Soya-nara College Street

College Street / Little Italy
586 College Street
Wednesday night was so warm everyone in my neighbourhood was out on the streets. Even at 9:30pm the patios were full, there were lines up at every gelati parlour (this is Little Italy, afterall), and the streets were filled with people strolling, cycling or driving with the top down. I, on the other hand, was running. Oh, and dodging traffic. Someone called out “Look, it’s Steve Fudge! I bet he’s running to do a deal!”
And I was. Which made the whole situation particularly comical.
I was hoofing it to present an offer four blocks from my boutique office, on a property that had come to market a day earlier and now had four bids on it. I had been the listing agent on the subject property ten years earlier, when it had last sold. I loved it then. I loved it now. So did my buyers.
The Edwardian end-of-row two-storey urban dwell was, what I call, one of ‘the special houses’….those rare gems which are unassuming yet well-proportioned, private yet sundrenched (on an ample corner city lot enveloped by a lush hedge), stylish yet pretense-free. Oh, and with three car parking.
My buyers were understandably smitten.
Unfortunately half an hour later, just as I caught my breath, we learned we lost the bid. And only by a small margin. It hurt a little but we all kept stiff upper lips. Ok, secretly I cried a few teardrops.
Nevertheless, I applaud my fab couple who, as first time buyers making their first offer, displayed a very strong showing. Ultimately the property garnered 112% of its extremely reasonable list price, which didn’t surprise me but left me deflated. Yup, the ‘special houses’ always command a premium.
After my buyers and I learned the outcome, we drowned our sorrows at Utopia Cafe on College Street. Utopia is one of my favourite destinations for affordable healthy eats. The dining room (and covered patio) are casual, the service quick and efficient, and the burger ‘n burrito menu has loads of veggie options. Popular with a youthful eclectic crowd, it’s also a great place to cool hunt the latest fashion.
Another great meal is the bento box at Sushi Island, which I enjoyed last night (hence my blog title). The Island is practically across the street from Utopia on the south side of College. It’s in the former location of Caoba, a latin establishment that was a big budget failure. Caoba invested huge money into an interior that was weirdly contrived. The entire inside was a sort of rustic terracotta plaster mess. Envision a molded faux stone platform with banquette cushioned seats trailing into an ‘adobe dining grotto’ featuring a pressed tin ceiling and a gas fireplace. Huh? Anyway, this upscale Latinary was so visually hideous (and overpriced) it went tits up in short order. A week later, Sushi Island opened.
What’s hysterical is that the new cheap eats Sushi Island purveyors didn’t even touch the existing decor, they simply hung japanese paper fish and dragons from the ceiling. It’s a totally ‘WTF?’ ambience but it doesn’t deter the line up from never-ending. Most dine here for the all you can eat sushi buffet, but I come for the huge-portioned bento boxes which are great value at $9-$12. Know in advance that no one comes for the bizarre overlit decor. By the way I’m going to take this moment to squeeze in a confession that I abhor fishy sushi. My waspish demeanour has cultivated the perhaps ‘misguided’ preference for japanese food of the cooked variety, like grilled terriyaki salmon or tempura, and not the potentially lethal blowfish. Or, should I just say any kind of raw fish. Which has probably served me well. According to some of the patron reviews, this destination increases your propensity to incur horrific bouts of food poisoning. I would think gorging at any ‘all you can eat’ sushi buffet probably invites this, especially if your constitution is of a delicate waspish-ilk like mine.
In the course of a few days I’m going from Sushi Island to Vancouver Island (the other Utopia) to see my fab family. The trip will include a visit to my friend Rosalyn in Seattle, my tri-annual reunion with my second social world in Vancouver, plus a boating escape on the stunningly restored Rhinegold owned by my mentor and friend Wayne. I’m looking forward to communing with nature, my family and friends. How lucky am I?
~ Steven

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