Want Sushi Cake? The Next’s Creativity Shows No Bounds

img_20160928_185748779#104-240 Cook St.
Victoria, BC
(778) 433-4490

If you want a sushi cake for your birthday, The Next Modern Japanese Cuisine certainly delivers. You have to call in advance about it (I’m not sure how long this promotion is going to last) and they need at least a days notice to collect the ingredients in order to prepare it to your specifications. As much as I’d love to try fugu (blowfish), I’m sure that’s not easily available in North America.

Having some knowledge in what’s available for the season is required, otherwise the chefs will use their judgement. In what I asked for was a complete representation of every type of fish often seen in a regular menu. I tasted tuna, salmon, red snapper, ahi, scallop and prawn. They were definitely quality cuts and the rice was even sweeter than I recall. The mackerel was very mild and the bed of rice was huge. This cake alone is a meal in itself! The inclusion of salmon roe was a nice touch, and this particular flavour is not for everyone. When paired with the avocado, my taste buds were in for a treat!

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Head over to Cook Street Village to Experience “The Next” in Modern Japanese Cuisine

IMG_20160331_140821882

The Next
#104-240 Cook St
Victoria, BC
(778) 433-4490

I often wonder if Japanese food can be elevated to new heights. Fusion-style sushi rolls are the nouveau thing where ingredients typical from another region (or for particular tastes) are blended. I just can not get used to cream cheese in rolls because I’ve found chefs use too much, and maybe one day I’ll find the person who knows how to use it sparingly to bring out the taste of the other ingredients.

But just how far can innovation go? What about other common street food? One of the staples of this ethnic nation is about how much folks love their ramen. There’s a quintessence needed to make the noodle special. Without the proper delicate balance between the four basic ingredients used, the noodle can fall apart. There won’t be a firmness that’s savoured and unless it is done right, I can’t quite be willing to return to an operation in the quest for eating more.

Sure, James swears by one operation, Kuma. I give him props for sticking to what he likes but I’ll keep teasing him because he’s faithful to this operation as much as how he’s dedicated to Sushi Plus. He lives in a small world. I’m always broadening my world in my search to find that one special place that recreates what I adored from decades ago. A Japanese operation used to occupy Yates where they made the most colourfully presented ramen that I enjoyed. The Next comes close. Their portion sliced BBQ pork in the dish I had was huge. Missing was the wakame, but in what’s used in their place, some pickled radish, crispy kale and thinly sliced carrot made up for what I call ramen with a West Coast twist. The soy broth was delicate and I did not want to come up for air because I really enjoyed the mix of textures offered. I can easily start to love this western style twist to a traditional staple.

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Rica Salsa or Rico Suave?

IMG_0082Rica Salsa
1109 McKenzie St. 
Cook Street Village
Victoria, BC 
(250) 360-1615

J: It was time for the THB to make their return to the little mall on McKenzie Street in the Cook Street Village. Our first and last review there was the Minato Sushi (which I was quite pleased with) but at the time there was still Rica Salsa, an Messob Ethiopian Cuisine and a coffee shop that was under construction. In time we’ll review them all but for now Rica Salsa was up to bat.

Can Mexican food hit a home run with Ed and I? Some years ago I was a wimp when it came to hot and spicy food but now I’m very durable. I can tell when spices enhance a dish I eat and when it does nothing but cover up the flavour. On what side of the fence will Rica be.

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There’s a Japanese in the Village

Minato Sushi
Cook Street Village Food Court
1109 Mckenzie Street
Victoria, BC
(250) 383-6040

E: I’ve most likely said this before and I’ll say it again, never leave the decision making of where to go up to James. First it was Fairfield, getting lost and giving up any hope of tracking down a place to eat in the old country, one of the first districts to be established since the city of Victoria’s inception.

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A Big Wheel Update

I returned to the area of Cook Street Village to return videos to Pic A Flic and do what I planned on since reporting about this diner, and that’s to order their double double… well, a double patty burger. It was certainly much more filling and tastier. I could taste the grazed beef difference because of the volume, and has much changed?

Not really. With more meat to evaluate, it could do with some veins of bovine fat or being cooked with walnut oil (to bring out the flavour). Also, the condiments were not evenly spread out, but aside from that, I must say I commend their customer service.

I distinctly remembered that I ordered a double but when I looked at my bill afterwards, I saw that I paid for a single. When went to the counter to ask if a double is indeed coming my way, I was treated to a huge surprise. Not only did the staff corrected my order, but they did not ask me to pay the $2.25 difference. I received a complementary milkshake. There was even an apology by the manager which I found cool.

And since I got to try one their shakes, I have something new to report: I loved it. It was rich, creamy, and thick. The chocolate was not too strong. It even did not melt at all in the 15 mins it took for me to finish it off while on the way to town.

I have to say Big Wheel earned a huge point in its favour that day.

Big Wheel Burger on Urbanspoon

From Downtown to Small Town, Cook Street Village

2015 Update:
This operation has permanent digs at: 1017 Blanshard St
Victoria, BC
(250) 889-5803

E: Our rainy day in Cook Street Village wasn’t over. And even though I was technically filled, I can always make room for tacos! At $2.50 a piece, La Taquisa has won both my heart and my wallet. As pricy as one piece sounds, it’s worth it. They press each soft shell right there while you wait, lightly heat it up, and put a good heap of filling on top. I opted for the Okanagan Valley beef and I savoured the taste.

I could have bought more, but I was simply craving a simple dessert.

J: I was more worried about the rainwater dripping off the roof onto the press. I think a pool had formed and our tortillas were being mixed into it. But mother nature did me no harm that day. Perhaps if I was in Los Angeles.

E: I’ve been to as far down as Anahiem to sample a few of Mexico’s signature dishes. But until I see cactus listed here, what this location offers is B.C. raised, if not grazed, products. For the most part, I’m really liking it. Even two tacos makes for a typical lunch. But next time, I’m going for their $10 meal deal.

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