Yesterday was Round II of #tweeteatrichmond, and our Seattle visitors’ appetites were put to the test! (they passed). Tourism Richmond toured us around Food Street, visiting three restaurants as part of an extended lunch before the group headed off to the Buddhist Temple, then home. Within a span of three hours we went from Hong Kong to Korea to Japan, and then I thought “What the heck, why not walk to Vietnam, too?”
We started off at Cattle Café, where we shared fried chicken wings, some bubble waffles (look! Chicken and waffles!),
baked rice with seafood and pork chop,
and three bowls of soup – the malay laksa, spicy peanut broth, and the tom yum. All three were a big hit, especially the laksa.
Next, we wandered around the corner to my beloved Haroo, the small, living room-like Korean restaurant run by a husband and wife. There, they fed us more food than we could have consumed in one lunch, let alone one of three!
It was an extraordinarily impressive feast, beginning with small bowls of marinated potatoes, vegetables, bean sprouts, seaweed, and one of my all-time favourite snacks – myeolchi bokkeum. They’re dried anchovies stir-fried with a bit of sesame oil, chili paste, sugar (the key ingredient to their addictiveness, apparently), and garlic. They’re chewy, salty, sweet, and stare at your with beady little eyes.
We also had these lovely little salads with carrot flowers and that pink dressing I LOVE SO MUCH.
The sweet, tender Korean short ribs (galbi) arrived sizzling on a cast iron plate. They were amazing.
Everyone got to taste Haroo’s excellent seafood pancakes, which had been cut into strips and threaded onto skewers.
We had various kinds of fried udon (this one with seafood),
and bulgogi, all thoughtfully presented.
One hugely popular dish was the spicy rice cakes, which were baked with cheese in tagines. We decided this was like the Korean version of mac and cheese! The red sauce was mildly spicy, a bit smoky, and the chewy rice cakes absorbed the flavours well. Comfort food at its finest.
Without question, the star of the meal was the special bibimbap, a Korean staple that’s traditionally served in a hot, cast iron pot. Yesterday’s version was presented as a flower, with layers of rice, seaweed, vegetables, and meat topped by elaborate hand-cut garnishes, including a carrot butterfly!
It tasted as marvelous as it looked.
I loved Haroo before, but now it’s beyond love; I just want to live there. Forever. In a bibimbap flower garden.
Third stop on our Food Street Tour was Nan Chuu Izakaya, home to my favourite bowl of Tan Tan Noodles and some great tapas style dishes. We were a little stuffed by this point, so we took it (relatively) easily. We had tuna tataki,
takoyaki (with their dancing bonito flakes),
grilled mackerel, and tako wasabi (tako = octopus). This was a new dish for me – it had chunks of chewy, raw octopus in a minty green wasabi sauce that hit me right in the sinuses (in the best possible way!). The mixture is folded up in sheets of nori – think of them as tako tacos. Because of its strong flavour and texture, tako wasabi is certainly not for everyone, but it’s an interesting dish to try.
At this point I was a little on the full side, but I’d managed to pace myself well enough to squeeze in a new restaurant. Pho 99 was just a block east on Alexandra, so I figured if my stomach could handle any type of cuisine, it would be Vietnamese.
The restaurant was covered in kitschy décor and full of big, happy groups dining together on a Sunday. The menu had all the classics, and with the sun shining fervently outside, I decided I’d rather have a rice dish than soup. I ordered the grilled chicken and spring rolls, as well as a soursop smoothie. I’d never had anything with soursop before, but it sounded appealing on a spring day. Besides having a wicked name, I now know that soursops are fruits with green, spiky exteriors and white, vitamin-filled flesh. They’re grown in Central and South America as well as some parts of Southeast Asia, and have a sweet/tart flavour that’s unbelievably refreshing on a warm day.
My meal was great – the spring rolls were exactly what one needs in a post-birthday party meal, and the chicken was covered in a thick, sweet glaze.
Add to that the really friendly service and fake palm trees, and you’ve got yourself a great little pho shop!
Thanks to Tourism Richmond for organizing the weekend, and to the #tweeteatrichmond crew for coming up! It was an absolute pleasure to meet each and every one of you, and I look forward to more shared meals in the future. Happy digesting to you, and until next time……
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available