Thursday, September 19, 2013

Trying to find the Silver Lining at Japanese Village

The Japanese Village Restaurant
734 Broughton St.
Victoria, B.C.
(250) 382-5165

Yes, I'll admit it. I have a life mission to try every Japanese restaurant in town, and one of the good places used to be Japanese Village. If this establishment can get past its modern trappings and a reduction to their ridiculously high prices, then maybe it could be something. This place flaunts its teppenyaki style of food over the traditional offerings and some of the staff must have forgotten that there are old souls like me around.

I was the odd man out in a party of five preferring to eat raw fish over cowboy meat. Is that bad? No. Technically, this style of cooking western food on a grill was introduced in 1945, conveniently after the United States occupied Japan. According to one source, foreigners preferred this style of cooking over other methods since they can see what is being made. Other than the soybeans, I think every other ingredient is Western Civilization in origin.

My friend Jake pointed out that I was allowed to have sushi anywhere in this establishment. There was nothing to stop me and I was able to enjoy my fresh raw fish while my pals preferred the cooked beef, chicken, onions. shrimp, prawns, etc. They made their order and when it was my turn, I asked where the sushi menu was.

I think the waitress was shocked that I didn't want cooked food, and afterwards, I felt like I was being given the cold treatment. Missing from my seat was chopsticks and the obligatory glass of water. After being served, I had to point out twice that I did not have eating utensils before that was rectified.

Also, I did say out loud and to this waitress' direction that an Asahi Black will be great to share between my friend and I, and we were served the non-import version of the drink. The Black name is an import name for authenticity, and the non is packaged here in North America.

I can't help but feel like I was being snubbed. Although I did find the food good, I can't say their fish was super spectacular. In the basic sashimi plate I had, the octopus was delectable and the scallops enticing (a lime slice was inserted between the piece like a wedge). Everything else from this plate was of a medium grade quality.

In the maki roll front, I had to try out two of their specials. I thought what was made needed to be finished in two bites than the traditional one. The Mango roll was delicious; this fruit gave the roll an added sweetness that was only further enhanced by a touch of honey. This roll combines yellowfin with salmon along with some flying fish roe with crunchy tempura bits to accent.


Even the Eel-ectric roll was nice. The tuna and bbq eel made for an interesting combination, but I could hardly taste any kick from the pepper or mayo used. Maybe they should have used a jalapeno pepper instead. I thought about the Jalapeno Hamachi roll, but I tend to balk at the use of cream cheese in sushi. Many chefs think a lot of cream cheese is good, but it should be the opposite. It should be a light spread since a fair number of cheeses can have an overpowering flavour.

Maybe I'll visit during a lunch time and sit at the sushi bar. I can't be bothered with sitting at the grill tables anymore.

I enjoyed my meal but I was never asked by the table's waitress if I wanted something else to drink after my beer was finished. No water was offered whilst my friend received a glass. I thought about dessert when the rest of my party placed their order (it came as part of their meal), and never once did my server turn to ask if I wanted anything. I really did not want to give a tip because I felt that insulted. The people cleaning up our tables even started to rush my group along since another party was waiting.

I honestly can not recommend Japanese Village at all because the service was that bad. Even the show that's supposed to be part of the experience was lacking. The chefs were supposed to do a knife-drum routine to entertain the masses and the individual that was cooking for my group's side of the table never did. He did make the onion volcano, and a few people oohed, but not a lot of people were paying attention when that happened.

The other chef that cooked for a different group was very cordial as I started taking pictures, he even posed. At least I can say the tip I gave was more for him than for any other member of the staff. I was entertained by his joke of saying that a ghost resides in this building, but he was making a reference to a member in my group in good humour.

Now that's a man with great customer service experience. Everyone in this restaurant's staff can benefit by learning from him.

3½ Blokes out of 5

Japanese Village on Urbanspoon

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