You’d think after eating at 5 different places in Richmond over a 5-hour period, the last thing we would need was a 10-course Chinese Meal. Well, you either severely underestimated me or thought that Tourism Richmond didn’t mean business. Once our three-hour rest break was over, it was time to put on our stretchy pants again. We made our way over to Vivacity Restaurant located on Alexandra Road (aka “Food Street”) for our final ten courses of the day.
As per 10-course banquet meal tradition, we started off with the Japanese Appetizer Platter consisting of smoked salmon, sliced beef shank, mock goose (marinated shiitake wrapped in bean curd skin), wakame salad and panko fried prawns. I found the drizzle of mustard atop the salmon to be interesting, yet wasn’t offensive either. The beef shank was sliced a bit thick which didn’t impact its tender texture. I thought that mushrooms in the mock goose could’ve been less moist while the prawns were buttery with a light snap and completely crunchy on the outside.
Next, we got the Deep Fried Crab Claws with shrimp mousse. I liked how the exterior was lightly crispy while not greasy. However, the shrimp mousse was a bit soft and lacking the usual rebound texture.
The Sauteed Scallops and Prawns with snap peas were pretty much on point in execution. Crunchy and still vibrant, the snap peas and celery were well-seasoned albeit a bit greasy. As for the seafood, the scallops were buttery and just cooked through (being naturally sweet). The prawns were nicely butterflied and cold-water crunchy.
For our soup course, the starch-thickened broth didn’t resemble anything like a typical Fish Maw Soup. Sure, there was egg drop and fish maw in it, but the topping of cilantro, cucumber and green onion sure made things look different. In fact, it made things taste completely unexpected with a certain brightness which also lightened up the thick and mild-tasting broth.
Our next two items took the meal to a whole new level. The first was the Steamed Lobsters with garlic and green onion. As simple as this preparation was, it helped highlight the natural sweetness of the lobster. Normally, we see this with king crab and I wasn’t complaining as the ample amount of seasoned garlic went well with the lobster meat (which was steamed just enough).
To further elevate the dinner, we were presented with Braised Whole Abalone with pea tips. Suffice to say, I was pumped to eat this dish! It was a real treat to dig into a whole silky abalone which had the usual tender chewy texture. I liked how the dish wasn’t over-salted either.
Hitting the table after these was the House Special Salty Chicken. I found the dark meat to be juicy and succulent while completely flavourful. As for the white meat, it was soft and tender while not being dried out. What made this dish was the wok-roasted salt “sauce” that gave the chicken a rich flavour that was slightly smoky. Interestingly, our steamed fish was rather confusing to us as we couldn’t figure out what it was. It turned out to be Red Tilapia. Another surprise is that it didn’t eat like regular tilapia, as the meat was more robust and flaky. I guess the fact they steamed it expertly ensured the meat wasn’t going to be mushy.
Our last savoury item was the Seafood Fried Rice. It was dry, nutty and chewy. Completely ungreasy, the rice was subjected to enough wok heat. I did find the large amount of greens a bit distracting from the overall dish. With that being said, there was plenty of seafood, including flaky fish, which made this rice quite fulfilling.
Onto the sweets, we were served 2 items including the Osmanthus Jelly with wolfberries and lychee as well as Almond Cookies and Fried Sesame Pastries. Shaped into cute little koi, the jelly was mildly sweet and floral with the nice hit of lychee. This was fine way to finish a truly decadent meal especially with the two lobsters and whole abalone. Despite not really qualifying as a hidden gem or hole-in-the-wall, the dinner at Vivacity provided a good representation of fine Cantonese cuisine that can be found at many restaurants in Richmond.
We’re not done yet… check back on August 2 for day two of the Hole In The Wall tour!
Missed part one? Read it here!