Normally, I don’t have high hopes for the food from food courts. Interestingly enough, the food courts at many of the Asian malls in the Greater Vancouver area actually are an exception. There are a number food stalls at these food courts that produce some tasty eats. When I was visiting last November, my foodie friend, Grayelf took me to the food court at Richmond Public Market to try some of the food stalls. Because it was just the two of us, we were limited in the number of items we could try. But the food impressed me enough that I wanted to go back again when I was in town last month. This time I had more bellies in tow (there were five of us) so we could order more dishes to try. My favourite stall at the Richmond Public Market Food Court has been Xi’An Cuisine. Though the English translations of the dishes may be a little vague at times, we had no trouble figuring out what to order as there were pictures of everything displayed on the menu. True to its name, this stall serves food indigenous to Xi’an, which is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China and home to the famous Terracotta Warriors.
On this visit, we ordered a number of items to share. The first dish was the Special Cool Noodle ($5). More accurately, this is actually called “Liang Pi” or ” 凉皮” which means “Cold Skin” Noodles in Chinese. These noodles are made from wheat or rice flour and is a specialty dish originating from the province of Shaanxi, of which Xi’an is the capital. They are served cold along with julienned cucumber and bean sprouts and are tossed in a sauce made of vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and chili oil. I really enjoyed the textures and flavours of this dish. The cold noodles are a little chewy and are contrasted by the crunchiness of the cucumber and bean sprouts. I wish the noodles were a little more flavourful but all in all, this is the perfect dish for a hot summer’s day.
Next up was the Cool Potato ($3). The Chinese name for this dish is “Liang Ban Tu Dou Si” or “凉拌土豆丝” which consists of cold tossed seasoned shredded potato with scallions and cilantro. I’ve tried this dish at a number of places before and I thought this version is one of the better ones. The shredded potato was very flavourful and well seasoned with a nice spicy kick.
Of course, we ordered the Steamed Pork with Rice and Bun ($6). This was our favourite from my first visit. This dish is known as “Fen Zheng Rou Jia Mo” or “粉蒸肉夹馍” in Chinese. “Fen Zheng Rou” or “粉蒸肉” means “rice steamed/braised meat”. It is made using rice powder (coarsely ground rice or “broken rice”) and meat, in this case pork, and together they are steamed for couple of hours until the meat is tender and the rice has cooked and absorbed all the juices. “Rou Jia Mo” or “肉夹馍” literally means “meat wedged in bun”, or in other words “meat sandwich or meat burger” and is a street food item originating from the Shaanxi Province of China. The steamed pork with rice at Xi’An Cuisine is served with fluffy steamed wheat buns known as “mantou”. We stuffed these fluffy steamed buns with the steamed pork and rice filling and ate them like a Chinese taco. I really enjoyed this dish. The steamed pork and rice filling was very flavourful and the fluffy steamed buns were soft and fresh.
We also ordered the Chinese Pork Burger ($5 for 2). This Chinese Pork Burger, is known as “腊汁肉夹馍” or “La Zhi Rou Jia Mo” in Chinese, which literally translates as “rou jia mo or meat burger with special gravy”. It consisted of pulled braised pork stuffed in a homemade wheat bun that had a texture similar to an English muffin. I was impressed at how tender and flavourful the braised pork pieces were. I cared less for the wheat bun as it was a little dense.
We had never tried the Griddle Cake with Beef ($6 for 2) before so Grayelf suggested that we try it. It turned out to be a winner! The Chinese name for this is “Shao Bing Jia Niu Rou” or “烧饼夹牛肉”. It consisted of “shao bing” which is a layered sesame flatbread stuffed with thinly sliced braised beef. I was really impressed with the “shao bing” as it was flaky and light on the inside and crispy on the outside. The sliced braised beef was tender and very flavourful.
I ordered the BBQ Lamb Bar ($3.50 for 2) as I wanted to see how it compares to the ones from the Want Want stall at Crystal Mall as well as the ones from Nine Dishes. The Chinese name for this is “羊肉串” or “Yang Rou Chuan“. This actually consisted of two skewers of lamb marinated in cumin and crushed red pepper. I was really impressed as the lamb was tender and juicy and very flavourful. I actually liked this version even better than the ones from Want Want at Crystal Mall and Nine Dishes.
Lastly, we ordered the Dumpling in Sour Soup ($6.50), which in Chinese is “Suan Tang Jiao Xi” or “酸汤饺子”. We had never tried this one before until this visit. I really enjoyed the flavours of the sour soup and it had a nice spicy kick. The dumplings were perfectly cooked and the meat filling was tender. I would order this again on my next visit.
Overall, I loved the food from Xi’An Cuisine. It’s not often we can find eateries dedicated to Xi’An style food in North America. In fact, the only other Xi’An eateries I’m aware of is Xi’An Famous Foods with four locations in the New York City area. I liked that the portions here were small enough/snack-size and inexpensive so we had the opportunity to sample different items. It’s kind of like doing dim sum except with Xi’An style street food.
Richmond Public Market
8260 Westminster Hwy