Zhao’s Soup House (Richmond)

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Was running some errands in Richmond near Kwantlen Polytechnic University on a Saturday morning back in early November, and I stopped by Zhao’s Soup House on Alexandra Road for some food shortly after.

Now, by doing so, I broke a personal rule about not visiting Chinese restaurants when eating out – because I already can eat Chinese food at home. But, what the heck. Since I was in Richmond, which is known for its large Chinese population, it would be a pity if I just ate at Pizza Hut or McDonald’s and then blogged about that. Besides, the only things I’ve blogged about Richmond so far had to do with the underwhelming café at the Richmond Oval.

When I entered, I was seated immediately and brought the menu as well as a pot of tea. Good service to begin with, which was nice. There was also a small dish of complimentary peanuts as well at my table, as a snack.

After going through the menu for a few minutes, nothing really stood out, until I decided to go with the Avocado Seafood Fried Rice. Then, it occurred to me to ask the waitress if they accepted MasterCard. I mean, there was a VISA sign at the counter, but you never know with Chinese establishments. She replied that they accepted plastic if the order was C$20 and above. Since the avocado rice was “only” 14 bucks, I also ordered the Chive Pork Dumpling Soup, which was C$6.

The waitress was nice but she insisted on speaking with me in Mandarin even though I spoke to her in English – which ultimately made me communicate with her in Chinese since it would be easier. I just think it’s a bit annoying that when the customer uses English, the staff chooses to answer in Chinese. Oh well, this is Richmond, after all.

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It wasn’t too busy at the time I was there, with five other tables plus mine – not even half filled for this spacious restaurant. I just thought that it took a looooong time for the food to come.

The dumplings came first, and even though I’m not a big soup fan, I had to admit it was rather tasty. The dumplings themselves were a bit ordinary. They were okay, but nothing special. And besides, I only ordered them to fulfill the minimum C$20 requirement so that I could use my credit card as I didn’t have cash on me. (Mental note: Go to a “normal” establishment next time where they don’t have any such requirements.)

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After a very long wait, the rice finally came. It was all right, but again, nothing special. I mean, obviously it would be hard to screw up a simple dish like that, right? There was some avocado but more shrimp pieces. I have to admit, it was a huge dish, so I suppose it was good value – as I could save half of it for dinner.

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Now, I don’t go to Chinese restaurants as a general rule, so I don’t know if this sort of thing is prevalent – but I noticed at the table next to mine a Chinese couple brought out a plastic lunch container from their bag and started to scoop whatever they couldn’t finish into it to take home. That never happens in Western establishments, as far as I know. Or perhaps I just am oblivious to what people do. I mean, I figured you just ask the waitress or the server to pack it for you. At least that’s what I’m used to.

After eating roughly half of my rice, I was full and asked the waitress to pack the remainder for me.

Then came the fun part… When the bill came, it was “only” C$17.85 with tax because they had a 15% off special going on. So, the waitress reiterated the 20-dollar rule but I didn’t have any cash on me. I offered to order a Coke to go but she said if I really didn’t have any cash, then they would make an exception. Well, if you’re planning to eat there, make sure you’re not alone, or at least bring cash with you.

When: Saturday, November 8, 2014
What: Avocado Seafood Fried Rice; Chive Pork Dumpling Soup
Where: Zhao’s Soup House, 8511 Alexandra Road, Richmond, BC, V6X 1C3
How Much: C$14.00; C$6.00 (less a 15% discount)
Final Thoughts: All right, I’ll be blunt and say it was a mistake to stop by Zhao’s Soup House. I mean, Lansdowne Centre shopping mall is within walking distance and there are several other choices there. There are cheaper options on that same block (though I don’t know if they take credit cards for small orders). For me, Zhao’s is simply one-and-done.

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