What’s Next after Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society’s 18th Annual Autumn Fair?


The Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society (VNCS) is active year-round, and in October, their annual fair from last weekend brings the community together — and the curious to learn about the elements of what makes traditional Japan cool. Now in its 18th year, their success lies in how they enrich and entertain the public who do not know much about the Land of the Rising Sun.

For spoiled folks like me who desire more of an academic edge, I’m craving the experience from the University of Victoria’s Pacific and Asian Studies CAPI Conference on Japanese Popular Culture. Two events were held on campus back in the late 90’s and they set the bar. Plus, I visited Japan and experienced the life on the streets that some festivals from afar have no plans to replicate. To sample the unique food from stalls at either a theme park like Fuji-Q Highland Park or at a seasonal event requires travelling back there.

VNCS’ version is quaint. It is worth going to at least once. I’ve been to this event years ago and saw no reason to come back in any regular basis. After James Shaw told me about 2016’s event perhaps offering Ikayaki (squid on a stick), I took a chance at returning. Was he wrong about what he heard? Most likely. This mouth-watering reason was the only reason I trekked out to the Municipality of Esquimalt.

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Esquimalt’s Ribfest 2017, Five Years and How to Grow It

IMG_7060Now in its fifth year, Esquimalt Ribfest is growing in popularity and it may well be exceeding the capacity of how many people can be at Bullen park. I finally made it back to this show. For once, I was not ill or down with a sprained ankle. Three years have passed since I was here last, and while nothing much has changed — especially when it’s moreorless the same group of ribbers — I feel changes are needed if it’s to accommodate an ever increasing crowd and be versatile. Grizzly BBQ is a new entrant, but their scents were not enticing as I was letting my nose be my guide for which ribber to hit.

James went on Saturday with a date (he’ll argue otherwise and I was amazed). When he told me, of course I had to ask him for his thoughts so I can provide a summary about this event. He too thought it needs changing. He hoped to get his drinks and meat side-by-side than to hop across the field. I told him that’s how this event has always been, and it’s his fault for not getting his alcohol first and meal second. He arrived during the mad dinnertime hours and lucked out getting in. People were entering in small numbers, equaling those who left. Once inside, he looked at the scary lineups of everyone craving protein and was thankful the time it took to get to the till was not long. He enjoyed the food and wasn’t here to review since he was with his girlfriend. But I grilled him for opinion anyway and he had a lot to say in how space was used. He did give high marks for Gator BBQ‘s beans tho’. He thought it included either honey or molasses.

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Within Esquimalt Lies One Great Kyubey


Kyubey Sushi
612 Head St.

Esquimalt, BC
(778) 433-9696

E: I’m finding that the out-of-the-way Japanese diners do better at serving up delicious meals than those in town. In the municipality of Oak Bay, there’s Osaka and in the district of Esquimalt, there’s Kyubey. In Saanich (Lower), there’s Yoshi. While there’s none to find in Gordon Head (yet) maybe one day that will come. Sorry Sushi Island, but there’s nothing ‘traditional’ I find in your dishes. While they do serve Okonomiyaki, I’m finding that going out to the docks on the opposite end of the city is where I need to be to get my serving.

The thought of the shrimp pancake offered here had me pulling James away from his plans in the morning and diving deep into this municipality for a touch of authentic fare.

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There’s Good Thai Over the Blue Bridge

Zap Thai Restaurant
1207 Esquimalt Rd.
Esquimalt, BC
(250) 389-1845

E: So many jokes can be made with a diner simply named Zap Thai, but upon walking in, I wondered if James and I entered a radio fix-it shop or we wandered into a gym. The ornaments were mixed, but it made for an interesting cozy atmosphere where Thai food can be enjoyed in the middle of the municipality of Esquimalt.

J: The atmosphere is as mom and pop as you can get. It is in the same strip mall were once a locally known burger place was situated. I visited the shop in the 80’s but now that it’s long gone and Pad Thai is here, I have a reason to return. And for you young girls, you may appreciate the hunky male server who looked more like he belonged in a gym than a restaurant. Hopefully his lack of enthusiasm wasn’t a sign of things to come.

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Esquimalt’s RibFest & Beyond

Esquimalt Ribfest 2013
Sept 13 – 15, 2013
Bullen Park
Esquimalt, B.C.

Toothpicks and dental floss are going to be needed after anyone who partakes in Esquimalt’s first annual Ribfest. It runs from Sept 13 to 16 with one hungry bloke really eating for two. James had no interest and I was not going to miss out in some potential meaty bone sucking goodness. His loss is my weight gain, but I think anyone wanting to try the best in what each of the five ribbers offer will suffer a financial setback as well.

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James’ Pick of the Events – June, 2012

Esquimalt’s Buccaneer Days
I may not have a peg leg but I knows a good pirate festival when I sees one. What true pirate can resist a fair? or refuse a pancake breakfast? A pirate has to have something to go down with the rum. Activities for the whole family including a parade, a craft and garden sale, children’s activity area and a Saturday night dance.

Vee Dub 9 Skateboard Competition
Much has changed since the days of being thrown from a banana board and today, the sport isn’t just for kids.

Island Chefs’ Collaborative Food Festival
What can be better than partaking in alcoholic beverages and food in the beautiful historic setting of Fort Rodd Hill. Names of the new businesses, the old establishments and the well established have served their wares at previous ICC Food Fests. Let’s hope for the sun on this one.

Christ Church Cathedral Community Fair
I can easily enjoy a good church social and the CCC’s Community Fair sounds very inviting. Here, I can look for local baked goods, And Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore will be performed. The Church has a strong history. They were graced 2 years ago by the presence of HRH the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. In the 1960’s CCC produced a record of songs performed by choir boy Bill Dyson.

First Peoples Festival
In elementary school, I was read the stories of Raven, I was also taken to see the Aboriginal People’s exhibit at the Royal BC Museum. Here at the festival, I can relive some fond memories of observing wood carvers, jewellers, and weavers ply their craft. Also, there will be knitters from Cowichan Valley and shamans teaching traditional medicine.

Fernwood Bites 2012
Victoria’s neighbourhood of Fernwood is “distinct.”

Topped by the crown jewel that is the Belfy Theatre, this commuity offers a decent amount of fine businesses to patronize Aubergine Specialty Foods, Fernwood Inn, The Little Piggy and Stir It Up.

Besides an excellent Vintage Fair, Fernwood Bites is a must attend. They offer many delights for attendees to savour. They have plenty of delicious food, fine wines and spirits. But it is the meeting of many creative individuals that make this scene an excellent venue for anyone to mingle in.

To those people who loathe the nightclub scene, this event is a refreshing salvation.