Photo Credit: Tara Lee
Photo Credit: Tara Lee

The burning torch that forms the logo for Olympia Centre (8400-8460 Alexandra Road) beckons from afar with the promise of noteworthy eating. This strip mall, located in the bustling centre of Richmond’s food landscape, attracts diners with its range of delicious and reasonably priced offerings. Whether you’re wanting to slurp down a bowl of noodle soup, fuel up with some homestyle Korean fare, or savour some of Richmond’s finest sushi, Olympia Centre has something for you. Here are a few excellent reasons to visit it in the very near future:

SETO Japanese Restaurant

Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson
Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

Without a doubt, a major draw of the outdoor plaza is SETO Japanese Restaurant, a family run establishment that serves well-executed sushi and other traditional Japanese food items. Because the exterior is unassuming, it’s easy to miss this sushi destination, unless you’ve been tipped off by someone in the know. And word has definitely spread.

For the lunchtime crowd, there are a gamut of lunch box options, like one version with barbecued saba (mackerel), sashimi, salad, miso soup, and rice. Otherwise, if you feel like exploring the extensive main menu, you can start with their tempting appetizers, such as tako wasa (octopus in wasabi sauce), beef sashimi with ponzu sauce, and chawanmushi (steamed egg custard with seafood and vegetables). More substantial items include pork katsu (deep fried pork), tara saikyo (barbecued miso marinated black cod), unagi don (barbecued eel on rice), and miso ramen.

Miso ramen; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson
Miso ramen; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

And, of course, you can’t leave without sampling the excellent sushi. Don’t expect crazy modern fusion rolls that you find at some sushi joints. Instead, SETO prides itself on fresh, high quality ingredients and traditional sushi making techniques.

Spicy tuna roll; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson
Spicy tuna roll; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

Their saba battera (marinated mackerel sushi pressed into a mold) is lovely, as are their nigiri options and various rolls, like the yamagobo roll (burdock) and chopped scallop roll. SETO takes their sushi seriously, and it shows.

Photo Credit: Tara Lee
Saba battera; Photo Credit: Tara Lee

Hanok Korean Restaurant

Again, don’t be fooled by the ordinary outside of Hanok Korean Restaurant. Interiors are gorgeously elaborate, from intricate wood screens, to dark wood accents, to fancy wall murals.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson
Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

The space is also fairly large, making it ideal for large groups of family and/or friends. This is the place to visit if you have a substantial craving for generously portioned Korean comfort fare. Especially with the darkening days and chillier temperatures, hearty Korean cooking perfectly fits the bill.

And where to begin with such a breadth of choice? Topokki (spicy rice cakes), gimbap (seaweed rice rolls), and steamed and pan fried dumplings are a great way to get munching. Or, if you’re feeling indecisive, go for the snack combo, which allows you to try all their appetizer options.

Meanwhile, the tofu is made in-house and is used in a variety of dishes, ranging from deep fried tofu to stir fried tofu and kimchi. If you’re in the mood for something piping hot, make sure to order one of their intensely flavourful soups, such as the beef tripe and intestine soup; a hot pot, like a spicy version with pork bones; or their bibimbap. Meanwhile, their beef broth is touted to cure a hangover.

Bibimbap; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson
Bibimbap; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

And the menu certainly doesn’t end there. Barbecued options include grilled marinated beef short ribs, and grilled pork belly (either spicy or non-spicy). There are also a number of stews, like a kimchi option; stir fries; and noodle dishes, such as japchae (stir fried glass noodles with vegetables). Expect to leave pleasantly stuffed!

Mung bean pancake; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson
Mung bean pancake; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

Wang Shun Ge Grill Fish

Seafood lovers will like the premise behind Wang Shun Ge Grill Fish: pick your fish (eg red snapper), your flavour (eg spicy with Chinese red chili peppers), cooking style (eg grilled), and additional ingredients (eg lotus root). And shortly after, your customized fish will arrive table-side, ready to be devoured.

If you don’t feel like splurging on the fish, there are a host of affordable Northern Chinese and Sichuan selections, many of them on the spicy side. In other words, be prepared for a slightly burning tongue!

Chongqing-style fried chicken with hot chill peppers; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson
Chongqing-style fried chicken with hot chill peppers; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

Recommended dishes include Beijing roast duck, spicy fried lamb with cumin, eggplant with minced pork in chili sauce, and seafood fried rice with XO sauce. They’re all incredibly delicious because of the amped up taste that will have your tastebuds clamouring for seconds (and thirds).

Stir-fried lamb with cumin; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson
Spicy fried lamb with cumin; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

Wo Fung Noodle Express

Originally a food court vendor in Aberdeen Centre, Wo Fung Noodle Express capitalized on their popularity to open a brick-and-mortar location in 2012. The café is best suited for a quick and casual bite that’s high on taste, and low on fuss. Basically, you order at the counter cafeteria-style and then wait eagerly for your food, trying your best not to salivate.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson
Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

Many people swear by their addictive chicken wings, which are coated in flour and cornstarch and deep-fried until golden and incredibly crisp. Just writing about them is truly hunger inducing! Try your best not to burn your tongue and fingers as you eat in haste.

Deep fried wings; Photo Credit: Tara Lee
Deep fried wings; Photo Credit: Tara Lee

Other ultra tasty menu items include deep fried stuffed tofu, deep fried squid tentacles, and deep fried cuttle fish balls. This might not be low-cal food, but it certainly satisfies a craving.

Also well worth raving about are their Hong Kong-style cart noodles, a phenomenon popularized by street vendors selling wallet-friendly noodle soup with à la carte ingredient options.

Udon with Bavarian sausage; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson
Udon with Bavarian sausage and an egg; Photo Credit: Lindsay Anderson

Basically, you pick from a wide selection of noodle types (eg vermicelli, rice noodles, buckwheat noodles) and then also select your toppings, like honeycomb tripe, fried fish cake, oyster mushrooms, and, curiously, Bavarian smokies. A selection of condiments, including homemade XO sauce, allow you to customize and heighten the flavours of your noodle soup.

Overall, Olympia Centre offers the kind of satisfying eating experiences that will have you coming back for more, time and time again! Your palate will thank you.