“Are you just hungry, or are you hangry?”
“I’m only hungry, but in fifteen minutes I’ll have progressed. It’s time to find food.”
This was a typical conversation shared between my Italy Six friends and I during our time in school together. Hangry is a term we came up with to describe the mental and physical state that lies between “Hungry” and “Angry.” Inspired by the Italian tendency to add ‘h’ sounds to words beginning with vowels – think (h)angry, (h)oven, or (h)udder – it really is the perfect way to describe the point at which, should you not be fed, you’ll truly become a danger to your friends and loved ones.
By the time I reached Richmond yesterday, I WAS HANGRY; I didn’t have much food in the house and hadn’t eaten a lot during the day, but I oddly didn’t really feel hungry until I got on the skytrain. At that point, however, my lack of calories practically punched me in the face. I spent the whole trip trying not to focus on the twisting pain in my gut, and thought about how truly miserable it must be to experience this kind of hunger regularly. So, here’s some info on our local food banks!
Despite my cloudy mind, I developed a plan. I’d get off at Bridgeport, and walk five minutes to Shibuyatei, a Japanese restaurant I’ve cycled past a number of times and always wondered about. Recently it was recommended to me, so I figured hey, it’s a cold day and I’ll get a bowl of ramen. I WANT RAMEN.
When I arrived, I discovered it was closed between lunch and dinner, and wouldn’t be open for another hour. An hour is too long when you’re starting to see double, so I looked around. The complex behind me had a Starbucks, Burger King, and General Paint. I was willing to eat just about anything, including paint, however I was sane enough to know a Whopper review wouldn’t be looked upon favourably.
I went to Starbucks, bought myself a granola bar, and regrouped. I decided to walk down to Richmond Sushi, and get a bowl of ramen there. Since I had a friend coming over later, I’d also takeaway a few rolls for us to eat. Sorted!
Walk walk walk. Ramen ramen ramen.
I arrived at Richmond Sushi. It was closed. It didn’t open again until 5:30pm. I (barely) resisted an urge to lie down on the sidewalk, kick my feet, and scream like a five year old.
To my left, I found Tapioca Express. I knew it wouldn’t have ramen, but it would have food, and that was enough for me.
Tapioca Express is kind of like the restaurant version of Party World Karaoke – it’s big, colourful, and always blaring pop music. They specialize in bubble tea, and have a big list of meals and snacks to go along with it. It’s rather fast food-like, because you order at the counter and are given a buzzer that lights up when your food is ready.
Thinking it would be the closest thing to ramen I could get, I ordered the miso hotpot, as well as an order of steamed cabbage and pork dumplings and a mango green tea with large tapioca pearls. My order came to about $16.
The hotpot arrived about ten minutes later, and was a little cauldron of simmering broth filled with cabbage, various fishcakes, artificial crab, thin slices of pork, and tofu. It came with a side of rice, and a small bowl of thick, strong sauce with fine ribbons of fresh ginger in it.
I haven’t become enamoured with hot pots just yet, and this dish failed to tip me over to the hot pot-loving side. I found the broth to be a little too weak, and thought it had one too many pieces of processed fish. Take this one, for example, which had flowers on it. I have yet to slice into a fish and discover its flesh to be adorned with scenes from a garden, so it all just seemed a little wrong.
Even though the wrappers were on the thicker side, the dumplings were decent, and the filling was good. These were just what I needed to satiate my empty belly. The bubble tea was also nice – I asked for it half sweet, as usual.
After my late lunch I felt human once again, and capable of appreciating the world around me. I stood for at least ten minutes and photographed a tree strung with lights, and enjoyed the cold air.
Hangry talk over, it’s now time for my first ‘Best Of Richmond’ list. Today I figured we’d start with the big boys, so here you have:
The Top Five “That Ain’t No Chicken Breast” Foods to Try in Richmond
1. Congealed pig’s blood, which is easy to find in any Taiwanese restaurant. I had it for the first time at Bubble World, and while it took some mental preparation to eat, I appreciate any culture’s willingness to use all parts of an animal.
2. Duck tongue, or should I say tongues, seeing as an order comes with many. They’re a bit squishy, and have a piece of cartilage in the middle you need to watch out for. I had these at Fisherman’s Terrace, and they were well-marinated and cooked.
3. Deep-fried duck neck. This tasted great, though the squeamish part about eating sections of neck is that the spinal cord is still in there, and very visible. It’s a strong reminder of just what you’re eating. We also had tasty marinated intestine from this same stall, Chef Liu Kitchen in the Richmond Public Market.
4. Grilled chicken hearts. We tried these just the other night at Manzo Izakaya, and loved them. They’re a bit chewy, and packed in all the sweet/savoury/smoky goodness of BBQ.
5. Rousong, which is also known as pork floss, meat floss, or meat wool. Yes, meat wool. It’s a type of pork-based condiment that’s made by stewing cuts of pork until the collagen melts and individual fibres can be pulled apart, thus creating a hairy creature-like ‘floss.’ The ingredients in it aren’t extraordinary, but it looks rather exotic if you’re new to it. I’ve grown oddly fond of the stuff, especially in rice rolls from Osaka market, and on dim sum, like the rice-wrapped Chinese donuts at Sea Harbour Restaurant.
Vegetarian options (including hot pot) available