Cat’s Coffee & Cake
1213 Douglas St
Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Phone: (250) 590-1699
This cat certainly wants to come back to the cafe on Douglas Street because of the treats and sweets offered. Not only is the company logo designed by local artist Gareth Gaudin, but also I figure it’s his favourite hangout spot when not behind the till at Legends Comics. I believe they also offer catering services too, which is a bonus for any downtown operation wanting to support local enterprises.
I was feeling peckish the day I was in town. The signboard detailing Cat’s Coffee & Cake specials caught my eye. Kimchi and bacon in a croissant sandwich? I knew it’d be a flavourful combination, but there was a small lineup. I had another errand to do and when I returned, there was none.
At first I thought I’d be entering a cafe with cute felines around, but alas, that’s another operation in the works (Mask and Mantle Cat Cafe are still searching for the ideal location to set up shop). This operation is apparently a passion project of master pastry chef Yi Catherine Yang who decided to set up shop in the busiest intersection of Downtown Victoria. She’s well known in China as the host of several TV cooking shows. Through these programs, she’s been promoting culture through the exchange of how to make up flavourful treats. While she may not be living in this city and working this particular kitchen (her resume lists her as the creative force behind New York’s Gigi Blue), to have her endorsement is enough.
658 Herald St
Phone: (250) 590-9251
ES: Tasty morsels can be found at Saveur Restaurant, located not too far from the cosmopolitan Victoria Chinatown. The location is not really off the beaten path, but is tucked within the same block where Brasserie L’Ecole is also located. My guess is that the city blocks around this former Asian area may well be our city’s answer to an “International District.”
DK: The extent to which Saveur fits into a real or imagined “International District” is seen in some of their menu items over the years. A menu from 2017 showcases “Pakora Battered Broccoli” with Ponzu. A previous version of the house chicken wings was served with “Louisiana Style Remoulade.” The house wings are now “Korean BBQ Wings.”
Viewing the menu as a marketing tool, what remains constant from the earlier years of Saveur to now is “local” items sitting next to “international” flavours (would you like “Chilled Soba Noodles” with miso for lunch? Or perhaps just a salad made with “Mason Street Greens”). What has changed is tourist-pleaser type fare (fish tacos, a burger and a pork belly sandwich) replacing multi-course tasting menus.
Tres Gourmet Bakery & Cafe
1280 Broad St
Hours: Tues-Sat 7am – 4pm
Phone: (778) 433-8737
Tucked away in a side-street is a block of nothing but tres bonne eats. On one side is West Coast Waffles, and the other, many an eatery along Trounce Alley (Bodega Bar, apa Bar and Parks Kitchen).
Tres Gourmet Bakery and Cafe is a stop few will make when the scents from the alley enticing. But I wanted something quick, and the coffees by themselves are tops! They serve all the types–including Red Eye–and it’d be an article to explore how they make ‘em with heart.
Instead, this stop is comforting. There isn’t a lot of outdoor seating options (it’s limited in the tight street known as Broad, ironically enough). Indoors, the tables are presently arranged so there’s plenty of space for those social distancing. But for me, it made me feel like I was in the Roman Pantheon. That wasn’t their intent, as the design is more minimalist modern than classic, but I could also sit for a spell to read Lilo and the Samurai volume two before it was time before my appointment to get my second vaccine shot. Yes, soon Don and I can check out places a bit more frequently since masks aren’t as mandatory.
Liuzhou Luosifen, or River Snail Rice Noodles, is a dish not everyone will like. It sounds gross, but when compared to escargot, the difference is in how the protein source is prepared and used. It’s definitely an acquired taste and ever since the pandemic started, has been a trending thing from Liuzhou City, China–where it was first introduced. CNN reported on how this latest trend is the hippest thing. Two years later, I think the fad died as it’s hard to find at local grocery stores now.
The price for a box is $50 CAD when they first started appearing a year ago. I wasn’t ready to blow a bunch of money for a snack I’m unsure of liking. It took three quarters of a year until the grocery store decided selling my individual package was better.
1127 Haultain St
Tues-Sat: 11:30am – 7:30pm
Sunday: 4 – 7:30pm
Phone: (250) 383-8332
Take Out Available.
My childhood memories of visiting grandma in the Fernwood neighbourhood often include her treating me to some of the “famous” Haultain Fish & Chips around the corner. Seniors love their fish n’ chips, and this place served up some mighty fine fixings in the past. This operation is a staple–hardly ever changing over the years. My mother’s side of the family lived in this area for about two decades before finally moving to other parts of town.
Maybe I should’ve stuck to those memories instead of trying them again in my adult years. I’ve been back a few times before but after the third attempt, I’ve finally come to a conclusion. The subtle changes since the switch in ownership isn’t always for the better. There’s nothing special in the batter to enhance the halibut, and the Fanny Bay oysters (without the coating) were the stars. They were plump and juicy. The portion size was smallish for both. They’re a far cry from what I remember from my youth. If I had to say which shop is the best for the Lower Island, it’s Shell’s Fish and Chips out by Jordan River! The fillets, peppering and serving size are huge! They left a lasting memory.
585 Johnson St
Hours: Tues-Sun 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Phone: (778) 432-0664
Yes, I make no bones about it, I love rice balls. A long time ago, a Chinese-style variant included a deep-fried type where the gooey cheese interior made for all the difference. This was before I discovered Onigiri, a healthier Japanese snacking version to which I’ve never looked back in my switch.
Oni-Oni is a satellite operation of Sakura Sushi and is a place I’ll definitely return to when I need my sweet rice vinegar fix! They have fifteen flavours of onigiri to choose from! Not all of them are always available, but if you call ahead, it’s possible to get what you want made to order. Eating one is not enough, and for a hearty individual like me, I can eat up to four of them in one go. These bites are like snacks, and aren’t the huge ones people sometimes see in anime. They’re about the same size as the ones bought at Fujiya’s on Shelbourne. Plus, this store has Okashi and Nomimono too!