Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve fallen back for daylight savings, Thanksgiving weekend just passed, and we’ve officially entered the holiday season. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are the standard celebrations, but have you considered visiting our neighbors up north for Chinese New Year? It’s a quick trip—2 hours and 15 minutes hours if there’s no traffic (check border traffic before you head out).
With a population that is more than 65% Asian and 50% Chinese, Richmond is a hub for Chinese New Year celebrations and activities. Chinese New Year—also known as the Lunar New Year—is traditionally celebrated in Asia, including China, Vietnam, Korea and Malaysia, but is increasingly being celebrated worldwide. The Year of the Rooster begins on Saturday, January 28th, 2017. We’ve put together some suggestions for foodie-focused places and activities to try if you’ve never ventured to Richmond.
In the heart of Richmond’s Golden Village is Alexandra Road, also known as “Food Street” on account of the 200+ authentic Asian restaurants which are packed like sardines into three short city blocks.There is no shortage of diverse Asian cuisines here (Cantonese, Szechuan, Shanghainese, Northern Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Malaysian) which makes Richmond feel like an international city such as Hong Kong and Singapore. You may even consider calling it a hole-in-the-wall mecca of choice eateries, wandering into what may not even appear to be a restaurant at first until you get inside. If you’re unsure of where to start, survey the area for small groups of locals, or just follow your nose!
2015-8580 Alexandra Road
Richmond, BC V6X 4B3
ABERDEEN CENTRE’S FOOD COURT
Aberdeen Centre is one of North America’s biggest Asian malls. A destination for shopping, dining, entertainment, cultural events and performances, it’s no wonder tourists and locals alike flock to this hub of activity. Other highlights include the only state-of-the-art musical fountain show in Canada, a luxury car outlet, authentic herb and tea shops, a store that specializes in “luxury” toilets, and the $2 Japanese bargain shop Daiso which is so large that it extends to two floors. In addition, exclusively for out of town guests is their Passport to Aberdeen Centre, which provides discounts and special offers. The top floor boasts their 800 seat food court, providing a plethora of options for even the pickiest of eaters. We recommend going with a group of friends to divide and conquer these must-try items:
- Wung-Fu Desserts- deep fried chicken wings and curry balls
- Café D’lite Express- Hainanese chicken rice
- Yougo Chicken- popcorn chicken
- Chef of Dumplings – pork and chive dumplings and green onion pancakes
- Bubble Waffle Café – original bubble waffles and iced lemon tea
4151 Hazelbridge Way
DHARMA DRUM VANCOUVER CENTER ON HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN
On Richmond’s No. 5 road, twenty religious institutions line this street, hence the name “Highway to Heaven”. We visited the Dharma Drum Vancouver Center (DDVC) which is dedicated to practicing the teachings of the Buddha through the Dharma Drum lineage of Chan Buddhism, as established by Chan Master Sheng Yen. All are welcome to celebrate and learn with the festivities for the Lunar New Year which include experiencing meditation, drumming lessons, calligraphy, and performances of Chinese instruments and traditional songs. Afterwards, walk along the road to visit the other places of worship. You might even consider making a donation to a few of them as many groups offer a free community meal to anyone in need, regardless of religion.
8240 No. 5 Road
Richmond, BC V6Y 2V4
Tel: (604) 277-1357
LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATION AT LANDSDOWNE CENTRE
The Lansdowne Centre bills itself as a unique one-stop shopping experience for the whole family. With 130+ brand name retailers, one-of-a-kind specialty shops and services from electronics to home furnishings, fashion, and even groceries, this is another great place to experience what Richmond has to offer. Their international food court also houses some unassuming gems. Try the Xiao Long Bao (pork soup dumplings) from R&H Chinese Food which may rival even Din Tai Fung’s version. Made fresh to order, customers can see the husband and wife team hard at work, preparing customer orders right in front of their eyes. For the Lunar New Year, you can expect to find a variety of multicultural performances ranging from the Lion Dance, Chinese Opera, Ballroom Dance, Magic, Hip Hop Dance, Folk Dance, Japanese Drumming, Kung Fu, and Taekwondo, along with booths for Chinese calligraphies, craft sales, and community organizations.
5300 No. 3 Road
LULU ISLAND WINERIES TOUR & TASTING
Lulu Island Winery is the newest and largest winery in Richmond producing many quality wines including red and white table wines, fruit wines, and Canada’s very own ice wines. All of Lulu Island’s quality wines are produced on site, using only the best grapes from their 12 acres of farmland. Take a tour of their facilities to get a first hand look at their latest equipment in the art of winemaking and be sure to taste the full range of their products. Fun fact: Lulu Island was selected as the China hospitality center for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. The center was finally named “China House” because it was a place where athletes, coaches, team officials, and the Chinese media could take a break from the high-pressure competition, welcome guests and celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. A winemaker with over 30 years of experience crafting fine wines, Lulu Island Winery is a stop not to be missed in Richmond.
16880 Westminster Highway
Richmond, BC V6V 1A8
For other more things to do, hotels, travel tools, and places to eat, visit https://www.visitrichmondbc.com/
Photos by Kelsey Uy & Jered Perez.