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Restaurant Review: Posh hot-pot delights

POSH CHARCOAL COLLABORATION DINING Address: 1063 Fort St., Victoria Tel: 250-382-7674 Open: Dinner, nightly from 5 p.m. Lunch, Friday and Saturday only Major credit cards and Interac accepted. Wheelchair accessible.
Posh Charcoal Collaboration Dining on Fort Street.


Address: 1063 Fort St., Victoria

Tel: 250-382-7674

Open: Dinner, nightly from 5 p.m.

Lunch, Friday and Saturday only

Major credit cards and Interac accepted.

Wheelchair accessible.

4 1 /2

If you like Asian food, you're probably happy to live in Greater Victoria, because anything you would normally eat with chopsticks is big business here.

Though it wasn't long ago that choice was largely limited to Cantonese dishes, today menus offering dishes from other regions of China -not to mention Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, India and Japan -are easily found in the capital region.

Posh Charcoal Collaboration Dining is the rather long name of the fourth restaurant to set up shop in the Mosaic building on Fort Street since it was revamped about a decade ago. It's also a bit of an anomaly, being the first restaurant in the capital focusing on hot-pot dishes to gain a real foothold.

The house specialty is sukiyaki, arguably Japan's most famous nabemono or one-pot dish. The first time I had this dish as a child remains a vivid memory, as it was prepared tableside by a kimonoclad waitress who placed ingredients in a pot with surgical precision. I couldn't wait to taste and was momentarily horrified when told to dip things from the pot in raw egg before eating, until someone explained that the heat of the food would cook it. That being said, I can still do without this part of the dish.

Sukiyaki has many varieties but these largely fall into two categories: The Kansai style where meat is seared in the pot before the other ingredients are added, and the Kanto style where everything is simmered together. The cooking sauce called warishita is typically made up of soy, sake, water, and sugar or mirin, but Posh uses a combination of eight fruits and vegetables to achieve the required level of sweetness.

I had visited Posh several times before I met my friend Karen for dinner there recently. The food has always been enjoyable, but it must be said that service, though always pleasant, has been hit or miss at lunch.

We started with passion fruit mayo prawns -large, juicy with tails removed, stuffed with a little spiced mayonnaise and served on a bed of morsels of tempura pas-sion fruit drizzled with sweet sauce. Enormous steamed gyoza stuffed with pork and minced vegetables arrived with a good dipping sauce. Portions were generous, especially given the quality and the price, and would serve four people as a starter; not that we had any trouble finishing them. Both were under $10.

After she cleared the table, our server returned with some excellent miso soup, before taking our order for sukiyaki, which is where the collaboration part comes into play. Presented with a list of 32 ingredients and additional, optional condiments, you tick off what you like.

Your server returns with a cooking pot bearing finely sliced root vegetables and a little warishita and places it on a burner in the centre of your table; to the pot you add your selection of items.

Typical ingredients in a sukiyaki pot include thinly sliced meats or fish, leeks, onions, mushrooms, tofu, noodles and shungiku or chrysanthemum leaves, which add a distinctive note. Unfortunately, the latter weren't available on the night we visited, but we had plenty of other ingredients to choose from, including paper-thin slices of finely marbled pork and beef, black fungus, shitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, baby bok choy, spinach and more. In fact, Posh is a great place to try those things you might have looked at in the Asian section of the store but were unsure about buying -tofu puffs, konjac roll and fish cakes.

Posh is a welcome addition to Victoria's restaurant scene.

Sukiyaki starts at $13.98 for lunch and depending on the meat you choose ranges from $18.98 to $23.98 for all you can eat. The menu is limited, but I would rather eat a few dishes done well than a dozen that were merely adequate.

Ingredients are of high quality, and cooking your own food is a fun way to dine with friends, and a nice option in a world where we tend to eat too quickly and with little thought. That being said, if you can't dine in, the take-out is amazing. You'll have to visit to see for yourself.


1 Serves food

2 Needs work

3 Worth a visit

4 Very good

5 Superb