Tsim Chai (I pronounce it ‘jim-jeye’) is a basic, no frills service, quick Cantonese food restaurant located right in the heart of Richmond. It’s directly across the street from the Richmond Public Market (check out Peanut’s Bubble Tea when you’re there – it’s comparable to Dragon Ball Bubble Tea House) and it’s always busy. So busy in fact, that the owner asks his customers to share a table with strangers. We’ve been going to Tsim Chai for at least 12 years now (as long as Gary and I have been together!). When we lived in Victoria and would come over to the mainland to visit Gary’s brother and sister, we’d always end up at Tsim Chai for a quick bite to eat. Cheap food, quick service, what more could you want? The signature item here is their famous, award-winning wontons. The congee is also quite popular at Tsim Chai – try the preserved egg and salted pork jook. (FYI: Congee and jook both mean ‘rice porridge’). We’ve eaten most dishes available at this little restaurant over the years, but here are some photos of our most recent meal:
Beef Brisket & Wontons ($6.45) – Prawn wontons with tender beef brisket in soup. The broth in this dish is darker and heavier than their standard wonton noodles.
Wonton Noodles ($6.45) – Fresh prawn wontons and noodles in a light soup. First of all, these wontons are huge. Also, they contain large chunks of crunchy prawns instead of just minced shrimp like other restaurants. Prawn wontons I’ve had elsewhere often contain very little prawns and mostly “filler” ingredients like pork fat. These wontons are great with Tsim Chai’s chili sauce, and delicious XO sauce which they sell in-house.
I’d compare Tsim Chai to a Chinese-fast-food joint, like McDonald’s, but with noodles! You won’t get friendly service with a smile, but you can count on receiving inexpensive food with fast service. A few things to mention: Occasionally, the cooks can be a little heavy-handed with the MSG, but I guess that’s not much of a surprise for this type of restaurant. Also, this establishment is located in a really congested parking lot. Be ware. And, of course, since this is Richmond after all, Tsim Chai is CASH ONLY.