Richmond attracts foodies for the annual Richmond Night Market but did you know the Richmond Public Market is just as worthy? What’s the difference, you might be pondering. The Richmond Public Market is a year round indoor market. On the first floor you’ll find produce, a bakery, butchers, marinated and slowly cooked meats, fresh seafood, kitchenware from Asia and even shopping featuring religious and vintage pieces.
The second floor is where you can find vendors adorned with neon signs selling Asian dishes freshly made in their stalls. Taryn and I got there early at 9 am to find ample parking spots. Little did we know most stalls don’t open until 10:30 or 11 am so we had some time to form a game plan and watch the locals. I am glad we got there early so that we could watch many of the vendors start to prep their foods fresh. Check out the video to see what I mean.
Pro tip, bring coffee as you won’t find any here at 9 am.
As the vendors prepared to open the locals slowly trickled in anxiously awaiting the moment each stall would be accepting orders. Taryn and I observed not quite yet understanding what was taking place in those early hours.
We approached some vendors with their stall lights turned on and were greeted with “Not yet!” at 10:21 am but then a local would approach the same stall at 10:27 am and an order was placed. So we obediently waited for 10:30 am or 11 am in some cases to order. Each vendor would tell us an approximate time.
“25 minutes!” in some cases.
“40 minutes” for others.
What were we missing?
After a few hours making all the mistakes we finally figured it out!
How to make the most of your first visit
Get there early…but not too early.
The Richmond Public Market opens at 9 am. It says so right on their Google business profile BUT that doesn’t mean that the vendors will be ready to take orders. Take it from me. I was there by 9:15 am and it was a bit too early, especially without coffee in hand.
Instead I’d recommend grabbing a coffee or tea from a nearby location (Mr Peanuts isn’t open until 10:30) and get a good parking spot at 9:30 am. You can wander, take photos, make a game plan, sit and people watch.
Bring Cash & Wear a Mask
Just like the Richmond Night Market, and most markets in Europe for that matter, you’ll need to bring cash with you. Most of the vendors only accept cash. No debit, no credit. How much? That depends on how many you’re feeding OR how much you want to try. Prices tended to be about $10 per plate, a steal for the freshest and most authentic Asian food this side of the Pacific.
Hailing from Kelowna where you’ll find very few masks nowadays, it was a bit of a shock to arrive in Richmond where everyone is still wearing masks indoors. And culturally it makes sense. Mask wearing in Asia is encouraged and 60% of Richmond inhabitants were born overseas.
Shop (first floor)
You can purchase fish, crab and lobster fresh from the tanks. Any kind of seafood that can be found in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Vancouver/Richmond can be found here. Oysters, geoduck, clams, and so much more are all available from the singular fish monger that occupies the corner space on the bottom floor. If you have access to a kitchen heading to the Richmond Public Market would be the next best thing to fishing it yourself.
A bakery, Pine House Bread & Bake Shop offers celebration cakes (order in advance) and Western Asian pastries and buns.
There’s so much to look at just wander and keep an open mind. If you know any Mandarin it might help you navigate as well…but then again you probably wouldn’t be reading this guide if you do.
Peruse & Dine (second floor)
Each vendor has their own specialty. Some make it pretty obvious because they’re making so much of it early. Some only serve that one thing they’ve perfected. Deep fried squid and whole crab, steamed buns, dumplings, rice noodles, milk tea, and so much more can be found here. If you can’t decide I’d suggest you go where there’s a line up. People are friendly so you can always ask the locals too. The worst case scenario is that someone doesn’t speak English.
Set Up Your Orders Like Dominoes
Now, the best advice I can give you is to figure out a game plan, especially if you don’t want to wait too long. As soon as each place you want to check out is open then go there and order immediately. You’ll then be assigned a time (15-30 minutes depending on how busy it is).
If you plan it right you can first order your fried crab done in Hong Kong style (15 minutes), then order your steamed or panfried pork buns (25 minutes) and milk tea with custard pancakes (30-40 minutes for pancakes if you don’t in there first) and so on. At least you’ll have your milk tea from Peanut’s to sip on as you wait and people watch.
Some of the vendors at the Richmond Public Market are making the best food and drink in this suburb of Metro Vancouver. So there will be a wait. Peanut’s Bubble Tea, for example, offers some of the best milk tea in the city. By the time I approached and was ready to place an order they were sold out of pancakes with a wait time of 40 minutes for anything other than the red bean filled pancake – what is the fascination with red bean?! Not my favourite as you can probably tell from the video.
Got any other pro tips we missed during our first time? Tell us in the comments!