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.
Feast Food+Film is a three-day movie festival in Victoria, BC taking place in mid-June I generally do not miss. Some years are better than others in terms of how many movies I can see (tickets are $25 each). Sadly, James is losing interest in going to anything culinary and is very frugal these days. Also, at least for me, when a few of the movies / documentaries are quickly getting offered on VOD or Streaming services to view, my decision over what to see on a big screen is getting difficult. I want to save money too, but I’ll be missing getting to enjoy the tapa-sized tasters are offered at these events.
I did not have to view Cook Up the Storm, but a little voice in my head said go see it.
The organizers at the Victoria Film Festival never fail to tickle my taste-buds. I really enjoyed Bugs on the Menu from last year, and while nothing as exotic was offered this year, I had a well-made documentary in Commanding the Table to give me a quick history lesson on creole food. I love this style of cuisine and will go out of my way for it. To learn more about one of the early pioneers behind raising the bar on this style of cooking was engaging.
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.
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.
J: Hope Key is one of those places I was introduced to by a friend a few years ago. Although I have previously visited here, I’ve never tried their food or their drinks. My only experience with Hope Key was relaxing in their loft while my friend enjoyed her bubble tea. But now things are different, I was hungry and they were offering a dinner buffet after many restaurants in downtown Victoria had closed for the night. With Ed just as desperate to find a place to eat, he stepped through the doorway willingly.
E: On a late night, we were without a chance in hell to find a place that would be open after 9pm. James keeps on thinking we’ve run out of places to hit to review, but I always point out that it depends on how much you’re willing to spend on a meal. Given his frugalness, that pretty much eliminates many places.
I wasn’t prepared to spend a lot either since my dollars were depleted after several travel excursions. Vancouver and Seattle can do that. We were without a hope until he mentioned this place.
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?