The Richmond Dumpling Trail

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Dumpling Trail in Richmond, BC.

Water-boiled dumplings three ways, Richmond’s Dumpling Trail. Photo: Tourism Richmond

Metro Vancouver is full of trails, most designed for hiking, walking, and biking. Recently, Tourism Richmond unveiled a deliciously different one: The Dumpling Trail.

A little background. In 2012, I ate at 365 different Richmond restaurants in 365 days. When I took on the task for Tourism Richmond, I knew there were endless ingredients coming my way that I’d never tried, like fermented tofu, rousong (pork floss), and durian.

Chinese New Year at Fisherman's Terrace, in Richmond, BC.

Dinner at Fisherman’s Terrace in Richmond. Photo: Tourism Richmond

The anticipation of these culinary wildcards was thrilling (when will a cube of congealed pig’s blood turn up in my bowl?), but another aspect of the job made me positively giddy: for an entire year, I would eat as many dumplings as I could, and I was going to get paid for it.

Har gow steamed dumplings in Richmond, BC.

Steamed har gow dumplings. Photo: Tourism Richmond

Simply put, I adore dumplings. I order them any time they’re on a menu, and when I’m not eating them, I’m craving them. Why? They require skill to make, they’re pleasing to look at, and they satisfy my love of carbs and super-textural foods.

Taro dumplings in Richmond, BC

Crispy fried taro dumplings, one of the many offerings along The Dumpling Trail. Photo: Tourism Richmond

You can imagine just how many of them I ate in Richmond—after all, they’re everywhere. The city, too, is home to some of the most authentic Asian dining rooms outside of China. A few of the bigger restaurants have viewing windows into the kitchens, so you can watch as the cooks create tiny packages of food by the thousands. The variety of dumplings on offer is overwhelming, from deep-fried to steamed and pan-fried, filled with every combination of sweet or savoury ingredients imaginable.

Recognizing this dough-wrapped bounty within their borders, Tourism Richmond created a self-guided journey throughout the city for diners looking to sample some of the hundreds on offer. They’ve put together a downloadable map, a comprehensive list of dumpling varieties, and even trivia. Did you know that in the 13th century, for example, Mongols ate dumplings while on the move? So much better than trail mix.*

Xiao long bao soup dumplings, Richmond, BC.

Xiao long bao at Su Hang Restaurant. Photo: Tourism Richmond

Before you hit the dumpling trail, here are a few tips:

1) Start at Suhang, where I tasted my very first xiao long bao, or “soup dumplings.” They’re also well-known for their shui jiao, a.k.a “water-boiled dumpling,” which have always (gloriously) felt to me like a direct cousin of the perogy.

2) Empire Seafood Restaurant makes some of the city’s best har gow (shrimp dumplings). They’re cooked just right; the shrimp keep a bit of crunch, and their colour peeks through the chewy, translucent rice wrappers.

3)  If you’re looking to dress up and take the family for Sunday morning dim sum, great options include The Jade Seafood Restaurant or Shiang Garden. For quick, budget-friendly options, hit up the food courts. Places like Xi’An Cuisine and R&H Chinese Food make everything from scratch and their dumplings are phenomenal. Bonus: their prices are more student-friendly, as they operate out of stalls rather than restaurants.

Box of dumplings to go from R&H Chinese Food, Richmond, BC.

Pan-fried dumplings at R&H Chinese Food in Lansdowne Centre. Photo: Tourism Richmond

If you’re planning dumpling-centric meals, be sure to get in on Tourism Richmond’s “Trail Graze and Win” contest. It’s easy to participate, and the winner will receive two return tickets to Richmond, a two-night stay at a Richmond hotel, and a guided dumpling tour with a Chinese-food expert.

Here’s how to enter:

1. While at one of the Dumpling Trail restaurants, open up the Google Maps on your smartphone.

2. Drop a pin on your location by long-tapping on the screen.

3. Share your location via text (swipe up on the white bar to see options).

4. Choose “share via text message” and send it to us at 1-604-330-0808 (carrier and SMS charges may apply).

Have fun hiking/biking/walking/rolling your way down The Dumpling Trail, and be sure to share all your photos with the hashtag #DumplingTrail. With all of these options, you could be on this trail for months. Please let me know if you finish it so I can give you the biggest high-five!

Xiao long bao, Richmond, BC.

Xiao long bao on The Dumpling Trail. Photo: Tourism Richmond.

*Unless said trail mix has peanut M&M’s instead of raisins, toasted pecans instead of Brazil nuts, and is heavily salted. Then it’s debatable.