If you haven't figured it out by now, I take particular joy in ridiculing Richmond traffic and the associated collateral damage. However, at the same time, I totally admit that it is still worth the effort to travel into Richmond because of the seemingly endless array of outstanding eats. So when I was contacted by Tourism Richmond to go on a 2-day food tour focusing on hidden gems and hole-in-the-wall type joints, I was more than happy to participate. When they offered to do all the driving, that completely made my day.
On day one, we started off at a Richmond staple in HK BBQ Master. Widely known as the best all-around Chinese BBQ in the GVRD, we were treated to all of their favourites. These included BBQ Duck, Soy Chicken, BBQ Pork and my personal favourite Roast Pork Belly. Sporting crispy well-rendered skin in an attractive mahogany hue, the BBQ duck was tender and succulent. Flavours were good with complete penetration by the marinade. Buttery and juicy, the soy chicken was also the beneficiary of being properly marinated and prepared where the meat was flavourful while not salty. Smoky and sweet, the exterior bark on the BBQ pork had a nice char. The meat itself was fatty and tender while being full-flavoured. With only moderately fatty meat, the roast pork was succulent and well-seasoned with a crunchy, yet airy crackling. We tried to pace ourselves here, but alas, it was so tasty, we nearly finished it all.
After that, we took the short stroll over to The BBT Shop for some bubble waffle action. Unlike traditional bubble waffle spots, The BBT Shop offers up creative and monster-sized versions of the dessert. Case in point, the Super Matcha Bubble Waffle with green tea ice cream and red bean was no small dessert. Lightly crisp on the outside while soft and muffin-like on the inside, the waffle was sweet with only the mild hint of green tea. However, the red bean was pretty sweet and it made up for any subtleties. We also got the Mango Parfait with a bubble waffle laced with cubes of mango, whipped cream, cheesecake pieces and cereal. I enjoyed this very much as it was refreshing despite appearing to be heavy. There was plenty of ripe mango for every spoonful as well as lots of crunch cereal bits.
From here, we headed over to the Richmond Public Market, specifically Xian Cuisine for a bowl of Lamb Noodles in Soup. The real draw here is that all of the noodles are made to order by hand. We literally watched the noodle master do his thing and then right into boiling water immediately after. The result was chewy al dente noodles that exhibited an appealing elasticity. Moreover, the soup itself was excellent with impactful flavour beyond just salt. I could taste various spices especially cumin. As for the lamb, it was tender and only slightly gamy.
Our last stop before a break in eating was at Empire Centre. We visited James Snacks and had their signature hot pot rice. We ended up with the Pork Sparerib Hot Pot Rice that was made-to-order. Due to the care taken in preparing the dish, the claypot was hot enough to create a crunchy rice crust. The rest of the rice was nutty, chewy and aromatic. On top, there was a considerable amount of well-marinated spareribs (that were actual rib pieces rather than fat or cartilage). There was enough garlic and black bean to not only flavour the ribs, but the rice as well. A surprise addition was the wonderful Spicy Dumplings from Shanghai Station. These sported buttery and tender dumpling skin with a moist and flavourful pork filling. Tossed in sesame paste and chili sauce/oil, the aromatic and spicy flavours emulated Dan Dan noodles. After this, we took a 3-hour break to rest our jaws and stomach for a 10-course meal at Vivacity.