J: No matter how hard we try the Two Hungry Blokes can’t seem to stay away from the attractive town of Sidney-By-the-Sea. It’s either we keep coming back to browse their locally owned shops in and around Beacon Avenue or to fill our bellies from the various eateries we have yet to fully explore. This time, it was the latter. Ed was being treated to a meal for his services rendered and I was paying out of my pocket. After 4 years of talking about it, then scheduling, and rescheduling, we finally managed to visit Taste of Tokyo. It would’ve been a perfect Saturday night if the fog hadn’t rolled in.
E: With me also imitating a fog horn to indicate that we were about to hit land, I’m certainly glad where we landed was in the bay within the heart of Tokyo! Yes, I could go on about my trip from more than a decade ago, but I have fond memories. I even sailed within this bay to spot, of all things, the Statue of Liberty, see where NHK Japan’s head office is and walk along the causeway. But hunger did strike fast and hard. Out of all the Japanese style buffets offered within or near Victoria, I always find going here to be the best and I always hit their baked oyster selection first! Throughout the night, their sushi and nigiri offered are get as much as you want before the selection of fish changes for the next plate is put out!
J: I instantly fell in love with Taste of Tokyo. On first sight, it is a very welcoming place. The staff are friendly and they greet you warmly. There are tables and booths you can hide away in for some privacy, Love was an understatement. It was a full on affair and I dare not let my wife May Gold Village find out. The buffet was laid out in the area around the front counter.
E: I think James must have low standards if he’s comparing the food offered here to that of May Gold. When considering how he raves about Sushi Plus, he must consider that place to be his mistress.
J: I instantly went for the tempura but competition was stiff. There was a woman who would swing by and take most of the tempura with her. When someone desires it more than you, you suddenly get knocked down the food chain from predator to scavenger. I watched from the booth I was seated at until she was finished with her kill, then I came out of hiding for what crumbs were left. The tempura was nice but tempura chicken is a mistake. It had the taste of a lesser KFC. The batter overall wasn’t as tasty as I had hoped but hey, this is a buffet and buffets have their off days. Besides it was only costing me $25 plus tax.
E: For the tempura shrimp, I could not have enough. Each dish I came back to the table with had at least four pieces to savour. The tempura complemented the sweet shrimp probably better than the vegetables. Next in my line of fire was the nigiri. Only the basics were offered, but my heart jumped a mile and a half when I saw octopus and arctic surf clam! those are generally expensive meats to offer, and I grabbed what was reasonable to find the octopus was well cooked. It was soft and chewy. Overcooked, the taste gets rubbery, and this meat was done right. The proportion was decent too, and I should have grabbed more since I can’t get enough of this delicacy. The surf clam had a light briny taste, and if the only geoduck was offered, I’d be in heaven. Had I gotten a better view, I might have spotted eel but alas I might have missed this delight when I wasn’t looking. James had the prime seat to know what was being served and he did not tell me.
J: If I had told Ed what was being served I wouldn’t have had a decent meal. It was bad enough Ed became the octopus king and I the peasant but to have missed out on the clams and mussels too. Being a first timer is rough. I managed to help myself to one or two clams but the second one was done up like an oysters Rockefeller. The clam had too much cream sauce and there was very little substance. But ho-hum, at least the sunomono was strong in taste. I can have multiple helpings in one sitting.
E: I should have sat on the outside edge instead of inside. But would James have fit?
J: Even without the number one spot Ed was doing just fine in dining himself to death.
E: While James was the newbie to this establishment, I’m the veteran. The chefs have never disappointed, even when I was here for lunch. Sadly, with the commute to Sidney being as long as it is, I don’t come up often. I could, who can’t resist the allure of The Haunted Bookshop and other stores of that like?
Well, with Green Wasabi and Taste of Tokyo, neither has truly disappointed, even on the dessert front. I didn’t want to go for a lot of sugar. While there were Nanaimo bars and a few traditional American staples, it was the mango pudding that won the night when compared to all the seafood I ate. Okay, I must admit I wasn’t impressed too much with the snow crab — the legs were thin and in all my visits to the buffet table, I never once saw a claw. Perhaps the really good parts were being saved for those ordering real dishes.
J: The mango pudding was light and delicious, not too sweet like the Nanaimo bars. There was only one time a Nanaimo bar was ever done right and it was by two elderly ladies who used to be at Goldstream Flea Market. Where they are now I know not but I miss their cakes and pastries tremendously. There was much love baked in them. But coming back to Taste of Tokyo is a must. Now that I know how things operate, I’ll be better prepared next time. Although pop is not offered as part of the buffet (as done at May Gold), this is a trivial matter. For those who want something stronger sake can be bought seperately and served at the proper temperature too.
E: I really do not think a proper Japanese restaurant would want to offer sodas. That’s just sacrilege! Mind you, I should have looked at what brands were offered here for sake instead of ordering blindly. If they had some unique plum wine, I would have gone for that instead. Yes, I’ve gotten drunk in Japan and Vancouver. I love my sake. I could have gone for Nakano Shuzo Ichigo No Osake but I asked blindly for any brand. To know what I had would have made the dinner in Sidney exemplary. Without that knowledge, it’s tough to say for certain the meal was nearly perfect.
3 Blokes out of 5