by Adrian Paradis
The Songhees Seafood and Steam Food Truck has elevated the humble fry bread, or bannock, to be at the core of nearly everything they do. They produce something that is unique, yet still adheres to the age-old tradition.
Since opening in May, the folks at Songhees Seafood and Steam have already made their place in the community. The truck is the product of Victoria Clipper Vacations and the Songhees Nation working together, and is run by chef David Roger—formerly from the Marriott Inner Harbour. While mostly keeping to its home base beside the Clipper terminal, the truck also moves for such events as the Aboriginal Culture Festival.
On my way there, I had my mind set on the truck’s famous bannock, and their nearly-as-famous chowder to go with it. To my delight, upon arriving I was told that the fry bread is complimentary with the soup. I’m not sure if this is true all the time, or if perhaps this was due to my proximity to closing time. Or maybe still, the people at Songhees Seafood and Steam were particularly generous that day. Regardless, I felt I was being given something special.
I decided to use the remainder of my budget on a roasted root vegetable salad they had on special. I chose not to add the candied salmon for purely frugal reasons. But, proving once again just how cool Songhees Seafood and Steam people are, when I arrived back at the window to pick up my food, said salmon lay beautifully on top of my salad.
The fry bread had crispy air pockets and a texture that was more chewy than tough or doughy. The chowder was thick, with a rich orange tomato colour and plenty of salty clams. Perhaps not deserving of the recognition it has gained, but still a pretty great soup. Finally, the salad had large chunks of roasted parsnip and carrot, as well as dried cranberries and a slightly sweet vinaigrette. The salmon by itself was amazing—sticky and sweet, but when mixed in with the cranberries and vinaigrette it got lost among the stronger flavours.
All in all, I would recommend Songhees Seafood and Steam to anyone. While I had previously tried a bit of their Indian taco and was at first disappointed, I was more than satisfied with my meal on this occasion. Perhaps though the best part about the truck is not found in its food but in the opportunities it creates.
Songhees youth have the chance to work in the truck and at the Songhees Wellness Centre under chef Roger. They get hands on experience in the food industry and eventually earn hours towards a Red Seal apprenticeship, if they choose to pursue it. As one of the first First Nations food trucks in Canada, Songhees Seafood and Steam could pave the way for many more like it.
Find Songhees Seafood & Steam on Facebook and Twitter. Images via their Facebook and Adrian Paradis.