Photo Credit: Tara Lee

Does spicy hot pot seem like the perfect cure for your winter weather blues? Or does your stomach rumble at the thought of sizzling Japanese robata with the finest of sake? If so, Garden City Plaza (4711-4771 Garden City Road) boasts many excellent restaurants serving everything from Taiwanese snacks to a bounty of dim sum items. The following are four really good reasons to visit Garden City Plaza when hunger next strikes:

Strike

This restaurant chain, with a concession stand also in the Aberdeen Mall food court (3260-4151 Hazelbridge Way), has made a name for itself for consistently lip-smacking Taiwanese and creative fusion eats. Strike is a casual establishment, particularly popular with young customers who like to visit and nosh late at night (open until 1 to 2 a.m.). The menu takes you on a delicious tour of mostly small plates, like marinated spicy pig’s ear, Taiwanese-style sausage, and five spice beef wrap. Deep fried chicken nuggets are worth a visit alone: they’re coated in sweet potato starch, giving them a light and addictive crunch. Look forward to one of the best chicken nuggets you’ll ever have.

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

If you don’t want to share dishes with friends and family, you could order one of their noodle soups, like the house special beef noodle soup, or a rice bowl, such as deep fried red fermented pork chop with rice.

Photo Credit: Michael Kwan

The ‘bar menu’ consists of all sorts of specialty teas, like tangerine lemon black tea, lychee green tea, and taro green milk tea.

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant

Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

Get seated at one of the large tables or one of the sectioned off semi-private rooms in this wood and tatami-accented space.  The restaurant offers the high quality Japanese cuisine of head chef Yoshinobu Kobayashi (Koba-san) who apprenticed at a famous Japanese kaiseki (multi-course) restaurant, Tsukiju Tamura, and is committed to sourcing local, fresh ingredients. Start with a few appetizers, such as chopped scallop with tobiko and spicy mayo, shrimp and chive gyoza, and soft shell crab karaage.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

From there, you can move onto trying some of Tsukiji‘s sashimi (e.g. geoduck), as well as their nigiri (e.g. toro – tuna belly) and roll sushi (e.g. avocado yam tempura roll).

Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

Customers come specifically for the robata menu, which features tons of different skewer options, like ones with pork cheek, chicken skin, and chicken meatballs, with beautifully smoky, caramelized flavours.

Chicken skewer; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

Order their rice and noodle dishes, like yaki udon and kimchi fried rice, to offset the protein. Premium sake is also available for pairing with your various eats.

Dragon Group Seafood Restaurant

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

This new restaurant replaces South Ocean Seafood, offering a polished approach to Cantonese seafood cooking. Dragon Group‘s décor is fairly traditional, making it a good pick for family gatherings, as well as an elegant meal out with friends. Dim sum is a big draw, with an array of items you can tick off a menu.

Photo Credit: Sherman Chan from Sherman’s Food Adventures

Besides the classics, like haw gow (shrimp dumplings), rice noodle rolls with barbecue pork, and steamed chicken feet, there are also more inventive dishes (e.g. baked wasabi seafood tarts) and tweaks to classic (e.g. siu mai is topped with black truffle).

Photo Credit: Sherman Chan from Sherman’s Food Adventures

The extensive dinner menu showcases fresh and live seafood, like lobster with spicy black bean sauce. Other specialties include goose web and sea cucumber in abalone sauce, stir fried scallops in Szechuan sauce, and crab meat and fish maw soup. Non-seafood options range from a two-course Peking duck, to stir-fried lamb with ginger and green onions. Select a table-full of different items and feast away.

Liu Yi Shou Hot Pot

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

This hot pot restaurant represents another successful chain from China adding to Richmond’s vibrant food scene. The selection of Chongqing-style hot pot establishments that are available makes the city truly a spicy soup paradise. Liu Yi Shou is modern in design, offers an extensive menu, and has staff who are incredibly attentive in terms of explaining the options and providing recommendations. The restaurant is best visited with a group since hot pot is designed for sharing, but at lunchtime, they also have specials that can be enjoyed solo. Go for chicken feet in special chili sauce or a belly-warming bowl of thinly sliced lamb noodle soup, the broth with a slight chili kick.

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

My server said that he particularly likes the pan-fried hot pot, which allows you to choose four types of meat and four types of veggies (large version) and your level of spiciness. Meat options include pork ribs and sliced beef, while veggies range from winter melon to sliced lotus root. After selecting, it’s just a matter of trying to be patient waiting for a sizzling pot of wonderfully fragrant ingredients to arrive at your table.

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

The soup hot pot involves choosing two to three different flavours, like vegetable oil soup base or original spicy soup base, and then a variety of different add-ins, like sea cucumber meat, king oyster mushrooms, beef tendons, and watercress, that you’ll cook in the hot liquid. For an extra charge, you can also partake in the self-serve sauce bar. The entire experience is leisurely and wonderfully interactive.

Overall, Garden City Plaza will make you forget about the cold weather with food amped up with flavour and hearty ingredients!