the army!” (this visit). Needless to say, Donna is up for anything, including helping me find the perfect 1950’s outfit, a much less intimidating prospect than boot camp.
Once we were in Value Village, it didn’t take long at all to find The Dress. I found two potentials right away, a floral number, perfect for hosting the Ladies Bridge Afternoon, and this more ‘1950’s New Year’s Eve at the Plaza’ number, which was definitely the winner.
It fit so snugly I could barely move my arms, but later an inside seam ripped and from then on it was smooth sailing. And because nothing says the 1950’s better than a jello salad, I also checked out Value Village’s jello mold selection, which was fairly extensive. I will share the recipe for “Dave’s Peaches and Cream Birthday Jello Salad” at the end of the post.
We also checked out the Animal Protection Society’s shop, and the SPCA’s; at the latter, we came across this golden peanut. A golden peanut! Richmond thrifting can produce some seriously good loot.
After our successful shopping trip, we planned on having lunch at Wing Kee, but soon realized they don’t open until 4pm. Instead, we headed just up the street to ‘Korean Bistro,’ a new restaurant that took over the space Nooch occupied (yes, this is the second time I’ve now reviewed two restaurants in the same space).
The restaurant looks similar to before, but they’ve strengthened the red and white theme with new paint on the walls as well as red and white-checkered tablecloths. The menu is fairly small, with food on one side and a tea selection on the back.
They offer hot pots, sizzling plates, fried rice, and various ‘braised snacks.’ Brad is vegan, so he ordered the kimchee fried rice without egg ($7.50), while Donna and I split the spicy Korean chicken sizzling plate ($8) and Signature Cheese Tofu Hot Pot ($7.95). Each meal came with cold tea and a small red bean and tapioca dessert soup.
The food was ok. Brad enjoyed his fried rice, which was fairly spicy and good even without the egg.
The spicy Korean chicken wasn’t spicy at all, however – more sweet if anything.
The signature hot pot was the one dish that stood out; at first it didn’t look like much, just some enoki mushrooms, tofu cubes, shaved beef, and mushrooms in broth, and at first we weren’t even sure if there was cheese in there.
Then Donna discovered a chunk something white that had a different, more creamy texture than tofu. The cheese! It was salty, and had a feta-like flavour. The longer the broth sat and the other ingredients steeped in it, the better it became. By the end, it was extraordinarily good, due in large part to the saltiness of the cheese. I would be happy to eat this dish again, even just for the broth.
I can’t say I enjoyed my Korean meal more than my Nooch sandwich, but who’s to say what works in a restaurant and what will last?
And now, back to something that has certainly lasted – the novelty of jello salads. While these quivering masses were THE dish to make when fancy guests were coming over, now they get made fun of, hard (and that’s probably because many recipes called for things like shrimp and lettuce to be suspended in said quivering mass). The poor little jello molds – once so hot, now so not, and a must-have at any 1950’s-themed party.
Thanks to Donna and Brad for thrifting and lunching with me, and a huge Happy Birthday to Dave!
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian and vegan options available