990 Blanshard St
On a wet February night in Downtown Victoria, life was very good. Here I am, headed to Parkside Hotel & Spa to screen Empire of Corpses (屍者の帝国) as part of the Victoria Film Festival, and I passed by a corner to find it’s now occupied by a new Japanese restaurant. A few doors ahead was Yokohama, which has now changed to a Chinese only restaurant, and in bold letters read Omakase. I knew what that word meant in Japanese — the selection comes from the chef, and from Shingo Sano, I was wooed by the offer of fresh Japanese mackerel, local geoduck and fresh uni — all of it was delectable. I swear it came out of the ocean that day. There was a bit of processing on the sea urchin, meaning it was probably handled that morning, but I could feel the roe from the sea urchin tickle my tongue like a certain lover I met long ago.
Did I miss the anime? Fortunately not, but I was tempted to head in again on that night. I did visit this diner on the previous day, only to have my movie going schedule altered due to my food coma, but the price I paid was well worth it. I had intended to go see The Lobster, and wanted to celebrate by having the hefty lobster roll offered here. After seeing the size of that maki, I did not want to rush the meal by any means.
The crispiness of the tempura crust around the meat, the softness of the avocado, the light saltiness from the black roe, and the sauce made the dish oh so divine, I’m salivating again! The presentation was top-notch, and this alone was a meal in itself! I did sample other dishes, because no new restaurant can escape my desire to try as much of the ocean life as I can. On the next visit, I will, but in the gourmet combo ($20), tuna, salmon, scallops and argentine shrimp made up part of the plate of delights that I could easily slurp down in one go. The rice was slightly warm, served just right, and the proportions hit the golden ratio that still made me hungry as I ate away.
I chatted with Sano a bit, and he was telling me where he received his training. He apprenticed for several years in Tokyo, Japan. He did a stint in Montreal and Philadelphia for a few years too, before coming to Victoria and settling in. He revealed why he decided to open this diner up. If you do not seriously love what you do, then any operation just will not happen. I can tell from his enthusiasm that he loves serving people the best in traditional and modern sushi offerings. He also tells me Thursday is the best time to dine. That’s when his shipments come in.
I’m set to go back at the end of the month to try out a few of the other rolls and become a regular. The fish is just that fresh! He does have a few unique fusion dishes that I must try out. Namely, the Killed Bee (salmon, flying roe, tempura flakes, mango, cucumber, honey, topped with tuna sashimi) and Electric Avene (red tuna, avocado, tempura flakes, bbq eel, japanese pepper and dried leeks). I imagine the spelling mistakes are intentional … Aw heck, I’m just going to head down now!
5 Blokes out of 5