Uchida in Victoria (next to the Bug Zoo and Miniature World) is my idea of what a humble eatery in a small Japanese town would be like: cooking up homestyle food using local ingredients, prepared simply with minimum fuss, and gentle seasoning that lets the ingredients speak for themselves. I’m not in Victoria very often (even less now that my sister moved back to the mainland) but I always try to eat at this lunch-only spot because I think it offers something that not even Vancouver has.
Here it is, Uchida on Courtney St., right in downtown Victoria. That’s the bug zoo in the background (windows with yellow trim). You go left into the little alleyway and you see this:
It’s a tiny place that fits maybe 20 people max.
Note: this place used to be Daidoco before May 2012. Some of the staff took over and renamed it Uchida. Daidoco still operates as a market stall/bento box lunch delivery service in Victoria. Very cute drawings of their lunches on their Facebook page.
Curtain hanging in the doorway.
They’re only open for weekday lunch.
Hopefully my Japanese readers will know what this says…
Their regular menu of rice bowls, rice balls, etc. They have organic rice that they polish themselves! You can choose either white or brown rice.
Their side dishes. Most things here are à la carte, so you can build your own meal of protein, rice, sides, etc.
Today’s special. The lady said it was like ginger pork.
They also have what looks like pressed sushi.
One of two special veggie sides, using mostly organic vegetables.
The other special veggie side. We got both. “Komatsuna” is Japanese mustard spinach.
If you mention “single-estate” or “single-origin”, my eyes will go wide! So I had to try it.
The description said “light and comfortable flavour…unintrusive”, which is spot-on. Very gentle, balanced, easy to drink. No harsh bitterness at all.
Yasunobu must’ve been the guy I waved and said bye to afterwards. It’s a small place but they had at least five people working there in the open kitchen.
Help yourself to water.
Roast Veggies containing kabocha, beets, kabu (turnip), daikon and onion. Absolutely delicious. With veggies this good, you don’t need to do much to them.
Tsubu Mustard Ae with Japanese mustard spinach, chard, cabbage, carrot and enoki mushrooms. Again, the seasoning doesn’t mask the inherent deliciousness of the veggies.
Organic Brown Rice. They polish the rice themselves! I don’t know of any places in Vancouver that do this! The rice is nutty and rustic. I can’t get enough of it.
My dad got miso soup. Didn’t get to try it.
Grilled Mackerel. It’s that salted kind of mackerel. So yeah, it’s a bit salty but tastes great with rice.
Miso Marinated Grilled Rockfish. What’s rockfish you ask? They had a photo of it on their wall:
You could really taste the miso marination in the fish. A simple, classic Japanese preparation. I could taste the freshness and simplicity.
Tuna Don. Sister-in-law inhaled this.
Today’s special rice bowl: Buta Shogayaki Don. They use pork from a farm that’s only 21.9 km away! They are humbly doing organic, farm-to-table cooking here. Love the soft egg.
Chicken Teriyaki Don. Dad couldn’t wait to dig in. He grew up poor and starving most of the time, so I completely understand that he can’t stand having that hungry feeling in his stomach. Once he gets hungry, he has to throw together something to eat — even if it’s leftover sushi boiled in some broth with other fridge leftovers thrown in!
Spicy Chicken Wings flavoured with shichimi togarashi. Wicca totally fell in love with these wings. Enticing grilled/charred aroma and flavour. Not sure how they cooked these but they rocked!
Juicy inside, crispy outside. The natural chicken flavour just shines through, lightly accented by the shichimi.
The best part was the surprise inclusion of the NECK! We rejoiced. There’s so much flavour in neck meat. We had fun tearing it apart and nibbling off all the meat out of the nooks and crannies!
Uchida is a no-brainer if you’re in downtown Victoria.