Another workout, another hungry belly, another restaurant near the Oval to try…..
Zephyr Café is next to Izumiya Market, inconspicuous in a semi-industrial area. It’s large, modern, and designed for groups; there are booths, long tables, and even two sets of comfortable-looking couches on which one can sip up tapioca pearls late into the evening.
This place seems to cater to a younger crowd, which perhaps is true for most places offering bubble tea? I guess I’ll find that out as I go. My server’s name was Cathy, and she was excellent.
With the sun shining outside, I was in the mood for something light, so I ordered a Mango Milk Tea with Coconut Jelly ($2.50 if ordered with a meal), the Cold Cucumber in Spicy Sauce ($5.00), and the Tofu on Hot Iron Plate ($8.95), which was served with rice and vegetables. Their Taiwanese-rooted menu is long and affordable.
My milk tea was sweet, and just like every one I’ve had so far, amused me as I drank it. I’m still not used to the contents of my glass being so chunky, not that it’s a bad thing. I genuinely like the texture of jelly or tapioca pearls, though sometimes I forget they’re in there and accidentally inhale them. I hope they digest well, un-chewed….
For those of you interested in the culture of bubble tea, I’ll do a more thorough post on it in the future – I’m also welcome to any and all bubble tea advice from readers!
The cucumber appetizer was simple and cooling. The small, dark green cucumbers were lightly pickled in a sweet, spicy brine, and still had a good crunch to them. Score.
My tofu dish arrived sizzling on its hot iron plate and was what I wanted – a light meal – though not a particularly special one. It included a little side plate with more tofu, bean sprout salad, and mixed frozen vegetables (as in corn, peas, and those terribly pale cubes of carrot).
I mixed the saucy fried tofu, broccoli, and bean sprouts with the rice and was happy, though that’s because I wanted something simple. You shouldn’t include Zephyr on your quest to find revolutionary cuisine; instead, come here for socializing accompanied by quick and inexpensive food, an endless number of drink options, and a friendly atmosphere.
With more than enough food for one person, my bill came to $18.42.
After lunch I walked across the street to Galloways, a specialty food store a reader suggested I check out.
Established in 1936, this is a place with endless products to discover, and worth a visit both for locals and visiting food lovers alike. My friend Mary, who grew up in Vancouver in the 60’s, told me about visiting Galloways at its original location on Robson Street when she was a kid. She remembers the big bins of dried fruit, nuts, spices, and flours, all on a street now dominated by fashion and cosmetics. Galloways has since moved and has several locations; in Richmond, they first opened in the Bridgeport area, then moved to their current location when the Canada Line was built.
So what do they have? As the store’s manager Arlene Kroeker (formerly of the Richmond Review) told me, “if we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” Touché!
I have a tendency to spend WAY too long in a store like this, wandering up and down the aisles and marveling over the grains, flours, nuts, seeds, beans, and spices I have yet to try.
Raw frozen coconut meat? Yes please! Fresh organic peanuts I can grind into peanut butter myself? ON BOARD. Dried dandelion root? Just as soon as I figure out what to do with it, I AM SO EATING THAT.
While many of the foods are new to me, Arlene told me the Richmond Community Kitchen sometimes brings tours of new immigrants through, and she’s literally seen people cry as they discover hard-to-find ingredients necessary to their traditional dishes. That image alone nearly made ME cry. Galloways even carries Red Fife, the current darling of the heritage wheat world and the subject of my masters’ thesis!
They’re a one-stop shop for those who like to bake (gluten-free included), and stock everything needed for traditional Christmas fruit-cake. They host an annual competition each December and – news to me – if you want to have an exceptional fruit-cake by Christmas, apparently you need to start now. Now! I’m one of those people who actually love fruitcake, so I’ll be there, adorned in my best bow and bell-covered Christmas sweater.
I brought home two of my favourite spices, sumac and za’atar, some local honey from Steveston, the most wonderfully-tart dried apricots, nuts, pasta, and garlic scapes from The Sharing Farm. Arlene gave me a recipe for garlic scape pesto, so as soon I get my act together to mix it up, I’ll share it with you!
7860 Alderbridge Way