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!
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.