I drove out to Richmond to visit my parents with one of my daughters yesterday. I had to hit Chen's which IMO, has the best Northern Chinese dumplings in the GVA. (Let me qualify that I haven't been to all the known places in this dumpling universe yet -- Wang's over at Crystal Mall in Burnaby is supposed to have exemplary dumplings, for example.)
Chen's is located on Park Road (at Number Three Rd, across the way from the Richmond Center...you can see Sears - if you require more landmarks). Longtime Richmond denizens and aficionados of Chinese cuisine will know Park Road as a catalytic area in the evolution of Chinese food in Richmond. ChinaCan (a seminal Chinese Supermarket...the first one to open in Richmond) was located there for many years. That spot is now occupied by another Chinese Market oddly named "The Great One." ChinaCan was the gravitational epicenter of Chinese food there for many many years. It was a place where the Asians living in Richmond could buy bulk bags of rice without having to trek out to Vancouver's Chinatown. A number of Chinese restaurants (mostly of the Cantonese/HK variety) opened close by to take advantage of the Asian traffic there.
Nowadays, there are Chinese restaurants all over Richmond. The epicenter has moved to Alexandra Rd - known to Richmond locals as "Eat Street" because of all the strip malls featuring a variety of Asian restaurants (Taiwanese Bubble Teas, Pho, Chinese Noodles, Asian Nightclubs, Izakaya, etc)....now back to Chen's.
In case anyone wonders about authenticity, the first thing you'll notice is that Chen's does not have a word of English on their sign....when you walk in, you'll notice a predominantly Chinese clientele. All good signs.
They have a Chinese Menu (which is longer than the English Menu). You order from a dim sum checklist. Today we ordered xiao long bao (called Baiyulan buns on this menu), Green Onion Pancake, Shanghai fried buns, Green Onion Buns, and Dan Dan noodles.
The buns are freshly made to order at the back. They do not pre-prepare and refrigerate them , a common practice which affects the quality of the skin.
The XLB and the Pan fried buns were fantastic ($4.20 for 6) - both if them are incredibly juicy and fresh tasting. The filling is boiling hot, so wait a bit to let it cool. A word of warning - The Pan Fried buns are as juicy as the XLB - so watch out - this is uncommon. Most of the time, Pan Fried buns are not packed with the gelatin that makes XLB juicy. I bit into one and it squirted clear across the table! My daughter had to duck to avoid it.
The other dishes were great too. The Dan Dan noodle was the kind with the dilute light sesame paste broth with crushed peanuts on top.
Without a doubt, Chen's is worth the drive out. Cheap eats done right.