E: When James and I were last in Oak Bay, I came across a Japanese diner that featured an article about a forgotten favourite place I liked to go dine in during the 90’s. Was I feeling nostalgia? Yes, because the owner/operator closed up shop on Yates Street and ever since then, I wished I could find a place that could serve the style of thick noodled ramen that I came here to enjoy. Apparently, in the article, it said that he came out of retirement to open up Mutsuki-An. This business is now family run, but as for where he is, or if any of those old flavours can still be found, the menu did not say. Newer flavours could be found … but it took a while for us to find this place. For some reason, I could’ve sworn that it was located off Foul Bay Road. After visiting a different diner, off we were, through Oak Bay than leaving it, to find this Japanese restaurant. I still blame James for giving me false directions since obviously he did not know his way around this municipality.
J: I was ill prepared that morning. I had a prior appointment and there was little time to write down an address, If anyone should’ve had better directions than me, it would’ve been Ed. He’s not hard wired like some techno geeks but he is never without something to connect to the internet. It was made all the more confusing since Mutskuki-An had to vacate their previous location due to a decision by the property owner. Forced to move to Cadboro Bay, I wonder if this is still a good location.
Summer is great because of all of the tourists but let’s hope fall will be similarly as kind with the return of many UVic students. Their move was into a shop on the strip across from Peppers Foods. The restaurant was an open atmosphere with tables in close proximity to each other. It looked like at least two generations of the family were working behind the counter. The kicthen could be viewed from the dining area so I’ll say that’s a good thing. To me it means a level of cleanliness will be expected or else there’ll be a lynching in Cadboro Bay.
E: The kitchen space was larger than the dining space, and I suppose that’s good. When the staff is working there they’ll be bringing fast paced meals to the hungry diners who have left the nearby Gyro Park. But this corner of the Victorian world is a hub of activity that will never go away no matter what the season. It serves the people living in the area very well. Pepper’s Foods is located here, and I’m always impressed by the amount of unique goods they sell. It prepared me for lunch part two, or rather sushi part three. I was told the salmon was very fresh and went for that as part of my order.
J: I ordered a sunomono salad for starters. It took about 9 minutes to reach the table but that was fine since it appears to have been made fresh. I usually don’t get tomato in my sunomono salad which tells you how different this place really is and how lacking others may be. The sunomono salad was cold with a sweet vinagrette, just the way I like it. I skipped the usual ordering of pop (I didn’t see it on the menu) and went for straight water. But the server revealed one of my pet peeves. If you are going to be refilling the glass of your customer, the thing you do not do is allow the spout of the pitcher to touch the glass where someone’s lips may have been. Watch for that the next time you’re out dining. At worst it may be considered a health hazard and at best it’s disgusting.
E: My only regret was that we both ordered the small version of this salad. At $4, that cup was tiny. A medium-sized one would have made a bit of a dent in my appetite. Instead, it was my later dishes that proved to be more satifying. While James settled for a Spicy Scallop Donburi, I went straight for the two different maki rolls, a salmon and unagi (eel). My waitress said the salmon is very good today, and when my ears hear that, I have to raise an eyebrow.
J: Wether Ed considered our server’s statement illogical or not, I was too concerned with my main dish. It was spicy as promised butI was having some difficulty with the other ingrediants. I found the rice tasted of startch and the greens were a bit on the brown wilted side. The scallops though would receive an A plus if I were a University of Victoria professor. I must admit I loved the little shopping district but I couldn’t get comfortable in the restaurant. Dining for me is comfort food literally. For me to have food, I must have comfort. And comfort was not something I was feeling in this establishment.
E: I thought the diner was cozy. Had this area have been much like Sidney, with a fish store at the end of the road, I’m sure that’s where Mutsuki-An would have received their daily quota of fish. The salmon was decent, likely veined, but I think the eel stole the show. I did appreciate how well rolled my morsels were, and the cooks nicely balanced the amount of rice to the fish. I could hardly taste the starch in the rice.
J: In the end no matter what my grumblings or praises may be, it’s still early days. Moving to a different location you are sometimes going to find little things to nitpick over (okay, it’s me), but I’m still holding out to see what their business is like over the fall and winter months. Hopefully they are kept afloat by hungry UVic students.
3 Blokes out of 5