Sept 10-12, 2021
Don and I made it Esquimalt’s Ribfest! Though we met up for dinner elsewhere to sate our appetites (review coming in two weeks), my suggestion to check out this festival was with no regrets.
We saw a new tent that may well be part of the annual show. And, it gave us reason to return since we didn’t want to deal with the long lineup for The Colossal Onion. on the evening we went. We both agree that this event is not the type to return to every year. Our criticism is that the “competitors” hardly change. When compared to similiar shows elsewhere around North America, there’s tons of operations out there who can bbq up a tasty pork or beef rib. Either they’re not as well known to get invited to the island or they’re not into national-level challenges.
527 Fraser Street
September 10th to 12th
Esquimalt’s Ribfest is on this year, and it’s following in the heels of British Columbia’s rollout of the vaccine passport. There won’t be any gatekeeper checks. But for anyone people concerned about catching that virus are best advised not to attend (entrepeneurs would make a killing through Uber Eats or Door Dash should this suddenly pop up), but for those craving the best pork/beef ribs (and chicken too) that House of Q, Prairie Smoke, Gator, Grizzy, and Boss Hog are cooking up–nothing’s gonna smoke ’em out now. The operative word should be stop, but will Two Hungry Blokes be there?
734 Aldebury St #101
Hours: Mon to Fri: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Phone: (778) 440-5335
ES: Tucked in the industrial side of Victoria, BC (in the municipality of Esquimalt) is Miche Cafe. It’s been under various ownerships in the past and I’ve lost count! I’m rarely in this side of town mostly because I’m not a supporter of the nearby operation, Wholesale Club, (family loves shopping here for the bulk goods but I don’t) but when I have to chauffeur, it’s playing Pokemon GO in the area, or coming to this corner deli style stop for a bite because of the atmosphere and down home cooking!
DK: Don’t think we forgot about the bread price-fixing scam. Am I right, Ed?
ES: Don’t get me started!
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.
Now 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.
612 Head St.
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.