Best Ethnic Food in Victoria

Your guide to the best restaurants to eat ethnic food in Victoria

Your guide to the best restaurants to eat ethnic food in Victoria

One of the main reasons we love to travel is the food.  When we are back home in Victoria we love to satisfy our tastebuds by eating at all the different ethnic restaurants we can find.

Below is a guide to our favourite ethnic restaurants in Victoria.  We will continue updating as we try new ones!


Japanese

Maiko

Living in Hawaii and visiting Japan a few times has made me very particular about my sushi and sashimi.  You can go to your everyday, westernized Japanese restaurant in downtown Victoria that your Western friends will tell you is good.  But, if you would like to try something that is somewhat acceptable to my Japanese palate, make your way to Langford and try Maiko.

The owners and workers are Korean, but they make some good Japanese sushi.  While my parents were visiting we took them out here and even my dad enjoyed the sashimi.

We tend to order spicy tuna by impulse.  It is a nice roll with ahi tuna, chopped like tartare, and mixed with a spicy mayonnaise sauce.  Many other restaurants have tried and failed.  But Maiko seems to do it well.  I love some of their other rolls like the dragon roll and caterpillar roll.

Maiko Sushi Caterpillar Roll

The dragon roll consists of unagi (fresh water eel), crab and deep fried panko bread crumbs.  The best part of the roll is the unagi sauce they drizzle on top, which is like a sweeter teriyaki barbecue sauce.  The caterpillar roll is very similar to the dragon roll but they add a neatly sliced avocado atop the roll and also finish with the delicious unagi sauce.

We only just tried their sashimi platter while my parents were visiting and it was surprising wonderful.  The tuna was thick and fresh.  The squid was perfectly crisp and fresh.  And my dad’s favourite was the salmon.  He even said he never had such fresh salmon sashimi.  It was so good they ordered a second order.

Sashimi at Maiko

We really underestimated some of their other menu items as we tend to stick to what is popular and can’t mess up. Since it was my parents first time visiting in a few years, we indulged and ordered the prawn tempura and miso soup. Both where very good and pretty authentic.  But how can you go wrong with miso soup and shrimp tempura.

We have been to a few of the other Japanese restaurants around town and haven’t been back.  Expect for Maiko – it is the only one we continue to come back to!  The best part of the restaurant is the service and ambiance. The owners, Brian and Alice, are so nice and they even remember Louise’s name every time.

Make your way down to Langford and sit down for some great Japanese food!




Korean

King Sejong

Louise and I love going to eat Korean food whenever we are reminiscing where we first fell in love.  We have been to a few different Korean restaurants in Victoria.  Some cater more to the western palate and serve the common barbecue beef and lack authenticity.  But we’ve found that King Sejong has the closest dishes and flavours to what we remember eating in Korea.

King Sejong Restuarant Menu

Menu at King Sejong

They have a wide variety on the menu.  We usually go with our favourites: deokkbokki for Louise and naengmyeon for me.  Their deokkbokki consists of rice cakes, a few green onions, potatoes, and noodles, slow cooked in a sweet and very spicy red pepper sauce. They make it to perfection here and Louise says it’s as close to authentic as it gets outside Korea.

Ginger Juice at Le Petit Dakar

Naengmyeon is a cold buckwheat noodle dish in an ice cold broth with a hard boiled egg and some thinly sliced pork. You can add vinegar and hot mustard to taste, which we do as we like it spicy.  Their noodles are perfectly chewy and the broth is very delicious.  I wish they served it all year long, but unfortunately it’s only on the menu for the summer.

Mul Naengmyeon at King Sejong

The few other times we have gone I’ve also really enjoyed the doenjang-jjigae. This is a scalding hot soup that is made with a fermented bean paste, similar to natto (my favourite food of all time) and served with tofu, vegetables and beef.   It’s an acquired taste, but if you’re feeling adventurous, I highly recommend it with bowl of rice.

King Sejong Dinner

 

Side dishes at King Sejong

 

Authentic Korean Food at King Sejong

King Sejong may seem like a hole in the wall, but that is why we love it here.  You could walk down the street and miss this hidden gem, but don’t!  On a busy night you will hear lots of people speaking Korean and soju being poured (or spilled) so you know the food is good and authentic.

Senegalese

Le Petit Dakar

Le Petit Dakar has recently moved from their downtown location to Esquimalt.  Located at the corner of Esquimalt Road and Head street, it is easily accessible by the #15 bus or by car.  Free parking is available on the street by the Carlton Club.  They are open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 8pm.

Le Petit Dakar menu

We came for a late lunch on a Saturday.  The menu on the wall has a number of delicious sounding options but not all are always available, so make sure to check before ordering.  Luckily the day we went they had my favorite dish available: mafe.  Ryan tried the Saturday special: Chebu Jen.

Mafe is a spicy peanut butter stew made with either beef, lamb or chicken.  The day we went they had chicken mafe. It smells strongly of peanut butter and has quite a spicy kick to it!  The mafe is served with white rice and a dollop of their homemade habanero hot sauce.  This dish is already quite spicy so if you can’t handle the heat, skip the hot sauce! Their hot sauce is pretty potent so you only want to take a speck of it with each bite.  And if you can’t handle spicy food at all, skip this dish altogether.

Ginger Juice at Le Petit Dakar

The Chebu Jen was a white fish slow cooked with carrot, potato and eggplant, and rice that had been cooked in spiced tomato sauce. 

Chebu Jen at Le Petite Dakar

Our server asked if we wanted to try the ginger juice ($3) and we said sure.  Ryan described it as like a ginger lemonade.  It was super potent – if you don’t like ginger don’t order this because the ginger flavor could be pretty overwhelming.  We actually really liked it though – it was quite refreshing and complemented the spicy food. Definitely won’t catch a cold anytime soon with all that ginger!  They also have other specialty juices on offer like hibiscus and baobab juice!  Next time we’ll have to try that.

Ginger Juice at Le Petit Dakar

After our meal a Senegalese dessert sounded good but we were too full!  Will also be on our list to try for next time. The restaurant also has African products for sale such as spices and teas.  We loved their hot sauce so much that we decided to buy a jar of it ($10). 

Not only is the food great but the owner is so warm and welcoming as well! She remembers all her patrons and is super friendly.  There’s not many places to eat African food in Victoria so give this one a try!  It is one of our favorites.




 

Thai

Sabhai Thai

This is a very popular restaurant and it is for good reason!  After finding success in Sidney, they opened up a second location in Langford and it is always packed.  In fact, you should probably make a dinner reservation otherwise you may be disappointed.

First of all, the atmosphere is very nice – fireplaces in all 4 corners, a water fountain and Thai decor everywhere.  Service is always very friendly.

Our favorite dish here is the pad thai – it is our favorite out of any Thai restaurant in Victoria (we’ve taste-tested a lot!).  It’s such a basic Thai dish but so good here!  Our second favorite is another basic Thai dish: Red Curry.  We love to order it medium-hot and pair it with a bowl of the coconut rice.  Each Thai restaurant seems to have a slightly different taste to their red curry, but this one has to be one of the best.

Sabhai Thai Pad Thai and Green Curry

Sabhai Thai has quite a large menu and every time we go there (which is often) we try to order a different dish in addition to our usual favorites.  From their flavorful soups, to their fantastic salads, delicious stir-frys and amazing seafood, you just can’t go wrong!

If you are a dessert-lover like Louise, don’t worry – they have you covered there, too!  Louise’s favorite is their Mango Jello.  It sounds simple but it is filled with mango-goodness and topped with coconut whipped cream – you gotta try it.

Vietnamese

Culis Market

You will probably be a bit confused when you first walk into this place as it is partly a small, random, family-run Asian convenience store and partly a Vietnamese restaurant/take out place that also serves ice cream and bubble tea.  In fact, you’d probably never even think to come to this little hidden gem if no one told you about it.  But we’ll let you in on the secret 😉

Culis Market is run by a woman and (I think) her husband.  I see them there every single day, day and night.  Don’t be put off if she is not friendly at first, she warms up after you order. And the food is worth it.  Don’t come here if you are in a rush, though, as she makes everything to order so be prepared to wait a bit for your hot food.  At least you can be sure everything is fresh and tasty.

There is no menu here.  Well, there was at one point, but in the past year it seems to have disappeared.  But pretty much their pho is the highlight here!  I just ask for a regular pho and choose my bubble tea flavor (the menu for that is on the wall).

Pho at Culis Market

The meat is rare and gets cooked by the delicious hot broth.  It is sooo flavorful.  You are also given a nice big platter of mint, thai basil, sprouts, jalapenos, lime, etc.  They also have delicious banh mi and bubble tea.  The bubble tea comes in tons of flavors and the pearls are actually soft instead of chewy.  They of course also serve bun cha (vermicelli noodles), spring rolls, and some other dishes which I haven’t tried yet.  Craving Vietnamese coffee?  They have that, too.

Greens at Culis Market

There are some tables inside, and some on the sidewalk outside, or you can take your food to go.  Prices are reasonable.  Bubble tea is $4 and the huge bowl of pho is $11.95 (enough to feed me for dinner plus take some home for lunch the next day!)

 

Stay tuned for more!  And if you have any suggestions for ethnic restaurants we should try please let us know in the comments below!

 

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Are you a foodie? Do you love bold flavors? Here is your guide to the best ethnic food in Greater Victoria!

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