Top Restaurants on Richmond’s “Food Street”

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In 2012, I landed my dream job. The assignment? Eat at 365 Richmond restaurants in 365 days, and blog about each and every one. Other than its reputation for Asian cuisine, I knew very little about Richmond when I first started, especially when it came to navigating my way around it. I could find my way to the airport very impressively (Step #1: Get on the Skytrain, Step #2: Get off the Skytrain, as it turns out, not impressive), but when it came to the city itself, I was lost.

Pedestrians walk down Richmond’s “Food Street” on a sunny day.

Richmond’s “Food Street.” Photo: Tourism Richmond

Fortunately, I had Alexandra Road on my side, which quickly became a sort of navigational (and culinary) epicentre. Also known as “Food Street,” it’s a relatively short stretch of pavement at the centre of town, and an absolute gold mine when it comes to restaurants.

Pedestrians walk down a tree-lined sidewalk on a sunny day.

Alexandra Road in the sun. Photo: Tourism Richmond

There are nearly 200 (TWO HUNDRED) restaurants packed within three blocks, with everything from Cantonese and Hong Kong-style food to Korean, Thai and bubble tea.

A artistically plated dish of bibimbap.

Flower bibimbap at Haroo. Photo: Lindsay Anderson (courtesy of Tourism Richmond)

Since the sheer density of food on offer can be intimidating, here are some of my favourite places to try if you’re heading there soon:

1. Haroo (Korean)

For its tucked-away location, killer Korean food and ambiance (welcome to my home, where the apple-print pillows match my apron!), Haroo is one of my most beloved Alexandra Road stops. A husband and wife run the whole show (she’s in the kitchen, he’s out front), and everything they do, they do well.

Recommended: Bibimbap (order the large, flower-shaped version for a crowd), seafood pancake, tteokbokki with cheese, and kalbi (beef short rib)

A steaming platter of kalbi.

A platter of kalbi at Haroo. Photo: Lindsay Anderson (courtesy of Tourism Richmond)

2. Leisure Tea (Taiwanese)

With its chalet-like interior and friendly service, Leisure Tea is so charming you’ll think you’ve stumbled upon the city’s greatest secret. Order a bowl of their shaved ice and go to town with the toppings: favourites include fresh mango, red and green beans, peanuts, grass jelly, and the best kind of milk around—sweetened and condensed.

Also recommended: Japanese cheesecake, fresh taro milkshake with tapioca pearls, chicken and waffles, and steeped fruit tea

A cozy dining room with dark wood touches.

Leisure Tea. Photo: Lindsay Anderson (courtesy of Tourism Richmond)

3. Nan Chuu (Japanese)

Just a few doors down from Leisure Tea is Nan Chuu, the place to go for Japanese small plates. Hunker down in one of their cozy wooden booths, order a cold Sapporo, and do your very best to settle on just four or five tasty options from the dozens on offer…

Recommended: Tan tan noodles, saba shioyaki (a must!), pan-fried gyoza and takoyaki

A beautifully plated dish of grilled Mackerel.

Saba Shioyaki at Leisure Tea. Photo: Lindsay Anderson (courtesy of Tourism Richmond)

4. Claypot Hot Pot (Chinese)

Never done hot pot before? Now is the time, and Claypot is the place. First pick your broth, then all the things you’d like to cook in it, which will arrive at the table on big platters. It’s interactive, usually kind of messy, and always fun, plus there are options for everyone from avid meat-eaters to vegetarians and vegans.

Recommended: The spicy Thai tom yam kung broth or the less spicy satay broth, sliced meat, pork stomach, beef tripe, pork and chive dumplings, assorted mushrooms, black fungus, lotus root, pumpkin, sui choy, watercress, beef meatballs, octopus and fresh bean curd

A large, comforting pot of Hot Pot broth.

Hot pot broth at Claypot on Alexandra Road. Photo: Lindsay Anderson (courtesy of Tourism Richmond)

5. Deer Garden (Hong Kong)

Who, I ask you WHO, doesn’t love a huge bowl filled with comforting broth, tangles of chewy noodles, and strands of fresh bean curd? This is Deer Garden’s M.O., and it means that you will not leave hungry–that is my guarantee, not theirs, but you can still count on it.

Recommended: Malay laksa broth or peanut + chili oil broth, pumpkin, fish fillet, sliced beef, enoki mushrooms, udon noodles and pan-fried white turnip pudding (as a starter)   

Four bowls of hearty soup.

Soup for lunch at Deer Garden. Photo by Lindsay Anderson (courtesy of Tourism Richmond)

6. Seto (Japanese)

Seto is on Alexandra Road for those who need a sushi fix, and for those who enjoy sitting within an almost entirely self-contained booth while eating. Their aji tataki (horse mackerel) isn’t cheap, but it’s totally worth it, coming out first as sashimi and then deep-fried (with the head intact, for diners who argue over who gets to eat the fish eyes).

Also recommended: Spicy tuna roll, anago battera (pressed eel sushi) and ramen   

A colourful plate of Tataki, garnished with lemons.

Aji Tataki at Seto Sushi. Photo: Lindsay Anderson (courtesy of Tourism Richmond)

7. Shanghai Morning  (Shanghainese)

This restaurant serves up classic Shanghainese food, a not-too-spicy regional style that’s especially famous for soup-filled dumplings called “xiao long bao.” I saved Shanghai Morning until the end of the year, and ordered all my favourite classics, including the dumplings, stir-fried French beans with garlic and minced pork (100% the best way to eat green beans), the gluten with black fungus (#glutenlife), and a beef roll. It was way too much food for one person, and I loved every bite.

Also recommended: pan-fried pork buns, rice cake with shredded pork and pickled cabbage

A mountain of sauteed green beans.

Shanghai Garden, Richmond BC

These are just a few of the many incredible restaurants available to you on Alexandra Road. No matter where you start, you can rest assured that you won’t be running out of options anytime soon!

Cars drive down a busy street at night.

Alexandra Road at night. Photo: Tourism Richmond