Happy Food Day Canada! Organized by Anita Stewart and with events happening across the country, this day is all about celebrating the food and food culture we have within our expansive borders. The age-old question of ‘what is Canadian cuisine?’ continues to puzzle us, and perhaps the answer is simply, ‘what isn’t?’
There are many ways you can mark the day; perhaps do your shopping at a farmers’ market (like The Sharing Farm’s!), go berry-picking, or dine at your favourite local restaurants who source from Canadian producers. Perhaps buy flour milled from Canadian wheat and attempt your first (or 1000th) loaf of homemade bread? I know I’ll be enjoying a breakfast of local eggs, Naramata cherries, Richmond blueberries, and some kind of Canadian cheese. And of course, I get to share with you my ever-so eclectic Friday lunch, a classic example of the mashup that is this country’s food scene.
I decided to go for ramen at Tokyo Joe’s, which isn’t far from it’s flagship, Tokyo Joe Sushi Factory. TJ Okawari was quiet when I was there for an early dinner, but the pop music playing, energetic serving staff ,and friendly chefs gave me the impression that when full, it’s lively and seriously noisy.
Not for your elderly, traditional grandparents, especially with these options on offer:
They have a large menu in the izakaya style including sushi, donburi, ramen, and appetizers. To start, I ordered the miso-marinated deep-fried mackerel ($8.95), for no other reason than it sounded salty and delicious. And they were – they came with mayo to dip in, and were rich and tender, without too much batter on them.
I ordered the most popular ramen, which my server informed me is the BBQ’d pork with regular noodles (the other option, for $1.50 more, is spinach noodles, which she said are often ordered by vegetarians). It came with thick slices of pork – not as sweet as the Chinese BBQ version, more salty – as well as corn, hard-boiled egg, bean sprouts, green onion, dried seaweed, and a fish cake.
The miso-based broth was rich, salty, and offset by the sweet corn. I was pretty happy with this, though I’ll have to have more bowls with which I can compare it. I’m no ramen expert……YET.
But something I am an expert on, and which no one can deny is definitely Canadian, is the Nanaimo Bar! This fair square originated on Vancouver Island, and holds its place strongly amongst the great bars of this country. And by bars I mean squares, or ‘dainties,’ as they’d say in the prairies.
I stopped in and picked one up from the Steveston Bakery, who make a mean Nanaimo bar. The middle layer isn’t too sweet, unlike some versions, and the base held together well. All in all it was a mighty fine bar, eaten in honour of a mighty fine country.
And now I open it up to you, as I have many questions:
-Richmondites, what are your favourite places for ramen in Richmond?
-Do you have any classic Canadian food stories to share? How would you define Canadian cuisine?
-What’s the best Nanaimo bar you’ve ever eaten? And I do expect international answers for this one, particularly from a certain group of ladies I may have made them for while abroad……
Cash and cards accepted
Cash and cards accepted