On Kari House and Surreal Scenes.

Once Upon a Time, three ladies had cravings for satay and went in pursuit of some fine Malaysian food.  On their journey they ended up in Steveston, where a beautifully-constructed disaster scene had formed overnight.

They parked by an upturned car and meandered over to the main street, where fake chaos ensued.  Telephone poles had crashed to the ground, giant craters had raised the earth, glass and debris littered the road, and people kept shouting “SOUND,” ACTION!” and “CUT!”.

The three ladies had to be careful where they walked, lest they create unwanted shadows in the scene, and/or be yelled at by intense people with walkie-talkies.  They joined the other onlookers in taking photos, musing over the amount of money this extraordinary scene must have cost, and made mental notes to watch the next season of ABC’s Once Upon a Time in order to catch this episode on TV.  Welcome to the film set-persona of Steveston.

This excitement aside, our raison d’être was not yet fulfilled!  Myself and two colleagues were the grand adventurers in this story, and after tearing ourselves away from the film set, we pursued Malaysian food at Kari House.  I had quite the hankering for more southeast Asian cuisine after eating at Green Lemongrass the day before, and a number of readers had suggested Kari House as the next place to try for satay.  I hadn’t expected it to be in Steveston, let alone directly on the water.

It’s tucked away in a corner of the boardwalk I’d never before explored, and their location is prime.  Half the seating is outside, and we had the good fortune of snagging seats on the sunny patio.  We ordered 2 orders of the Roti ($2.95), the Chicken Satay (a half order, but the full costs $7.95), the Lettuce Wrap ($8.95), the Singaporean Laksa ($9.45), and the Nasi Lemak ($10.95).

A warning: If you ever ask me about pan-fried flatbreads, I will not stop talking for at least half an hour.  I LOVE FLATBREADS SO MUCH.  One time I ate roti at a Trinidadian restaurant that was so good, I think even my mailman heard about it.  How are the roti at Kari House?  Worth a trip to the restaurant alone.  Seriously, so good.  Warm, flaky, crunchy, and soft, with a spicy curry sauce to dip them in.  You must go, and you must get them.

The satay were good – they had a stronger curry flavour than the ones at Green Lemongrass, and I liked them a bit more.  The peanut sauce was smooth, nutty, and spicy, and I took to dipping my roti in it, too.

The lettuce wrap filling (we opted for all veggie) was sweet and sour, with a crunch from the dry crispy noodles underneath.

Something we noted about this dish was the fact that they used green lettuce, not iceberg, and that the leaves were all uniform and perfectly laid out for us.  That was appreciated.  The dish was good, but definitely not the best lettuce wraps I’ve had.

The Singaporean Laksa had a delicate, spicy coconut milk broth, vermicelli, noodles, bean sprouts, chicken, prawns, green beans, tofu puffs, fish balls, and egg.  Our favourite of these were the tofu puffs – light little sponges that soaked up the warm broth.  It was a gorgeous bowl of soup.

Finally, we had the Nasi Lemak, considered the national dish of Malaysia and beloved by many.

The plate was made up of various components: curried chicken and fish, potatoes, a deep-fried hard-boiled egg covered in salty preserved fish sauce, rice, and chopped tomato with raw cashews (not peanuts, as I was expecting).  It was a wonderful blend of flavours and textures; the crunch of the nuts, the saltiness from the sauce, the velvety texture of the egg yolk, and the curry’s heat.

Though the menu said it was meant to be coconut rice, it tasted plain to us, but I really enjoyed the dish overall.

Altogether, this huge meal only cost us $16.84 each.  The food came quickly, the service was decent, and the seaside view is pretty hard to argue with.  I would definitely recommend a trip to Kari House – AND DON’T FORGET TO ORDER THE ROTI.

Because it was sunny and we were in Steveston, we simply had to get ice cream for dessert.  We opted for one of Bell’s Bakeshop’s new flavours (they pre-scoop and package the cones and cups), and have flavours like Okanagan Cherry, Brown Bread, Danish Date, Blueberry Earl Grey, Red Velvet and Horchata, all churned in-house.  I opted for the Brown Bread, because  I love any and all uses for old bread; thrifty measures have given us bread pudding, panzanella, and dolce di pane, after all.

It tasted like prairie women’s innovation.  The stale brown bread was crushed into crumbs, mixed with sugar and spices, and churned into vanilla ice cream.  It had a nutty flavour and crumby texture, and while I don’t think it’s for everyone, it was definitely for me.  We also tried the oh-so-famous blended frozen yogurt from Timothy’s, opting for the raspberries.  It was pink, pucker-y, and creamy.

Despite the scene laid out before us when we arrived in Steveston, this day was far from disastrous.  I think our story ended quite well, frankly.  Thank you Kari House, thank you roti, and thank you ice cream.

The end.


Kari House Restaurant

3900 Bayview Street, Richmond BC


Cash and cards accepted

Vegetarian Options


  1. Anne

    Looks YUM!! Going to try it soon.
    AND…LOVE Once Upon A Time — great show!

  2. Michelle

    YUM!! I must try Bell’s Bakeshop! That red velvet ice cream sounds divine.

  3. Izy

    You’re the best! Only found out about Kari House last week and have been thinking of trying it out, now we’re definitely going.

  4. FM

    Yummy!!!! I had no idea Kari House even existed! I can’t wait to try it.

    Downtown Vancouver has tons of options for Middle Eastern food (shwarmas, etc) but I’ve never seen these options in Richmond. Am wondering if you have heard of any and will explore them?

  5. cwid

    We have been to Kari House many years ago when it was still very new. Looks like their food has gotten better and I think it’s time for a revisit. The laksa really looks good. So does the Nasi Lemak where they don’t scrimp on the ingredients. It’s funny – we moved to Vancouver almost five years ago but we find ourselves in Richmond all the time, for shopping and for the food.

  6. Laurette

    didn’t I tell you it was worth exploring & the luncheon specials are cheap as well if you are on a budget but want decent food folks. You can eat for under 10 each easily there & good portions.
    Thanks for visiting this little gem.

  7. Taryn

    We love reading your posts every day. And it’s perfect for families like us, coming from Prince George to the Vancouver area once or twice a year for a concert or a doctors appointment or a tournament or conference etc. We are not really tourists in the traditional sense but we need to eat and for our quick trips we are not likely going to do research into the area in terms of food choices… which means we would likely end up at chain restaurants or fast food joints out of convenience and lack of knowledge otherwise… but you are saving us!
    I am coming to Vancouver for a concert soon and whether I make it to Richmond or not, your excitement about food is making me excited and I am looking forward to trying something new and out of my traditional comfort zone!
    Your meal from today’s post looks amazing and although I have little experience with lettuce wraps, the best I have had were ones I made using a recipe you gave me!

  8. MVancouver

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this place. It’s one of my favorite places, especially on a cold winter day.
    Loving your posts so far! Keep up the amazing work.

  9. Donna

    In 100% agreement – Love Kari House!

  10. Tiana

    I work close to Kari House, and as much as I want to like it and live that it’s family run, the 4 times I’ve tried to find a winning dish, I can’t. It’s always poor quality (greying meat, unfresh vegetables) and poorly cooked. I’ve been to Malaysian and have Malaysian family members- this place is a huge letdown.

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