I fell in love in Victoria–His name was Sampson, a noble horse. He took us on a horse-drawn Tally-Ho Carriage Tour through the historic James Bay neighborhood where some of the oldest houses in Victoria still stand. Amazingly, Alisa, my hostess, knew the lively and engaging female carriage driver. She turned out to be a godsend as she recommended we dine at Il Covo Trattoria, where I became quite smitten with our blue-eyed very tall Roman server, we shall call him Luigi, from Italy. As the night wore on, and I drank more vino!, I was able to converse and yes, flirt quite a bit with him in Italian. It was July 1st, and everybody in Canada was in a very happy and festive mood, waiting for the fireworks to begin to celebrate their 150th birthday. We sat out in their lovely garden, as dusk came on, eating and drinking, then wandered back to our hotel, Inn at Laurel Point, for a nightcap, before the fireworks began.
How lucky were we that the Executive Chef at AURA Waterfront Restaurant + Patio restaurant and patio at Inn at Laurel Point is Japanese? His name is Takashi Ito and his food is amazing! We enjoyed quite a few meals at Aura Waterfront, and I loved the Japanese and Asian inspired elements that were wrapped into dishes from breakfast to dinner and the attention to detail in the dishes, which let’s face it, is unusual in a hotel restaurant.
Some of the highlights included an amusing take on Eggs Benedict at breakfast called Seafood Latkes Benny with okonomiyaki pancake as its base with shrimp, smoked salmon, kimchi hollandaise, seaweed salad, etc, a beautifully presented and delicious Watermelon and Sprout Salad with yuzu caviar, and a white soy glaze, the most fabulous Asian-style Risotto with sea asparagus (used a lot in British Columbia and one of my new favs), coconut, bonito flakes, spot prawns, and some delicious desserts such as a Deconstructed Shortcake which used yuzu foam, and almond sesame crisps to a lovely Panna Cotta which included sake jelly and cherry blossoms. We floated back to our room, feeling very well fed, continuing to rave about our dinner and planning our next visit to Aura.
We also drove out to the legendary Sooke Harbour House Resort Hotel and ate in their restaurant. This is a gorgeous country inn set on a bluff overlooking the stunning Salish Sea (aka the Straits of Juan de Fuca). Our corner table faced a corner of their three acre pristine garden filled with edible flower blossoms and rare herbs and in the distance, the mesmerizing sea. Again, I loved the Japanese influences in so many of the dishes.
Since we were having brunch, we started with spicy Bloody Mary’s that included sea asparagus, a Chargrilled Lettuce Salad with smoked feta and pickled shallots, and a Sashimi platter that included the most tender octopus and melt in your mouth freshly caught salmon. Okay, I will admit we ate a lot more dishes!, but we couldn’t tear ourselves away from the food and the view.
I had such a great time in beautiful Victoria, that I want to go back and keep eating!
Leave a note in the comments section (see below) with your favorite Japanese restaurant in Canada!