Exploring Richmond’s Alexandra Road
Posted by Degan on August 24th, 2010
Note: this post was imported from EthnicEats.ca
I’ve wanted to check out Alexandra Street, also known as “Wai Sek Kai” or food street for quite some time now, but with 200 + Asian restaurants and no guide, I always felt a little bit intimidated. Enter Tourism Richmond and suddenly the street made sense. Myself and a handful of other hungry food writers followed happily as we ate our way through the three block feeding trough.
The first stop was Well Tea bubble tea and Taiwanese restaurant, popular with students and young people. The choices were unlike anything I had had before; grenadine yeast juice, and caramel milk tea with tapioca noodles instead of pearls! I later found out that by “yeast” they meant yogurt which brings things a little closer to home but I had already ordered an Earl Grey milk tea with kanten, a type of agar that is lower in calories than the traditional tapioca.
Next we stopped in at Kam Do Bakery where we sampled a winter melon pastry (their signature treat) and an egg custard tart. Not having much of a sweet tooth, I would eat the winter melon pastry (also inexplicably called “old wife” pastry) again and again. It is a subtly sweet and gelled custard wrapped in a flakey pastry with the result being just rich and pleasing without being too rich or too sweet or too oily. Yum.
Alexandra Road is a jumble of all kinds of Asian restaurants sharing space. There are Malaysian, Taiwanese, Thai, both Japanese izakayas (gastropubs, really) and traditional sushi joints, plus all types of Chinese eateries. At its inception in the late 80′s there were many Hong Kong style cafes, but now that immigrant patterns have changed and many more people are moving here from mainland China, the dining scene is starting to reflect that with Shanghainese and Beijing-style eateries.
Our first sit-down meal was at Cattle Cafe, a comforting Chinese-style diner with dishes like bakes seafood in cream sauce and choose your own noodles / sauce /topping. The photo above is of one of the most delicious laksa’s I’ve had in a while…a Malaysian style spicy soup with vermicelli noodles, brisket and basa fillet.
Some of the dishes were a little bit more adventurous (but no less delicious), like this unagi BBQ eel sandwich with cucumbers and sauce. Kind of like a Chinese grilled cheese sandwich, but then not really like it at all. I’m determined to recreate this for lunch this week.
The next stop was Nan-chuu by Gyoza King, a dark and sexy Japanese Izakaya where we sampled more strange and wondrous stuffs; chicken skin skewers, gizzard skewers, chicken hearts, salmon nori and more. It was the Hitachino Nest cask ale and the mushroom-bacon yakisoba that made me start planning a repeat visit. The beef tongue (below) was also spectacular, its sweet, rich flavours being complemented on all sides by the beer.
Finally we dragged our bellies into Jang Mo Jib, Korean for “mother-in-law” because she is the one running the kitchen while the rest of the family takes care of operations out front. Our guides had already ordered ahead for us and in short order out came soon dae jub see (blood sausage), jok bahl (BBQ pork feet), hae mool pah jun (seafood pancake), tohng gahl bee (BBQ short ribs) as well as some amazing glass noodles and an assortment of picked sweet potatoes and kimchi.
Walking back to the skytrain, I started running down the list of strange delicacies we’d sampled…agar, bitter melon, chicken hearts, gizzards and skin, blood sausage, pig’s feet…I am an adventurous eater by most people’s standards and so I had had most of the “exotic” delicacies of the tour before, but I relished the idea of trying them as part of different cuisines and especially to be able to finally have a solid understanding of what Alexandra Road has to offer. Now there are only 197 restaurants to get through!
Alexandra Road is between No. 3 Road and Garden City in the Golden Village area of Richmond.
4811 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
Kam Do Bakery
1120 – 8391 Alexandra Road, Richmond
1020 – 8580 Alexandra Road, Richmond
Nan Chuu Japanese Izakaya
1160-8391 Alexandra Road
Jang Mo Jib Korean Restaurant
8320 Alexandra Street, Richmond