In the heart of Richmond, is a nondescript restaurant, set in one of the many nondescript small malls that dot the landscape. Tucked away, blinds drawn, hard to find. Not exactly the set up you’d expect for a successful restaurant. And yet, it all works.
This tiny restaurant is devoted to the ideals of old moneyed Hong Kong private club dining, where restraint and simplicity are paramount and classic techniques build lively and fresh flavors. When Chef Yiu Tong Leung (who is sailing into his 80’s) retires; this particular school of Cantonese cooking will retire with him. There is no other Chinese restaurant in Vancouver or Richmond that produces this specific style of cooking.
Though sneeringly maligned – sweet and sour pork is actually a litmus test of a chef’s cooking skill. With a brightly balanced sauce and crisp pork shoulder providing snap, Hoi Tong’s version is superlative.
Salt baked locally raised Asian breed chicken has a depth of flavor absent from modern industrial poultry. The pressed taro duck is a real surprise – deboned duck, flattened and crisped with smooth mashed taro. Lovely!
The kitchen particularly excels at delicate egg dishes. Fried milk studded with fresh crab and pine nuts is softly set with egg whites and the bitter melon omelet is a must order. But beware – bitter melon is bitter.
The walls are lined with pictures of the restaurant’s signature dishes, convenient for point and eat ordering.
Reservations are a must and choosing a later seating ensures a more leisurely experience. Among serious Chinese food devotees, dining at Hoi Tong is considered a rite of passage. There are those who say the vigor and snap of the cooking has declined – and there is truth to this statement. But do yourself a favor and go anyway. Now.
Hoitong Chinese Seafood Restaurant
8191 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC