Eat the Suburbs: 5 Great Chinese Restaurants to Try Next in Richmond

If you're ravenous in Richmond, here's where to go.

Richmond has long been a magnet for Chinese immigration with its lush green spaces, easy access to YVR and the auspicious feng shui of the city’s river delta location. Tens of thousands of immigrants from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan and the worldwide Chinese diaspora have embraced life in the city.

As a result, thriving restaurants representing just about every Chinese culinary region and tradition work hard to serve knowledgeable and discerning diners in Richmond. Vancouver’s Chinese restaurants have garnered well-deserved accolades, but the suburb to the south has an established reputation for having some of the best Chinese food in the world. Here are five of our recommendations to kick off your Richmond culinary explorations.

Seafood, Will Travel

The Fish Man | 1170–8391 Alexandra Rd.

Chengdu-style sour cabbage spicy Sichuan peppercorn broth with filets of B.C. ling cod

As a symbol of prosperity, seafood is the centrepiece of any celebratory Chinese meal. Right now, no other restaurant applies classic Cantonese and Sichuan techniques more skillfully than The Fish Man. Chef Bo Li’s techniques are razor sharp, breaking down whole fish and live shellfish with finesse and ease.

Ribbons of geoduck clams ($38) are dressed in soy sauce and sizzling green-onion oil, and plump Pacific scallops ($32) are steamed on the half shell with garlicky vermicelli rice noodles. Look for seasonal specials, such as savoury steamed custard ($18) with B.C. uni or sautéed razor clams ($48) piled atop pan-fried sticky rice. The must-order dish  is the Chengdu-style sour cabbage spicy Sichuan peppercorn broth with filets of B.C. ling cod ($79)—it deftly balances fresh delicacy  against pickled brightness with just enough buzzy heat to bring focus  to the flavours.

Despite the high calibre of ingredients and execution, the vibe is fun and casual, with large groups digging into generous, well-priced dishes. The net effect is a lively Chinese beer hall crossed with one of Spain’s gregarious mercado seafood restaurants.

As Seen on TV

HK BBQ Master | 4651 No. 3 Rd.

HKK BBG Masters dish

After being featured in David Chang’s Netflix series Ugly  Delicious, HK BBQ Master rocketed from hidden gem to international phenomenon. The restaurant has since doubled its floor space, added online ordering and carefully mapped out foot-traffic zones.

What remains unchanged is the quality of their Chinese BBQ meats and the soulfulness of the roasting. The honey- glazed BBQ pork, or char siu, has a crackling sweetness that melts into succulent meatiness. Aficionados will ask for the supremely tender mui tao (plum blossom) char siu cut ($15/lb), so these sell out fast. Soy chicken ($15 per half chicken) is poached to a perfect lushness, while the lacquered roast duck ($24 per half duck) is perfumed with a classic five-spice marinade. The crisp-skinned roast pork belly ($17/lb) has the proper alternating layers of fat and tender meat (a.k.a. “five flower” pork belly) to ensure richness without greasiness. Diners can order a plate of three barbecue meats served over fresh rice for under $20.

Day-to-day operations have passed from founder Eric Leung to son Anson seamlessly. The Leung family has not only built a thriving business but also an enterprise that celebrates the craft of Chinese BBQ.

Shellfish Indulgence

Golden Paramount | 100–8111 Anderson Rd.

Dishes at Golden Parmount
Photo by Leila Kwok

Don’t let the drab decor of Golden Paramount throw you off: chef/owner May Chau’s restaurant is one of the most-respected old-school Hong Kong Cantonese  establishments in Richmond.

Chef Chau’s execution of dim sum classics is near flawless. Her signature mochi-skinned crab and pork dumplings ($10) are always served first, when the diner’s palate is best able to appreciate the delicate flavours.  The crispy spring rolls ($10) confidently showcase the  simplicity of braised daikon, resonant with superior stock and floral white pepper. Finish with a dish of stir-fried sticky rice ($15): plump toothsome grains studded with cured Chinese meats and cilantro.

At dinner, the sweet and sour pork ($27) is one of the best around—fresh, crisp, succulent and tightly dressed in a robust hawberry sauce. Juicy salt-baked free-run Asian chicken ($27 per half chicken), beef slices stir-fried with gai lan ($27) and pan-fried oysters ($34) are family favourites. For a celebration, place an advance order for eight-treasure duck ($88 per whole duck), a boneless braised beauty stuffed with mixed grains and salted egg yolks. Service leans toward brusque Hong Kong-style  efficiency but is leavened with a knowing sense of  humour.

Home Base

Max Noodle House | 185–8291 Alexandra Rd. | 604-231-8141

Dishes at Max Noodle House
Photo by Leila Kwok.

Beloved for decades, Max Noodle House is the first stop many Richmond residents make after landing at the nearby airport looking for a comforting bowl of noodles ($10).

Dried flounder imbues the superior stock with golden roundedness, spiked with garnishes of white garlic chives and sesame oil. Silky wontons are carefully filled with sweet bouncy shrimp and pork (but never overstuffed). Thin alkaline egg noodles have the proper snap and chew and are served raised above the broth to preserve their fleeting buoyancy.

Save room for the classic side dishes—crisp deep-fried chicken wings resonating with  Shaoxing wine, or tender slices of blanched pork liver ($17 per plate) served with a dipping sauce of soy, ginger and scallions. Or if you’re not in the mood for noodles, reach for the congee—it has a velvety, nourishing texture.

As with French omelettes and Italian pasta, Hong Kong wonton noodles are rooted in humble traditions—but when crafted with care and focus, they become a cultural cornerstone and a delicious ode to life’s simple pleasures.

The Comeback Kid

Sea Harbour Restaurant | 150–8888 River Rd.

For decades, Sea Harbour Restaurant was the leader in Guangdong-style Cantonese fine dining in Metro Vancouver. But as the chain expanded into the U.S., execution suffered at the Richmond location. With a recent infusion of capital and energy from new owners, Sea Harbour once again delivers exuberant Guangdong flavours with rigour and sophistication.

For large groups, consider splurging and pre-ordering the whole braised winter melon seafood soup ($198). Think: radiantly clear broth edged with the herbal bitterness of Chinese bay leaves, brimming with impeccably poached scallops, sea cucumber and crab meat. A huge hit is the Dungeness crab, stir-fried with first-draw soy sauce and tender rice cakes to soak up the sweet briny flavours. Sweet and sour spareribs ($34) arrive at the table crisply hot and glazed with black vinegar, hawberry and tangerine peel. Choy sum in salted soup ($30) exemplifies the Chinese devotion to beautiful vegetables, each stem carefully selected, cut and lightly blanched. The service team has a friendly professionalism with the air of formality that their prosperous clientele expects.

An illustration of a woman eating noodles with chopsticks out of a take out container

What to Do Between Meals in Richmond

1. On Stage Tucked behind beautiful Minoru Park (take a walk along the pond if you can) is Gateway Theatre, a jewel of a performance space that’s been serving the community for over 40 years. The multidisci- plinary, multi-generational and multilingual Jade Circle by local Jasmine Chen is on from March 6 to 17, and supernatural dog tale (tail?) Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery plays from April 11 to 20. 

2. Shop Steveston Historic Steveston is a chockablock with indie boutiques, and the intersection of Moncton Street and Second Avenue is a go-to: there’s Scout and Co. for locally made ceramics and household refills (bulk laundry detergent, anyone?), Nikaido for loose-leaf teas and Japanese stationery and Splash Toy Shop for the kids-at-heart. 

3. To Market Still hungry? The Richmond Night Market reopens in April for the 2024 season. Find takoyaki, mango sticky rice, deep-fried Oreos and more indulgent street food at this all-summer spectacular. (Don’t forget the live music, dance and weird-and-wonderful booth tchotchkes, too.) 

An illustration of an octopus holding skewers of food