If you are in Vancouver between May and October, and love street food, you cannot miss the Richmond Night Market located at the River Rock Casino. There are multiple night markets in Greater Vancouver but this is definitely our favourite. Sure, they sell new fads, like fidget spinners and old favourites, like cell phone cases, but we all know that most of us only come here for the food. Over the years, this night market has gotten a lot more sophisticated with free parking onsite with attendants guiding you to minimize chaos. There is now also a nominal admission fee of $3.75 per person. If you are coming in a big group or planning to make multiple visits, I would suggest getting the Zoom Pass. With this pass, you can have 7 admissions for $25. The best part is you can bypass the large line up by going through an express gate. Don’t head towards the long line. There will be staff standing around the entrance and the parking lot selling these. At the entrance, there are ATMs available since most vendors on site are cash only.
Intro to the Food
For my foodies out there, once you enter the gate, you can take a few seconds to gawk at some of the ridiculous “trendy” items being sold, then just head all the way to the back of the market for a culinary adventure. There are usually a few rows of stalls for you to explore. Just like the merchandise sold here, there are more traditional stalls (such as the takoyaki, dimsum, rotato and bubble tea stalls), as well as the new stalls that open up (such as the glowing lightbulb cocktail, Thai fried ice cream and rose popsicle stalls this year).
Deep Fried Squid
We started off our night with some reliable spicy garlic deep fried squid. It comes with curry leaves, so you can tell that it’s legit. Don’t you worry about the squid being chewy because this some of the most tender squid I’ve ever had in my life. The flavours are perfectly tasty without being too salty.
Dimsum + Hotdog
Next, we had some dimsum with some super spicy curry fishballs, shrimp dumplings, and rice rolls. Because we spent more than $12 here, we even got an order of chow mien for free. The fishballs definitely had heat, so I would not recommend for those who cannot take spice. I prefer my fishballs less spicy, so next time, I would probably get the regular curry fishballs, also available here. The shrimp dumplings were shrimp dumplings. Good, reliable flavour. No surprises. Same with the rice rolls. The chow mien was not the best. The guys decided to dip it in the spicy curry sauce, which apparently significantly improved the flavour of the noodles. Aaron also was craving some hotdog, so he got one with nori and mayo, which basically made it a Japadog. It was not bad. You can’t go wrong with nori and mayo. The only complaint is that he had ordered the cheese-stuffed sausage, but we did not see or taste any cheese. Disappointing, I know.
Korean Fried Chicken
We decided it was time for some Korean fried chicken and chose the one with melted cheese topping or “cheese fall” as they called it. I thought it would be too heavy but it was amazing. The cheese was not too overpowering but at the same time added just the right amount of creamy flavour to the boneless deep-fried chicken in sweet and salty sauce.
Thai Fried Ice Cream
After ingesting all this salty food, it was time to change things up by getting some Thai “fried” ice cream. Basically, they pour the cream over this cold plate, put in some syrup depending on the flavour you choose, then roll these frozen sheets of ice cream up. These rolls are then placed into a cup for your consumption. We choose the strawberry and oreo flavour, which in hind-sight was not a good choice. The strawberry syrup was terribly sweet. On top of that, they drizzled chocolate sauce and added fruit loops. It was definitely sugar overload.
Fried Fish Stick
It is time to switch back to something savoury. We chose the fried “fish stick”, which is basically deep fried fish fillet on a stick. The amazing thing was it was 90% batter so it was so fluffy and light. We had the terimayo one with shredded nori, which made it that much more delicious.
At this point, we were super thirsty with all the deep fried food we’ve consumed. However, when I look around, I find that most drink options are full of sugar. We decided to get some strawberry lemonade with soda, which was actually quite refreshing. If not, there was also a matcha stall, that sold iced matcha without sweetener. I would recommend bringing your own water bottle if you do not want to have this yo-yo between deep-fried salty then super sweet attacks on the taste buds.
Japanese Fried Chicken + German Pork Hock
With only limited stomach space left, we decided to get the classic Japanese fried chicken as well as some German pork hock. I’ve had the fried chicken before at this stall and knew it was good but it was the pork hock from the adjacent stall that really amazed me. It was so tasty and tender, it reminded me of good Chinese roasted pork. The portion size was definitely not small but luckily they cut it up into small bite size pieces for easy sharing with a group. It came with a size of sauerkraut and you can drizzle your choice of sauce on it.
I am actually quite impressed by how much the Richmond Night Market has evolved over the years. There are benches and standing areas for you to eat but usually we just grab and eat while standing in front of the stall or walking around. They have even gotten pretty high-tech, where you can scan the QR codes at the stalls to vote for your favourite food items. The winners are posted on signs around the market for you to reference when you are making those difficult food decisions, since we all know that stomach space is valuable. There is a stage onsite for live performances, but we did not catch any during our stay there on a Friday night. For those who have little ones and/or can stomach a ride after eating all the good food, there are amusement park rides on site as well. Before we left, we had to end the night with Aaron’s favourite fried squid. I was not disgustingly full but at this point, I couldn’t actually take anymore deep-fried food, so I had to pass. Shocking – I know.