First Look: Mai Mai’s (Downtown)

The Temple building on Fort and Langley has shifted hands once again. On October 24, Mai Mai’s Bistro opened their second location (the original location is in Sooke) in the Temple’s lower level, and they just might have the golden ticket to make it work.

Their Sushi West Coast fusion and late night focus is the kind of vibe afterhours folks just might be looking for. The prices are affordable and the portions are generous. Besides, where can you get tuna tataki or tacos at 2:00am in Victoria?

This photo courtesy of Mai Mai's

This photo courtesy of Mai Mai’s

In the last few years, the Temple has been known as a late night eatery, an afterhours lounge, and as an events and catering company. Within blocks of several of Victoria’s bars and pubs, the Temple is in a prime downtown location, and it’s an impressive space that works particularly well as a late night spot.

The menu features some classic sushi like yam and avocado, California and spicy tuna rolls, though they also have several hip and interesting selections including wonton poppers (6 crispy goat cheese wontons with honey thai chili dip), and the Cowboy Up sushi roll (Alberta steak, avocado, chipotle aioli and soy glaze).

Goat cheese poppers

Goat cheese poppers

Deconstructed apple pie.

Deconstructed apple pie.

Owner and chef Jo Jo Villaresis is pretty excited, in particular, about his take on the classic Pork’n’Beans — a dish he thinks guests will really enjoy. The pork is braised and served with homemade bbq sauce and the “beans” are an edamame succotash.

Originally from the Philippines, classically trained in French cuisine and having apprenticed in a sushi restaurant, Villaresis brings a unique twist to all of his dishes: the tuna tataki is finished off with a drizzle of truffle oil, the edamame is sautéed in ginger, garlic, lime and tequila (they also have regular edamame); and the deconstructed apple pie is made with tempura battered granny smith apples and crispy phyllo pastry “crust.”

It makes sense that Mai Mai’s is all about fusion food. Villaresis has infused flavours from his culture, techniques from his French training and a passion for his love of Asian cuisine to create dishes that are light, classic, refined and perfect for sharing.

Peppered Tuna Tataki

Peppered Tuna Tataki

“I was inspired by my experience making sushi – the idea came to me to open my own place [now Mai Mai’s] around the time sushi fusion was taking off” says Villaresis. “In the Philippino culture, it’s common to share food with friends and family. I wanted Mai Mai’s to include small plates that are shareable and yet would appeal to the pallet of the late night crowd.”

The space has been renovated to give a clean lined, comfortable, and casual appeal. Dark wood paneling, a cozy fireplace, bench seating, and a private function room decked out with a sleek white leather couches, wood tables, and TVs streaming surf videos add to Mai Mai’s cool factor. “We want people to think of Mai Mai’s as a good place to chill and hangout” says Villaresis. (He’s got surf dude written all over him).

Villaresis lived and surfed in Tofino for several years – hence the decor and the easy-going ambience of Mai Mai’s. There’s a strong west coast appeal evident in the food with plenty of seafood options on the menu; the local albacore tuna (used for the tuna tataki and the tuna tacos), for instance, is sourced from a local fisherman in Sooke. Rest assured, Villaresis is a strong supporter of sustainable and local products.

Mai Mai's
Mai Mai menu

Mai Mai’s is perfect for private functions, birthdays, celebrations and happy-go-lucky bar goers; it’s large, roomy and ideal for socializing. Come on down on a Friday for live DJ music, unique cocktails, and enjoy a few share plates with your friends.

Currently Mai Mai’s is open Wed-Sun 5:00pm to 2:00am. Closed Mon-Tues. Every day from 5:00 -7:00pm is Happy Hour with $4 wines by the glass and $5 pints of local beer. Every night from 10:00 – 2:00am is Appy Hour with 50% off pizzas, tacos and mini skewers (beef, oyster, pork or tofu).

Mai Mai’s

525 Fort Street, Victoria B.C.

(250) 590-8848

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Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

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