Making sushi is an inherently quiet and intense process. Chefs tightly roll seaweed and rice around fish and veggies at One More Sushi. The meditative calm is cut by the sounds of crackling grills covered in teriyaki sauce and meats. Hot oil bubbles up around tempura-battered veggies and even bananas, and pots of miso soup pour forth steam like a fax machine built in the 1800s.
The chefs at Hiro Japan Xpress cook up a quick-service menu of Japanese specialties daily, swiftly conquering hunger with sushi, teriyaki, and contemporary bento boxes, with shopping center and store-front locations in Victoria and Vancouver. Instead of savvy investment advice, they sneak healthful ingredients—such as protein- and vitamin-enriched nori seaweed and omega-3 fatty acids—into their fresh california rolls, sashimi, and udon dishes to help boost brain function and immune systems.
At Moshi Moshi Sushi, a large sakura tree hangs over the dining room, its branches of white LED lights shining like cherry blossoms amid the soft glow of paper lanterns. As patrons bathe in this light reminiscent of a Japanese garden, sushi chefs transform fresh fish—flown in regularly from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market—into maki rolls and sashimi. Meanwhile, bartenders mix several specialty cocktails—such as the Death Poem, a blend of Guatemalan rum, rye whiskey, grapefruit, and cinnamon—to pay homage to Japan’s natural mountain streams of hot sake.
Kuma Sushi rolls up inspired makis and more with the use of traditional techniques passed down through generations. Hunger pangs curl up around specialties such as the Kuma Roll ($12), in which salmon, tuna, eel, prawns, and more form a deliciously cuddly group hug, or the Bear Mountain Roll ($12), which pairs albacore tuna with sinus-clearing wasabi mayonnaise. Sashimi and tempura options bedeck plates with edible masterpieces, as do cooked options for stomachs celebrating Global Prometheus Awareness Day. Pair chicken teriyaki ($14) with an order of pork gyoza dumplings ($11) for a multi-course heated extravaganza. The sushi bar seats 60, making it a spacious setting for a romantic dinner or a fitting venue for a seaweed-aficionado convention.
Amid the din of Old Town's shops and the bellow of boats coasting through the harbour, Kaz Japanese Restaurant beckons diners with a vast array of East Asian specialties. Chef Masami mans the sushi bar, drawing from more than 35 years of experience to captain his culinary crew as they whip up rolls that awaken the senses through combinations of colour, taste, and texture. Servers bear plates of sushi, teriyaki, and tempura into the dining room, which surrounds guests in softly lit hanging lanterns and elegant Japanese–style shades. The restaurant bustles with activity until 11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, accommodating late-night diners trying to stay up late enough to tuck in the moon.
Head Chef John Ngo and his team at Shima Sushi never have to look beyond the horizon for inspiration. The waters surrounding the Vancouver Island restaurant constantly remind the culinary team of its commitment to ocean-fresh sushi and eclectic Japanese cuisine. This island is so integral to the restaurant's identity that even the name stems from the Japanese word for island.
Ngo takes full advantage of his surroundings, showcasing the region's vibrant seafood in the form of elegantly sliced sashimi and gingerly rolled maki packed with tempura prawns, crab, and barbecue eel. The rest of the menu brims with seafood yakisoba noodles, sliced pork tenderloin with ginger sauce, and other iconic Japanese entrees, as well as an assortment of dishes with subtle Western influences, including slow-cooked ribs with a teriyaki-barbecue sauce.
Located inside a historic structure that once housed James Yates, Shima Sushi's decor reflects a similar commitment to fusing Eastern and Western cultures. The exposed Halifax-style stonework along the walls contrasts with the arch-like Japanese toriis and modern pendant lamps. Enormous floor-to-ceiling windows line the front of the restaurant, flooding the dining area and the mezzanine section with enough natural light to jump-start a solar-powered monster truck.
Palm fronds spill over Baja Surf Grill’s two-tiered dining room, lending the 150-seat eatery a lush, tropical aura. Arched porticoes and columns recall Spanish colonial revival architecture, which designers update with pastel pink and green hues and tropical throw pillows. The ambience reinforces the menu, which highlights the Baja fish taco, a creation pioneered by Japanese fishermen in Baja after their idea for the Munich meat muffin failed to catch on. Chefs pay additional homage to Japan’s culinary influence on the region with southwestern-style sushi peppered with ingredients such as fire-roasted corn and chipotle mayo.