While there is certainly an abundance of fancy, upscale restaurants for fine dining, a lot of folks have said that some of the most amazing meals they’ve had are at places that could be described as a “hole in the wall” restaurant… and Richmond’s got no shortage of them.
If you’re willing to look past the outdated decor and the humble presentation, both your wallet and your taste buds will surely thank you. Here are some of the best eateries in town that can be easily overlooked, but shouldn’t be.
HK BBQ Master
Literally located inside the parking lot underneath the Real Canadian Superstore, HK BBQ Master (Unit 145, 4651 Number 3 Road) might not look like much… until you dive into the roast pork. Or the BBQ pork. Or any number of other cooked meats that you can order on their own to take home or atop some rice for a quick meal. Perhaps rivaled only by Parker Place Meat & BBQ, HK BBQ Master lives up to its name, offering the city’s best Hong Kong style barbecue. The family run shop sources higher quality ingredients while retaining remarkably affordable prices. Protip: get their daily soup to go with your meal – you won’t regret it!
Prata-Man Singapore Cuisine
The renowned specialty at Prata-Man Singapore Cuisine (Unit 180, 9060 Capstan Way) is the Hainanese chicken rice. Served with sweet chili sauce, a bowl of clear ginger chicken broth and some well-seasoned chicken oil rice, it’s a humble meal that really hits the spot. The culinary inspiration here draws not only from Singapore, but also from surrounding areas like Malaysia and Indonesia. Some other popular favourites here include the green onion prata bread, the Singaporean laksa, and the satay skewers available in beef, chicken or pork.
Many people oftentimes turn to bigger name chains to satiate their desire for fried chicken, but you’d be doing your fried chicken craving a disservice if you didn’t head over near Cambie and Number 5 Road to visit L.A. Chicken (Unit 160, 11780 Thorpe Road). The eatery is decidedly small, catering much more to the takeout crowd, but there are a few tables for eating in as well. The fried chicken here finds the perfect balance between deliciously crispy skin and succulent, juicy meat. Take it up another notch and dip your drumstick in some gravy too. You can always put in an extra few minutes on the treadmill later. Protip: go for the spicy fried chicken!
Szechuan Delicious Restaurant
It may not be the most creative name for a restaurant, but it is certainly one of the most descriptive. At Szechuan Delicious (6610 Number 3 Road), you can expect to enjoy the thoroughly satisfying burn and mouth-numbing properties of spicy Szechuan cuisine. Depending on your tolerance for heat, the food here might not seem that spicy, but recognize that chili oils and Szechuan peppercorns are the name of the game here. Even something as humble as a bowl of dan dan noodles with ground pork and crunchy soy beans can bring a smile to your face and have you begging for more.
Whereas Szechuan Delicious may have one of the most descriptive names on this list, James Snacks (Unit 1160, 4540 Number 3 Road) may have one of the most generic. Found inside the relatively small Empire Centre food court, James Snacks serves up a great variety of homestyle Chinese cuisine. This is comfort food at its finest, particularly if you order the signature clay pot rice with your choice of topping. Yes, even though it’s a food court, you do get your meal in a real clay pot. It’s made to order, so you get to indulge in the crispy rice in the bottom of your pot when you’re almost done. Protip: call ahead to place an order, so when you arrive, it’s ready to go. Otherwise, be prepared to wait up to 15 minutes for a deliciously hot bowl of claypot rice!
R&H Chinese Food
With all the amazing glory of the Dumpling Trail, why would you settle for food court fare? In the case of R&H Chinese Food (Unit 1065, 5300 Number 3 Road) in the Lansdowne Centre Food Court, you will not be experiencing a downgrade at all. In fact, the xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings) here are truly among the best in town. The dumpling wrapper features an appealing elasticity, delicately containing the well-balanced soup and tender pork filling found within.
Hoitong Chinese Seafood Restaurant
You don’t need to attend an extravagant wedding banquet in order to enjoy a complete 10-course meal with nine of your closest friends or family members. Hoitong (Unit 160, 8191 Westminster Highway) is a humble hole in the wall, tucked away in one of Richmond’s many strip malls, offering up its take on traditional Cantonese cuisine. From fried shrimp balls to fish maw and crab meat soup, Hoitong lives up to the seafood restaurant tradition at an affordable price.
With colourful signs listing an increasing array of “specials” lining the wall, Lido (Unit 150, 4231 Hazelbridge Way) epitomizes the no-nonsense Hong Kong style cafe. The usual comfort fare applies here from soup noodles to “western” style breakfast, but the real star is the pineapple bun with butter. It might seem strange to slot a whole slice of cold butter into the warm baked good, but once you’ve had one, you’ll understand why Lido is such a treasured local gem.
Located in the food court in Parker Place, Lai Taste (Unit 1240, 4380 Number 3 Road) is a delicious secret hidden in plain sight. What you’ll want to order here is one of the Vietnamese style banh mi sandwiches, which will be accompanied by a complimentary beverage of your choosing. In particular, the fried fish (basa filet) sandwich is especially great, contrasting the crunchy bun and breading with the delicate fish. Better yet, the combo rings in at under five dollars.
When are soup noodles so much more than just soup noodles? The decidedly humble but deceptively complex hand-pulled noodles at Xi’An Cuisine (Unit 2370, 8260 Westminster Highway) are really something else. The “stretched” noodles are pulled to order right in front of you before being tossed in soup or fried up with your choice of lamb or pork. Richmond Public Market might be great for grocery shopping, but its food court certainly should not be missed either.
If you’re looking for an authentic and satisfying meal that won’t break the budget, a prized hole in the wall can be your best bet. Whether you want xiaolongbao or fried chicken, you’ll leave with a full stomach and a smile on your face.