Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Curry udon soup perfect welcome to Richmond, B.C.

I arrived in Richmond, B.C., this morning for a conference jet lagged and hungry. So after checking into the conference hotel, the River Rock Casino Resort, I asked the concierge in the casino where I could find some good Asian food within a short walk.

Even though the hotel lies on the edge of Richmond's "Golden Village"--the modern Chinatown that's a focal point for the 60 percent of Richmond's residents who trace their roots back to Asia--the concierge pointed me to one of the casino's restaurants. The last thing I wanted after five hours on an airplane was to sit in a windowless casino. I needed air, preferably with a side helping of local flavour.

No matter. As usual, Mapquest was a godsend. I found out that the Aberdeen Centre, a big Asian mall I'd glimpsed from my airplane window earlier that day, was just 1.6 kilometres away. I put on my walking shoes and headed out.

My route wasn't particularly scenic--much of it led under the newly constructed Canada Line (an elevated train), past car rental agencies and a huge Canadian Tire outlet. But within 20 minutes I reached the Aberdeen Centre, a bright, airy outpost of Asia in the shadow of Vancouver International Airport.

It looked like any other upscale Canadian mall, with its splashing fountains and three-storey atria, but few of the stores were familiar. There was Daiso, a popular Japanese discount store stuffed with Hello Kitty thermoses, plastic laundry baskets and colourful finger puppets. There was a huge selection of exotic-looking rice steamers at Pacific Houseware. There were two dried food stores selling ingredients I couldn't begin to identify.

But I was on a quest: to find a warm bowl of udon, the comforting Japanese soup filled with fat noodles. I'd had udon on the brain ever since I'd read a lovely article in The Globe and Mail last week about writer Laura Madokoro's search, on a recent visit to Japan, to find udon like her father used to make.

I followed my nose to the third-floor food court and there, amid joints selling congee and lemongrass chicken submarines and bubble tea, I found the object of my affection at Ajijiman: a huge, fragrant bowl of curry udon, rich with carrots, potatoes and onions, for the princely sum of $4. I even managed to eat most of it with chopsticks--not a bad feat for someone who has barely slept in the last few days. Too bad the one thing I forgot was my camera.

Disclosure: My trip was partially subsidized by Tourism Richmond.


Tess said...

Welcome to BC! Glad to see you made it safe and sound and that you found somewhere yummy for dinner :)

Laura Byrne Paquet said...

Yep, I'm here, and I'm LOVING this warm weather! When I walked out of the airport and realized it was 7C, I almost did a happy dance right at the taxi stand. Looking forward to seeing you guys next week!