Not Just E:ne for Sake. Raw Food Too?

E:Ne Raw Food and Sake Bar
Address: 737 Pandora Ave, Victoria, BC
Hours: 3PM–12AM
Phone: (778) 433-0363

ES: When it comes to alcoholic beverages, I tend to appreciate sake more than beer. When I heard about this operation opening up in Victoria, BC, my taste buds were titillated. The first thing on my mind was if they carried any of those fruity brews that I see listed in menus whenever I’m in Vancouver dining establishments than anywhere else. Long story short, not all operations are interested in carrying these variations.

As I learned at a sake tasting event a week later, master brewers consider the only good sake is untainted sake. The authentic blends do not include additives. I’m open for experimentation though, including raw food.

As for Wagyu than Kobe beef, they’re technically the same but from different regions. I haven’t had these prime slices for a long time, and I’m glad this sister operation to Nubo Tapa is here. Donald Kennedy was intrigued when I mentioned often seeing lineups for this place and we got together to see what this place was all about. From time to time, though, we saw a little butane device being pulled out and I wondered what the fire regulations were. I patted my head just in case it started smoking.

DK: What was the deal with the torch? Every couple minutes it blasted at random. Blasted into mid-air.

Blasted in the general direction of the bar shelf. Blasted pretty much everywhere but overtop a cocktail, brûlée or anything else that needed finishing. Was the bartender chasing off flies? Just playing? Maintaining? Do I know nothing at all about torch use and maintenance? The mystery of the E:Ne torch lingers like a hungry raccoon round the edge of a campsite.

And here’s another riddle, one I’m much more interested in solving: where can I get a smoked duck hotdog around here? Or maybe a Po Boy? E:Ne’s Peking Duck is good, but I can’t shake the feeling a better delivery method is possible.

ES: Between the various tapas we had, I was hard-pressed to wonder which was more delectable. Their daily specials were of interest, and the maki rolls were a step above other establishments, mostly in being more original in their flavour profiles. There’s only so much cream cheese I can stand. Their beef, say I say I was wagyu my tongue like a hungry dog? It’s been years since I last tasted cow massaged by virgin hands.

There’s a myth concerning cows sipping beer too. By then, the sake was having an effect on me. When drunk, I do not behave like a certain individual from my past seems to think I am. His words and mindset must be limited. At least my behavior opens up some to have fun!

DK: I believe it’s the cows that are virgins, not the ranchers that massage them. Let’s not start a conspiracy theory that strict abstinence enforcement policies within the Japanese beef industry are the real reason birth rates are falling across Japan. I’m sure Japanese ranchers have healthy sex lives, probably healthier than most. Maybe I should become a Japanese rancher…

ES: Or Maybe Don should become a master sake brewer. I feel this establishment is more for the drink than the food. There were lots of varieties to taste from. Some were imported straight from Japan, and a few from local distilleries. YK3 is based out of Richmond, BC and I’m sure there are at least two other ones. When ordering, like wine, you have to know which is best to go well with your dish.

Even though we ordered light meals, we were still hungry and went omakase. We had tempura, more tacos, pressed sushi, dumplings and nigiri. The tuna tasted better than the salmon, and duck meat tacos. Some were solid hits. We were playing tic-tac-toe with the nine items offered to us to taste test. They were playing it safe with half the board.

Raw food of the safer variety this place does have, but it’s not like their neighbouring operation (Nubo) which has monkfish liver on their menu. I’d love it should the two have both menus available, and patrons can choose from either. I’m sure the kitchen is a shared space.

3½ Blokes out of 5

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The Seven Hour Tour … to Tropical Island?

Tropical Island
3690 Shelbourne St #1
Victoria, BC

Hours: 11am to 2:30pm, 5pm to 9pm
Phone: (250) 477-2538

DK: We wanted thick toast in a floral tea bar that rides shotgun with a fitness studio. Instead, we got fried milk and Usher & Lil Jon’s “Yeah” soundtracking voyeursque video of a woman doing squats (I was snooping on the table behind us). More on the tea bar in a future mission. For now, we discuss the compromise.

Tropical Island has an air of reliable tameness that seems to make it popular with old people and families. Buffet fare served a la carte is the general vibe.

ES: I don’t recall how long this operation has been around along the Shelbourne Street corridor, but in all my years living in this municipality, have I thought about going? It certainly looks popular, as Don has said, because of the many apartments nearby. The service is nice and friendly. The food is a mix of various Southern Asian influences.

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Revisiting Futaba & A Mini-Review from James Shaw

1420 Quadra St #101
Victoria, BC
Phone: (250) 381-6141

I can’t say Futaba is a favourite restaurant of mine. They did a bit of change in the menu offerings over the years and the overall result is not convincing me by much. The quality is not quite there anymore as another mutual friend pointed out (see below image) and while the meal I had was certainly tastier on the night I visited here with James Shaw, the improvements were minuscule.

These days, this guy still has an opinion about the places we dine together and he always has to express (to me) what he thinks about the place. I tell him to speak to someone else or resume being a bloke. He stupidly looks at me and I always roll my eyes. I really have no clue why I still hang out with him since he can’t separate from when we are hanging out together as pals to when to shut up if we happen to hit an eatery. He knows I can use his words to put into the next food review. He can’t stop me. In that regard, he’s still continuing to be part of this food-zine (or should I say scene?)

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James’ Last Dance at Han’s Korean Restaurant

IMG_20170319_181938947Han’s Korean Restaurant
615 Johnson St
Victoria, BC
Phone: (778) 265-1760

E: Sadly, the diner Skinnytato closed operations around late Summer of last year, and in its place, the diner went from Polish to Korean. Will I miss it? Not necessarily. Some mom and pop operations can only last as long as it is profitable or the owner/operators wish to keep their business going. Another possible reason is that the people behind Skinnytato decided to retire. I did not investigate to know for sure, but with what James is about to officially announce, all I can do is sigh. He is getting old too.

J: After seven years, I’ll be packing it up and moving on. Also, I am disheartened to see many of the restaurants we have reviewed close up shop. It didn’t matter if a restaurant was good or bad; sometimes Victoria is a tough place to run a place that serves food. We just don’t have the customer base a big city like Vancouver has. Victoria is a little more cut throat.

E: In other words, he’s burnt out (as a mutual friend pointed out). The many labours he has to do at his day job(s) and responsibilities to his family show his mind is elsewhere these days. He’s no Hercules. I’m finding he is not willing to put in the effort into any idea he has or we have come up for this site anymore. He was ambitious and industrious once, but it’s all gone. We were going to pen an article on a variety of novelty sodas we discovered at the Lilly Gobble Sweet Shop early Summer, but even that is constantly getting put off by him than me. I’m willing to bet he wants that article idea to fizzle.

I firmly believe he is making a big mistake by walking away from what we spent many years shaping as this blog’s identity. He does not care and shrugs off everything I suggest to him. Two Hungry Blokes is not ending. I plan on carrying on.

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In Search for a Late Night Meal at Pho Vuong

Pho Vuong
622 Fisgard St
Victoria, BC
Phone: (250) 590-7687noodles3

E: Who would have thought Victoria, BC’s Chinatown is fully multi-cultural? By the Gate of Harmony, I can find French, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese dining options, and I’d be hard pressed to say which is better. In a warm summer night around the town, and both James and my hunger were unabated, I let my buddy choose where to go dine.

Enter Pho Vuong, a nice cozy little operation located at the basement floor of a building and it was right next to a Pokéstop! Yes, I’m still playing the mobile game Pokémon GO, but I’m not as hardcore. If there’s opportunities to eat and spin, why not?

J: I was entranced by the traditional Chinese music being played out of speakers attached to the Friendship Gate. It was my first time hearing it and it somehow added to the atmosphere of its location. But for fine dining, there wasn’t much in the way of choice late night. What was comforting to see was families who owned the restaurants or families and their employees sitting down for a good meal. This night had some magic in the air.

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Ox King Noodles is Worth Mooing Over

ox-king-noodlesOx King Noodles
780 Fisgard St
Victoria, BC

Phone: (778) 967-1022

J: After what was a great night on the town thanks in part to Capital 6 (now risen from the cinematic grave) and Starbucks on the corner of Fort and Blanshard, I was in a particular mood. As a single man would ask his date in for a nightcap I was looking to do the same with the food scene. There is a place I would walk by but would miss opportunities to investigate, Ox King Noodles.

Why it’s called that, I don’t know but I’m going to take a guess it has something to do with an astrological sign. But with Ox King Noodles one doesn’t need to see a sign to eat it, the smells should be enough.

E: I have often walked by this operation during my visits to the Victoria Public Market, and no, I was not James’ date. We both were craving Asian style noodles. Whether as pho’ or as ramen, the ox certainly delivers! I loved the noodles offered in their Vietnamese dishes. The kansui gave it a great chewy texture, and the meat slices had all the right notes for me to moo over.

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