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New spot serves comfort food for nostalgic Asians in Richmond

A Richmond eatery introduces Asian comfort food to community members hoping that this snack will keep people warm while stirring sweet nostalgic memories among some.

For many Canadians, hot chocolate or mac and cheese are the comfort foods that get them through the winter months.

For many Asians, hot oden is the dish that evokes feelings of nostalgia and reassurance, explained Mark Zhang, the owner of Hot Oden, Richmond’s first oden restaurant.

“Hot oden is a simple yet satisfying snack that many Asians crave during the winter season. It’s as comforting as a hug,” Zhang adds with a laugh.

Zhang grew up eating oden, also known as a one-person hot pot dish.

In his hometown in China, vats of boiled fish balls, processed fish cakes, deep-fried tofu, pieces of radish and some veggies simmering in a soy-based broth would be served at the food counter in almost every convenience stores. 

However, when he immigrated to Canada hot oden was hard to find.

“I have some Asian friends saying they are dying for some hot oden on cold rainy days, but they haven’t been able to find any. So I am thinking maybe I could ‘be the change,’” laughed Zhang.

Two weeks ago, Zhang and his business partners finally got the idea off the ground and opened Hot Oden at 3779 Sexsmith Rd.

It features 30 kinds of ingredients, ranging from lobster balls to cheese fish balls.

“It has been trendy among workers and students in China, not just because it’s delicious and affordable, but also (because) it gives us warmth on a dark, cold night,” he added.