By Lindsay Anderson
Special to The Post
For the first time I got recognized by the owners of an Asian restaurant in Richmond.
If you’d assumed this happens regularly, I can assure you it does not.
In Asian restaurants, I usually dine in blissful anonymity, receiving regular service and occasionally, extra attention in the form of “White girl! Dining alone! Are you lost? Here, try this!”
I met my friend Ethan for dim sum at Vivacity Restaurant - it was busy, but the 11AM reservation I’d made actually stuck, so we were seated right away.
If you’re heading out for dim sum for the first time, I recommend starting with a smaller place like Vivacity or Golden Paramount, since you’re less likely to get lost in the crowd of people vying for tables at the huge restaurants.
We’d heard Vivacity’s BBQ pork buns are great, so we ordered them, though requested baked rather than steamed, which were the only ones listed on the menu.
We also decided on sautéed garlic pea tips, fried taro and pork cakes, shrimp dumplings, steamed short ribs with pumpkin and black bean, almond and corn congee, and pan-fried 5 grain cake.
The meal began normally, with the food coming quickly, and friendly, efficient service.
Then things started picking up, and soon there were servers coming by every few minutes to fill up our tea, ask how we were, and offer us fresh plates.
Eventually a woman named Kitty – one of the owners – came by and chatted with us.
Kitty was one of the friendliest, most exuberant people I’ve met in Richmond. She explained that several years ago they brought in famous chefs from Guangdong (her former home) and had them do demonstrations for customers. With their eyes closed, they could apparently slice potatoes so thinly, pieces could fit through the eye of a needle!
The baked BBQ pork buns were really good, but only if you love the concept of meat dessert. The dough for Vivacity’s buns was particularly soft and sweet, and covered in a swirl of crusty sugar.
The BBQ pork inside was tender, but also a little on the sweet side, so you certainly have to love the combination of sweet and savoury to enjoy these. I sure did.
The sautéed pea tips were perfection – flavourful, healthy, richly green, and good with anything else on the table, especially the side of XO sauce.
The dumplings were also fantastic – the shrimp seemed especially well-seasoned, with a bit of crunch to them still, and the wrappers were tender.
The fried taro cakes with pork were great, though I think I prefer pan-fried turnip cakes with preserved meat. The chunks of fresh taro in these felt slightly dry in my mouth, but the flavour was nice.
The steamed short ribs were gnarly-looking, but tasted wonderful. The meat was strongly infused with flavours of the savoury broth it had been steamed in, with salty and sweet kicks added by the fermented black beans and chunks of pumpkin.
The corn and almond congee was excellent, though I think there were ginkgo nuts in it, not almonds. The corn was sweet, with fine slivers of ginger and bits of onion-y chive making this one of my favourite bowls of congee in Richmond so far.
All in all, our huge meal cost about $50 and I really enjoyed the food.
Lindsay Anderson is dining out at 365 Richmond eateries in 365 days for Tourism Richmond. The Asian Pacific Post is featuring excerpts from her blog each week. See www.365daysofdining.com
for Anderson’s blog.
8351 Alexandra Road, Richmond
- Cash and cards accepted
- Vegetarian options available
- Reservations recommended on weekends