Last week, Rory and I headed to Vancouver, British Columbia for a number of book-related events. The business end of things went well but what was even more fun was all the amazing food we got to sample!
Vancouver is a marvelous eating town, especially if you’re into Chinese food. Many Hong Kong Chinese took up residence in "Van" after the 1997 handover. As a result, there are tons of high-quality restaurants from casual to high-end. One of the highlights of a summer is the Chinatown Night Market in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver that’s now one of five (5) Chinese enclaves in the area. As the evening progressed, it became a shoulder to shoulder crowd at the flea-market-cum-food-and-music fare.
The Richmond market is modeled on ones in Hong Kong, where you’d go for practically all your needs. When I was a student in Hong Kong in the early 1990s, going to the night market meant several things — cheap grub often eaten with skewers and padded bra vendors. Those are the things I remembered. S
ure enough, there was an area full of food vendors. Rory spied some good potstickers and yes, we ate them with bamboo skewers, which are basically skinny chopsticks, no? What was surprising was that the high quality of the dumplings. The skin was chewy and not too thick. The filling was flavorful and fresh tasting. Even the chili oil accompaniment was excellent.
Most foods at these kinds of public events are tasteless and greasy. However, the range of food was limited to lots of grilled bits. "This isn’t really like Hong Kong," Rory said as he reminisced about eating a dish of stir-fried clams in black bean sauce at a stall long ago. Of course not. We’re in clean Canada and Vancouver is diverse, evidenced by the Vietnamese sweet soup lady who was doing her best to get business. Nearby, the young Asian-Canadian singer belted out love songs.
Not far away where the dry goods were being hawked, I found authenticity in a couple of charming, Asian-style kitchen aprons with grammatically incorrect messages printed on them. And, yep, a few padded bra vendors had set up too.