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Years ago, my friend Ali and I went to university together in Victoria.  After graduation, she headed off to Asia, where she met Menno, a Dutch backpacker.  A year later they reunited in South America, decided they never wanted to leave each other again, and moved to Canada.  A year after THAT they headed to Holland, and on the way to their new home, came to visit me in Italy!  Therefore, fancifully enough, Ali and I were reunited at a café in Parma.  Two years passed, and the next time I saw them was on the streets of Vancouver, weeks after they’d moved back to BC.  We recently caught up over a meal at Spicy Szechuan in Richmond, which was a particularly pleasing restaurant choice for Menno.  Why?  Because he used to live in Szechuan!

And there you have it – we’ve gone around the world and back in 140 words.

Spicy Szechuan sits quietly in a plaza not far from Brighouse Station, and importantly, is near a Dairy Queen.  You just never know when you’re going to need a post-dinner blizzard.

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The service at the restaurant was extraordinarily warm and friendly, while the menu was eclectic, with Cantonese, Shanghainese, Szechuan, and even Calgary-inspired dishes on it!  Truly, Calgary Ginger Beef was on offer, that classic of western Chinese food created not so long ago in Cowtown.  We ordered it, of course.

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We also got xiao long bao, seasonal vegetables (sautéed greens with garlic), chicken with crispy skin, and eggplant in plum sauce.

The soup dumplings were ok, though certainly not’t the best I’ve had, as the wrappers were on the thick side.

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The seasonal vegetables were dark green, light, and healthy – much appreciated by me!

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The chicken with crispy skin was excellent– this is the way I like chicken skin!  The meat was rich and the skin salty and golden brown, with all of it covered by the same addictive, crunchy shrimp chips served with our duck at Kirin.

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The eggplant in plum sauce had a lovely, roasted texture, but I found the sauce to be really bland.  I’d order the eggplant in spicy sauce next time.

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Finally, while the Calgary ginger beef could have also been spicier, it was still saucy, satisfying, and great with rice.

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Spicy Szechuan is hardly a place to get serious and spicy Szechuan food, but it does do some dishes well, and is worth a visit.  You’ll feel welcomed and taken care of while you’re there, which truly makes a difference.

With the bill (about $80), they brought out fortune cookies, and only then did I realize just how rarely I’ve seen them in Richmond.  In fact, this might have been my first in 196 days!  Appreciating the novelty more than ever, we cracked into the cookies and read our fortunes:

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Ali’s hilariously lackluster warning was our favourite.

The next time I see Ali and Menno will probably be over another dinner in Richmond, and you can be sure two years won’t pass before then.  Though who knows – maybe the next time I see them will be on the streets of Madagascar!  Who knows.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to enter 365 Days of Dining’s latest contest, on until December 27th!  Just tell us your favourite holiday memory here, and you’ll be entered to win a one night stay at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel and Afternoon Tea for Two.  You can enter once per day – click here for more details!

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 Spicy Szechuan

8151 Anderson Road, Richmond BC

604-279-9788

Cash and cards accepted

Vegetarian options available