Mini Asia at home in Richmond, BC
Explore the shops and indulge in authentic food
11 October 2011
Forget about jetlag and airline tickets, a little corner of Asia resides just outside Vancouver International Airport. Don’t be fooled by the strip malls and manicured homes – Richmond
is no ordinary suburb. With a population of 200,000 that is 60% Asian – including more residents of Chinese ancestry than any other Canadian city (44%) – this is a modern Asian city in its own right.
Its easy-to-explore, four-square-block Golden Village is the hub. Indulge in the Asian sport of shopping at the contemporary Aberdeen Centre
mall, a slice of Singapore where you can pick up a Lamborghini or have an herbalist prescribe a custom brew for what ails you. Parker Place
across the street feels like retro Hong Kong, a labyrinth of tiny shops stuffed with fashion, jewelry and a food floor with culinary surprises like Asian pork jerky.
Richmond is all about food, from Pan-Asian supermarkets like Yaohan and TNT to 400 restaurants where award-winning chefs – often Hong Kong trained – are morphing the province’s fresh produce into stellar cuisine that is attracting Asian tourists. Food Central is Alexandra Road – or “Eat Street” – three city blocks crammed with 200 restaurants from Korean to Indonesian.
For solitude within a classical garden, the International Buddhist Temple
is modelled after the Forbidden City in Beijing. Visitors are welcomed for Chinese vegetarian lunches, meditation and chanting retreats. Nearby #5 Road is nicknamed the “Highway to Heaven” for its Hindu cultural centre that serves free Indian vegetarian lunches on Sundays; down the street is the traditional Tibetan monastery, Thrangu
, Canada’s first.
Asians are passionate about “Ping-Pong” so table tennis lessons taught by Olympic coaches are in demand at the Richmond Olympic Oval built as the speed skating arena for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Watch dragon boats scoot by on the Fraser River as you stroll along the dikes, or take part in Tai Chi at one of the city’s parks. Head to the pier at Steveston to join seafood-mad Asians picking up sea urchins, salmon and sable fish right off the boats. Then relax over a world-class dim sum brunch and feel like you’ve just travelled halfway around the globe.