Stubborn Chef – 拉麵館
AsUsual Cafe – 老地方
3960 Shelbourne St
Only James can think Kuma Noodle Japan has the best ramen all around Victoria. He’s most likely right, but he’s not had the complete Japanese experience (I had it in Japan, a place he has yet to travel to). Yes, I’m relentless in teasing him about this fact and one year, we will visit the Land of the Rising Sun to sample the food together. Back in Victoria, in the meantime, competitors eventually will emerge to challenge my buddy’s statement.
Trying to schedule his willingness to go out with my Pokémon GO adventures (I need to fuel up somehow) is like dragging a closet gamer out of the comfort of his own home to see the light, er sun.
We have tried a few places together. Foo Ramen Bar has been running for a while and unless you know which Japanese restaurants to go to, they will have this common staple buried along with the Udon and Soba. Next to the Victoria Public Market downtown is Ox King Noodles. In Gordon Head, The Stubborn Chef specializes in a variety of noodles. James finally checked out this place during one of his rare departures from Langford. By then, I’ve been here for the third time. Interestingly, the chef is a third generation noodle-maker. He’s been trained by the best and I’m glad he’s settling into the Gordon Head culinary landscape. The folks who ran this operation used to operate out of Chinatown in the past five years. And when it was sold a few years ago, I’m assuming the change of pace is because this municipality is closer to home. There’s less distance to travel. I’m thinking the owner/operator is taking a cue from James’ book. Why travel far when you can enjoy the comforts of home?
1401 3rd Ave
It’s easy to become lost in the decision-making process of what to eat at the Wild Ginger. The menu has a delectable smörgåsbord of South Asian-inspired delights and the cocktails are even more savoury. I needed a map to guide me along what I wanted to sample in the temple that I entered into. During the evening, the candle lights made the dining experience like that of going swami entering a pagoda to meditate in.
Miss Fruits H.K. Desserts
4071 Shelbourne Street
J: There’s a trendy dessert shop in Gordon Head that may be borrowing a lot of sweet ideas from Hong Kong. I have never seen the like of this place in Victoria before and I certainly welcome it.
This suburb is a fitting location since it’s known as hub for Asian residents. The first thing I noticed in this establishment’s decor are the bright yellow painted walls, the tight-fitting chairs and the photos on the walls. I don’t think they were built to hold my big ass.
E: I’m surprised James didn’t hit anything … no wait, he did play bumper shoot as we navigated the tables to our seat. I laughed and the staff giggled.
Since opening a few years ago, it’s become quite the spot for local Asian youth. One of my female friends love coming here and I’d frequent this place more if it wasn’t for the fact I’m careful in how much sweets I eat during a single month. This place is worth visiting to sate a sweet tooth!
Mind you, I’ve always thought the desserts I tasted when I visited Japan were far more innovative and this operation has changed my mind. For a while, I thought it’s hard to beat a bunny eared donut. But over in Hong Kong, there’s plenty of interesting delights too. Miss Fruits H.K. Desserts is importing those ideas over everyone to enjoy!
9:15pm Feb 10
With a movie title like Final Recipe, I had to wonder if this foodie film is the be all and end all of films celebrating Asian-style culinary delights. I’m very grateful to the Victoria Film Festival for bringing in a variety of independent movies to my attention, and when every year manages to include some kind of food themed film, all my taste buds can do is salivate in anticipation!.
It’s tough to beat the first film (Chef of the South Polar) I ever saw. I became really hungry for Japanese food, and the lesson I learned that ramen cannot be ramen without kansui — a kind of mineral water containing elements of sodium carbonate along with a few other chemical compounds.
In Final Recipe, I learned that at least in China, there’s 1200 variations of what a noodle can become when cooked up. Flavours can be instilled, presentations can awe, but what about bringing pleasant memories from long ago? Especially that when one has become a conneiseur because of that first dish that mama made for you with love. Those kind of memories are not easy to forget.
This movie succeeds because it evokes those kinds of memories when the competition begins. I came home feeling hungry for a noodle-based dish and after satisfying my belly, I’m finally to ready to write!
Just Matcha Tea Shop
2021 Oak Bay Avenue
Oak Bay, BC
Kissako Green Tea Cafe
2027 Oak Bay Ave,
Oak Bay, BC
Plenty of green tea flavours can be found over in Oak Bay. Practically next door to each other are Kissako, a green tea cafe, and Just Matcha, a store that specializes on that particular brand of tea. I was in this municipality to watch the filming of Gracepoint, a US remake of BBC’s Broadchurch and I’m always keen to learn from the pros by careful observation from afar.
I have the educational background to know what I’m doing in a newsroom, but as for a film/tv set, I feel I’m not not quite there yet.
1113 Blanshard St.
E: I’ve been to Shiki Sushi more times than James has with his attempts to get out to Sidney. But in a miracle of miracles, to convince him to head here when dinner options were minimal within a certain square block was not too hard. I didn’t realize there were a few new menu items, and for once, I didn’t do all you can eat.
J: I really wanted to visit the Noodle Cart after we failed to dine at Pinoy. Ed said Shiki was “pricey.”
I was trying to find excuses not to go in and Ed was offering to pay for 1/4 of the bill. That’s a Scotsman for you. My first impression was its dimly lit interior. Perhaps it was because of the daylight or maybe I still needed time for my eyes to adjust.