Restaurants open and close regularly in Richmond, which is to be expected in a city with such an established culture of dining out. It’s common for me to look a restaurant up on a blog and read “Such and such used to be such and such, and before that it was such and such owned by so and so.” There’s always someone new willing to give the restaurant game a try, and that’s why the old Sea Harbour location didn’t have a chance of staying empty too long.
It’s a stand-alone building on the west side of No. 3 Road, left behind when Sea Harbour Restaurant decided to set up shop in River Rock Casino and Resort instead (a very wise move, of course). The restaurant is visible from the Canada Line, and every time I rode past it looked so sad and empty.
But do not worry– it is now renewed! Tin Tin Seafood Harbour Restaurant has moved in, and the building is alive and bustling once again.
I don’t exactly know why they chose the name they did, but it’s certainly not the only Tin Tin Chinese restaurant in North America. The best I could come up with while googling “Tin Tin” and “China” was Tintin in Tibet, which, according to a number of Tintinologists, is regarded as one of the best in the Tintin series. While that’s the closest I can get to knowing the restaurant name’s origins, at least I now know that “Tintinologists” exist.
The restaurant is large, shiny and new, and quite busy. I had two friends with me, and we ordered dim sum.
My favourite dishes were the first two that came out, which is probably because they were vegetables (I didn’t exactly eat ‘light fare’ over the weekend and my body has been crying out for green). The pan-fried long broccoli with ginger ($8.99) was excellent – perfectly cooked, bright in colour, and tasting of fresh ginger.
The pan-fried sliced pork with green beans in XO sauce ($7.99) was also wonderful, with tender pork, crunchy green beans and XO sauce that was sweeter than I’m used to, but still good.
I would honestly go back to Tin Tin just to have these two dishes and a bowl of rice; with those, I’d be utterly satisfied. Plus, they put a bird on it.
We also had the steamed shao mai (shumai) dumplings ($4.95). I rarely order them, but we figured we would give them a go at Tin Tin. Shao mai are wrinkly little open-faced dumplings, with wrappers closed around filling and the tops left exposed. They’re usually steamed, and filled with a mixture of pork and/or shrimp.
These ones were good – very flavourful, with delicate wrappers and well-seasoned pork, shrimp, and Chinese mushroom filling. They were garnished with little dollops of glistening orange roe.
The fried crab and shrimp cakes ($5.25) were round, flat discs of crispy fried batter. My guess is that they use two wonton-like wrappers that are filled, sealed, dipped in batter, and dropped in hot oil.
The filling was an incredibly juicy combination of crab meat and shrimp, and the cakes came with a sweet and sour sauce for dipping. I certainly wouldn’t want to eat more than one of these (I don’t even think I finished a whole one), but in small amounts, these are wicked crunchy rounds of scrumptiousness.
The last two dishes were less exciting. The pan-fried radish cakes with preserved meat ($4.65) weren’t nearly salty enough, and while we ate them I realized I order this dish time and time again.
I keep hoping to find radish cakes I liked as much as the ones I had at Lido (or the killer ones with XO sauce at Sea Harbour). Turns out, phenomenal radish cakes aren’t so easy to find. They’re elusive little guys, really.
The Chinese green onion pancake ($4.65) was also a disappointment – it wasn’t flaky and pastry-like at all, just dense and oily.
While I wouldn’t recommend these last two dishes, the others were certainly worth ordering, and Tin Tin was a very friendly place. They have their own parking lot, so you won’t be battling with others for places alongside a busy mall!
And obviously, if you consider yourself a Tintinologist, this is a MUST-visit for you. I assume cute little wire fox terriers must be left outside, however, even if they do assist you in your daily adventures.
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available