Only James can think Kuma Noodle Japan has the best ramen all around Victoria. He’s most likely right, but he’s not had the complete Japanese experience (I had it in Japan, a place he has yet to travel to). Yes, I’m relentless in teasing him about this fact and one year, we will visit the Land of the Rising Sun to sample the food together. Back in Victoria, in the meantime, competitors eventually will emerge to challenge my buddy’s statement.
Trying to schedule his willingness to go out with my Pokémon GO adventures (I need to fuel up somehow) is like dragging a closet gamer out of the comfort of his own home to see the light, er sun.
We have tried a few places together. Foo Ramen Bar has been running for a while and unless you know which Japanese restaurants to go to, they will have this common staple buried along with the Udon and Soba. Next to the Victoria Public Market downtown is Ox King Noodles. In Gordon Head, The Stubborn Chef specializes in a variety of noodles. James finally checked out this place during one of his rare departures from Langford. By then, I’ve been here for the third time. Interestingly, the chef is a third generation noodle-maker. He’s been trained by the best and I’m glad he’s settling into the Gordon Head culinary landscape. The folks who ran this operation used to operate out of Chinatown in the past five years. And when it was sold a few years ago, I’m assuming the change of pace is because this municipality is closer to home. There’s less distance to travel. I’m thinking the owner/operator is taking a cue from James’ book. Why travel far when you can enjoy the comforts of home?
That said, there’s a consummate quality in the silky noodles. I loved the way they went down. The sweeter broth really makes for a huge difference! When ordering noodles, this place can easily tell the boys at Kuma to not be lazy in how they lace up the dough. The quintessence in how a good noodle should look is visible. The photo I offer should speak for itself for what kind of added delights I can partake in. They certainly taste like they were bought farm fresh. With The Root Cellar about five minutes away to restock on any of the veggies 5 minutes away and the farms close by, I’m guessing that’s why this operation excels.
However, depending on what gets ordered, the diner has to ask that it be brought out right away instead of left waiting (including when this operation is busy). Sometimes, the dish is left to sit and the quality dips when it is brought out cold. I was here with James during another outing and was not all that impressed the second time around. Tasting their wonton brought out the taste of the old country and what I loved when growing up eating them. I’d avoid their greasier dishes.
This place is cash and debit only for now. Their partner operation, AsUsual Cafe – 老地方, does take credit card and I find it unusual that I can visit this other establishment and order from Stubborn Chef. Unfortunately, I don’t think much of this other place. They have Asian-inspired desserts — some which that I like — and when I want a taste of Asian (Hong Kong) inspired sweets, I think heading to Fairway Market on Quadra or Fujiya is better. This place is hit or miss with their offerings. Not a lot of heart is put into making the treats. When I was there, the customer service level was lacking, and that’s perhaps I’m not one of those Hong Kong satellite kids. Asians can tell if you’re part of that particular crowd or not and even this type of divide is not needed when potential new customers are coming to an establishment to try out.
Stubborn Chef – 拉麵館
4 Blokes out of 5
AsUsual Cafe – 老地方
2 Blokes out of 5