622 Fisgard St
Phone: (250) 590-7687
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.
Ox King Noodles
780 Fisgard St
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.
723 Pandora Ave.
[This guest review is by Naomi DeBruyn of Void Girl. She was the former editor of Linear Reflections E-Magazine. In her last visit to Victoria, BC, sometimes visiting old establishments is not perfect. She was with friends in this outing ….]
Touted as ‘The place to eat in Victoria!’ I found this dining experience to one of the most pathetic I’ve ever endured. Yes, endured. It was more than an experience, it was an agonizing waste of time.
Having only two hours before our movie started, we decided on ‘John’s Place’ for our dinner. It was virtually empty, even with the addition of the three of us, the customers were still under ten in number. We were awaiting a fourth, but decided to order anyhow. A good thing we did, believe me!
There were multiple staff and the place was decorated with ‘star personalities’ who had eaten there, and old time sports memorabilia. Well, lucky those stars were who they are as I’m betting it influenced the service.
606 Trounce Alley
ES: I wish the Izakaya in Trounce Alley stayed longer. Actually known as So-Ya, they had a classy environment to fashion some trendy and nouveau Japanese style food. People can read our review here and I truly miss them. Park’s Kitchen replaces this operation. They had a soft opening and not many people noticed.
I have to wonder if the servers even have an eye for what’s good here. When James and I had our empty glasses of water just sitting on the table, no one bothered to glance to see if we needed a refill. I saw where the decanters were and had to help myself.
JS: Although the shell of So-Ya remains, the spirit within had long since passed on. What has replaced it is not very impressive. I was willing to be pleased but Park’s rarely shined when it came to either customer service, the kitchen staff or their lunch specials.
But I’m going to give a bad sounding critique and the reason is the not-so-good outweighed what was best about this place. But to start, their sunomono salad was very creative if not refreshing.
The lettuce threw me off but the carrots were most welcome. The vinaigrette was sweet and cool. I have to say I finally found a sunomono that may have beaten Sushi Plus. But perhaps to put something else to replace the lettuce will improve on this creation.
306 Burnside Rd
J: Like bees that are attracted to pollen, Ed and I are attracted to the area surrounding Tillicum Centre. The sweet nectar that can be found with either going to the movies (SilverCity Victoria Cinemas), getting a cheap dinner (Marble Arch), having desserts (Mr. Tubb’s Ice Cream Parlour) or partaking in board games (Skyhaven Games) in one area is too much to handle with just a single trip. If you’re a film buff like us (in name only and not in physique), yes you will find yourself coming back for more.
On this particular trip, we were looking for comfort at Szechuan Palace and I don’t mean to have a good cry and a cuddle. Both Szechuan Palace and Szechuan City are run by the same family and they are only four blocks apart. I’ve been to this location once before with my mom. Our purpose was to get a decent dinner before a movie, but we didn’t get past the starter. Service was slow even though they weren’t busy. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. A lot of time and patience is needed when you dine here in the evening.
History was looking like it would repeat itself. The website has incorrect information. It’s operating hours are not updated, and there’s no evening buffet.
Les Chocolats Favoris
1010 Government St
JS: Move over Beacon Drive-In, there is a new ice cream shop in town and they speak Québécois French. Can a bit of olde England (Victoria) stand up to the noveau French invasion? Personally, I will say Beacon has little to worry about. But careful, do not drop your guard. Do not take Favoris lightly. Sure Beacon has their own lightly creamed sweet ice cream but when the urges take over, now and again, I want a hearty ice cream that is less on cream but more filling. For these urges, I shall run to Les Chocolats Favoris.
ES: I like the fact that the president of this company, Dominique Brown, decided to open up shop here in Victoria instead of Vancouver. They are based out of Quebec and to have an operation here is a gamble. Over the summer, during the busy tourist season where a cruise ship stops by every few weeks, this place was busy! Of course, James and I were late in learning about it and we still wobbled our way over to try ice cream off-season.
The draw has to be with the size of the portions offered. When I was walking to the Inner Harbour later, some tourists gawked at what I had left and I pointed them to where they could buy one.