585 Johnson St
Hours: Tues-Sun 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Phone: (778) 432-0664
Yes, I make no bones about it, I love rice balls. A long time ago, a Chinese-style variant included a deep-fried type where the gooey cheese interior made for all the difference. This was before I discovered Onigiri, a healthier Japanese snacking version to which I’ve never looked back in my switch.
Oni-Oni is a satellite operation of Sakura Sushi and is a place I’ll definitely return to when I need my sweet rice vinegar fix! They have fifteen flavours of onigiri to choose from! Not all of them are always available, but if you call ahead, it’s possible to get what you want made to order. Eating one is not enough, and for a hearty individual like me, I can eat up to four of them in one go. These bites are like snacks, and aren’t the huge ones people sometimes see in anime. They’re about the same size as the ones bought at Fujiya’s on Shelbourne. Plus, this store has Okashi and Nomimono too!
L’Authentique Poutine and Burgers
1208 Wharf Street
Weds to Sat 11am to 7pm
Phone: (778) 432-2444
ES: L’Authentique Poutine and Burgers have new digs! Instead of operating out of Langford during the cold winter months (although it’ll soon be Spring), they have a new space down by the wharf to serve up their tasty French fries and burgers for city residents! They’re well known for their fancy poutines and while I don’t expect them to vary the flavours regularly, I will be back to have their french fries time and time again.
DK: Points for longevity. The minor setback of a fire licking the Langford truck into submission back in 2012 doesn’t seem to have had a long-term effect on L’Authentique’s success. Nearly a decade later and here they are in a prime downtown location. But is it worth lining up 30m-1hour once tourists are back in town?
Not if you stick to the published menu. The bacon cheeseburger is reminiscent of an A&W Teen Burger, and the cheese curds in the poutine are squeaky as expected. Don’t get me wrong, it makes for a satisfying enough meal, but I wouldn’t brave tourist crowds for it.
626 Fisgard St
Hours: Mon to Sat 12–8:30pm
Phone: (250) 590-8688
ES: Ni Bao should be the name instead of Bao for this Chinese/Korean/Japanese fusion restaurant, but how many would get the joke? Unlike a traditional ramen restaurant where they shout, Irasshaimase to every customer, here in Chinatown, not even a traditional Ni Hao (as it should be said) is heard. I can forgive this operation since they offer various kinds of mixed cuisine. I had to finally see what the fuss is about with Bao. I always see them advertising in festival guides and suggested to Don we have to finally check this place out.
DK: “Don’t Cha wish your girlfriend was hot like meee,” yahh, that’s the song in my head. Not sure why. Not really relevant at all to this review. I haven’t even heard the song in like seven years. But you know, sometimes you just have to go where life takes.
The Vicious Poodle
726 Johnson St,
Weekdays Noon to 10pm
Weekends: 11:00am to 10pm
On a quiet day, nobody would immediately know the Vicious Poodle pub is one of the new centres where LGBTQ can find terrific eats and enjoy an evening burlesque or drag show. One look at the menu, the focus is obvious. Also, the decor tells all. After my visit to nerd row, I was hungry and didn’t want to hit any of my regular food spots.
Any dining operation can struggle to stay afloat during a pandemic. Not every patron is willing to “come out” to support their favourite diner, especially with all the stay safe for your health restrictions in place. When owner/operator Socrates Diamant worked on converting the Sockeye Sushi Japanese diner (it had a lot of box seating) space and made it open spaced and inviting, my heterosexuality was not challenged. Instead, I saw my quest for perfect French fries ongoing. After the first bite, I was ready to sing ou la la and do the can-can.
Nubo Japanese Tapas
739 Pandora Ave
I’m fairly sure Nubo is very nouveau. Their designer maki rolls certainly looked very tantalizing, making this place worth visiting again for that alone! But when I noticed that I’ve seen similar elsewhere (especially after having sushi in four different cities), well, perhaps they are not? I was seeking a taste of the old country — traditional — and this place certainly delivers. On a busy night, I managed to get a seat at the sushi bar. Reservations are certainly recommended, especially if you’re planning on seeing a yuletide production at the MacPherson Playhouse. In fact, I recommend doing so for the four operations that run here. If time is tight, then the time is best maximized by being here early and just enjoying the scents.
If only I had two hundred dollars, I would be feasting on the variety offered here for an entire month. I could on a weekly basis, though I have to spread the love between here and Omakase. When considering their motoyaki is made from scallop and prawns, I’m already drooling. When I saw that this operation offers monkfish liver, they have a one-up on many other local places I’ve been to. In what I tasted is divine, and I was tripping at the variety of garnishes used on each slice. Each serving was floating in a lake of light soy sauce, and that was just my starter!
in Trounce Alley
1210 Broad St
ES: Victoria, BC does not have a lot of late-night dining options and sometimes a visit to Trounce Alley is required to find a few of those operations that are running to midnight. Thankfully, on the busier days of Wednesday to Saturday, there are two: Bodega Bar and Park’s Kitchen. After a movie downtown, we happened upon the former first, and for once, my buddy was not being cheap. I find it easy to rack up quite the bill at a tapa type establishment.
JS: This place is very classy. It’s so much better than hitting a seedy bar.
At least here Ed and I could sit out on the porch in the beautiful night air and take part in what the chef had on the menu. It is easy to spend your money at a tapa bar (especially on drinks). The food delivered to the table isn’t much to look at when it comes to size even though it was highly decorated. Surprisingly, it managed to fill the Two Hungry Blokes. We ordered three items, the ceviche, a porchetta sandwich (Ed’s choice) and — a meal that rang my dinner bell — a mackerel potato salad.