Welcome everyone to a game of exciting 2016 Restaurant Roulette! The concept is simple: I visit three new restaurants in Richmond with buzz. At each place, I spin the menu wheel to determine a noteworthy dish to try. The items sampled are meant to be delicious teasers of the kitchen’s prowess. I leave it up to you to spin the menu wheel again when you dine at these recent additions to Richmond’s food scene.
Spin #1: Newton Beef Noodle House
Newton Beef Noodle House in Richmond. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
The first restaurant contestant is Newton Beef Noodle House (150-8191 Saba Rd.), enthusiastically billed on social media as a destination for tasty Taiwanese eats. Judging by the crowd slurping down noodles during my recent meal there, word has certainly spread. Décor is modern, and service efficient and friendly. The menu features a variety of noodle soups, dry noodle dishes, rice offerings (e.g. Taiwanese sausage with rice), dim sum items (eg. chive dumplings), and appetizers (e.g. marinated beef tripe).
First up, the Special Beef Noodle at Newton Beef Noodle House. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
I asked my server what she’d recommend and she suggested the Special Beef Noodle ($8.95). “Most people order this one,” she said. I was given a choice between thick, thin, green bean, or rice noodles and opted for the thick. My server nodded approvingly at my choice.
A steaming bowl of noodle soup was soon brought to my table. I didn’t care about scalding my tongue since I was eager to try it, especially when the temperature outside was hovering at zero. The broth itself was impressive. While some places serve up watery, tasteless liquid, Newton’s was rich in flavour, showcasing a balance of salty and sweet, as well as slight heat and fragrance (there were strong notes of star anise). The noodles were springy, and the beef shank tender. It really was a winner of a dish.
Spin #2: Ora Sushi
Next we head to Steveston Village’s new talk of the town, Ora Sushi. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
The next restaurant is located in Steveston and is currently giving nearby Mega Sushi a run for its money. Ora Sushi (120-3651 Moncton St.) prides itself on its sourcing of fresh local ingredients, low sodium soy sauce, premium natural seaweed, and UNESCO-designated roasted sea salt from the Pacific Ocean. The menu features an assortment of appetizers (e.g. takoyaki: octopus filled balls), noodle dishes, salads, teriyaki, sashimi, and sushi. Lunch and dinner bentos, as well as party trays round out the options.
Great window spot at Ora Sushi to scout for Once Upon A Time actors (it’s right next to Any Given Sundae).
(PHOTO: TARA LEE)
My helpful server explained that Ora specializes in more inventive special rolls. According to him, one of their most popular rolls is the Richmond Roll, with prawn tempura and cucumber, topped with sliced avocado, spicy tuna, green onion, tobiko and yam flakes. The other creation that customers are loving is the Golden Roll, filled with avocado, cucumber and imitation crab, and topped with baked wild sockeye salmon, melted cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and tobiko.
Ora Sushi specializes in specialty rolls, like the Golden Roll, topped with mozza and cheddar cheese! (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
The restaurant roulette wheel stopped at the Golden Roll ($12.75) since I was curious to see how cheese would go with sushi. It was basically an amped up California roll that arrived in a mini skillet, along with a side salad. The plating was lovely and I appreciated the playfulness of the dish. The cheese and salmon added an element of decadence and richness. I’d definitely come back to Ora to try more of their special rolls, as well as nigiri offerings. Confession: I actually did a bonus spin of the wheel and had their special torched wild sockeye salmon belly ($2.75) and liked how the salmon became almost creamy and buttery with the searing.
The rich and creamy Salmon Belly at Ora Sushi. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
Spin #3: Home BBQ
I had Home BBQ (150-8291 Ackroyd Rd.) on my radar after I saw a tweet from Richmond’s own Follow Me Foodie mentioning the place. The restaurant is a no-fuss, fairly spartan space, save for a fairly colourful mural on one wall.
Like a modern Manet, this colourful mural at Home BBQ offers a chance to people watch. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
The menu has a wide assortment of different items, including dishes like pork hock with mashed garlic, pickled cabbage dumplings and stir-fried enoki mushrooms. If you’re in the mood for noodle soup, you can customize your bowl with a choice of noodles (e.g. vermicelli or rice noodles), two meats (e.g. tripe and pork ball), two veggies (e.g. bean sprouts and napa cabbage), and soup base (e.g. hot). During my visit, I saw a few groups of friends trying out the noodle soup. Go at dinner if you want to dig into their spicy grilled items, including skewers of lamb, pork kidney and chicken wings.
The Grilled Noodle Wrap was like a Spam-filled version of ham on eggs. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
I was tempted by their spicy crawfish, but not its price ($59.99), so instead ordered one of their menu specialties, a Grilled Noodle Wrap ($7.99). Out of my spins of the Restaurant Roulette, this dish was the most unique. It consists of a large noodle wrapped around a filling of green onion, cubes of Spam, and chili sauce, dipped in egg, and then grilled. It was an interesting riff on ham and eggs. I’m not usually a huge fan of Spam but it surprisingly worked as a filling.
And so, with a full belly, I concluded a game of Richmond Restaurant Roulette, in which every spin is bound to offer up something new and mouth-watering to eat. I invite you to try as well. Happy New Year and happy playing!