Sunday, April 14, 2013

Chiba Sushi

In the last week I have gone to Chiba Sushi and the service has been above and beyond my expectations.

The first time was with a friend from out of town, we had finished helping with an early evening event and needed to eat something and I suggested sushi.  Victoria is not Vancouver with a sushi place on every block, but it is also not Winnipeg with a serious shortage of them.  We have a selection of reasonable ones in the city and I thought this would be a nice change for him.

On our way back to my house from UVic we passed by Fujiya and Yoshi Sushi and both of them were already closed.   I knew that Chiba Sushi was still on our way home but after two failed attempts I had little hope and I had no desire to drive all the way downtown for sushi.  

We walked up to the door and saw the closed sign but as we were about to turn around and walk away one of the waitresses opened the door and said that if we were interested in take out they would be happy to serve us.

I knew it was the end of the day and odds are the best of what could be on the menu might no longer be available.  We were both also done after a very long day.    With both of those things in mind, I said to the waitress "Give us $40 worth of rolls, let the chefs decide."   I have done this in Vancouver before and generally been pleased with the results, others do this as well in the lower mainland.   Sounds like few people do this in Victoria because they were both surprised and excited.   Where we were seated waiting for the order meant I could sort of see into the kitchen and when the order was relayed I could see one of the chefs stop, look up, and then walk to the curtain and see who was ordering like this.

Anyway we got our order, I did not even ask what anything was so I can not tell you specifically what we had.   We had a couple of their standard rolls and three special rolls, looking at the prices, I think they cut us a deal.   We should have ordered more because my oldest son, who has been a sushi fanatic since age six, had not left the house for his night shift yet and devoured anything we let get his hands on.

Sheila and I went back on Friday night for some take away,   I was done after a long work day so I once again just asked for them to decide, though I did say we wanted to two yam tempura rolls and nothing with shrimp.   They remembered me for the previous order and clearly it had made a serious impression on them because seemed very happy to have me order in the same way again.  They were a bit slow in getting it done and without me commenting on it they gave us a coupon for the next time we come in.

This time I remembered to check what is was we had - the three rolls they chose were the Canada Roll, Rock & Roll and the Sushi Pizza.  

The Canada Roll and the Rock & Roll were both good versions of fancy rolls.  Well executed, clearly good knife skills and enough special mayonnaise on top to make them great but not drown them as some do.

The one that was very different was the Sushi Pizza.   I had head of this idea before and always steered away from it.   It was not bad but I found it hard to eat.   I am not sure I will order this again but I can see how the concept might work better.

The base of the Sushi Pizza is a formed disk of rice that has been fried in tempura to give it a crust on the bottom.  This base could be an interesting way to serve the toppings but I think the toppings need to fairly sparse.   I think it would work better as an alternate way to deliver sashimi than dressing up like one of the special rolls.

One of the reasons I have not tended to go to Chiba Sushi is because the location is one that does not appeal to me.  I know that the form of a building on the outside is no measure of how good or bad a restaurant is, it still does seem to have an impact on my decision.

We will be be going back here a lot more often and I suspect we will be ordered delivery from them as well.

Chiba Sushi on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Banana Leaf on Broadway

Recently we were in Vancouver for a weekend which meant we had a chance to try a number of restaurants.  One of the things that bugs me about Victoria is the lack of much diversity in our restaurants.   There are numerous cuisines I like that we either do not have on the lower island or the one example is not a very good one.  One cuisine I learned to love when I lived in London in the early '90s was Malaysian food and in Vancouver I had my first chance to try it again in 20 years by going to the Banana Leaf on Broadway.

What I really mean by Malaysian cuisine is the food eaten by the Malays and not the ethnic Chinese or other minorities in the country.  Many people will wonder how Malay cuisine differs from Thai or other south Asian countries, it is significantly different because Malay's are overwhelming Muslim Islamic dietary laws apply.  That said, the food is influenced by China, India, Thailand and elsewhere.   Malay food is worth trying if you have not had it before and in Vancouver anyone of the five locations of the Banana Leaf is a good place to start.

In London there was an upscale Malaysian restaurant in Soho close to my office.   Many any evening after work from Elan Computing ended up at Rasa Sayang and over two years I had a chance to try most of the menu items they offered. It is there that I learned to love Nasi Goreng and Satay.      

I ordered chicken satay with gado gado rice at the Banana Leaf and it was all that I hoped it to be.   The satay I had had the proper peanut sauce which was deep, rich, and nicely spicy.   In the west we really do not use the peanut often enough in savory foods.

Sheila and I shared an order of roti canai.   I know the Malay roti is supposed to be the same as the Indian, but when I have had it it has always been thinner and lighter.   Something subtly different has to be going on but I have no idea what it is.

I saw the Nasi Lemak on the menu but I could not order it as well though it should not be too hard to make at home because Nasi Lemak is rice cooked in coconut milk.

Sheila will have to be in Vancouver every six months as a course examiner and the hotel we will stay at is right beside the Banana Leaf which means we will be back.

  Banana Leaf on Urbanspoon