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Tastebuds travel the world at Richmond Night Market

By Don Fennell and Lorraine Graves

Published 1:03 PDT, Wed June 12, 2019

Tempt your tastebuds and savour the flavours of the world this summer at the Richmond Night Market.

The diversity of Canada is celebrated each weekend evening at the international food fair.

Serving up a potpourri of delectable delicacies, the samplings not only satisfy one’s appetite but are served by friendly, caring individuals. What’s more, many of the dishes are of a standard typically reserved for restaurants.

Impressed off the hop by the creatively-prepared and presented fare, our short culinary tour began with Afghani street food and ended with a take on traditional Japanese Matcha tea.

Afghan Yum

In Afghanistan, street food is a staple of the people. We sampled two of the favourites at the Richmond Night Market—mantu, a kind of tortellini filled with beef, and bolani, a flatbread stuffed with potatoes.

“Being a new business, we take the time to explain what we serve and what we use to make it,” says owner-operator Maisam Yavari. “People are getting to know our food. We’ve already had people come back two and three times.

Yavari says the recipes were inspired by street food of his own childhood in Kabul, as well as suggestions from his girlfriend Valerie.

Gung Ho BBQ

Expecting to serve 200 visitors to the Richmond Night Market on this Friday evening, Tim Chao is busy grilling skewers of chicken wings for a customer.

“The recipe is just from me,” he smiles, explaining that a spicy, honey-flavoured dish (one of four offerings) is easily the most popular.

“It’s a little bit sweet,” he says.

Chao also proudly serves up his special-recipe lamb ribs.

Tita’s Torrone

Torrone is a popular Philippine snack made of thinly-sliced bananas and a slice of jackfruit dusted with brown sugar, rolled in a spring roll and deep fried.

Nanette Oba has improved on this tradition.

Also offering a tasty apple pie and cinnamon version of the popular street food, Oba says her recipeyields a flakier shell.

“My (torrone) stay crunchy and fresh from the time I make them to the end of the evening,” she says.

WhataFood

Inspired by the Lower Mainland’s large Brazilian population, who have come here to study or to make their home, Levi Dahora decided last year to draw on his roots and serve up Brazillian street food.

“This is very traditional.” he says. “Every little corner has a pastel (a typical fast-food Brazilian dish).”

Consisting of half-circle or rectangle-shaped thin crust pockets with assorted fillings, Dahora’s pastels are fried in vegetable oil (as per tradition) leaving them with the desired crunch but remarkably free of grease.

A vegetarian option is also available featuring sun-dried tomato with arugula.

The cheese balls, gluten free and made with cassava flour, are a must-try.

Dahota hopes to open his first restaurant next year and to franchise over the next decade,.

Chicken Karaage

While the dish originates in Japan, the chicken karaage served at the Richmond Night Market features a bit of a twist.

“It’s a comfort food everyone likes to come and try,” says operator Anthony Wu of the family-owned business that has been a market staple for the past five years.

“Spicy mayo is the main ingredient, but we try to improve on the original by implementing some different and unique flavours.”

Fries and Things

Opening their first street food stand three years ago, Terrence Au and his partner have used their skills to bring Asian fusion to a popular American staple: French fries. This VCC culinary arts grad offers some of the finest fries, crispy outside, fluffy inside without a trace of grease.

“We thought Vancouver was missing the opportunity to try something different,” he says of their creative offerings, poutine-styled cheese fries to yam fries to Buffalo chicken fries. Wy hopes to expand beyond their five night market options.

Deep Fried Ice Cream

Originally from a chilly community in China close the Russian border, Lucia Zhang developed a taste for a comfort desert—specifically, deep fried ice cream.

But disappointed with the quality and variety available, she did thorough research before launching her business.

“I tried a lot of times to figure of out which flavours were better,” she says.

“It’s been exciting. Most people in Vancouver don’t know about deep fried ice cream, so they’re often surprised when they try it. But many who have tried it say it tastes good.”

Macha and Hojicha

After working many years in the tea industry in Taiwan, Nancy Li started a food truck business three years ago specializing in tea deserts and drinks.

“All our ingredients are imported directly from Japan,” she says of the macha and hojicha. “The flavours and texture of our macha is supreme. We want to bring the best quality to our customers.”

The Richmond Night Market, located at the corner of No. 3 and River roads, is just one block from the Brideport Canada Line Station and next to River Rock Casino. Open through Oct. 14 from 7 p.m. to midnight Fridays through Sundays with general admission $4.75 and free for children under the age of eight.

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