It’s well known that Vancouver has some of the best East Asian food in North America. Less well known is that the adjoining city Richmond is the region’s premier destination for Chinese food.
This crawl steers you toward some of Richmond’s gems while offering an introduction to a variety of dumplings available in the area. For crawl convenience, I’m not sending you across town and back; this is a selection of high-quality dumplings that works within geographic confines and restaurant hours. Note that some of these restaurants are cash only, so hit the ATM before you start.
9:00 a.m. | Jade Seafood Restaurant
Address: 8511 Alexandra Road
What to order: steamed mushroom dumplings, steamed shrimp dumplings, pan-fried chive dumplings
Jade Seafood is an extremely popular dim sum place, so an early start to the crawl here avoids the crowds and a likely wait. Bonus: They knock 20 percent off your bill for ordering before eleven a.m. (There’s also ease of a big parking lot, and though walking is the best way to get between all these spots, we’re not officially recommending you keep your car here for the duration of the crawl.)
The steamed mushroom dumplings—a trio of mushrooms with a strong scent of truffle—are a creation you won’t find in many dim sum carts. In contrast, the chive dumplings and the classic har gow—steamed shrimp dumplings—are dim sum touchstones, and Jade does them right, with crunchy snap to the shrimp.
9:45 a.m. | Empire Seafood Restaurant
Address: 5951 Number 3 Road
What to order: steamed scallop and egg white dumplings, taro root and duck pastries, baked barbecue pork buns
Empire Seafood is another early-bird special—the place starts to get packed by ten a.m., particularly on weekends. (Your reward will be the same pre-eleven a.m. 20 percent discount.) The steamed scallop and egg white dumplings are a good place to start, with natural sweetness from the scallop. The wu gok will, uh, woo you; this version of the taro dumpling includes the unique addition of duck meat. Finish with the baked barbecue pork buns—they’re kissed with a little sugar, almost like dessert.
10:20 a.m. | Richmond Public Market
Address: 8260 Westminster Highway
What to order: spicy wontons at Xi’an Cuisine and hand-made boiled dumplings at Sisters Kitchen
Next stop is the somewhat ragtag Richmond Public Market. There’s a curious collection of stores on the first floor, but you want the second-floor food court, where your group should split up and make simultaneous orders at two separate stalls. At Xi’an Cuisine, hand-stretched biang biang noodles and open-ended crispy dumplings will look tempting, but you’re here for the spicy wontons. The sauce has a nice pop of vinegar for slight sourness. (Xi’an Cuisine is closed Mondays.)
Sisters Kitchen is a few stalls down. Here the noodles are Chongqing-style (wheat, made on-site), but unless you want the additional carbohydrates (they’re delicious!), just get the boiled dumplings. They offer pork and cabbage or pork and chive; if you ask nicely, they’ll give you a fifty-fifty split. The dipping sauce is great, made with black vinegar, soy sauce, homemade chili paste, and just a touch of sugar. Your dumpling order comes with a bowl of kombu dashi. (Sisters Kitchen is closed Sundays.)
11:00 a.m. | Silkway Halal Cuisine
Address: 8188 Saba Road
What to order: handmade lamb dumplings
Like most of the restaurants on this dumpling crawl, Silkway Halal is worth a visit for a full-fledged meal. Today, though, the lamb dumplings are your mission. These boiled dumplings burst with lamb flavor, delightful on their own or dipped in black vinegar sauce. (Note that Silkway Halal is closed on Wednesdays.)
11:40 a.m. | Suhang Restaurant
Address: 8291 Ackroyd Road
What to order: pan-fried pork soft buns
Now it’s time for Shanghainese dim sum. From Silkway, you’re a stone’s throw from a half-dozen places with serviceable sheng jian bao and xiao long bao, but with chefs frequently on the move and quality varying day-to-day depending on who’s in the kitchen, it’s hard to name a single best restaurant. You’ll likely find luck at any of the places with “Shanghai” in the name, but for sheng jian bao, Suhang is your stop. The pork is a little pasty, but these are probably the prettiest sheng jian bao in Richmond—gorgeous with good color and crispiness from the pan fry. The xiao long bao are just fair, though, so venture to the next stop.
12:25 p.m. | Chen’s Shanghai Restaurant
Address: 8095 Park Road
What to order: Shanghai-style soup dumplings
There are so many good options for soup dumplings in Richmond that there’s little talk of or need for Din Tai Fung. For this dumpling crawl, top choice goes to Chen’s. The wrappers aren’t the thinnest around, but the xiao long bao are juicy with a good balance of flavors in both the pork and the broth.
12:55 p.m. | Golden Paramount Seafood Restaurant
Address: 8071 Park Road
What to order: steamed dumplings with crab and meat, steamed pork dumplings with fish roe
After Chen’s, peek into Golden Paramount at the end of the same strip mall. If seating is available, take advantage for their fantastic crab dumplings, which are delicate and delicious. The staff will recommend you eat this first, so that the subtle flavor isn’t lost—trust them. Then try the pork siu mai topped with fish roe—trust us. (Golden Paramount is closed on Tuesdays.)
1:25 p.m. | Samsoonie Noodle & Rice
Address: 8211 Westminster Highway
What to order: spicy dumplings
It’s time for the non-Chinese homestretch of the dumpling crawl. Head to Samsoonie, a Korean joint that got its start selling dumplings wholesale to area restaurants until the public demanded it open a retail operation. You’ll find boiled, pan-fried, and deep-fried mandu here, some served in soup. But as it’s time to eat your vegetables: get the menu item marked “spicy dumpling” for a bounty resembling bibimbop, with pan-fried dumplings accompanied by a variety of thinly sliced vegetables. On the side is a squeeze bottle of gochujang thinned with vinegar and sesame oil to customize your spice level. But, wait, what are the scissors for? Turns out that below all those veggies is a huge portion of noodles waiting to be cut up. Hope you saved room!
2:00 p.m. | G-Men Ramen, Nan Chuu Japanese Izakaya
Address: 8391 Alexandra Road
What to order: pan-fried pork gyoza
For your final crawl stop, head to Nan Chuu Izakaya for gyoza. This Japanese version of pot-stickers is thinner skinned and more garlicky than their Chinese counterpart, and they’re perfect to eat with some sake or beer to celebrate a successful crawl. If you are somehow still hungry, Nan Chuu hosts G-Men Ramen as a sort of restaurant within a restaurant that serves some of the best shoyu ramen in the city. Be aware that Nan Chuu closes at 2:30; you’ll luckily miss the wait-list lunch rush, but don’t dawdle and arrive too late for your dumpling finale. (Nan Chuu is closed Wednesdays, Sundays, and during lunch on Mondays.)