Hoitong Chinese Seafood Restaurant

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Hoitong Chinese Seafood restaurant is definitely a hole in the wall hidden gem. I’ve walked by this restaurant many times but have honestly never cared for what was inside. However, my mom suggested we try it for our family dinner and after some Googling, I realized the chef has won many awards. The chef is actually over 70 years old but still cooking up delicious food.

 

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The restaurant is quite small, with only around 6 family sized tables. So even if you are only a table of 4, you will sit in a big round table. Because of the limited tables, there are essentially only 2 rounds of dinner service. Be sure to make reservations in advance as it is usually fully booked. The decor is simple and not lavish at all, but it doesn’t matter because the food is the star here.

 

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Seems like there is only a Chinese menu, so bring a Chinese friend if you can’t read it!

 

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To start, we had their daily soup which was chicken feet with beans. Not the most visually appealing, but the soup was full of depth and warmed our tummies.

 

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Roast Squab

To start, we had the Roast Squab which came piping hot! These were also one of the largest and meatiest squabs I’ve had at a restaurant. This dish requires pre-order so make sure you call ahead. The skin was really crispy and the flavour was on point. Not too salty but still flavourful.

 

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Mushrooms Stuffed in Bean Curd with Baby Bok Choy

For veggies, we had Mushrooms Stuffed in Bean Curd with Baby Bok Choy. Usually, I don’t think much about this dish since I assume it’s not that difficult to make, but wow this dish had me wanting more. The bean curd was so silky smooth, and the sauce was absolutely delicious! Again, it was not overly salty which I really liked.

 

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Sweet and Sour Pork

And onto the famous dish at Hoitong – the Sweet and Sour Pork. I know what you’re thinking… how can sweet and sour pork be so special? The dish uses pork cheek therefore the meat is super bouncy. The batter is thin and the sauce has just the right amount of sweet and tangyness. A must order!

 

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Stir Fried Milk and Fried Tofu

Another famous dish is the Stir Fried Milk. We got this along with the Fried Tofu to pair. I’ve had deep fried milk before but this was my frist time having stir fried milk! Wow, this was so silky and creamy and I think there was even some crab meat inside. I can imagine this taking a lot of skill to make! As for the Fried Tofu puffs, they were lightly battered with the tofu inside being bouncy.

 

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Lotus Leaf Seafood Rice

Another pre-order dish is the Lotus Leaf Seafood Rice. I mean, how cute is the presentation? It looks like those hats people wore back in the day!

 

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The rice is not cheap at around $30, but the portion is actually huge and we had enough leftovers for lunch the next day too! The rice was moist and packed with scallops and shrimp.

To end our meal, we got complimentary taro and coconut sago. Love how this was not too sweet and a perfect way to end the meal. Chef Tong even came out to say his thank yous to each dining table! That is something I have not seen before and I noticed he actually had so many regular customers. Overall, we were all happy with our meal. Despite some higher prices, the execution and quality of food was great. Definitely an elevated home cooking experience!

Pros:
– Great execution of dishes
– Well-balanced flavours while not being too salty or oily

Cons:
– Ambiance is not that nice

Price Range: $30-40 per person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 5 Service: 4 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3.5 Overall: 4.5

 

Hoitong Chinese Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Cactus Club Cafe (Richmond)

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Disclosure: All food and drinks were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

In the beginning of November, the newly relocated Cactus Club Cafe at the Richmond Centre location opened its door to the public. We were invited to a media preview to check out the space and enjoy some food and drinks. They have blocked off some parking at the mall so there is valet parking available here. However, there’s plenty of parking at Richmond Centre, so feel free to park anywhere!

 

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We were welcomed by the founder of Cactus, Richard Jaffrey, who spoke about how the original Richmond location began 25 years ago.

 

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The new location is truly a revamp from the old location. The interior is just as amazing as the other locations like the Coal Harbour location. On one side is the formal dining room, while this side pictured above is the bar area. There are high top table and small booth seats available here with a large bar counter right in the middle. Really love the lighting in this area.

 

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On the other end is the heated patio. I love this area as it feels like you’re outside near the beach even though it is fully enclosed. However, during the summer, the roof can roll away and the glass walls can slide open. Super cool!

 

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Whiskey Ginger Smash

Just in time for winter, they have launched two new cocktails. The first is the Whiskey Ginger Smash. This cocktail features a blend of whiskey, lemon, ginger and rosemary.

 

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Late Harvest Daiquiri

The second cocktail is the Late Harvest Daiquiri. This cocktail is made with a base of rum and lime and topped with blackberries and a Saskatoon berry and blackcurrant coulis. Sort of like a Bellini but a berry based one. So refreshing and the flavours are more catered for the winter time.

We didn’t get a chance to try any full dishes other than some appetizers, so I can’t comment too much about the food. However, Cactus is not for consistency, so I’m sure the food at this location is just as good as their other locations. What a great addition to Richmond Centre and I can’t wait to return to try the full menu.

 

Cactus Club Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Captain’s Boil (Richmond)

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Captain’s Boil is literally everywhere now and I’ve visited the Richmond location twice since. The restaurant specializes in seafood boils so be ready to get messy!

 

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The Richmond location has both booth seating for smaller groups and can also accommodate large groups with their longer tables. During lunch, they have some sizzling plate combos which are all under $10. Pretty good deal if you are looking for a not so messy lunch.

 

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Each table is lined with a piece of brown paper and a tube of paper towel is available. Each diner will also get their own bib to ensure your clothes stay clean. Look how cute the design is!

 

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The Captain’s Boil locations also have a liquor license, so you will find a large variety of drinks available from beer to cocktails and even shots. I guess this makes a good spot if you are looking to grab some drinks! They serve their draft beers in plastic cups and it definitely looks cheap, but I think the reason for this is so they can just dispose the cups since real glasses would be super difficult to clean with our oily saucy hands.

 

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Fried Shrimp Basket

We decided to share the Fried Shrimp Basket which comes with fries. This is quite a large basket and the shrimp were actually pretty good! You also get plenty of fries which are great for sharing amidst all the seafood.

 

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For the seafood boil, we decided to get a potato to share. The potato was well cooked and slathered in butter but not much flavour otherwise. I had to really dip it in the sauce to get some flavour.

 

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Dungeness Crab

Both times we visited, we got the Dungeness Crab in Garlic Sauce. This is because S and I both love dungeness crab! The odd thing is that the dungeness crab is not ordered by pound but rather by the whole crab. We were fine with sharing the whole crab but wish we could order how big we wanted it. We found the crab to be rather small with the legs extremely small. For this size (around 1.5 lbs), the price was just under $40. I guess it’s a decent size to share between two but the legs really are quite small so is difficult to get the meat out. As for the crab itself, it tasted fresh but the garlic sauce is very strong so completely covers the flavour of the seafood itself.

 

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The second time we had the crab, it was pretty much the same size and price. Not bad if you are too lazy to steam your crab at home and add some garlic sauce on. They also have some spicy sauce available which many choose for the other seafood items.

One thing we really disliked about this location, however, was the service. Both times we visited, it was almost impossible to wave down a server. They are always looking down and there is usually only one girl who is actually doing her job but obviously she cannot take down everyone’s orders. The rest of the servers are just always ignoring the customers. It’s quite frustrating in that sense but it doesn’t seem like they are going to do anything about this.

Pros:
– Decent seafood boils at reasonable prices
– Full liquor license for those who want a drink

Cons:
– Service is pretty terrible at this location

Price Range: $20-50

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 1 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 3 Overall: 3

 

The Captain's Boil Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ichigo Ichie Ramen

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Shoyu Ramen

The newest ramen spot in Richmond is called Ichigo Ichie Ramen and is located across Ironwood Mall near BMO. The restaurant doesn’t seem to be run by Japanese, so I wouldn’t expect authentic Japanese ramens. There are a variety of broths available and S chose the Shoyu. It featured soy sauce broth, green onion, seasoned egg, naruto maki, spinach, and shiitake mushrooms. The noodles here are medium thickness which I wasn’t a huge fan of. The broth itself was too salty and the consistency was very thin. We both found that it lacked flavour as it was more of one dimension salty flavour. The egg was also a hard boiled egg, so I wasn’t too happy with that.

 

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Mayu

For myself, I got the Mayu which is their spicy option. It featured garlic black oil, green onion, seasoned egg, bean sprouts, deep-fried garlic, and shiitake. Again, the broth was very thin in consistency and the broth lacked flavour. It was just very spicy, and tasted sort of like the instant ramen broths. I mean, the ramen, especially the noodles itself, weren’t bad, but we found it to be very average and too salty for our liking.

We also ordered a side of Karaage and these were excellent. The batter was crispy and the chicken remained very moist and juicy. I would come back for the fried chicken!

 

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Overall, we found Ichigo Ichie Ramen to be quite average. It’s a nice addition to people who work in the Steveston area given the limited options available, but I wouldn’t make a trip out here just for their ramen. If they can work on their broths, this could become a pretty good spot!

Pros:
– Chicken Karaage was really juicy
– Prices are quite reasonable

Cons:
– Broths could use improvement

Price Range: $10-15

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 3 Overall: 3

 

Ichigo Ichie Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ember Indian Kitchen

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Ember Indian Kitchen opened up just a few months ago. It’s located near the dyke in Steveston in the same area as Diplomat Bakery. The restaurant faces the water and has a small patio perfect in the summer months. I was really impressed with the interior of the restaurant though. With high ceilings and modern decor, this restaurant is beautiful!

 

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Butter Chicken

T got the Butter Chicken and for the entrees, you can choose either rice or naan to go with it. The butter chicken was creamy and rich and the chicken was tender. They asked what level of spice we wanted and we got medium, but I honestly didn’t think it tasted spicy at all. I guess butter chicken is not usually spicy anyways, so found it odd that they asked.

 

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Curry Chicken

For myself, I chose the Curry Chicken and got it with a side of naan. The naan was buttery and perfect for dipping in the curries! I really liked how the curry chicken here is boneless because the last thing I want to worry about is deboning the meat. The chicken again was very tender and the spices in the curry were very fragrant. Not too spicy as I got mild, but really loved the flavours!

 

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Overall, we were really satisfied with our meal at Ember. The prices are on the higher end with both our meals costing $18 each but the food itself is good, so I can’t complain. Plus, the ambiance inside is really nice! I can’t wait to be back with more friends so we can try more dishes!

 

Pros:
– Delicious curries
– Great ambiance and decor

Cons:
– Location is pretty out of the way unless you live in Richmond

Price Range: $20-30

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 4 Parking: 3 Overall: 4

Ember Indian Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Samsoonie Noodle & Rice

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Spicy Rice Cake

Samsoonie Noodle & Rice has been around for a while now. The restaurant looks kind of beat down both inside and out, so I was never interested in visiting. However, T suggested we check it out so off we went. Not the nicest decor inside, but the pricing and portions are such a good deal! For example, this Spicy Rice Cake dish which is huge was only $9! It came with boiled egg, fish cake, japchae noodles, and of course rice cake and served with tons of spicy sauce. The rice cake had a nice chew and was cooked well. The sauce was not overly spicy but definitely has a kick to it. Would be really good with rice! They only offer two banchan here which I assume switches up. First was kimchi and the second was marinated fish cake. Not bad.

 

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Bossam

The other dish we tried was the Bossam, a common dish in Korean cuisine. On the menu, it says we need to order two hours in advance, but since we came during lunch time and it wasn’t too busy, we didn’t have any problems ordering this when we arrived. I think this was the half order but it is still quite a lot for two people if you are planning to order other dishes. The boiled pork is served with marinated spicy radish and to be wrapped with lettuce and cabbage wraps. The meat was not cut very nicely because there were strands coming apart, but the ratio of fat to meat was right on. So good when you put the spicy radish and some Korean sweet and spicy sauce with it!

 

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Overall, I quite enjoyed the food at Samsoonie. The portions are huge and prices are reasonable. I wouldn’t say this is the best Korean food I’ve had, but a good spot if you want a quick and cheap comfort meal in Richmond.

 

Pros:
– Generous portions and reasonable prices
– Decent eats

Cons:
– Interior is not that nice

Price Range: $15-20

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 2.5 Ambiance: 2 Parking: 2.5 Overall: 3

Samsoonie Noodle & Rice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Britannia Brewing Company

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The Britannia Brewing Company has opened for well over a year already. I can’t believe that I haven’t noticed this spot for so long. We definitely don’t have many craft beer spots in Richmond, so for Britannia to have both food and craft beers in an establishment, it makes it much more attracting. I believe they brew their beer on the other end of Steveston in the Ironwood area, so here, they just serve food and beers on tap.

 

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Whoever worked on the design of this spot seriously has good taste! I love the nautical white and blue theme and beautiful wooden furniture here. The patio outside which comfy pillows seriously make this the perfect spot in the summer.

 

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Mimosa

S, N, and I came here for brunch on the weekend. S started off with a glass of Mimosa. Other than beer, they have a variety of wines, cocktails, teas and coffees.

 

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Beer Paddle

For myself, I wanted to try their beers so chose the Beer Paddle. For $10, you can choose 4 different beers, including ciders. One of the ones I tried was the Chai Sasion which is something I haven’t seen before. Not a beer expert, but I quite enjoyed the various beers I tried. They also sometimes have guest taps available.

 

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Crab Benny

Brunch is available 9:30am to 1:30pm. There’s around 10 choices to choose from during brunch. N got the Crab Benny which was an interesting take on the classic. Instead of having english muffin on the bottom, it was served with a fried local crab cake on the bottom with 2 soft poached eggs and hollaindaise and hash browns on the side. Although the bennies had crab in it, I found the portions to be quite small for $16. It’s quite a light meal and I think many people would still be a bit hungry after.

 

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Gypsy Eggs

S and I both got the Gypsy Eggs which had chorizo, san marzano tomatoes, fennel, smoked paprika, and sourdough bread on the side. I liked the tart acidic tomato sauce which I dipped my bread in. The eggs were poached perfectly with the yolk spilling out. Again, slightly on the smaller side for $12. Maybe some hashbrowns on the side would make it a little more filling. However, the food itself tasted great.

 

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Overall, I’m happy to have learned about this new spot in Steveston village for brunch. I really think this is a great spot to catch up over food and drinks, especially in the summer when the patio is open. Not the cheapest, given the portion sizes, but at least the food is good.

Pros:
– Great beer and food
– Visually aesthetic interior design

Cons:
– Portions are slightly on the smaller side

Price Range: $15-25

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 4 Parking: 3 Overall: 3.5

Britannia Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wild Sweets – 2017 Summer Collection

Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Wild Sweets is always coming up with innovative desserts each season. They have recently launched their 2017 summer collection, and we got a sneak peak to see what there is to offer!

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Cocoa Bean ‘Chocolate Iced Tea’

Last time I visited Wild Sweets, we got to try their Chocolate Tea, which is a drink made entirely from pure in-house roasted cocoa bean husks only and no sugar or any other ingredients are added except for a touch of vanilla bean powder. Now, for the summer, they have blended the tea with pure fruit purées and lightly sweetened with a vanilla syrup. You get this undertone of chocolate flavour, but the overall drink is fruity and refreshing when served cold. Currently, there are 5 flavours: Strawberry, White Pear, Lychee Raspberry, Morello Cherry, and Apricot Passion. My personal favourites are the Lychee Raspberry and Apricot Passion.

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Strawberry Cream C|Puff2

The new C|Puff2s are Wild Sweet’s take on the classic cream puff. However, their cream puffs are not round, but instead a square shape! The Strawberry Cream C|Puff2 features a choux pastry and almond cookie crust filled with a strawberry custard cream, white chocolate Chantilly mousse, fresh strawberries, red berry confit, and served with an encapsulated mint aroma pipette. It is then decorated with chocolate cereal pearls, paper thin hand-painted chocolate petals and chocolate ‘pasta’ strands.

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Chocolate Cream C|Puff2

The Chocolate Cream C|Puff2 features a dark chocolate custard cream, white chocolate Chantilly mousse, fresh raspberries, red fruit confit, red fruit Kirch aroma. I love how there are so many components to these desserts and they all work together. The amount of work that goes into each piece before it gets assembled is really amazing! What a piece of art!

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Praline Cream C|Puff2 

The Praline Cream C|Puff2 features a hazelnut praliné custard cream, white chocolate Chantilly mousse, fresh black berries, apricot passion confit, and orange liquor aroma. This is perfect if you love hazelnut, but can be slightly on the sweeter side.

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CocoArt ‘Summer’ Limited Edition Collection

Each of the Summer 2017 Collection chocolates feature 2 types of fillings including a fruit-based liquid caramel while the other is a ‘Créme Fraîche Vanille’ – a lightly sweetened soft cream made by emulsifying fresh cream and butter scented with vanilla bean. All of the chocolates are hand-painted with cocoa butter colours in different artistic patterns. They are designed to be eaten cold from the fridge so make sure to keep them chilled! The following flavours are available:

  • Liquid strawberry / raspberry fruit caramel
  • Liquid apricot / peach fruit caramel
  • Liquid blackberry / cassis fruit caramel
  • Liquid mango / lychee fruit caramel

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Ice Cream Dessert

Last but not least, Wild Sweets has also come out with some Ice Cream Desserts. The one pictured above is the Dark Fruit Sundae which features:

  • Blackberry Cassis sorbet
  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • White chocolate Marcona almond foam
  • Assorted fresh dark fruits
  • Blackberry cassis confit
  • Almond fruit brittle
  • ‘Burnt Ends’ custard cream crunch
  • BTB salted butter caramel popcorn
  • Vanilla ‘Salad’ cookie
  • Chocolate ‘petals & pasta’ decor

The other flavour is the Red Fruit Sundae which features:

  • Strawberry sorbet
  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • White chocolate pistachio foam
  • Assorted fresh red fruits
  • Red fruit confit
  • Almond fruit brittle
  • ‘Burnt Ends’ custard cream crunch
  • BTB salted butter caramel popcorn
  • Vanilla ‘Salad’ cookie
  • Chocolate ‘petals & pasta’ decor

Yes – it’s crazy how many components there are to the ice cream! Each bite, you will find something different!

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Overall, there are definitely beautiful pieces of edible art for Wild Sweets’ new 2017 summer collection! You’ll have to pick these goodies up at the Atelier in Richmond, which is open Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM & Sundays from 12:00 to 4:00 PM. If you’re looking to pick them up from Mondays to Friday, you can also do so by making an appointment in advance. Check out their website for the full collection!

Wild Sweets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato