With the largest Asian population in North America and over 800 restaurants, Richmond provides easy access to a world of alluring, sometimes unfamiliar foods for American travelers without the time, budget, or adventurous- ness to manage trans-pacific travel.
Many gay travelers have been to Richmond without even knowing it. If you’ve ever flown into Vancouver, one of Canada’s most popular LGBT destinations, you actually landed in Richmond, where the “Vancouver” International Airport is located. Just a 30-minute car or public train ride from central Vancouver, its a must-do on any Vancity vacation. And if you’re a culinary adventurer, Richmond easily merits a dedicated long weekend trip of its own. Richmond is ready for its close-up, Mr. Delicious.
To get the most from a visit to Richmond, you’ll want to give your tastebuds a tour of the city’s greatest hits. Instead of settling into a single restaurant for each meal, take advantage of some of the city’s more unusual eating opportunities:
THE DUMPLING TRAIL
The Dumpling Trail consists of over 20 different restaurants and vendors, most within walking distance of each other. While many of their menus appear to offer the same dishes, culinary curators at the Richmond visitors’ bureau have identified signature standouts at each address. Proprietors are happy to have guests drop in for just a plate or two before moseying along to the next course.
Start with the stellar squirters at R&H Chinese Food (Lansdowne Centre Food Court. 5300 No. 3. Rd. Tel: 778-297-5668), where Shanghainese favorite xialong bao are steamed to order. Then the Japanese gyoza at Shibuyatei (125-2971 Sexsmith Road. Tel: 778-297-1777), a tiny corner store operation tucked alongside a carwash, will put your Trader Joe–assisted home cooking to shame. And finally, Korean’s dumpling darling is the mandu, exemplary renditions of which are on offer at Samsoonie Noodle and Rice (140-8211 Westminster Highway. Tel: 778-297-7788). With thicker skin and heartier, more roughly chopped fillings, these meaty dumplings (shaped vaguely like old school nurses’ caps) are best enjoyed steamed with a side dish of spicy kim chi.
THE BLUE CANOE
For a swanky alfresco meal on the pier, The Blue Canoe (140-3866 Bayview St. Tel: 604-275-7811) features high-piled raw shellfish platters and an outstanding version of calamari, with piquant slivers of fried lemon rind and jalapeños tossed with tender squid.
CHEF TONY SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
If you can’t spare a few hours wandering from mouthful to mouthful, you could do worse than to settle in for a full dim sum brunch at Chef Tony Seafood Restaurant (Empire Center Mall, 4600 No. 3 Rd. Tel: 604-279-0083). Unlike Dumpling Trail venues, which tend toward hole-in-the-wall décor or slightly clichéd Chinoiserie, Tony’s modern dining rooms have brightly colored super-graphics and unusual sculpted textures on their walls. It’s in keeping with the kitchen’s unusually refined, contemporary tweaks of tradition. A stylish young Asian-Canadian crowd reserves ahead to enjoy the likes of pork and shrimp siu mai elevated by the a sprinkling of black truffle, flaky tartlets filled with egg yolk and mushrooms, and a version of bao, the traditional barbecued pork buns found in Chinatowns the world over, with a crisp, baked-on glaze.