Try Richmond, BC's Aberdeen Centre food court for delicious Asian food
Food courts are usually homes to generic chains such as Panda Express or A&W. Not so in Chinese food courts such as the one in Aberdeen Centre, which are breeding ground for an authentic, affordable and delectable variety of cuisines.
Aberdeen Centre sits conveniently at Aberdeen station on the Canada Line. SkyTrain Its large size, wide corridors, and decorative fountain combined with Chinese shops and Cantonese chatter resemble modern shopping complexes in Hong Kong.
A quick look at the centre's Yelp page and you’ll find out that the food court here is its signature attraction. Theresa C. of Henderson, Nevada advises visitors to “bypass the stores" and "head straight to the food court.” James G. from Foster City, California meanwhile, gushed: “The Aberdeen Centre is an anomaly in North America. As a stupid American, to me this center feels like being in Asia.”
And he’s quite right. The clientele at the Aberdeen food court is mostly Chinese, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from experiencing a little bit of what it’s like to be in Hong Kong, minus the plane ride.
Generic chains don’t get any love here—Starbucks couldn’t survive and closed in 2009. The modern space is home to 18 unique food stalls, from Hong Kong-style fare to deep-fried Japanese pork cutlets.
Vera’s Burgers looked quiet and empty at 11:30 a.m. on a Wednesday, while neighbouring vendors busily served customers.
Don’t let Wo Fung Dessert’s name fool you. It’s not famous for its desserts, but its deep fried chicken wings. The Chinese name directly translates to “wind sand chicken wings”, pronounced “fung sa gai yik.” I spotted the crispy goodness on at least three other tables near the stall.
Mr. Song has been running the place for the last two years. He said the staff make about 100-200 chicken wings a day. When asked what he puts on them to make them so tasty, he grinned and told me it's a secret. I ordered three of them, forked over $4.00 plus tax and waited seven to eight minutes. From the wait, I know they’re freshly fried.
Listen to me order and describe these famous chicken wings:
I asked a fellow chicken wings fan what she thinks of them. Ms. Wong, a middle-aged Chinese woman, smiled and said she comes to the food court every week but doesn’t dare indulge in the wings too much as they are quite oily. Today, she brought her mother to share an order.
Wong also frequents Saboten, a Japanese food stall specializing in tonkatsu (deep fried breaded pork cutlets) —another popular choice at the Aberdeen food court. Saboten opened its first location in Canada at Aberdeen in January 2012 and has 500 locations in Japan, Korean, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong.
Pork cutlet, miso soup and rice from Saboten. Photo by Vinnie Yuen.
For those with a sweet tooth, there is shaved ice at Frappe Bliss, blended fresh juices at 8 Juice, and fluffy cream puffs at Beard Papa’s.
There’s free Wi-Fi at the food court, so stay in mock-Hong Kong for as long as you want.
The only down-side is that due to the modern furnishings, relatively new renovations and possibly higher rent, the prices here are a bit more expensive than the average Chinese food court in Richmond. However, 10 dollars should still be able to buy you a decent meal.