GREAT DAY TRIPS
The city of Richmond, 20 minutes south of downtown Vancouver, is no mere suburb; this island community is a full-blown world unto itself. The malls (extraordinary and frenetic), the restaurants (best Chinese food of your life), the airport, and the street life (a rush of languages and cultures) reflect a well-established population of (mostly Asian) immigrants. In fact, Richmond has the highest immigrant population in the country: 60 percent
When Chef Hung Taiwanese Beef Noodle ( 4151 Hazelbridge Way, 604-295-9357. Chefhungnoodle. com) opened in Aberdeen Centre, lineups topped out at two hours for bowls of award-winning Taiwan-style beef noodles. The initial frenzy has subsided, and it’s worth waiting in the moderate queue to sample the glorious beef shank noodles, prepared in a slow-cooked broth (MSG-free).
The Shanghainese/Taiwanese hybrid Dinesty Chinese Restaurant ( 160–8111 Ackroyd Rd., 604-303-7772) is always packed—perhaps because they cook Shanghai cuisine with a little more sugar and spice than is traditional. A simple room opens to a glassed-in kitchen, where you can see cooks furiously wrapping, steaming, and frying. (You’d never guess the space once housed a 7-Eleven.)
In high-end Hong Kong kitchens, restraint and focus are paramount considerations, and heavy-handedness is considered vulgar. Jade Seafood Restaurant ( 8511 Alexandra Rd., 604-249-0082. Jaderestaurant.ca) epitomizes this approach, and dishes reflect a subtle and precise hand. The room is full of families enjoying quiet, elegant meals, including dishes like the famous Grandfather Chicken (succulent with gentle soy smokiness), Dungeness crab, black cod hot pot, and pumpkin seafood soup. Dim sum here is arguably the best around: faves are steamed mushroom dumplings, deep-fried radish cakes, and crisp rolls of prawn, century egg, and pickled ginger. Service is formal but genuinely warm.
Award-winning Gudrun ( 150– 3500 Moncton Rd., 604-272-1991. Gudrun.ca), in historic Steveston, is the perfect tucked-away destination for an intimate meal that’s upscale but never pretentious. Fine cheeses, house-made charcuterie, and local wines and beers are the focus, but the daily fresh sheet of market-inspired mains always rewards trust in the kitchen.
In Richmond, shopping means malls—crazy, bewildering, fantastic malls. Steps from the Canada Line’s Aberdeen Station, Aberdeen Centre ( 4151 Hazelbridge Way, 604-270-1234. Aberdeencentre.com) is Richmond’s most popular shopping destination for tourists, likely because of the glorious Japanese dollar store, Daiso. (A legend in Asia, this is the first in North America.) Stock up on sweet teacups and dearly patterned side plates.
Over 150 shops make up Parker Place ( 4380 No. 3 Rd., 778-297-5666. Parkerplace.com), an institution in Richmond for two decades. Hit up Gift Universal for everything Hello Kitty; Sweet Home proffers the obligatory paper lanterns and rice cookers. Finish with bubble tea—naturally—at Cherry Fruit Juice and Icy Bar.
Ditch the car and do like 12,000 locals each summer weekend night, grabbing the Canada Line to Bridgeport Station for the Richmond Night Market ( Richmondnightmarket.com). A staple since 2000, the 18-acre fair is part open-air market (novelty iPhone cases for everyone!), part outdoor Idol competition, and big-time global food fair leaning to skewered meats and deep-fried everything. Region’s best peoplewatching. Open May to October.
The unabashedly blingy River Rock Casino ( 8811 River Rd., 604-247-8573. Riverrock. com) is the largest casino in British Columbia, with 1,100 slot machines, daily tournaments at the poker tables, and 24/7 gambling. Keep feeding coins into those slots and they might just return enough to pay for dinner at the casino’s fine-dining room, Tramonto: River Rock poached top talent from some of the best rooms in town and is delivering quality (if mainstream) fare. Rock and pop acts of yore make their way through the River Rock Show Theatre— Culture Club, Brian Wilson, and Boz Scaggs have all climbed aboard the nostalgia train here recently.
Richmond Night Market
YVR 3211 GRANT MCCONACHIE WAY Canada’s secondbusiest airport teems with harried travellers. Don’t be one. Take the Canada Line direct from downtown and deboard a stop early at the luxe new McArthur Glen outdoor mall before reaching the terminals where, before and after security, significant First Nations sculptures await contemplation
Daiso at Aberdeen Centre