Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
On the other hand, I was delightfully surprised by the desserts menu. I mean, they have enough desserts here to keep Guy happy, and that in itself is no small accomplishment. Although a bite into the watermelon tells a different story, that of a bland fruit nobody wanted to pick up at the market, somehow making its way to the kitchen for little or no cost, and somehow end up on a buffet plate and into the growling mouth of a bunch of hungry students with millions of taste buds crying out loud for some mercy...and the millions of taste buds have once again been ignored...
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Zap Thai is a sardine-can establishment that offers the only Thai food buffet in the city. Shockingly enough, it escaped my radar for over two years, and has been serving up buffet to thousands of hungry patrons during their busy lunch hour. The unorthodox layout of the buffet turns the line into a game of twister between cooks and customers. There were many times when I had to go behind the counter to grab some Thai spring rolls, narrowly missing water jug yielding waitresses.
There were only six items, and lucky for me, the only two Thai food items I really enjoy were there. Pad Thai, spring rolls, red curry, coconut curry, some sort of beef and vegetable stew and steamed rice were readily available and piping hot. The items were replaced frequently, and the spring rolls were pretty good, stuffed with some sort of transparent vermicelli.
The Pad Thai was what you would expect from any take-out restaurant. I would have liked to see bigger chunks of tofu, and maybe some beef, but it filled my craving.
The red and coconut curry were fairly decent. Just make sure you put enough steamed rice down to soak in the curry runs.
The selection at Zap Thai is a little meager, but for the small size of the restaurant I would say they are fair. Often, I have payed too much for take-out Thai food, only to discover the dishes bursting at the seams with bean sprouts, especially Pad Thai. Coming to Zap Thai ensures that I will get what I want for just a little over ten bucks, but still leaves me wanting more.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
The idiot in the back of the above picture wearing the Canucks jersey is myself. I lost a hockey bet with my friend, and my punishment was to wear that jersey and pay for his meal. Even though the buffet was close to 35 bucks a head after taxes, I felt more of a burning sting after being forced to wear that shitty jersey.
Desert offers quite a few options. Blueberry and blackberry cheesecake, mousse, chocolate cake and fresh fruit only touch the tip of the iceberg in terms of selection.
Having visited this place several dozen times, the prawns never fail, but sometimes the main dishes do. On this particular occasion the main dishes were not overwhelming, but still good enough. The roast beef was on but the thai noodles were nothing special. The important thing is, nothing sucked. When you factor in very high quality seafood into a spectacular atmosphere, it's hard not to leave happy. The service was quick, polite, unobtrusive and helpful. Fresh squeezed juice comes with the buffet and the apple juice is great.
Price for Sunday brunch: $28.95 plus tax
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Here's the news as it appears in Eat:
BC Ferries is taking the sting out of rising fares and early morning commutes by giving their Pacific Buffet a complete overhaul. Fresh blueberries, a platter with goat and cow cheeses, edamame salad, lox and Indian Candy salmon are replacing the old menu standbys. New glass and plate ware present the changes elegantly. Thank manager of food and beverage Hans Zimmerman next time you find yourself on the ferry with a steaming cup of Salt Spring Coffee, a freshly made omelette with goat cheese, and a ruby red bowl of plump strawberries.
No mention of any changes to the dinner buffet, but I imagine there will be changes there as well. I have no idea what these changes mean for the price of the buffet... guess we'll just have to wait and see.
ps. Guy is back in Victoria, so expect a fresh review sometime soon. On behalf of Guy, and everyone else associated with the blog (namely me) thanks for reading.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Dynasty Buffet in Courtenay has a wonderful homey feeling inside. The buffet table is perfectly smack dab in the middle of the restaurant(this makes it difficult to take pictures), and the seating arrangements make for easy access to the buffet table. The lighting is perfect, not to bright and not to dark, and provides the every day buffet goer with a much needed security blanket.
The buffet itself was very good, but not spectacular; I would compare it to Szechuan City on Burnside in Victoria, with a little less meat; however, one item simply blew me away: elongated spring rolls, possibly the best tasting spring rolls I have ever eaten in my entire life. They were so damn crispy, flavourful, and full of oily cabbagy goodness.
They also had Kung Pao Chicken, a well known dish, but not an always offered dish(I'm not sure why). It was basically red peppers and celery with sweet and spicy white meat chicken. The chicken was very moist.
The prawns were delicious. I am a sucker for prawns at a buffet, even if they are from a frozen bag. These prawns held up and had a great fleshy texture. No grainyness to speak of.
A couple of the fried items, the chicken balls and deep fried prawns, were a little chewy and overbattered, and the sweet and sour pork was standard but still a little tough. Shanghai noodles were average, but still a nice option to have. Dynasty had four types of chow mein to choose from: house, singapore, shanghai and vietnamese.
There were also the buffet staples like onion rings, fried squid and chicken wings
They even had a nice pizza option that I think my Victoria colleage Donald would have appreciated. It was just a simple pizza shell with pepperoni and cheese, but sliced into nice bite sized pieces that don't overwhelm as you consider other items to complement this pizza suprise.
The Mandarin style pork loins offered another reason as to why I compare this buffet to Szechuan City. It was almost a carbon copy, and was very good, although a little saucy. It's a good idea to eat this delicacy in proportion.
This was an above decent buffet. I have to admit, it kind of reminded me of a poor man's Szechuan City(BURNSIDE LOCATION ONLY), but it also had a couple of unique items like pizza and Vietnamese style chow mein. Also, the egg rolls are the best I've tasted yet, and the prawns were better then Szech's. The service was alright, but there were some moments when my drink was empty and I was dieing for relief. This was a bit of an annoyance considering there were 2 waitresses and only 3 tables with people. But if your in Courtenay, and want a buffet, this is your place.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
It took me one month of driving past the big white banner to realize the word BUFFET was attached to the end of it. A combination of blaring sun, and a lifetime of being used to seeing roast beef and yorkshire NIGHT banners, is what caused the delay, but here we are.
The decor was beautiful. Wood tables and chairs, and nice coffee cups, and absolutely gorgeous curtains made me feel like momma was cookin' for me round the bend. Oh my god this place was AMAZING. The people were friendly and it felt like I was eating in rural Montana.
The first section of the buffet was the salads. Two types of potato salad, traditional and red, with green pepper, onion and cucumber salad and a wonderful looking fruit medley. I tried the potato salad, and it tasted like what potato salad tastes like. I really have to commend Popseys on their presentation.
In the main entree section, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes and garlic-cheese scalloped potatoes sat alongside carrot and cauliflower mash and several better tasting items.
The carrot and cauliflower mash was bland and boring yet understandable considering it is typically used as a side dish during a roast beef dinner, which is what this buffet was. The abundance of potato dishes can also be alluded to the roast beef dinner equation. I was a little upset over this fact, but not entirely disturbed.
The lasagna pictured in the bottom right container was top notch, and homemade. It was topped generously with mozzarella, and the beef was moist and had an orange, oily glisten; always a good sign for taste.
The buffet also had a trio of oriental dishes, including original versions of chow mein and fried rice, and an accidental Kentucky Fried Chicken taste-a-like. The sweet and sour chicken was perfectly crispy and glorious in terms of taste, almost mocking the taste of KFC's boneless wings.
The carving station was also glorious. The roast beef was almost perfect, just cooked a little under medium, and was injected with garlic. If you look above, in the bottom left corner of the picture there is a white heater with a pair of tongs in it. There was turkey meat, dark and white separated, with stuffing in it.
Around the corner was a little station featuring both chicken and beef gravy, as well as homemade horseradish, mustard and cranberry salsa. The cranberry salsa was one of a kind, and the yorkshire puddings were abundantly displayed (I don't like Yorkshire pudding, but I heard some "mmm's" from the old people eating beside me).
All in all Popseys was a positive, but not an overwhelming experience. The food was average, apart from a few flaws in the potato department, and a carrot/cauliflower puke-mash, but there were a couple of nice surprises. The roast beef was also very good, but it would have been nice if a number of the potato dishes were substituted with meat. This is an extremely filling buffet!
Saturday, July 5, 2008
The word heading into this adventure, was not a good one. Having read two or three severely negative reviews on the internet, I was expecting China Kitchen to be a shit hole of astronomic proportions; possibly even granting "Wings" status (for those of you who have not heard of Wing's buffet in Victoria, it is a local legend in terms of it's atrociousness).
As you can see by the first plate, the food does not look like absolute shit. The sweet and sour pork was crunchy and sweet, the ginger beef was decent and the noodles reminded me of the Wonder Wok golden years. The deep fried prawns were nothing special but also nothing to complain about. For it's small size, the buffet managed to provide a satisfactory selection of items. The only major flaw with the available items, was the scarceness of chicken in the chicken balls. It was not until later during my first plate that my appetite went south.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, there was a six inch hair fused into one of my sweet and sour pork pieces. I know what your thinking. This kind of stuff happens all the time right? I shouldn't be too hard on China Kitchen. Well, the truth is, this is the first time I have ever experienced a hair during my buffet eating years, and it made me feel queasy.
I chose not to dine any further but still managed to snap some shots of the buffet line. The word "lacking" comes to mind when looking at it. Even though I commend China Kitchen's green initiative for only putting out food when it was needed, I think it might get annoying for customers to have to wait for food to be put out all the time, especially considering the average lunch break is only 45 minutes. Throughout the duration of my visit, customers routinely asked the waitress when more food would be available, and seemed concerned they were not getting their money's worth.
In fact, the celery chicken in the bottom left tray was not changed at all.
I think the main problems with China Kitchen are caused by their lack of customers. I walked into the restaurant once before during regular buffet hours and was greeted by a waitress who eagerly wanted to seat me but did not have a buffet to offer due to lack of customers. I also drive by the restaurant every day and rarely ever see cars parked outside. Whats the point of putting out a buffet if its going to sit and go to waste? Its possible that China Kitchen did not expect to have that many customers the day that I went, and could be the reason why putting out food was difficult for them. Then again, it could also be a lack of staff or just cheapness, who knows. The point is the food quality was alright until I found the hair, and they don't put out enough food when its needed.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
The first thing you see as you approach Raymond's is the warning on the door: something along the lines of "We have the right to remove you after an hour and forty-five minutes". The only way I'm staying in Raymond's longer than forty-five minutes is if I'm getting latered on bargain-basement tequila shots.
Raymond's has a plethora of Western and Chinese menu items — in fact it's one of the few places in the area that you'll find a full Western buffet. Unfortunately for the consumer, Raymond's monopoly on the local Western-style buffet market has resulted in lackadaisical line care.
The chili looked like it had been sitting untouched for close to an hour (we started eating at 6:30), and despite a sign asking you not to carve your own ham, no one was manning the ham station. The macaroni and cheese was overcooked, and the store-bought perogies weren't even Cheemo. If I'm paying $16 dollars for a buffet, I want to at least get premium store-bought, and I don't want radioactive bacon bits. The bacon bits on the perogies seriously looked like strawberry pixie stick dust.
I do have to commend Raymond's for their inventiveness though: nowhere else will you find "Hawaiian Schnitzel". Hawaiian Schnitzel is schnitzel topped with half a pineapple round and melted, processed cheddar. Surprisingly this was one of the more appetizing Western options. There were few stand-outs from the Western side of Raymond's buffet. The maple ribs were worthy of seconds, but most of the other items were lukewarm and uninviting.
On to the Chinese fare then...
The Chinese items were even more neglected than the western items. The "crispy ginger beef" tasted like it had been battered with wet chewing gum, and the beef had a delightful distressed tire consistency.
The honey garlic ribs had been sitting so long that the honey had crystallized. The chow mein was dry, and the battered salmon tasted like dead prostitute flesh.
The rest of the buffet would have been about standard, and some of the items could have even been memorable, but Raymond's just doesn't rotate items effectively.
Raymond's dessert options are slightly better than their main course fare, but they still lack TLC. The ice cream machine is top-notch, the cookies decent, and the Jell-O standard, but man is the cake crusty. You know how you always hear about old ladies being found in their houses weeks after passing away, with dogs nibbling at their feet? Well this cake was almost dry enough to be the cake found on the kitchen table in one of those houses.
Raymond's isn't as bad as a Wing's or as banal as a Chinese Village, but there is a glaring lack of pride on show here. The service is good, and the waitresses pleasant, but the neglected food trays taste like leftovers, and you know these guys could be doing better. There are next to no standout dishes, and the salad bar was almost the only thing that looked fresh at dinner hour.
If Raymond's was a women, she'd be a midnight princess — okay in a pinch, but you'd never introduce her to your mother.
Taylor Martin CHIMES IN!
Raymond's Esquimalt has got selection, but no class, no personality, and lukewarm Frankenstein dishes. Once considered Esquimalt's claim to fame — Raymond's has got potential, but is ultimately hampered by a number of curiosities. I noticed one too many radiant, iridescent colours. Neon pink bacon bits... the blinding glow of the orange-yellow mango mousse... the on my Hawaiian schnitzel. Everything had a bright MSG sheen. Also; I want to help myself to fountain pop. Aside from the clearing of tables, buffets should be self serve. I don't to wait on a meandering waitress. When I need a refill I need it now. Lastly the coconut jello was horrible and tasted like a waterlogged chunk of Styrofoam.
I give Raymond's props for a few things. While the selection is fairly routine, there is a high number of dishes available. I appreciate the Western and Chinese sections. The Hawaiian schnitzel is actually a real treat. At first glance it appears to be a Kraft cheese single atop a slice of baked pork, however, the first bite reveals a tasty surprise, nestled between the pork and cheese is a donut shaped pineapple slice, hence the "Hawaiian." An island splash on what would have otherwise been a dull pairing. This shows me the staff knows how to have a bit of fun and aren't afraid to "mix it up." Found in the western section the Hawaiian is a cleverly original item that manages to remain distinctly western.
Raymond's Esquimalt is a relatively cheap place to get drunk. Domestic beer is $3.95 and tequila shots are an outstanding $3.80. And that proves to be the kicker, I recommend this buffet if you find yourself with a big appetite for a lot of the usual. A few pleasant and not so pleasant surprises await.
$13.95+tax on weekdays