Did you know that Chinese cuisine has at least 8 different regional styles of cooking? When I began this culinary adventure over three weeks ago my “Chinese food” knowledge consisted of Chow Mein, Fried Rice and of course my Sunday brunch favourite, Dim Sum. Today, with almost 20 restaurants under my belt I’m really beginning to understand how complex and varied Chinese cuisine is. I’ve enjoyed quite a bit of Shanghainese style cuisine, famous for the Xia Long Bao XLB, enjoyed some spicy Sichuan (Szechuan) and I’ve dined on Cantonese cuisine known for their respect of the ingredient. Today’s adventure is at HoiTong Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Richmond where some of the best Cantonese food in Richmond can be found.
HoiTong Chinese Seafood Restaurant is easy to find if you know where to look. It’s at 8191 Westminster Highway, Richmond almost directly across from the Richmond Public Market. When I arrived at what I thought was the address I couldn’t find it. The strip mall that it is located in runs perpendicular to the street so you have to walk all the way to the back of the parking lot. I hope you make reservations for HoiTong because once you find it you will be disappointed if there isn’t a table available for you.
Joining me for dinner tonight is Julia Dilworth of Tourism Richmond who has also discovered a love for Chinese Cuisine. I’ve left the ordering of our meal to her as she polled her office for favourite dishes and came up with 5 dishes that we must try. I’m game for anything at least once because you just never know until you try.
Our first dish of the evening is one I am sure everyone is familiar with, Sweet & Sour Pork. This is not your usual Sweet & Sour Pork though. Lightly battered, lightly sauced and some of the tenderest Pork I’ve ever had it’s absolutely addictive. In fact we both kept going back through dinner to grab another piece of Pork it was that good.
Our second dish of the night was by my request. I was dying for some vegetables and one of my favourite Chinese vegetable dishes is steamed Gai Lan in Garlic Sauce. Lots of crunch left in the Gai Lan and they are so delicately sauced which is a signature of excellent Cantonese cooking.
Our third dish is apparently super popular. We only ordered a half order since it was just two of us but I could see a family of four devouring this Salt-Baked Chicken with crispy skin. I know that cooking meat on the bone adds extra flavour but I really am not a fan of picking small bones out of my food. Beyond that the chicken was moist, tender, flavourful and damn that skin was crispy!
Our next dish is definitely one I’ve not had before and is an acquired taste, Bitter Melon Omelette. It’s presentation is gorgeous and when it is delivered to the table our server cuts it into portions for us. It is a very nice tasting Omelette but the Bitter Melon has a very distinctive taste that you either love or hate. With the first bite it is a bit sharp and then the bitter comes like a second wave. Tasty but not for everyone. I would have this again but it wouldn’t be the first item I order if you get my meaning.
The last dish of our order is another signature dish from HoiTong. It’s called Stir Fried Scrambled Egg Whites with Crab Meat and Tofu. When it arrives it looks almost like a custard on a plate but it is not a dessert at all. The Crab is certainly sweet and combined with the lightly scrambled egg whites it’s a dish I didn’t expect to like but I loved. The fried Tofu that surround the plate add a lovely texture and additional taste to the dish that overall I have to give two thumbs up to. I will surprise my Chinese friends when I order this dish the next time.
OMG we seriously ordered enough food for a party of 4. There was one dish that we wanted to order but knew we wouldn’t have the room to try it. It was the Braised Pork Knuckles with Sour Plum. Next time I am back I will give it a try. As we wait for our bill to arrive we receive a nice little treat of dessert, Tapioca and Taro Root in Coconut Milk with little Almond Cookies. A lightly sweet way to end the meal.
When the bill did arrive I was glad that Julia picked up the tab because while HoiTong Chinese Seafood Restaurant serves fantastic food it is not the cheapest on the block. Great value for the money though and next time I am craving authentic Cantonese Cuisine I know where to go.
A little out of my price range for every day dining but by far some of the best Cantonese I've enjoyed in the Lower Mainland of BC. With only 6 tables this restaurant exemplifies cooking as a passion and not a business. I felt like each dish was special and the Chef prepared it just like he was cooking for me at his home.
$ for Value7
Would I go back?8