Monday, April 12, 2010

Oh Canada

Recently Mike read something from a local restaurant connoisseur saying that,
"The best Chinese food in Seattle is in Richmond."
Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.
There is a large Chinese population in BC and Richmond is filled with
Authentic Chinese Restaurants.

That seemed reason enough for us to make a trip to the
"Great White North"
"The best Chinese food in Seattle."
After making it through the border with no incident we found our way to Richmond and followed the directions we had to one particular strip mall.
The whole place was filled with restaurants. Many had a menu in the window. That didn't do us much good as they weren't always in English. We passed an Asian bakery and drooling decided to come back on our way out. Near the end of the block we came to a crowded restaurant. Deciding that a crowd is usually a good sign we figured this was our spot. Upon entering the restaurant we experienced something I had never experienced before.
We were the minority and had the only white skin in the building.

Being Seated
As we were being taken to our seats the hostess said she would bring us some tea. We don't drink tea and graciously said, "No thank you."
She stopped mid-stride. "No Tea?"
"What will you drink, then?"
"May we have water?"
Note: We were still unseated and standing in the middle of the crowded restaurant at this point.
By then another host had stopped and entered the exchange.
"Hot water?"
"Cold, please."
After exchanging a curious glance he left and she continued to escort us to a table. She placed a sheet of paper and a pencil on the table and also left us.
(They did eventually bring us water. I wonder how many cupboards they had to search to find glasses.)

The Menu
The paper was, of course, the menu.
Filled with Chinese characters and some numbers.
In very small print some of the items were also presented in English and some even had a description.
Perusing the menu for some time we wondered when a waiter would return to take our order.
Out of nowhere a kind gentleman from a nearby table came over and offered assistance.
He said he spoke some English and could help us order.
When he called us Canadians we told him we were from America.
From then on he called us Caucasians.
He recommended some things and his wife added,
"Have them order deep fried milk!"
So we did.
He showed us the part of the menu that had no prices.
"This is Dim Sum. In some places a waiter wanders through the restaurant with a cart and you just choose what you want from the cart . Here, you put a check mark by the things you want and they will bring it to you." (thus, the pencil.)
At the bottom was a price and that was the cost for each item in that section.

We thanked our new friend and he returned to his wife.
We finalized what we thought we wanted and ... sat.
Finally I leaned toward his table and asked, "How do we get them to take our order?"
He grinned, said something in Chinese and immediately someone came and took our menu.
He smiled at me and explained, "Something like, Excuse me in English."

Now the really good part!
We ordered six things.
One at a time they began to arrive.
There was chicken with rice. (very good)
Rice wrapped in a leaf with meat and sauce. (okay)
Steamed shrimp potsticker. (great)
Pork Hum Bau. (best ever)
Shrimp Egg Rolls (very good)
Deep Fried Milk (incredible)
It was like dessert. Some kind of custard dipped in batter and deep fried.
Delightful and so Delicious.

The whole meal was a wonderful culinary adventure.

The Service
Obviously our hostess was a bit uncomfortable at our arrival and refusal for tea.
But she returned a few times to see how we were doing.
She even showed us how to eat the leaf wrapped rice.
(No, you don't eat the leaf)
Another time seeing that we were obviously enjoying ourselves
She asked, "Are you sure you won't try the tea?"

5 Stars!
I will return.
I want to share this with my sister who once lived in Taiwan,
and my children who request our humble attempts at Chinese food frequently,
and anyone else who wants to cross the border and try something new and exciting.
Because I love to eat.


Jayson said...

That sounds great. There is a place in Factoria, Washington called Top Gun that is amazing, and always packed. Very similar food. And my brother-in-law, who is from Hong-Kong loves it and says it is very authentic. I can't say I've ever looked at the menu, as we just let him do the ordering. I would highly recommend it (and it's not quite as far to drive!).

Jenny-Jenny said...

Oooh Thanks Jayson! Sounds like I need to make a trip to Factoria as well. Isn't it fun to try new places. How nice to go with someone that really knows what they're doing!

JoLyn said...

Next time you go, I really really want to come! Or maybe, next time I'm there, let's go!

Tracy said...

Just LOVED this story, Jenny! You really had me on the edge of my seat to see how the meal would good. The food sounds incredible...mmm... Good Chinese food is hard to get here--it's been too "Norwegianized"...LOL! Do go back. Next time, take the tea... might make it all easier! ;o) Happy Day ((HUGS))

Mike J said...

I have to say that I was quite nervous when I walked into the place but the food was the best I've ever had. I would go again in a heart beat. It was quite a cultural experience and very affordable. $20 Canadian for 2 people and it was more than we could eat.

everydayMOM said...

What fun! It's amazing to me that you live so close to Canada.

CapableDad spends so much time in China eating REAAAALLLLLL Chinese food that I can't ever get him to go to a Chinese restaurant!

I loved your story.

Leisa Hammett said...

I *heart* the Northwestern part of our continent! Esp. British Columbia. And the Asian food there is amazing!

Joy For Your Journey said...

Okay, I had to laugh a bit that the best "Chinese" food in "Seattle" is found in "Canada". Definitely a multi-cultural experience. And it sounds very yummy. I went to Pei Wei's today and it was good, but not quite the adventure you had.

Bandanamom said...

How fun Jenny! I love doing stuff like this...especially when it involves eating :)

Twisted Fencepost said...

Wow, that sounds like fun!
I would never get my husband to try that place.
But if I ever get over to your side of the US, maybe I'll go with you!