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Decadent, Delicious and Divine Dumplings
on the Richmond Dumpling Trail with
Vancouver Food Tour

You know you’re a true banana when you’ve lived in Richmond for over a decade and you’ve only eaten at a handful of the millions, okay I exaggerate, thousands of Chinese restaurants that dominant the Richmond restaurant scene. No, I prefer to engage in banana activities by hanging out in yuppyville (Kits) on the weekends and eating at restaurants that aren’t Asian. In case you’re wondering what a banana is, it’s someone who is white on the inside and yellow on the outside – in other words, Asians that act more “white” than “yellow”. But as my parents were originally from the old country, some of the yellow stuff has managed to ooze into my pores, so I’m quite familiar with all Chinese cuisine from the good, the weird and the even weirder stuff like cow brains and chick embryos, which incidentally, you couldn’t pay me enough money to eat now!

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Richmond Dumpling Trail

Vegetarian Gyoza

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But dumplings?  Ah… so very delicious. I’ve heard of the Richmond Dumpling Trail which Tourism Richmond put together and I’ve been meaning to book myself for one of Vancouver Food Tour‘s Dumpling Trail tours hosted by as one of my friends, Cassandra Anderton aka Good Live Vancouver is one of the tour guides. So on a lovely, not raining and hell not snowing, Sunday morning, me and my dumpling eating posse gathered for a dumpling feast in Richmond.

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Vancouver Food Tour

Chinese BBQ Cut Buns

First stop on the Richmond Dumpling Trail is 4 Stones Vegetarian where their in-house “beyond meat” made of soy protein and other natural ingredients has the same texture and taste as pork but without all the additives of other “fake meat”. Here we had Gyoza and Chinese BBQ Cut Buns, both of which were delicious as the Gyoza wasn’t greasy at all and the bao was light and fresh.  I swear that if you did a blind test, you wouldn’t know the difference between this vegan version and the real meat deal.

Richmond Dumpling Trail

Ha Gow

The second stop on the Richmond Dumpling Trail was at Empire Seafood where the first dumpling served here was my favourite – Ha Gow which was chock full of juicy delectable shrimp. You know this is a good dim sum restaurant if it’s busy at noon and 85% of the diners are Asian and Empire Seafood Restaurant ticked off both these boxes, proof as to why they’ve managed to stay in business since 2004.
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Richmond Dumpling Trail

BBQ Duck and Mashed Taro Pastry

The second dumpling we were served here was also another one of my favourite dim sum items which some of my non-Chinese friends never had. BBQ Duck and Mashed Taro Pastry. I actually prefer taro to potatoes as taro has more depth in flavour as it tastes nutty and earthy. Here, it’s mashed which gives it a lighter consistency and the BBQ duck just adds that extra depth of fat that tastes so good (can you hear my arteries hardening yet?). Taro pastries are always served with a nest-like outer layer, although I’ve never seen it presented this way like a beehive hairdo. What I also like about the taro pastry here is that it’s wasn’t greasy as I’ve have some that I couldn’t finish because of the over-saturation of oil.

Richmond Dumpling Trail

Xialo Long Bao

Believe it or not I’ve never one of these Xialo Long Bao which are basically meat dumplings which have a small amount of hot soup in the middle which gushes into your mouth after you bite into it. I have to admit that I poked a hole in mine just so I could see the inside of it and didn’t want to be caught off guard by the hush of hot liquid. Delicious when you pair this with the accompanying vinegar and dare I say, it’s like a soup party in your mouth.


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Richmond Dumpling Trail

Pork with Dried Shrimp – Empire Seafood

What’s not to like with a crispy outer layer and a center full of minced pork with just a smattering of dried shrimp. By the way drinking Chinese tea helps to cut down any grease in deep fried menu items so insert 10 sips here.  Note that usually when you have Chinese tea with friends, an order of dumplings might be in twos or threes and items are usually cut for sharing.  At this event, the price included one of each dumpling per person.

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Richmond Dumpling Trail

Sui Mai

Finally, the last dim sum item arrived at Empire Seafood, although now I’ve loosened the last two buttons of my blouse over my stomach and hoping the other buttons won’t fly off. Not that I have any booblage to flaunt. Sui Mai is another staple dim sum item that everyone orders at tea as its chock full of pork with shrimp. Here it’s served piping hot and I like to go hog wild with the chill paste on this one. There’s a small dollop of fish eggs which gives it a splash of colour.


Vancouver Food Tour

Deep Fried Shrimp Won Ton

 

The third stop was at Tsim Chai Noodle Restaurant where the Deep Fried Shrimp Won Ton was unlike other deep fried won tons you find at other Chinese restaurants as the triple layer of won ton wrappers made the coating thick, making it so much more crunchier and it almost tasted like the coating you get on fried chicken.  It’s so good with the side of sweet and sour sauce that I wanted a barrel of this to go – finger wicking good.

Vancouver Food Tour

Sui Kua in Oyster Sauce

At last, something green and delicious that doesn’t walk on four legs as it was steamed prawn dumplings served with a healthy portion of cooked lettuce, turnips, and chives covered with oyster sauce. FYI, Oyster Sauce is actually made by boiling oysters and adding cornstarch and other ingredients. Its used widely in Chinese cooking as its adds so much flavour along with a whole lot of sodium (492 milligram in one tsp).  Another interesting tidbit is that Chinese people cook all vegetables and it wasn’t until I took Home Economics in High School that I actually tasted raw vegetables in salads.


Vancouver Food Tour

Spicy Wonton

The fourth stop was at Xi’an Cuisine which is in the Richmond Public Market. Apparently Xian cuisine is influenced by Islamic influences as there is a large settlement of Islamic people in the Shaanxi province where this cuisine originates. The first item here was Spicy Wonton which was a spicy soup base of fragrant and hot spices which can be a little too intense for some people but not for a spice girl like me who once put two packages of chili oil on an six inch chicken wrap.  The spice mixture has a flavour unlike other spicy soups in Chinese restaurants due to the Middle Eastern spices added here.

Vancouver Food Tour

Fried Pork Dumpling

Flied, flied, flied, oh yes, my people really, really, really love deep flied dumplings, probably because we love super crispy and super crunchy food. Here the Fried Pork Dumpling has been pan fried until it’s dark brown on the outside and it’s so crispy that it almost has the consistency of a potato chip in some spots.


Vancouver Food Tour

Black Sesame Mochi Wheel Cake

The fifth and final – thank God – was at Peanuts Bubble Tea which is a bubble tea stall that also sells not only bubble tea, but wheel cakes which are basically a Taiwanese version of a Twinkie as it’s dough with a delicious filling inside, although it tastes like a pancake sandwich. The flavours offered here ranged from Black Sesame Mochi, Matcha White Chocolate, Radish (savoury), Cream, Coconut, Cheese, Peanut, Chocolate and Red Bean. And priced at just 85 cents a cake, try them all. I tried the Black Sesame Mochi which I liked as it was a change from fried black sesame balls as the pancake dough is light and moist and not too sweet. It was a light dessert which was the perfect ending for our meat heavy and carblicious Richmond Dumpling Trail hosted by Vancouver Food Tour.

I’d like to say that these were highlights of The Vancouver Food Tour of the Richmond Dumpling Trail, but truth be told I had one of everything. Come hungry, they said, but they forgot to tell me to come with two stomachs! Book this tour if you love dumplings as much as me.

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Author

Dianne

Editor in Chief of Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver.

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