604 Broughton St, tel: 383-3234


Ebizo is one of the classier places in Victoria for sushi. The location, formerly an elegant French restaurant, has nice details: from a bay window in the front, to red velvet upholstery on the chairs. Ebizo could be 'the' sophisticated Japanese restaurant in town, but with a bustling lunch and dinner business, there's not much pressure on the management to make any changes.

We arrived for our reservation on time, but unfortunately the person who had taken the reservation had not written it down in the book - so no reservation. They admitted their error, but were not overly apologetic, considering how sloppy a mistake it was. So we waited 15 minutes for a table.

We were seated and provided with menus. We were not offered beverages until the server returned to take our order. While at lunch, taking drink and food orders at the same time might be acceptable, but at dinner I expect a little more attention to detail. That said, Ebizo pays little attention to their wine and beverage list - perhaps their biggest obstacle to business development. I don't know why any restaurant wouldn't want people to buy alcohol, but it seems Ebizo is indifferent on the subject. Their beverage list is terrible, with the exception of a passable beer list. The wine, cocktails and spirits selection is between non-existent and poor. Most notably, there was only one, extremely pedestrian, variety of sake to choose from.  I like the food and atmosphere at Ebizo enough to spend $20-$30 on a bottle of nice or interesting sake - I just wish they'd let me. Same goes for the wine, there are lots of great sushi wines, so the selection of red or white box is a little disappointing.

To the food. We started with soups. I had decided to try something different, the lobster bisque ($3.50). Neither completely Asian or French tasting and served in European dishware (in contrast to everything else, which is served in Japanese dishware). It was fine, but next time I'll stick to the miso. My brother Hew had the miso with pork ($3.50)and his wife Krista had the plain miso. The miso with pork was a much larger serving, both with regard to the addition of pork and the total volume of soup.

We then had the tuna tataki ($9.95) and the agadashi tofu ($4.50). Both were great - the tofu was hot and crispy and the tataki fresh and portioned well. These are pretty common dishes, but Ebizo stands out for consistency and preparation of both of these.

For our sushi we ordered a yam tempura roll ($4.50), spicy tuna roll ($4) and the BBQ eel roll ($4.50) to share. The yam tempura roll was crispy and the portion large, but the BBQ eel roll stole the show with a nice combination with cucumber for some crunch. The spicy tuna roll was not our cup of tea, the spicy sauce seemingly blended into the tuna - more like spicy tuna salad. We had a variety of nigiri sushi: from tuna, to salmon, to eel - all fresh and delicious.

When our bill came, it wasn't totaled properly. The whole thing was hard to read (handwriting) and confusing, but ultimately we concluded with the help of a calculator that the server had not added the liquor total to the food total. We brought it to her attention and she was thankful for our honesty, but we were so confused that dishonesty wasn't really an option.

The food at Ebizo is consistently fresh and well prepared. On this particular occasion the service wasn't very good, but my experience is that tonight's shortcomings were unusual (however, the handwritten bill is always hard to read). For lunch their service and menu style works well, but for dinner they have the potential for a lot more. I would really like to see Ebizo provide a better wine and beverage list and somewhat more formal dinner service.

  Reviewed: March 18. 2006