When All You Want is Royal Spice Indian Cuisine

20221217_200051212-815 Cloverdale Ave
Victoria, BC

Hours: 11:00am to 10:00pm daily
Phone: (250) 380-1881
Website: royalspicevictoria.ca

Winter is a good time to have a hot meal, and when I refer to the temperature, I’m actually talking about the spice level that Indian food is famous for. Royal Spice Indian Cuisine knows how to kick everything up a notch, and then some! I was here with another pal since our Call of Cthulhu RPG session with other gamers was a bust–nobody wanted to game in the late month of December. I understand the holidays change priorities, but for us hard core gamers hoping to embark on a mission, it can be disheartening.

This intimate establishment knew how to turn our disappointment around. Even on a cold night, we were warmly welcomed and it was busy. This city had a blast of winter snow, and it didn’t deter those brave the slick streets from dining out.

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Lots of Great Umami Exists with a Kiss at Kissato Sushi

20221116_175220Kissato Sushi
2027 Oak Bay Ave
Victoria, BC

Hours: Tues to Sat, 11:30am to 2:30pm and 5 to 8pm.
Phone: (250) 370-5195

I’m surprised that I never noticed Kissato Sushi before in my sojourns to the municipality of Oak Bay, which is one district over from where I live. The main reason is that there aren’t a lot of areas to park my car. It’s almost a must bus in the zone, given how restrictive the area is for vehicle traffic along the strip.

When I am here, I make the most of my time here. The avenue is even more of a throwback to the yesteryear than any other area, and I’m glad there are no signs of modernisation here, except maybe one operation or two.

The best known operations for eats here include the Ottavio Italian Bakery & Delicatessen and The White Heather Tearoom (review link). For where to buy alcohol, I highly recommend The Cork and Barrel; they are one of the few places that keeps a good stock of Strange Brew’s holiday drinks. Also, the Penny Farthing bar can be hit or miss, but as for buying delicious meats, I heartily believe The Whole Beast is tops. I go there to purchase their maple rosemary bacon. 

With all that said, this district has only three sushi operations still running. Sadly, Osaka Sushi (review link) is permanently closed, and I consider them one of the best. Thankfully, Kissato can fit the bill, even though their selection is not as extensive. That is, sea urchin isn’t available. In what they offer is a terrific catalogue of the staples. The fish was especially fresh since my friend Max and I arrived at the opening, and we had enormous appetites going on. 

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Yule Don’t Have to Be JOIE for Fine French Holiday Dining

20221113_121528JOIE Grillades
104-1175 Cook St

JOIE French Café
1610 Cook St
Victoria, BC

Hours: Daily from 11am to 3pm
Phone: (250) 590-9193
* Reservations recommended

DK: Cook Street between Caledonia and Pandora has always been my favourite commercial district in Victoria. During my 20s, it was home to the best bar in town, the best pizza slice in town, and the best bakery. I’m still grieving the loss of Logan’s Bar, and the 420 slice cravings will never go away. Thank God, Pâtisserie Danielle survives. 

When JOIE French Cafe opened, I was excited by what it could add to the neighbourhood (namely the opportunity to get a decent croque monsieur). It didn’t completely live up to my own hype back then, but I was glad to be back at JOIE to try something else on the menu.

ES: I too miss Logan’s. It’s been a punk rock haven for decades, since one can truly enjoy the acts up close. I was there when Thor (no, not the Marvel Cinematic hero) was in town. Ira Hunter, Editor-in-chief of Absolute Underground Magazine, invited me to come join him, and I think he was hoping I’d write a review of that show, but I digress. I showed up early just so I could hit Cold Comfort Ice Cream. 

But on the day I was out with Don, I needed something to warm me up. On the lunch menu, the French Onion Soup was exactly what I needed to soothe these old bones of mine. Yes, I’m the older one between Don and me, but I won’t say by how much.

20221113_121452

DK: But just like Becel Margarine, Ed is young at heart. What an insane ad campaign that was. Cure your fears of ageing by smearing this oil spread on a bit of toast. Slurp up that fuckin linoleic acid until you’re sprinting around your neighbourhood park like a 4-year-old. Anyway, speaking of healthy eating choices, I went for the salad at Joie. And hoo boy did they ever strangle that spinach in sliced almonds and goat cheese. No skimping here.

ES: While the prices here are reasonable for lunch, I suspect heading over to their main restaurant, JOLIE Grillades, will make a dent in anyone’s wallet. Authentic French cuisine on the island isn’t cheap. What I got as a sampler was certainly worth the $14, if I remember correctly. That is, if you want to feast on fresh salmon, duck or even lamb, their market price can be a shocker, especially if you’re visiting off season and have a particular craving. 

Would Don and I return for that? I’d be on the fence, but would be willing. I will return to this operation for a crepe though! I’m anxious to taste what a chef can do with bacon though. But as for the bigger operation, what say you, Don?

DK: I’m interested in whether their croque monsieur has improved from when they were a younger eatery. Crêpes don’t really get me moving, though. So am I excited to return? No. Does that say anything about this café? Probably not. Enthusiasm for mornay sauce will likely dictate your own enthusiasm for Joie and its offerings.

4 Blokes out of 5
Final score for both operations: pending.

Where’s the Beet with the Bear and Joey?

20221113_112508Bear and Joey
1025 Cook St
Victoria, BC 

Hours:  Daily from 9am to 2pm
Menu: bearandjoey.ca
Phone: (250) 590-9193

ES: My big question regarding the popular diner, Bear and Joey, is where’s the Australian influence? On the late Sunday morning when Don and I arrived there for a bite, it was busy! I thought about doing reservations, and probably should’ve since there’s a few menu offerings not on the take out. It seems that rain or shine, patrons will flock here for a warm meal

DK: Ed and I both knew an Aussie aesthetic was part of this operation’s pitch, but nothing stood out as culturally unique after our initial visit. Bear and Joey owner Peter Cook, a native of Sydney, Australia, described Australian cafe culture as “coffee every morning and a simple breakfast grab-and-go” in a 2020 interview with Victoria News. 

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[Port Angeles, WA] When All Residents Need is Songoku Hibachi and Sushi!

20221009_142702Songoku Hibachi and Sushi Japanese
134 W Front St
Port Angeles, WA

Hours: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm (daily)
Phone: (360) 477-4315

In a small town like Port Angeles, the primary industry is fishing and tourism. In October, it’s the 21st Annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival. For the adventurous hiker, there’s Hurricane Ridge and the Olympic Mountains, but they are typically closed when the seasons change. Because there’s plenty of rainforests nearby, harvesting mushrooms (as my review from a few weeks ago explored) is no doubt next.

But instead of local delights, I had to see how Japanese food and the Pacific Northwest can be fused up. Fusion food is a big thing and can be a selling point for some operations, and Songoku has crawfish! I don’t think I’ve seen it offered in sushi before! Out of all the places I’ve visited in the past, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it offered in the menu.

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All’s Welly in Port Angeles, Ice Cream and More!

20221009_160104Welly’s Real Fruit Ice Cream
115 E Railroad Ave
Port Angeles, WA

Hours: (Closed Tues)
12:30 AM to 8:30 PM daily
Website: https://www.wellysicecream.com/

While I’m not sure how well this ice cream parlour stays afloat when the weather is wet, there’s always room for this delight any time of the year! Welly’s is popular because they offer a dairy-free version. It’s not strange at all that Lillie and Jacob, the proprietors, took up residence in Port Angeles. Part of it may well be due to how similar it is to New Zealand. As explained from the company web page, the woman discovered how the Kiwi love making their ice cream and decided to take the idea home to set up shop here. This also includes buying the proper equipment to provide an authentic grind.

The milk trickling down the ridges and the taste of freshly blended fruit made my taste buds do the hula. The fact some fruit was kept chilled and was then crushed gave the ice cream an extra texture.

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