Located across the street from Richmond Public Market, Johnson Centre (8171 and 8191 Westminster Highway) is modest in size, but packed with excellent food options. From Chinese baked bao to Hong Kong Café offerings, this strip mall in the heart of Richmond has something to please every hungry gourmand!
Enjoy Café 1 + 1
When I visited Johnson Centre around lunchtime one day, the outdoor complex had just a few people wandering around. “Where is everyone?” I wondered. I quickly discovered that they were all chowing down at Enjoy Café 1 + 1, a quintessentially lively Hong Kong-style café. After climbing a flight of stairs, I found a modern room, filled with diners enjoying their midday meal. Service was friendly and efficient, and the menu extensive, featuring an expected mix of Asian and Western classics. The menu covers items like sliced beef congee; a variety of rice dishes, such as minced pork with bean curd on rice); and fried noodles, like seafood in hot pot with e-fu noodles.
I had their Malaysian laksa, which consisted of a generous bowl of fiery coconut curry broth, vermicelli, tofu puffs, fish balls, shrimp, sliced egg, sliced fish cake, and green onion. It arrived shortly after I ordered, preceded by a complimentary sweetened milk tea.
The people around me were partaking in many of the western dishes on the menu, such as tomato beef on spaghetti, pork chop with pumpkin sauce on rice, and ham and egg sandwiches with fries.
Based on the licked-clean plates taken away, the food is obviously a hit with the cafe’s many loyal patrons.
Hoitong Chinese Seafood Restaurant
The most well-known establishment in the plaza is, without a doubt, Hoitong Chinese Seafood Restaurant. It’s won Chinese Restaurant Awards, as well as Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, making it a critics’ darling. This year, their veteran executive chef Yiu Tong Leung was awarded a Chinese Master Chef’s Award at the recent Chinese Restaurant Awards – and for good reason! The Cantonese food here is phenomenal, with two highly sought after nightly seatings at 6pm and 8pm. The restaurant is intimate in size, so be sure to reserve your table. Cooking is seemingly simple but deft in execution, in terms of the use of ingredients and subtlety of flavours.
Signature dishes include pork belly with mustard greens, tofu wrapped shiitake mushrooms with baby bok choy, crispy salt-baked chicken, and bitter melon omelette. Make sure to visit to taste chef Leung’s cuisine; he’s in his 70s and still going strong due to his boundless passion for his culinary craft.
Kowloon Bay BBQ House
For a very casual, yet very satisfying meal, consider Kowloon Bay BBQ House. You’ll know it by the barbecued ducks and roast pork hanging tantalizingly in the front window. Get in line and watch staff deftly chop orders for their many eager patrons. The offerings include soy sauce chicken, honey roasted spareribs, and honey barbecued pork. Meat is nicely marinated and tender. They can all be ordered on their own (the majority by weight), or on rice or rice noodles for an individual portion.
While Kowloon Bay does mostly take-out business, they also have a spartan seating area for a quick bite. During my visit, I saw many people enjoying hearty noodle soup options, like chili pork intestine noodles and Gui Lin hot and sour noodles.
New Chiu Yeung Fresh Seafood
Next door to Kowloon Bay BBQ House, you’ll find New Chiu Yeung Fresh Seafood, purveyors of – you guessed it – all sorts of seafood. The left wall lists what’s available for the day.
Expect items like fresh ling cod, geoduck, scallops, oysters, and live crab and lobster. It’s a tiny space and popular, so it takes a bit of maneuvering to get inside and order your seafood.
Dumpling aficionados can stock up at Typical Noodles, a retail outlet that specializes in high quality dumplings, noodles, and dessert items. Owner Gloria Chen continues what her parents started in 1987, with a wide selection of frozen and fresh selections.
Dumplings range from Japanese Gyoza to signature shrimp wontons, which are made fresh daily. As an accompaniment, you can purchase wonton noodles, thin and thick Shanghai noodles, as well as spinach noodles. Finally, desserts like sesame rice balls and almond dessert are for sale.
Wheat Garden Bakery
With barbecued meat, fresh seafood, and noodles in hand, you can make a last stop at Wheat Garden Bakery for Chinese baked goods. Choice is impressive, with all sort of sweet buns, such as ones filled with egg custard, cream, and red bean paste. There are also savoury options, like buns filled with ham and egg, barbecue pork, hamburger patties, and wieners. Different types of cookies, breads, prepared sandwiches, and sticky rice in bamboo leaves are also on display.
In addition, more elegant desserts, like mango cake, tiramisu, and chocolate cake layered with fresh cream, are available. I spied egg tarts, one of my favourite desserts, just as I was leaving (I’ll get some next time).
Overall, Johnson Centre is an ideal strip mall to visit if you’re seeking a satisfying meal, or looking to buy some delectables for enjoying back at home!