There is one trend that has been picking up steam in China, and has now made it’s way to Richmond Hill: steam cooking.
Richmond Hill is becoming such a hot destination for dining. Getting there has never been easier; parking is free; and the range of ethnic cuisines is authentic.
It’s a rainy night. I pick the restaurant. My partner asks, “Why are we going so far away?” And yet, in less time than it would take to go downtown and find parking, we’ve zipped up the DVP, and arrived at our table. We want an experience. We want to be transported. We are in for a real treat!
Adjacent to the World Bowl bowling alley is the palatial interior of Yu Guo Yan Seafood—brightly lit and impeccably clean. By the entrance, along the wall, is a massive fish tank. Ornate private rooms with sparkling chandeliers offer karaoke. Our table comes equipped with a state of the art steam grill in its centre that requires our server for technical support.
No sooner are we seated than we receive savoury, spicy Thai style tofu to snack-on while perusing the menu; and Tie Guan Yin, a Chinese Oolong, revered for its nutri-ceutical properties of amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants. We unfold the menu and select ingredients to steam.
Fish, meats and vegetables all come with our server’s instructions on the optimal steam time for a cleaner, fresher, even sweeter taste. This is the most health-conscious way to cook. All the produce is Canadian without any added flavouring. We don’t need to add any water or oil either—we just set the timer, and watch as filtered water converted to steam cooks our food to our desired a point.
The steaming-process used to cook our nine courses lets us appreciate their naturalness and freshness. Clams; gigantic oysters; cuttlefish; lobster; vegetables; king oyster mushrooms and Canada beefsteaks are all successively steamed one course at a time while we watch in anticipation. Our penultimate course is a platter of sticky rice and pork wrapped in lotus leaf; chicken and Chinese dates; taro root; pumpkin; and corn on the cob—each one distinct and sweet. What we taste is the true essence of each ingredient.
Finally, the big reveal: as each course has steamed under the lid, their essence, their juice, their taste has harmonized below the grill with the rice that has been cooking all the while. Our server returns and mixes in select ingredients from each course for the richest congee we’ve ever tasted. An abundance of marble and crystal design elements match the purity of the dishes that are served.
Yu Guo Yan Seafood, 9 East Wilmot St., Richmond Hill, 905-499-2158
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.