Another day, another downpour. But that’s ok, because it was warm, dry and festive inside The Oval yesterday!
I headed there to check out the De Danaan Christmas Feis, a two day Irish dance competition with over 450 competitors. I’d been invited to the event by Hanna, a 21 year old Richmondite who dances, attends UBC full-time, and works at the university library.
How she manages that schedule is beyond me, but she and her mom were so lovely, and gave me a crash course in Irish dance culture. I grew up dancing, but the Irish dance world is an entirely different one from classical ballet. For starters, dancers compete to live music, and are often onstage at the same time, but performing different choreography.
Technique is different and costumes are heavier, but I could relate to the hairspray, makeup, and pre-performance nerves.
Competitors of varying ages danced yesterday and continue to do so today, with the Irish band Beoga headlining last night’s festivities. The Feis is the first kind of cultural event to be hosted by The Oval, and it was fantastic to see both athletes and dancers under one roof.
I watched Hanna compete in various kinds of dance categories, and I was wildly impressed by talent on stage. It made me ache for my lost long dancing days, and inspired me to find a class to take in the new year…..any suggestions?
After I left The Oval, I hopped on my bike with plans to head to Steveston to see Santa arrive. Then it started to downpour, and I chickened out; I just couldn’t bear to be wet one second longer. So, instead of waiting for the bus, I ducked into Richmond Centre and got lunch. I’m so, so sorry Santa – my dampened bones just needed a break. I hope I don’t end up with a lump of coal in my stocking.
Safely and warmly inside, I got lunch from the new Koryo stall in The Dining Terrace, which opened about a week after the terrace’s grand opening. They serve Korean food, and specialize in grilled meats served with rice and side dishes.
My server was one of the most enthusiastic people I’ve interacted with in Richmond so far. She was so genuinely in love with Koryo’s food, I couldn’t help but feel excited about it myself. She explained to me about all of their specials, and recommended the grilled beef. After I ordered it, she advised I ask for extra gravy because it’s just “so, so good.” Thank you, Koryo server, for making my experience a good one!
Of the many side dishes I had the choice of (including bean sprouts, green beans, and kimchi), I asked for the broccoli and garlic potatoes, the latter of which is their most popular dish. I can see why. The chunks of potato are deep-fried, then tossed in sweet chili sauce. If you’re unsure of how to make something taste good, just deep fry it and toss it in sweet chili sauce. It seems like a cheap, sneaky trick, but man, IT WORKS.
The meal also came with two scoops of rice and gravy (extra, please) poured over the freshly-grilled piece of beef.
The rice was fresh and the meat was perfectly done—I always worry it’ll be overcooked and chewy at a fast food place. The broccoli was crunchy (it felt good to have real, healthy vegetables) and the potatoes were amazing!
After my lunch I bee-lined for Froshberg, the crepe/gelato place opposite Pinkberry. I adore gelato, and have a tendency to over-photograph the swirling masses of it in gelato shops. I sampled the salted caramel, pistachio, and hazelnut before settling on a small cup of the latter, my server’s favourite.
The gelato was a little on the over-frozen side (it should be an almost spreadable consistency, even in the freezer) but it was still smooth, creamy and had a strong but natural flavour. A small cup was just the right size.
A big thank you to Hanna and her mom for hosting me yesterday at The Oval. I hope Day #2 of competition is going well!
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available, menu is meat-heavy, however.