We’re here, the eve of the eve of the Chinese New Year! It’s the Year of the Snake, an animal which, at the mere mention of, will make my mother squirm. For her sake, I will try to keep the snake talk to a minimum this weekend, and keep images of them limited to cartoons. I promise.
I recently discovered I’ll be celebrating in one of Forbes magazine’s Top 8 Destinations for Chinese New Year – Richmond! That should come as no surprise, but it is cool to see the city credited on such an international scale. While many people in Richmond are finalizing their plans, hanging lanterns, putting up decorations, and making TONS of food, yesterday I celebrated the eve of the eve of the eve by having some dim sum.
We tried the deep-fried taro dumplings ($4.95), steamed shrimp dumplings ($4.95), ginger BBQ pork pastries ($4.65), seaweed wraps with tofu and pork ($4.65), stir-fried rice rolls with shrimp ($9.99), ‘Famous Fish Head and Fish Bones’ ($13.80), and deep-fried mango milk pudding ($6.99).
The taro dumplings looked just like the ones I had at Fisherman’s Terrace – soft, purple dumplings made of mashed taro, filled with what appeared to be mustardy, preserved vegetables, and covered in a crispy, delicate, web-like batter. They were wonderful, and are one of my I’m-so-glad-I-found-you new dim sum favourites.
The steamed shrimp dumplings weren’t the best I’ve had in Richmond (not quite crunchy enough), but still very good, and worth ordering.
The ginger BBQ pork dumplings were sweet pastries, with a gingery BBQ pork filling. They were very dessert-like, and verrrrrry moreish. A must-order.
The seaweed wraps with tofu and pork were a new dish for me. Pieces of deep-fried tofu, pork, and thick bunches of enoki mushrooms were bundled together, wrapped in a piece of nori, and steamed.
These certainly looked more impressive than they tasted – they weren’t bad, but they were rather difficult to eat, and there wasn’t one particular flavour that stood out for me.
The stir-fried rice rolls with shrimp was a substantial dish. The glutinous sheets of rice were rolled up and layered on the bottom, with a stir-fry of shrimp, onion, green onion, and chili in XO sauce on top. Very good!
A dish that made me chuckle was the ‘Famous Fish Head and Fish Bones,’ which I ordered simply because of the name. I had (rather darkly-inspired) hopes of it arriving with fish eyes staring out from fish heads and gnarly skeletons protruding this way and that. So, I was disappointed when I couldn’t find a single head! It was just chunks of whole, chopped fish fried and tossed in sauce. The result was nuggets of fish that tasted good, but were less entertaining to eat than I’d hoped. The bones, eyeballs, and offal of Filipino cuisine really seem to be having an affect on me.
For dessert, we had the deep-fried mango milk, also ordered based on sheer curiousity. How DOES one deep-fry milk? What does that look like?
Well, it kind of looks like timbits, or gulab jamun. The filling was a bright yellow, barely-sweet mango custard, and they brought a small bowl of sugar with the dish, so we could dip the balls in and adjust the sweetness to our liking. This dessert should be eaten soon after it comes to the table, because if left sitting too long, they kind of deflate and dry out.
Shi-Art Chinese Cuisine is a great option if you’re shopping in Richmond Centre and want a proper, sit-down lunch. Their dim sum menu means you can try a few different things, but whatever you do, get the ginger BBQ pork pastries.
Now, back to my weekend plans, which not only include the Chinese New Year, but also Canada’s favourite game! I’ll be at the Oval for the second annual Richmond Celebrates Hockey Day, a festival of ‘all things hockey under one roof’ (that Oval has a mighty big roof), including a Vancouver Canucks alumni game and an appearance by hockey hall of famer Guy LaFleur.
To say I don’t know much about hockey would be a grave understatement, but I do know this: hockey fans are fun, enthusiastic people and I’m super-excited to go. Being Canadian, I am of course familiar with Guy LaFleur.
I’ve been studying his face on Google images, so just in case he walks up and asks me for an autograph I can be like “Sure Guy, no prob. I love your work. Stay cool.”
I am kidding, just to be clear.
General admission to the hockey fest is free, and if you’d like to attend the game, you can purchase tickets for $15 at brownpapertickets.com. Partial proceeds from sales go to support Richmond KidSport, and donations of non-perishable food items will be collected for the Richmond Food Bank through the innovative Five Hole for Food program. A colourful Chinese lion dance will kick things off at 10:30am, followed by an 11:00am ball hockey game featuring Guy LaFleur and Pat Quinn. Somebody, get me a gold star!
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available