212-815 Cloverdale Ave
Hours: 11:00am to 10:00pm daily
Phone: (250) 380-1881
Winter is a good time to have a hot meal, and when I refer to the temperature, I’m actually talking about the spice level that Indian food is famous for. Royal Spice Indian Cuisine knows how to kick everything up a notch, and then some! I was here with another pal since our Call of Cthulhu RPG session with other gamers was a bust–nobody wanted to game in the late month of December. I understand the holidays change priorities, but for us hard core gamers hoping to embark on a mission, it can be disheartening.
This intimate establishment knew how to turn our disappointment around. Even on a cold night, we were warmly welcomed and it was busy. This city had a blast of winter snow, and it didn’t deter those brave the slick streets from dining out.
2027 Oak Bay Ave
Hours: Tues to Sat, 11:30am to 2:30pm and 5 to 8pm.
Phone: (250) 370-5195
I’m surprised that I never noticed Kissato Sushi before in my sojourns to the municipality of Oak Bay, which is one district over from where I live. The main reason is that there aren’t a lot of areas to park my car. It’s almost a must bus in the zone, given how restrictive the area is for vehicle traffic along the strip.
When I am here, I make the most of my time here. The avenue is even more of a throwback to the yesteryear than any other area, and I’m glad there are no signs of modernisation here, except maybe one operation or two.
The best known operations for eats here include the Ottavio Italian Bakery & Delicatessen and The White Heather Tearoom (review link). For where to buy alcohol, I highly recommend The Cork and Barrel; they are one of the few places that keeps a good stock of Strange Brew’s holiday drinks. Also, the Penny Farthing bar can be hit or miss, but as for buying delicious meats, I heartily believe The Whole Beast is tops. I go there to purchase their maple rosemary bacon.
With all that said, this district has only three sushi operations still running. Sadly, Osaka Sushi (review link) is permanently closed, and I consider them one of the best. Thankfully, Kissato can fit the bill, even though their selection is not as extensive. That is, sea urchin isn’t available. In what they offer is a terrific catalogue of the staples. The fish was especially fresh since my friend Max and I arrived at the opening, and we had enormous appetites going on.
Bear and Joey
1025 Cook St
Hours: Daily from 9am to 2pm
Phone: (250) 590-9193
ES: My big question regarding the popular diner, Bear and Joey, is where’s the Australian influence? On the late Sunday morning when Don and I arrived there for a bite, it was busy! I thought about doing reservations, and probably should’ve since there’s a few menu offerings not on the take out. It seems that rain or shine, patrons will flock here for a warm meal.
DK: Ed and I both knew an Aussie aesthetic was part of this operation’s pitch, but nothing stood out as culturally unique after our initial visit. Bear and Joey owner Peter Cook, a native of Sydney, Australia, described Australian cafe culture as “coffee every morning and a simple breakfast grab-and-go” in a 2020 interview with Victoria News.
Songoku Hibachi and Sushi Japanese
134 W Front St
Port Angeles, WA
Hours: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm (daily)
Phone: (360) 477-4315
In a small town like Port Angeles, the primary industry is fishing and tourism. In October, it’s the 21st Annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival. For the adventurous hiker, there’s Hurricane Ridge and the Olympic Mountains, but they are typically closed when the seasons change. Because there’s plenty of rainforests nearby, harvesting mushrooms (as my review from a few weeks ago explored) is no doubt next.
But instead of local delights, I had to see how Japanese food and the Pacific Northwest can be fused up. Fusion food is a big thing and can be a selling point for some operations, and Songoku has crawfish! I don’t think I’ve seen it offered in sushi before! Out of all the places I’ve visited in the past, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it offered in the menu.
1001 Douglas G12
Hours: 11:30 am to 10pm
Phone: (604) 782-8592
Sadly, La Fiesta Café, the Mexican diner at the corner of Douglas and Broughton, is no more. In its place is Smile Chicken. I think the fact we have two new Korean Fried operations (one still coming) downtown is amusing when considering there was a chicken shortage in 2021. One year is more than enough to regrow a population, but are the hens happy? It’s safe to say most likely not.
I’ve been here three times now, and when this operation has corn dogs on the menu, why not? When I’m craving this carnival food staple, it certainly satisfies.
1165 Robson St
Hours: Sun to Sat 11a.m.–11p.m.
Phone: (604) 564-9595
Hello Nori is a relatively new operation that opened in Vancouver’s Robson Street strip during the pandemic, and since they’re both dine-in and takeout, the difference is in whether or not the rolls are cut up for you. However, the taste will be slightly different based on how fast you eat them. The selling point is in how crunchy the sheets of seaweed are. I spotted a butane torch in the preparation area and it’s used for their aburi dishes rather than standard rolls. There are also daily sashimi offerings to which I shouldn’t have passed on. After seeing how they looked at a few bar seats away, I knew I’d have regrets.
However, in the back of my mind, I wondered if the fish were caught Ikejime style or West coast. I suspect it’s the latter (this is BC after all), so what’s offered isn’t necessarily ‘authentic’ Japanese and more designer style to convince patrons in.