On Lido, and Bungee-Jumping.

“We haven’t brought you here for Cantonese eating 101,” she said.  “This is more like 301.”

And thus began my experience with Stacey at Lido, a Hong Kong-style café near Aberdeen Mall.  If you want to experience authentic Hong Kong food and service without leaving BC, this is the place to go.

Authentic doesn’t always mean easy.  If you’re a caucasian girl who’s never travelled to Asia, the prospect can be intimidating.  That’s why I, the guinea pig for the Lido un-initiated, was joined by my new friend Stacey; she’s originally from Taiwan, has lived in Richmond for over 20 years, and knows her food.  She came along to help me figure out what I was doing.

With this post, I’m hoping to offer a few pointers for other amateurs willing to try Lido for themselves – you CAN do it!  Think of it as you would bungee jumping; it may be scary, but it’s also fun, adventurous, and there’s probably less than a 1% chance you’ll actually get hurt.  There are a few pieces of equipment you’ll need, so think of this post as your harness and rope.  I promise to strap your ankles in tight.

I was fortunate to have Stacey as my guide, and anything I tell you here is a result of her extensive knowledge.  So first off, THANK YOU STACEY.

Here’s how it works; Lido is a busy, bare-bones café in a strip mall, and you’ll want to dine there during off-peak hours.  If you’ve never been, don’t attempt to go at noon.  Instead, saunter in around 2:00pm, when there’s plenty of free space and the servers aren’t worried about turning tables over so quickly.

The service, by the way, is quick and to the point; don’t be hesitant to wave down a server if you need something.  In fact, you probably won’t get much of anything unless you do.  You’re not being rude, you’re just helping them know what you need.

While there’s some English scattered around Lido, the main language is Cantonese.  If you’re an avid traveller who hasn’t been abroad in awhile, stop by Lido to exercise your sign-language skills and comprehension of strongly-accented English.  One of the best (and hardest) parts of travelling can be communicating, and this will throw you directly back to your backpacking years.

Once you’ve arrived and are waiting to be seated, you have one important task – turn to your left and LOOK FOR THE PINEAPPLE BUNS.  They sit on a rack just inside the entrance, and they’re what Lido is famous for.

Baked fresh throughout the day, these buns are so popular they can sell out before you’ve had the chance to say “pine.”  Ask for them as soon as you sit down, and if there are none on the rack, ask if more are coming.  Also, make SURE to ask for them with butter.  Why?  Because there are few opportunities in life when you get to enjoy a brioche-like bun topped with sugary baked custard that’s cut open and stuffed with a thick slab of salted, melting goodness.

It makes for a warm, sweet, butter sandwich (there’s no pineapple in pineapple buns, they’re named for their scored yellow tops), and really, WHO wouldn’t want a butter sandwich??  If you only go to Lido for one thing, make it this.

When it comes to savoury food, I’d suggest ordering off the “Chinese tea-set” menu with English translations.  You’ll order a combo that includes one kind of soup, a main dish, and a drink.  If you have 3 or 4 people in your group, order several of these combos and share it family-style.  The mashing of east and west is the key element of a Hong Kong style café, so there’ll be everything from traditional soups to spaghetti Bolognese for you to try.  It’s your choice – east, west, or both!

We stayed eastwards and had the following dishes.  Please forgive the terrible photos.  I was concentrating so hard on writing down what Stacey was saying I neglected my poor camera:

– A bowl of noodles with shrimp balls + Chinese soup (changes daily but the soups almost always have pork and lotus root) + HK-style lemon tea (sweetened black tea with lemon.  There’s a spoon included to mash the lemon slices into the drink, and you can ask for it without sugar).

– Curried beef brisket with rice + turnip cakes + HK-style milk tea (black coffee with condensed milk, can be served hot or cold).

– Chili Bean Lo Mein with Pork with another lemon tea (Stacey strayed from the combo sheet because she could understand the rest of the menu!)

The lo mein was served with a side of broth, so if the noodles are sticking as you toss them with the pork, you can add small amounts of broth to loosen them up.  I was sure glad we had Stacey with us, because otherwise I would have just said “the lo mein was served with a small bowl of soup.  Neat.”

The noodles and shrimp balls were plain, basic fare, but I liked the curried brisket and especially the saucy, spicy lo mein.

The turnip cakes were great; Stacey pointed out they’re found all over China, but with significantly different preparations according to region.  These turnip cakes were square and semi-firm, made with mashed turnip, rice flour, Chinese sausage, and preserved vegetables.  The turnip cakes at Suhang, on the other hand (in the northern, Shanghaiese style), were much softer and in a sesame crust.

Stacey also told us about one very unique feature at Lido’s; if you spend over $18 in total, you receive one free dish to takeaway.  If you spend over $42, you have your choice of 2 off-menu items.  Each day they have signs (in Cantonese) listing the take-away options for that day, and I chose a strawberry coconut pudding.  It was cool, sweet, and reminded me of panna cotta.  I sort of got scolded by a server for opening it while still inside the restaurant, so take my advice and just leave it in your bag til you get home!  Our total bill came to $43.62 for four people.

Prior to this job, I never would have known Lido existed, nor would I have had the guts to go in.  But just like the first time I bungee-jumped, I’m now SO glad I did.  Fear isn’t always a bad thing, so someday take the leap, and try Lido.

Five years ago I overcame my fear of heights, and now brag about it shamelessly with this picture.

 

 

Lido Restaurant

4231 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond BC

604-231-0055

24 Comments

  1. Daylene Marshall

    Lindsay,

    It would be really great if you could mention if there are any vegetarian options on the menu of restaurants you visit. It was great you did a review on 4 Stones Vegetarian, but for those of us with families mixed of carnivores and vegetarians, we would love to know of places that can meet both are needs.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Matt Frise

    Zero to ravenous.

    Reply
  3. Lindsay365

    Sure thing! Thanks for the comment, Daylene. I’ll definitely try to be more mindful of that.

    Reply
  4. Katy

    I love reading a Caucasian’s point of view on Chinese cuisine! Have you tried stinky tofu yet?

    Reply
    • Lindsay365

      Not yet! Where would be a good place in Richmond?

      Reply
    • GS

      Stinky Tofu!
      Now we’re talking! After that try Durian ice-cream.
      Also, try dried scallops soup. Making it at home is best as the smell permeates every fibre of your clothes and furniture. For maximum effect, boil for at least 4 hours.

      Reply
  5. Henry

    :) Are you sick of Chinese food yet? What’s for lunch tomorrow?

    Reply
  6. Tang

    If you really want to try stinky tofu, you can go to Boiling Point hotpot and order their House Special hotpot. It pretty much got scary food items in a pot, such as stinky tofu, pork intestine and pork blood. I dare you to try it. LOL

    Here is a blog post on it. The restaurant is on Number 3 Road across from the Superstore. Its near the Lansdowne Canada Line station. Here is a blog post on it.

    http://nibblesnflights.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/boiling-point/

    Reply
  7. Alan

    I think I can explain a bit about the turnip cakes.

    The one you have at Lido is Cantonese style. Even though in Cantonese we will use the same word as “cake” to call it (糕), it is more like a savory pudding. It is cooked in a wok into a paste and then steamed. You can eat it freshly steamed, or wait till it is cooled, then slice it and fry it.

    The one you have in Suhang is more like a pastry. The word we use in Chinese to call it (餅), even though a different word from the Cantonese turnip pudding, can also be translated in English as “cake”. Hence the confusion. It is made with a pastry dough wrapping julienned turnip and is fried in a pan. Completely different then the Cantonese turnip pudding.

    Chinese will not consider them to be in the same category. Hope this explanation helps.

    Reply
  8. Herman

    Just wanted to throw in my two cents about this restaurant. It’s always been on my black list. I had various “bad experience” with this place. For a couple times I had diarrhea after having their hot milk tea (HK style), at another time the owner of the place ran out of the door and asked for “more tips”. This place used to be really good 5-6 years back but not anymore. It is pricey too compared to the exact same style of food found elsewhere in Richmond. I have no idea why it’s always so packed. Sorry for being so negative but it is my true experience.

    Reply
  9. Amanda Staats

    That pudding looks delish!!

    Reply
  10. Jen

    Why would they not have a menu in all English? This is why I will not go to asian restaurants that do not welcome Canadians that don’t speak a foreign language.

    Reply
  11. Dave Davis

    The food may be fantastic, but to me, a poor white guy in a sea of Asians – which by the way, I don’t mind – is just another Chinese own business that is breaking the law by not using English or French as the predominant language in the restaurant.

    I don’t give a damn if 95% of their clientele is Chinese – likely because no one else can read the menu – but English and French are the language of the land and if they don’t like it, the airport is not that far away.

    I’m tired of seeing our city counsel bullied around by a bunch of foreigners. If they don’t like our laws, they can always go home.

    English menus & signage please… it’s the law! You can slap Chinese all over, as well, but one shouldn’t have to search for English here. Richmond is not China, and we have welcomed you here, so please be more welcoming introducing us to your culture.

    Reply
    • Sam

      As an 18 year old of 100% Cantonese descent, yet white-washed to the point where I can only speak my first language, and not read or write, I must agree that Richmond seems a very foreign city to those who have decided to visit “Canada”.

      I was lucky enough to have learned to communicate through speech from my parents and brothers; had I moved to Richmond from Caucasian-central Shaughnessy in West Vancouver without such knowledge, I would feel the effects of experience extreme culture-shock to the drastic differences of which the two cities operate.

      The sheer ignorance of excluding a country’s first language just shows how overwhelming the ratio of Chinese versus “all the rest” is within Richmond. Having been able to understand both parties, it is obvious that such isolation of community is unfair to those who seek experiences from different cultures (such as different cuisines!)

      Reply
  12. Daniela

    Last Saturday night my boyfriend and I went to Lido around 9:00 PM. My boyfriend is from Hong Kong and has lived in Richmond for over 20 years, but had never been to Lido, so we went because I discovered it on this blog. The restaurant wasn’t busy. We ordered 4 dishes (duck, clams, duck intestine, and deep fried squid) and a pineapple bun. The Chinese menu said that if you order 4 dishes you get a bowl of congee for free (usually $6). I had congee with deep fried squid, a few clams and the pineapple bun. The bun was good, but I have to say that the few clams I had were rather gritty, as if they hadn’t been cleaned properly, and the squid was not the best I’ve had. My boyfriend didn’t like his food at all. He said that the duck was supposed to be cold but was warm, and he showed me a few feathers here and there which shouldn’t have been there. He thought that the intestine hadn’t been cleaned properly either. So he didn’t finish his food and din’t want to take the leftovers to go. When he checked the bill he realized that we had been charged for the congee that was supposed to be free, and the owner had to correct the mistake. My boyfriend was very polite with both the waiter and the owner and din’t give them any negative feedback, but as soon as we left he told me that the place was not very clean, the food really bad, and he wouldn’t go back again. All in all not a very good experience…

    Reply
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  16. Karen

    Perhaps they did not exist at the time of Lindsay’s visit but I went to the Lido last week and English menus are available. I just wanted to mention this in case people are interested in the food but would avoid this place due to the language barrier. Some of the servers speak English as well.

    Reply
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