Steveston is an ever-changing place. One week, Snow White, Prince Charming, and the Evil Queen are hanging on Moncton Street, and the next week the army comes to town.
With Once Upon a Time on vacation until July, a new production has moved in, and this time it’s big deal a movie: Godzilla. I can’t claim to have seen the 1954 original, but I think most of us are familiar with this classic by now, and the million and one references of it in pop culture since then.
It’s about a big monster, the product of a nuclear explosion, who wreaks havoc on the world, and besides being very entertaining, was also a political statement against the continued development of nuclear weapons. My guess is that this latest version will also act, in one way or another, as a commentary on the state of the world.
Filming is taking place in Hawaii, around Vancouver, Vancouver Island and of course, Steveston. An enormous crew has settled there for the week, as well as mind-boggling amounts of equipment.
Massive cranes, miles of power cords, generators, cameras, and lights are spread throughout the town, with several lots along Chatham Street occupied by trucks, trailers, tents, and tanks.
Just as they do with Once Upon a Time, they’ve temporarily ‘renamed’ many of the stores along Moncton, including the hardware store:
When I arrived yesterday afternoon, Steveston was business as usual, but by the late afternoon they were preparing to film scenes along Bayview Street.
The day before they’d taken over Moncton Street and turned it into a fake war zone, and I missed it – nuts! Fortunately, there were plenty of other folks there to capture some behind the scenes photos, including this amazing bunch from Clayton Perry, and this clip from Vancity Filming.
While it would have been cool to see them filming, I have to say, the logistical nerd in me almost got more excited just wandering around and photographing equipment.
When I think of the thousands of tiny details that must be taken care of just to shoot one small scene in a multi-million dollar movie, my brain gets sore. These details include the crew, arrangements with the city of Richmond and businesses that must be made months in advance, the tons of equipment that must be transported, stored, and watched over, the actors, the extras, the script, the photography, the cinematography, the sound, the weather, and finicky things like “we need to make this wall look like black brick instead of red brick,” so someone needs to be in charge of measuring it, finding a realistic-looking fake overlay, and putting it up (I saw a man from the crew demonstrating exactly this, by knocking on the wall outside a faux pub to demonstrate it’s fake).
It’s truly remarkable, and sometimes I’m almost surprised that even hundreds of millions of dollars are able to pay for it all.
Then the food nerd in me got excited, because I also got to see some of the film caterers at work! As I was walking by the movie crew’s temporary RV city on the way to the park, I came across this fine sight, and asked if I could take a picture. It’s a Godzilla-sized piece of meat on a spit. They said it was about 65 pounds worth, and were glazing it with some kind of gloriously sweet mixture.
It looked so wonderfully medieval, and smelled so incredible that for a moment I was terribly sad I don’t work for the Godzilla crew and wouldn’t be able to partake in their feast.
While I missed out on the 65 pound roast, I did pay tribute to the original Godzilla movie by having sushi for dinner at Shintaro Japanese Restaurant.
They recently took over the space from another sushi restaurant called Kiwami, and are located on the second floor of a Bayview Street complex. The restaurant is quite small, but is filled with natural light thanks to the front windows and a skylight in the ceiling.
It’s minimalistic and refined, with a menu that provides a good number of choices without being overwhelming. There are daily specials, appetizers, rice bowls, sushi, nigiri, sashimi, and a beer and wine list. I ordered the gomaae ($3.75), agedashi mozzarella ($4.75), the Deluxe Sweet Potato Roll ($7, one of their specialties) and the sea urchin (uni) nigiri ($3.50). Take note – for those of you who loooove wasabi, their ‘crying cucumber’ roll is laden with it. Hence, the crying.
The gomaae was heavy on the sesame flavour and good.
The agedashi mozzarella is a cheesy take on fried agedashi tofu, and while I loved getting to chew on soft cheese, the batter wasn’t very crispy, even the parts of it that weren’t sitting in the sauce when it arrived.
The Deluxe Sweet Potato roll was a simple and rich vegetarian option.
It’s filled with avocado, topped with sweet potato tempura, and served over a drizzle of mayo. It tasted especially good with the pickled ginger, which cut through the creaminess of the avocado and sweetness of the potato.
More than anything, I’ll remember this meal because it was the first time I had sea urchin. It was an experience.
I tackled the piece of nigiri in two bites, since I was worried that if I didn’t like it, I might panic with the whole thing in my mouth. On the plate, it looked like a coarse orange tongue, even with an indent down the centre of it.
The edible part of sea urchins is served raw, and found inside these spiky, hyper-defensive sea creatures.
The first little nibble was soft – perhaps a bit slimy – with the texture of room-temperature butter. To me, it therefore tasted like ocean-flavoured butter, and I have yet to decide if I like ocean-flavoured butter or not. I think it will take some getting used to, but I got it down.
Shintaro was a very friendly place, and I’d recommend checking it out. If you head down there in the next few days, you can get a glimpse into the surreal world of big budget Hollywood. And if you’re really lucky, you might even get to see a 65 pound roast.
3791 Bayview Street, Richmond BC
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian and some vegan options available