It’s Best to Stick to the Memories with Haultain Fish & Chips

20210319_1734391127 Haultain St
Victoria, BC

Hours:
Tues-Sat: 11:30am – 7:30pm
Sunday: 4 – 7:30pm

Phone: (250) 383-8332
Take Out Available.

My childhood memories of visiting grandma in the Fernwood neighbourhood often include her treating me to some of the “famous” Haultain Fish & Chips around the corner. Seniors love their fish n’ chips, and this place served up some mighty fine fixings in the past. This operation is a staple–hardly ever changing over the years. My mother’s side of the family lived in this area for about two decades before finally moving to other parts of town.

Maybe I should’ve stuck to those memories instead of trying them again in my adult years. I’ve been back a few times before but after the third attempt, I’ve finally come to a conclusion. The subtle changes since the switch in ownership isn’t always for the better. There’s nothing special in the batter to enhance the halibut, and the Fanny Bay oysters (without the coating) were the stars. They were plump and juicy. The portion size was smallish for both. They’re a far cry from what I remember from my youth. If I had to say which shop is the best for the Lower Island, it’s Shell’s Fish and Chips out by Jordan River! The fillets, peppering and serving size are huge! They left a lasting memory.

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The Oni Way to Ed’s Heart is with Rice Balls

20210331_165259Oni-Oni
585 Johnson St
Victoria, BC

Hours: Tues-Sun 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Phone: (778) 432-0664

Yes, I make no bones about it, I love rice balls. A long time ago, a Chinese-style variant included a deep-fried type where the gooey cheese interior made for all the difference. This was before I discovered Onigiri, a healthier Japanese snacking version to which I’ve never looked back in my switch.

Oni-Oni is a satellite operation of Sakura Sushi and is a place I’ll definitely return to when I need my sweet rice vinegar fix! They have fifteen flavours of onigiri to choose from! Not all of them are always available, but if you call ahead, it’s possible to get what you want made to order. Eating one is not enough, and for a hearty individual like me, I can eat up to four of them in one go. These bites are like snacks, and aren’t the huge ones people sometimes see in anime. They’re about the same size as the ones bought at Fujiya’s on Shelbourne. Plus, this store has Okashi and Nomimono too!

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Ready, Table, SET! A Documentary

setWorld Premiere at Hot Docs
Canadian International
Documentary Festival
April 29 – May 9, 2021

Tablescaping is serious business in SET! a documentary. In the competitive world of where up and coming talents show off their skills at county fairs, it can make or break–especially if that’s these people’s job! It’s not just about how to fold that napkin into an attractive flower but also knowing how to arrange the plates and food together in a way so the diner can feel like a king. These contests also requires a list of pretend meals to go with the display, and I suspect the skills can also be applied at promotions at many a convention (comic book or otherwise). Having a well organized table attracts returning customers.

California’s Orange County hosts one of the most recognized events for this state, and there’s many more world-wide. To be a judge, however, means working in the catering business for a long time and knowing what your clients want. It’s less about the fancy decorations for that one individual to feel like he’s in the jungle (one of many themes seen in this doc), but more about what the table setter can dream up for that ultimate dining experience. Writer/director Scott Gawlik’s work spotlights an eclectic mix of folks to show what this artistic endeavour means to them.

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Down by the Harbour w L’Authentique Poutine & Burgers

20210312_175505L’Authentique Poutine and Burgers
1208 Wharf Street
Victoria, BC

Hours:
Weds to Sat 11am to 7pm

Phone: (778) 432-2444
Order: skipthedishes.com

ES: L’Authentique Poutine and Burgers have new digs! Instead of operating out of Langford during the cold winter months (although it’ll soon be Spring), they have a new space down by the wharf to serve up their tasty French fries and burgers for city residents! They’re well known for their fancy poutines and while I don’t expect them to vary the flavours regularly, I will be back to have their french fries time and time again.

DK: Points for longevity. The minor setback of a fire licking the Langford truck into submission back in 2012 doesn’t seem to have had a long-term effect on L’Authentique’s success. Nearly a decade later and here they are in a prime downtown location. But is it worth lining up 30m-1hour once tourists are back in town?

Not if you stick to the published menu. The bacon cheeseburger is reminiscent of an A&W Teen Burger, and the cheese curds in the poutine are squeaky as expected. Don’t get me wrong, it makes for a satisfying enough meal, but I wouldn’t brave tourist crowds for it. 

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Why Seattle’s Rockin the Ramen in this Look Back – Part Two

Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya
320 E Pine St.
Seattle, WA

Hours: Mon to Sun 11 am to 9:30 pm
Phone: (425) 553-0867

I rarely review franchise operations, but when I was exploring the various diners east of the Washington State Conference Center, the choices are not limited when I was there pre-pandemic! I’m hoping this place survived as ramen shops are the type of operations that would close down during these times. Most traditional shops tightly pack diners in tight and I imagine to keep operating, the space of a chair and half is mandated to keep everyone safe.

When people are allowed to freely travel again, I’ll be there for you, Kizuki! Yes, I’m thinking of a certain TV theme song here, because I recall the camaraderie between the regulars and chefs when I was there last.

I’d be sad if they’re gone, because it’s rare to find an operation I’m definitely in love with. I have yet to find a match with the ramen shops here in Victoria, BC. Kizuki’s food is still prepared the same way as it is in Japan–they have a unique method of roasting bones before boiling. Similar to the French style of making consomme, they were the first in the Japanese ramen industry to employ this method. The result is a rich, flavourful broth that is fragrant and full of depth. They are devoted to replicating the incredible flavour of traditional Japanese ramen. Every operation gets the bulk of their ingredients from this country.

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I’m Screaming for Ice Cream (and to Travel Again)

Shug’s Ice Cream
and Soda Fountain
Pike Place Market
1525 1st Ave Seattle, WA

Hours: Thurs to Sun 2 pm to 8 pm
Phone: (206) 602-6420

I miss making my annual trip in March to Seattle, Washington. One reason is that this city is home to Emerald City Comic Con, the largest show celebrating pop culture for the Pacific Northwest (Canada included)! Last year’s event didn’t happen because of the pandemic. I was making my plans, but when Seattle became famous for being a hotbed of possibly getting infected, I knew I had to cancel.

ReedPOP made the wise call to “postpone” their event as nobody wants to get COVID-19, and while they are scheduling to resume for Winter 2021, just whether that will fly will depend on the global situation. Vaccines are being delivered and by Summertime, I should be a card carrying member of almost immune to COVID-19 club. I’m still going to wear a mask everywhere I go and have hand sanitizing wipes though! Upon landing, I know I’ll be making a beeline to Shug’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream. They offer late night treats when the sugar craving calls! Throughout the year, plenty of seasonal flavours become available, but my plan is to attack the Big Eddie again–or I may order something different.

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