950 Yates St
Hours: Open every day from 11:30 am to 9:00pm (10 on weekends)
Phone: (778) 265-9150
ES: Don’t ask me why, but when Don suggested we check out Boomtown for some fancy Mexican style food, I had to cue up Vengaboys to listen to while downtown. It’s a diner located opposite the Harris-Green Shopping Centre, and it can easily be missed by those who aren’t looking.
DK: We spent the night together, watching Sandra Bullock search for a hidden tomb in the movie afterwards.
Boomtown is in a spot that has housed a revolving door of different cafes, food trucks, and weed dispensaries over the last decade. Back in 2013, the Refiner Diner was parked in this spot, and I still have fond memories of their burger (Ed gave it a 4/5 way back when). Does Boomtown carry on the 950 Yates legacy in style? Ed, what say you?
1609 Store St
Hours: Weds to Sat 11:30am – 10pm
Phone: (250) 590-9821
DK: We were primed from the minute we sat down. This was not just any ramen joint. Not just any noodles. No, this ramen was the result of worldwide wanderlusting and the serendipitous discovery of handmade noodles in a small island city. I haven’t a clue what sort of noodles other ramen joints in town use, but the story we heard at tableside certainly made Ghost Ramen sound unique.
The noodle recipe comes from former engineer, accountant and filmmaker turned restaurateur Greg Masuda. He operates a shop in Courtenay and noodles are shipped from there to Victoria. After trying ramen all over the world, Ghost Ramen co-owner Jason Chan says Greg’s noodles are some of the best he’s ever had. So, like I said, Ed and I were primed to feel like we were about to eat something special.
658 Herald St
Phone: (250) 590-9251
ES: Tasty morsels can be found at Saveur Restaurant, located not too far from the cosmopolitan Victoria Chinatown. The location is not really off the beaten path, but is tucked within the same block where Brasserie L’Ecole is also located. My guess is that the city blocks around this former Asian area may well be our city’s answer to an “International District.”
DK: The extent to which Saveur fits into a real or imagined “International District” is seen in some of their menu items over the years. A menu from 2017 showcases “Pakora Battered Broccoli” with Ponzu. A previous version of the house chicken wings was served with “Louisiana Style Remoulade.” The house wings are now “Korean BBQ Wings.”
Viewing the menu as a marketing tool, what remains constant from the earlier years of Saveur to now is “local” items sitting next to “international” flavours (would you like “Chilled Soba Noodles” with miso for lunch? Or perhaps just a salad made with “Mason Street Greens”). What has changed is tourist-pleaser type fare (fish tacos, a burger and a pork belly sandwich) replacing multi-course tasting menus.
759 Yates St
Wed-Sun 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Black Ball Taiwanese Dessert Cafe was once a Taiwanese operation, but they’ve franchised out! With a few outlets in Canada–one in Downtown Victoria I knew I had to eventually to visit this place. It was odd they were setting up shop last year, at the start of the pandemic.
For takeout frosty desserts, it’s best to live near the area instead of doing take-out for consumption at home. The ice treats can melt fast. The drinks are a lot more enjoyable while strolling down the walkway along the Inner Harbour, or towards the bridge.
1127 Haultain St
Tues-Sat: 11:30am – 7:30pm
Sunday: 4 – 7:30pm
Phone: (250) 383-8332
Take Out Available.
My childhood memories of visiting grandma in the Fernwood neighbourhood often include her treating me to some of the “famous” Haultain Fish & Chips around the corner. Seniors love their fish n’ chips, and this place served up some mighty fine fixings in the past. This operation is a staple–hardly ever changing over the years. My mother’s side of the family lived in this area for about two decades before finally moving to other parts of town.
Maybe I should’ve stuck to those memories instead of trying them again in my adult years. I’ve been back a few times before but after the third attempt, I’ve finally come to a conclusion. The subtle changes since the switch in ownership isn’t always for the better. There’s nothing special in the batter to enhance the halibut, and the Fanny Bay oysters (without the coating) were the stars. They were plump and juicy. The portion size was smallish for both. They’re a far cry from what I remember from my youth. If I had to say which shop is the best for the Lower Island, it’s Shell’s Fish and Chips out by Jordan River! The fillets, peppering and serving size are huge! They left a lasting memory.
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!