Revisiting Futaba & A Mini-Review from James Shaw

1420 Quadra St #101
Victoria, BC
Phone: (250) 381-6141

I can’t say Futaba is a favourite restaurant of mine. They did a bit of change in the menu offerings over the years and the overall result is not convincing me by much. The quality is not quite there anymore as another mutual friend pointed out (see below image) and while the meal I had was certainly tastier on the night I visited here with James Shaw, the improvements were minuscule.

These days, this guy still has an opinion about the places we dine together and he always has to express (to me) what he thinks about the place. I tell him to speak to someone else or resume being a bloke. He stupidly looks at me and I always roll my eyes. I really have no clue why I still hang out with him since he can’t separate from when we are hanging out together as pals to when to shut up if we happen to hit an eatery. He knows I can use his words to put into the next food review. He can’t stop me. In that regard, he’s still continuing to be part of this food-zine (or should I say scene?)

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Within Esquimalt Lies One Great Kyubey

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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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The Stubborn Chef 拉麵館 changes the Ramen Scene ‘Round with AsUsual Cafe – 老地方

stubborn_chefStubborn Chef – 拉麵館
AsUsual Cafe – 老地方
3960 Shelbourne St
Victoria, BC
(778) 432-3818

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?

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[Vancouver, BC] Yan Can Sushi It Down on Thurlow

Ichiban Ya Vancouver IMG_0493

Sushi Yan Japanese Restaurant
770 Thurlow St
Vancouver, BC
(604) 559-3988
 

E: How is it possible than when we’re out of town, James can home in on good dining experiences? As infrequent as our visits are, I suspect his homing instinct of following the first pretty Asian lady he finds here is key. He scored great with saying let’s go to Aki, but I’m uncertain with Sushi Yan, It had the look of Sushi Plus back home, and while he loves cheap, it does not always mean quality.

J: If you want to eat on the cheap in Vancouver, you can’t do any worse than a Subway. But if a foot long sub from an international corporate franchise doesn’t appeal, then you have the choice of flying to New York for a taste of Carnegie Deli or try something completely different

Leaving the comfort of our hotel at the Marriott Pinnacle, our mission if we chose to accept it was to dine at Joe Fortes’ Seafood Restaurant. Upon arrival, the place was packed. Needless to say, we didn’t accept our mission. In fact, we almost lost our nerve and turned around to return back to our nice hotel (and maybe some eats in the Marriott’s restaurant). But while spinning into the opposite direction, I spotted an older building that housed a Japanese restaurant…in the basement. I was intrigued.

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

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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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[Seattle, WA] Can You Be My Sansei?

Sansei-Horizontal-Logo-ReverseSansei
815 Pine St.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 402-4414

I figure Seattle, Washington has more truly upscale Japanese restaurants than Victoria, British Columbia. If that says something about finding a place to enjoy my meals and sample the unique, perhaps I should live in this State instead of the province to get my fusion-style cuisine on. I noticed this operation while here for my annual nerdvana. Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) and Star Trek Ultimate Voyage took place on the same weekend.

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When I arrived at the historic Paramount Theatre, I was more than gobsmacked. I was licking my lips at seeing Sansei, a seafood restaurant and sushi bar across the street. I seem to have a knack for wanting to visit well-established operations when in the States without knowing a lot about their reputation beforehand. Hitting Portland, Oregon blind years ago demonstrated that. I had little knowledge about Jakes Famous Crawfish and only heard a few stories about Voodoo Doughnuts. I rode through this city with my road trip buddy, and we lucked out in getting into two of this city’s most well-known operations.

I was not too sure about what to expect when I visited Sansei the next day to get a bite, a simple dinner — or so I hoped. I had no idea about this establishment’s excellent reputation in Hawaii until I read the literature. A quick chat with the waitress and search via Google revealed them as “one of America’s Best Sushi Bars” to which I could have spent my entire convention food allowance on or I could sit at the table for a ramen dish only to tease James from afar later. His only words over the phone were, “You’re despicable.”

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