5 Reasons to Visit Aberdeen Centre: North America’s Biggest Asian Mall

I know that malls aren’t for everyone. But the Aberdeen Centre in Richmond merits special mention. Richmond, which is only 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver on the new Canada Line, boasts one of the largest Chinese populations in North America. And the Aberdeen Centre, according to some accounts, is the biggest Asian mall outside of Asia (a confusing but impressive distinction).

In last week’s Georgia Straight, food critic Stephen Wong wrote an article about the incredible Chinese food on offer at the Aberdeen Centre food court. The appeal of Aberdeen, however, goes way beyond food. In no particular order, here are five reasons to check out Aberdeen Centre (just a block from the Aberdeen stop on the Canada Line).

1) The Daiso Store. Daiso is a discount store that has outlets throughout Japan and other Asian countries.  Inside the branch at Aberdeen Centre, you’ll find two floors of unique and authentic wares, from Japanese snacks and candies to origami paper and ornate ceramic tea pots and sushi sets. Although prices are still marked in yen, most things in the store sell for $2.

2) Look So Real. Fans of kitsch and the absurd will love the Look So Real store, which sells – get ready – extremely detailed, 3-D replicas of popular foods and dishes. The replicas are used in restaurants that display their menu items in windows and on counters for customers to see. Inside of Look So Real, you’ll find life-like hamburgers, bowls of ramen, salads and everything in between. And the creations are truly works of art: I was admiring an assorted sushi platter that looked good enough to eat and retailed for $229.

3) The House Special at 8 Juice. This smoothee shack is located inside the justifiably famous food court at Aberdeen, which serves authentic Chinese fare to discriminating clientele who know their Szechuan from their Hainanese. Among the exotic smoothees made from freshly blended fruits and ingredients is my favorite, the #1 House Special: fresh mango juice with coconut milk, tapioca, fresh mango bits and pomelo (A small is $3.80).

4) Ultra-Pricey Ginger. There are several stores in Aberdeen Centre specializing in dried herbs, meats and spices, all essentials for authentic Chinese cooking. What impressed me most was the extensive selection of ginger, which features prominently in dishes and also has medicinal applications. Prices ranged from a few dollars a pound for common farmed ginger to $680 a pound for wild ginger collected in the U.S.

5) The Steamed Pork Buns at Shanghai Shanghai. Also located in the food court, Shanghai Shanghai seems to specialize exclusively in buns and dumplings. Staff hand roll and cut the dough at the small counter, then fill the buns with a blend of pork and spices. Because everything is made fresh, expect to wait five minutes or so for your order to be prepared ($3.95 for six juicy buns).

Any other favorites at Aberdeen Centre? Please let me know below.

Remy Scalza

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