1218 Wharf St,
Phone: (250) 590-7370
When the waitresses at Shima admit Victoria, BC has way too many Japanese restaurants, I have to wonder when some will close up shop out of frustration to get a regular clientele or which operation stands out as the best? I’m sure there’s a list out there which locals has voted on as the best. I can’t say I completely agree either.
This operation has been around since 2010. While I have walked by on many an occasion, the desire to try this place out was limited. The menus on display showed prices were above average and they did not offer anything unique when compared to other operations.
For some reason, James Shaw tagged along. As we both settled in a cozy corner, we both eyed the same item on the menu: a clam miso soup. I had to go for my traditional staples, a sunomono salad (perhaps one of the best I’ve had since the chef did not skimp on the octopus) and a deluxe platter of nigiri. To sum up my buddy’s thoughts on the said soup: you get your money’s worth ($6). Not only are the servers very generous in the serving of this mollusk, but also the aroma had feeling I ordered the wrong starter.
Mr. J cackled like that particular master trickster from the Batman animated series. He ordered the Sunny Roll. This maki is made with real crab meat, mango, cream cheese and cucumber with avocado and smoked salmon on top. The combinations offered a great bounty of flavours (I stole one from his plate) and the Sumo Roll showed how challenging that piece is as he struggled to finish. That’s because we went to our favourite ice cream shop earlier and he went large while I ordered small.
Admittedly, I did not finish my deluxe platter either. Honestly, it should be called the extreme given the number of product available: 9 pieces of nigiri, 21 pieces of sashimi and 6 pieces of hosomaki. The salmon and varieties of tuna outnumbered the other types of fish offered.
Sundays and Mondays usually has traditional Japanese restaurants closed because of the lack of available types of fish the market they order from is closed. To order a deluxe spread during this time (for those who choose to be open) is never as good. I visited on a Sunday and should have known better. When compared to a visit elsewhere on a Saturday, I got a better selection there than here. I got two pieces of surf clam (technically one divided into two). A better chef would look at a diner’s order and realize, oh, this customer has ordered octopus in his salad and I should not include it in his main dish. Varying the content up would make for a better meal.
Sadly, going for the most expensive assorted does not mean you will get the pricier delights. I knew what I was getting myself into and will have to be more mindful of which day is best to visit for the best of raw fish delights.
I’ll definitely be back to sample the Crazy Monster and Sexy Mango roll. And yes, that includes trying the clam miso soup (update: the second visit was much better, and this dish is to die for). These offer combinations I do not often see on a menu. This operation is worth returning to just for the view of the Inner Harbour at dusk. The service is great and just why I did not visit earlier is because it’s located in the touristy part of downtown. While not a deterrent, it does factor into places where I’m willing to commonly visit.
3½ Blokes out of 5