With hundreds of unique restaurants and an unrivalled reputation for culinary diversity, it’s often said that Richmond serves up the best Asian dining outside Asia. But for many out-of-town visitors––including locals from throughout Metro Vancouver––the dine-out scene here can sometimes feel a little intimidating and hard to navigate.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The new Authentic Asian Eats Tour from popular operator Vancouver Foodie Tours offers a taste-tripping guided introduction to Richmond’s international culinary scene––while also providing participants with a full menu of insider advice so they can plan their own future dining visits.
On a recent weekend morning, we sidestepped breakfast, donned our comfy walking shoes and met tour guide Daray outside Richmond’s Canada Line Aberdeen Station. A friendly and engaging host, she encouraged our group––including a family from Montreal––to introduce ourselves before explaining that she had moved here from China more than a decade ago. We immediately knew we were in good hands.
With my stomach noticeably rumbling, we followed Daray into Aberdeen Centre. Reputedly North America’s first Asian-style shopping mall when it opened in 1989, most of its stores were still shuttered at this time of the morning. But a crowd was already gathering outside the mall’s landmark Fisherman’s Terrace Seafood Restaurant.
Sliding alongside our reserved table, the clamorous dining room was ringing with the clatter of crockery and the animated chat of multiple extended families. It was dim sum time––the Hong Kong version of brunch––and many Richmondites were already fully engaged in their regular weekend meet-up.
Daray took care of the ordering, while explaining some of the traditions behind dim sum dining. Soon, though, the first dish arrived and we hungrily took up our chopsticks (forks were also discreetly placed beside each plate for those who prefer). The translucent shrimp dumplings were a delicious delight, while house-made chili sauce on the side pepped them up perfectly for spice fans.
Next, a platter of deep-fried goodness arrived, comprising two types of mushroom, some deliciously chewy dark fungus and hearty chunks of golden tofu, all ensconced in a satisfying savoury sauce. A great comfort food dish, it was also vegetarian. Which reminds me: vegetarian and pescatarian diners are accommodated on this tour, so long as the organizers know in advance.
A third dish soon arrived––silky-smooth pan-fried rice rolls served with crisp beansprouts and chives––and it was quickly followed by a Fisherman’s Terrace specialty: crunchy, bright green bitter melon balls filled with peanut and sesame paste. They were wolfed down with eye-rolling pleasure by each of us.
After answering our questions about chopstick placement and the city’s extensive Asian history, Daray walked us back through the mall, stopping en route to explain some intriguing storefront displays. Soon, though, we were blinking in the sun outside in the heart of Richmond’s Asian-themed Golden Village area. Here, Daray offered us some handy tips for nearby hotspots serving great tofu snacks and pineapple buns.
Sweet treats were also on the menu at our next stop: the flagship location of the Kam Do Bakery chain. Gathering outside, Daray told us all about Wife Cakes, a pastry traditionally given by male members of the groom’s family to his future wife’s family. We nibbled on these warm, fresh-baked pockets filled with caramelized winter melon before perusing the store’s teeming shelves of treats––plus its museum-like displays of lacquered cake boxes.
A few steps away, we entered Parker Place. One of Richmond’s most deeply authentic Asian-style malls, it’s a cultural immersion of family-run stores and traditional businesses. We perused a steamy-windowed barbecue meat shop, a wet market glistening with fresh fish and a Chinese apothecary brimming with ancient remedies. But it was the hawker-style food court that hooked our appetites.
While Daray picked-up our order from the Joy’s Taiwanese Food counter, a smiling local beckoned us to take over his table––this food court is often busy and sharing tables is the norm. We learned that Joy’s has been a Parker Place dine-out favourite for years–– and after savouring their velvet-soft chili wontons and warm hoisin beef pancake rolls it was easy to see why.
By this stage, everyone was feeling happily well-fed as we strolled to our final spot. Bubble tea has been a huge success story since arriving in Richmond many years ago and there are now dozens of cafes serving their own versions of this milky beverage with its chewy tapioca pearls. Wushiland Boba is one of the newer bubble tea purveyors to open here and it’s a great place for newbies to try this beverage for the first time.
Daray brought over our full-sized oolong milk teas and we settled at our table to discuss the day’s dishes. The shrimp dumplings and beef pancake rolls were named as our favourites. But the tour wasn’t just about the food. We all appreciated hearing more about the culture and traditions underpinning many of the dishes and restaurants here.
Just before we said our goodbyes, Daray reminded us that a ‘Cheat Sheet’ email would soon be winging its way to us filled with extra tips for planning our own foodie-forward Richmond visits. And as we headed back to the Canada Line, I was already planning my next tasty trip.
If you go:
Vancouver Foodie Tour’s Authentic Asian Eats Tour takes around three hours and includes tastings at four Richmond establishments. The samples are generous so it’s best not to eat before you take the tour. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended, although you will only be walking for up to five minutes or so between restaurants. The tour costs $139.99 per person ($129.99 for children aged four to 12) and the easy-to-find meeting place is just outside Canada Line’s Aberdeen Station. For more information––and to book your experience––visit the tour’s dedicated webpage.
Last Updated on November 4, 2022 by Tourism Richmond