Saturday, March 29, 2008

Raymonds Restaurant, 815 Cloverdale Avenue, Victoria, BC -- (250) 380-1881

The last time I came here, the food was good; today, the food was great. Apart from customer service that always seems to be scarce, and a few common issues with the food quality, several new items were presented which enhanced their buffet, but not my overall opinion.

BBQ rib pieces, although fatty, were tender, tasty and surprising. I didn't expect to see this item; an item that does not grace many buffets in Victoria.

The sweet and sour pork was covered in a dense batter, which remained crunchy and was complemented with a tangy sweet and sour sauce, which drowned the pork and caused the pieces on the bottom to become soggy and over flavored.

The egg rolls, a buffet staple for many individuals, were hand rolled and tightly packed with vegetables underneath a thin, crunchy batter. Industry standard egg rolls are usually 1 inch wide by 4 or 5 inches long, while Raymonds has decided to go with an unorthodox 1/2 inch by 4 inch style. This is a nice change, because it allows you to enjoy the other items offered, without wasting stomach space on unnecessary batter.

With the extra stomach space allotted thanks to unorthodox egg rolls, I was able to enjoy Shanghai noodles, cooked in a sweet and spicy sauce containing little pieces of chicken, swiss chard, carrots, green onions and a hint of chili.

Their Singapore noodles, which are cooked in curry with red peppers, have a powdery taste(McCain had a solution for this problem in 1987) and the traditional vegetable chow mein, and pork fried rice with carrots and peas, were both decent. None of the rice and noodle dishes had any major problems, but were satisfactory; nothing special.

A standout item was the boneless honey garlic pork. Big pieces of crunchy pork that did not lack tenderness or crunchiness, while soaking in a bath of honey garlic sauce. This is one of the premier buffet items in Victoria. Unlike the sweet and sour pork, the honey garlic pork does not seem to be over flavored. Even the bottom pieces that were soaked had an enjoyable sweetness that did not overpower my taste buds.

Other highlights included:

A lil' taste of India with Curry chicken.

A lil' taste of America with deep fried chicken wings.

A big taste of the sea with deep fried salt and chili squid, deep fried scallops and black bean mussels.

If you do eat the mussels, they are good, but take care and watch for loose shells. Shell fragments make a recurring role inside the mussels, and may cause harm, especially to children and zealous teens. The cooks, or whomever handles the mussels, need to go easy on the shells. One day some idiot is going to choke on a piece of shell while inhaling a mouthful of noodles.

Now, apart from the decent food they serve, I despise the service at Raymonds on Blanshard. These people do not pay attention to empty glasses. I can't stress this enough, because even with the fantastic food quality Raymonds put out tonight, a buffet experience can be ruined without a beverage to wash the stuff down.

A word of advice for Raymonds on Blanshard: make the drinks self serve and raise the price 50 cents so I don't have to tip phantom service.

This place would have gotten a better grade if the customer service was better.

Price for dinner: $14.99 + tax

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Old Country Buffet

Before I start reviewing all of Victoria's All-you-can-eat buffets, it's important to pay respect to the bigger brothers south of the border: specifically, the Old Country Buffet at the Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham.

The following is a conversation that took place between myself and a friend after he returned to Victoria from his weekend trip to Washington State.

Dilba says:
Old Country Buffet awarded 2.5 / 5

guy says:
ooooh scathing

Dilba says:
Menu items lacked important aspects, such as taste and eatability

guy says:
haha taste, eatability?

guy says:
fuck man

guy says:
what made them pass

Dilba says:
BUT, the saving grace

Dilba says:
an $8 price tag

Dilba says:
COMBINED with a free 2 for 1 coupon that anyone can print off!

Dilba says:
i treated Amy to a fantastic $4 all you can eat feast

guy says:
did they have hot dogs? fish and chips? taco bar? chocolate milk on tap?

Dilba says:
The marginal buns for the 'hamburgers' and day old hot dogs were wrapped in a mysterious foil bag, as if at a fair. Unfortunately, 'fair' is a generous review of the end product.

Dilba says:
The shameful fishing for a tip by the 'personal service assistant' was unnecessary, especially at a buffet featuring self serve fountain drinks and several bussers to ensure dirty plates were promptly removed

guy says:
so was there chocolate milk on tap?

Dilba says:
it was

Dilba says:
but i did not fall into the liquid folly trap

Dilba says:
only water or water based, non carbonated bevs

Dilba says:
unnecessary gas = wasted space

Thats right kids. Don't be fooled into believing that diet Coke is doing you any justice at the buffet line. Yes, chocolate milk on tap is an unexpected treat, but don't go chasing waterfalls. Unless your asking the server to top up that glass. Water remains the best drink option when going for a minimum 3 plate performance, further established by Dilba's fantastic review.