Empire Centre

PHOTO CREDIT: TARA LEE

It’s a quintessential spring day in Richmond, sunny and buzzing with people eager to eat a delicious meal together. At Empire Centre (4600, 4540, 4580 Number 3 Road), one of the larger strip malls in the city, families wait outside Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant for their name to be called for dim sum. With elevated dishes, such as siu mai dusted with black truffle shavings, this opulently chic room has become a main draw for the mall, alongside the elegant Shiang Garden Seafood Restaurant and its top-notch Cantonese cuisine.

Chef Tony

SIU MAI AT CHEF TONY’S, PHOTO CREDIT: LINDSAY ANDERSON

Besides these two stellar heavyweights, Empire Centre contains an abundance of unique eateries and food shops to tempt any palate. The food court within the mall complex itself offers all sorts of goodies, from clay pot rice with a variety of meats at James Snacks, to spicy chicken on rice from Choi House Special Chicken. Meanwhile, De Fresh Bakery, located in Empire Supermarket, has a loyal following for its assortment of Chinese baked items, such as pineapple buns, egg tarts, and lotus seed egg yolk pastries. On a recent visit, customers were already digging into their treats on their way back to their cars, with keys in one hand and cocktail bun in the other.

De Fresh Bakery

DE FRESH BAKERY, PHOTO CREDIT: TARA LEE

As well, if you want more of a sit-down dining experience, there is no shortage of places to choose from. Here are five more delectable reasons to visit Empire Centre:

Morals Village

Morals Village

PHOTO CREDIT: TARA LEE

This restaurant, devoted to hot pot, is the highly anticipated Richmond location of a well-known chain boasting 600 locations in China (they also have a location in Ontario). Opened just last year, this establishment has already made in-roads with Richmond’s discerning diners due to its modern, wood-accented decor and its excellent version of Sichuan-style hot pot. A visit begins by selecting your soup base from a variety of choices, such as pork rib soup and mixed mushroom soup. Particularly recommended by staff is their signature spicy butter soup, which packs quite the chili punch. You then select from a variety of add-ins, like sliced beef, pork belly, squid, quail eggs, bean curd sheets, and handmade noodles. Prices can add up quickly though, so choose carefully.

Morals Village

PHOTO CREDIT: TARA LEE

Once your food arrives, staff will crank up the heat beneath your pot, and you can begin cooking your ingredients. A particular bonus feature is their condiments bar, which contains everything from crushed peanuts to sesame sauce.

Bone Sushi

Bone Sushi

PHOTO CREDIT: LINDSAY ANDERSON

Expect a wide selection of sushi in low-key, brightly hued surroundings (the chairs come in a range of colours). Besides standard sushi joint fare, such as nigiri options, and California and chopped scallop rolls, the restaurant also features what they describe as “creative rolls.” This includes the Awesome roll, with crabmeat, masago, cucumber and avocado inside, and baked salmon and cheddar cheese on top; as well as the Texas Hold ‘Em roll, with cream cheese and seared beef. Donburi, sashimi, salads, and hot dishes, like gyoza and deep fried oysters, round out the menu. Bone Sushi also offers a variety of party trays, with both nigiri and roll sushi (32 to 43 pieces), for at home (or picnic) feasting.

Sunway Restaurant

Sunway

PHOTO CREDIT: LINDSAY ANDERSON

Sunway has become a popular spot for a casual meal consisting of classic Taiwanese dishes. The small room is bright and welcoming, and during peak times, bustling with diners happily munching away. They’re known for personal hot pots, with options like herbal lamb, and seafood tofu, as well as Taiwanese street snacks, like addictive popcorn chicken, oyster pancake, and deep-fried pig intestine.

Sunway

PHOTO CREDIT: TARA LEE

They also have a range of rice and noodle dishes, such as Taiwanese sausage fried rice and beef shank noodle soup. Drinks, including sweet squash tea with milk, are the perfect meal accompaniment.

Bushuair Restaurant

Bushuair

PHOTO CREDIT: LINDSAY ANDERSON

Get set for Hunan cooking, which is characterized by its spiciness and deep flavour profiles. For those of you who think you are invincible when it comes to heat, the cuisine is actually known to be spicier than Sichuan’s (eep). At the entrance, walk past the portrait of Mao Zedong, born in Hunan province, into a fairly formal looking room with hanging Chinese lanterns and covered chairs. The food itself is exceedingly broad in range, including Wuhan-style duck neck, cayenne-flavoured pig’s ear, hot pot beef seasoned with cumin, quick fried mutton with scallion, and marinated cucumber.

Bushuair

FERN ROOT NOODLES, PHOTO CREDIT: LINDSAY ANDERSON

Take you time perusing their gigantic menu and deciding between the glossy photos. Above all, the restaurant requires an appetite and a willingness to have your palate blown away by both traditional and more modern, innovative renditions of Hunan dishes.

Sweetie Girl Noodle House

Sweetie Girl Noodle House

PHOTO CREDIT: TARA LEE

Also new to the mall is this charming, wee spot for a quick, satisfying fuel-up. The restaurant proudly specializes in Guangxi (southern Chinese) cooking and, more specifically, snail rice noodles. The rustic creation basically consists of rice noodles served in a broth made of pork bones, snails, and a variety of different aromatic spices. At Sweetie Girl, you can opt for their signature version, or add other proteins, like seafood or pork knuckle.

Sweetie Girl Noodle House

PHOTO CREDIT: TARA LEE

The snail broth can also be sampled in their hot pot, along with crispy roast pork, sliced radish, or fried fish balls. In addition, other classic Guangxi snacks are found on the menu, such as snail marinated beef, marinated duck wings, and traditional herbal jelly for a sweet last course.

Of course, this is just a sampling of what you can find at Empire Centre. With so many choices available, you’re bound to find something for everyone!