Monday, April 28, 2008

May Gold Village, 701 Goldstream Avenue, Langford, BC - - (250) 391-8899

May Gold Village is a busy restaurant located at the busy intersection of Veterans Parkway and Goldstream Avenue in Langford, British Columbia. They have been offering a lunch and dinner buffet since they opened their business in 2005. After my last visit, I realized something.


Let’s be honest. The only thing that was worth putting up with Japanese Village’s bullshit for was that amazing yellow steak sauce. Read a review on Japanese Village; they mention the steak sauce. That fucking sauce does so much for Japanese Village, they don’t even clean the place anymore (look at the waterfall the next time you go in there).

If you want your steak sauce, here it is. Maygold has it, on tap, and unlimited. Conveniently nestled beside it, is a tray of steamed white rice, creating a perfect situation for the steak sauce/ rice fanatic.

I was so happy with the simplicity/ happiness factor of the buffet; I almost overlooked the myriad of other unique dishes that were presented before me inside the large restaurant (the place looked like it could seat 200 people).

To name a few:

Honey chicken. Yes, that’s right. I didn’t forget to put the word garlic between honey and chicken. They may have just dipped these boneless chunks of lightly fried chicken into the hive, because they were sweet, tender and were as simple and delicious as any buffet item in the Capitol region.

Strips of lean pork sautéed in garlic and glazed with traditional sweet and sour sauce.

Three types of sushi; Dynamite rolls (fried prawns), California rolls (avocado, mayo, imitation crab) and Yam rolls. Even though they were practicing the old trick of making the sushi with more rice than what is normally accepted, probably to fill up costumers with rice, it was still nice to have a sushi option with wasabi and pickled ginger.

Further rounding out the buffet were peanut honey chicken skewers, almond chicken, sweet and sour pork and honey garlic spare ribs.

The mushroom pork with black beans was filled with meat, which was the defining point of this buffet: lot’s of meat. They did have vegetable dishes such as deep fried yams and spring rolls, but the overwhelming majority of the dishes cater to the carnivore.

It should be noted that the food was high in salt, a lot higher then their competitors, but as long as the drinks are flowing, this shouldn't ruin your experience.

The customer service in terms of handling beverages was lacking, but the fountain machine dispensing pops was customer friendly, meaning you could actually get up and grab your own soft drinks if the waitress was to busy.

Overall, I like what May Gold has done. They provide a tasty buffet, that does not lack in selection like so many other buffets in the region claim to have, and they do it without breaking your balls.

If you want to have a good time with your buddies and pig out on some delectable dishes without feeling disappointed, right now May Gold is your best bet.

Price for Lunch: $9.25 + tax

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chai — 3239 West Broadway — Vancouver BC — 778-837-1862

Chai is a rather unique buffet experience. The first thing you notice upon setting foot in the restaurant is the seating arrangement. Short-legged couches line the walls and stumpy stools sit across the tables from them. A 1.5-2 foot stool may not be the most comfortable option, but the stools do maximize seating space in this small upstairs restaurant.

The buffet spread, and some extra seating, sit in a room that resembles some sort of hippie garden fantasy. When we entered Chai we were immediately greeted by a tight looking waitress who gave us a "tour" and let us know we were free to, "go back for seconds at any time." Thanks darling, but I wasn't going to ask permission.

The full dessert buffet was the first thing I noticed when I walked into the buffet room. Dessert is a rarity at a middle-eastern buffet.

Chai has a great mix of meat and vegetarian dishes. The Chicken Masala blended nicely with the Afghani Rice, the Salmon and Mushrooms were moist and tastey, and the Turkish Eggplant put me on some serious Cloud 9 shit. If you've been having trouble with your eggplant relationship: come to Chai. I promise you'll never talk shit behind eggplant's back again.

I think the only thing I didn't love were the Pakoras. They were lukewarm (despite the fact we arrived almost exactly when dinner started) and lacked the authenticity I am always failing to find in buffet Pakoras. I may just stop eating Pakoras at restaurants, and instead wait for an Indian friend to come by the house.

The stuffed Naan that was with the Pakoras was also a tad lukewarm, and was cut much to small to be effective for its intended use. Regardless of these problems, the Naan was still enjoyable.

If you're looking for a chance to impress a date, and gorge yourself on some wicked middle-eastern fare at the same time: Chai is what you want.

If you want the buffet, you'll have to go Wednesday or Thursday night. Buffet starts at 7:30pm on Wednesday, and 7:00pm on Thursday (check those times, I might be a little mistaken). Thursday is Flamenco night (music and dance). I went on Thursday and the band and dancer did a pretty favourable job of enhancing the atmosphere of the restaurant.

Chai isn't cheap, and those that haven't been there in a couple years will notice the price has jumped significantly. When you factor in the high quality of the food, the good service, the attractive staff, live entertainment, and serve-yourself lemon water: Chai is well worth the price.

PRICE: $35+tax

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blue Nile East African Restaurant, 612 Head Street, Esquimalt, BC - - (250) 475-6453

Are you looking for that first taste of authentic African food but are worried about being served monkey brains with no water in sight? Well, if you go visit The Blue Nile in Esquimalt, I promise that neither of the above events will happen, unless you ask them before hand.

Now that I've woken up from a five hour, I don't know what to call it, coma? - I can confidently tell you that the Blue Nile was a positive experience, and having water nearby at all times was key.

Definitely not a selection heavy buffet, the Blue Nile offered a few interesting and tasty items that were piping hot and ready to eat.

My favorite was the Zebhi Dora Chicken, which are full pieces of chicken, served in a spicy sauce and heavily seasoned. I love them and ate nine pieces.

Zebhi Siga, slices of 'spiced to hell' sirloin served on kibe sauce , deserves a notable mention. The oils and spices seemed to bring out the tenderness of the sirloin, which was surprisingly not over cooked. I have a hate on for dry, overcooked sirloin.

A relief from the spice, Kilwa, or as the waitress pointed out, Yesiga T'ibs (Y-click-eebs), is also a sirloin dish with onions and an array of peppers. It was my third favorite dish, and when combined with the Zebhi Dora chicken and Zebhi Siga beef, creates a one-two-
three meat punch thats hard to beat.

The buffet soon thins out in terms of meat content, and tries to make ground with a few dishes that would make any vegetarian blush:

Injera- Traditional African bread, bitter tasting flat bread, wound up like a crepe.

Hamli Kawli- Cabbage, carrots and potatoes, cooked in onion sauce, quite good.

Ater Tumtumo- Yellow split peas cooked in a few light sauces, reminded me of split pea curry.

Aletcha- Potatoes and vegetables flavored with a blend of herbs, kind of like a vegetable stew.

The quality of all the dishes was undeniable. The food was hot throughout the buffet, and items were replaced when finished. One of the few down sides of the Blue Nile buffet, is the lack of meat dishes that varied in flavor. All of them possessed a similar spicy taste, and even if thats the way it's supposed to be, it might not play well with people who like variety in their meat when they eat at a buffet.

PRICE for DINNER: 11.95 + tax


Monday, April 14, 2008

Sabri Indian Cuisine, 3480 Tillicum Road, Victoria B.C - - (250)388-4655

I'll be honest with you. I am a food addict. Not the kind of food addict that guilts over eating an extra taco during dinner, or the kind who frets while the girl of my dreams walks in on me packing down two Big Macs and a double cheeseburger with extra sweet and sour sauce.
No no no. I'm the kind of food addict that wakes up, and the first thing on my mind
isn't the "big test", or the "funny joke" in Austin Powers 2. My first thoughts are about what I'm going to eat. So, this morning I thought of trying one of the few East Indian buffets that the city of Victoria has to offer, rather than thinking about trying a Szechuan City, par example.

First of all, I've enjoyed this buffet before. It's only 10.95 for dinner, and they set you up with a jug of cold water before you run to the tables.

Second of all, this is coming from the viewpoint of someone who's only Indian buffet experience so far, is Sabri's, so I'm going to make this short, and judge it solely on taste before I let Donald Kennedy perform a thorough "chime in".

The Tandoori chicken looked dry, but it was one of the moistest, tastiest pieces of chicken I've ever tried, and rested well on top of basmati rice, nestling between butter chicken and yellow curry.
I dipped big pieces of naan (East Indian bread) into the butter chicken and curry after devouring two or three veggie kabobs, which resembled deep fried potato balls. They were quite filling, and I don't suggest eating these unless you fully understand the fullness factor when trying to perform well at a buffet. Two of those puppies are the equivalent to a plate of Tandoori chicken. Nonetheless, I covered those sweet little balls in a white yogurt curry; a creamy dipping sauce, that was very good, and was reminiscent of ranch sauce with lots of cream in it.

Donald Kennedy:

Sabri's makes me hate the people of Victoria just a little bit. Sabri's is arguably the most recommended buffet in the city, and like many things the casual, amateur dinner-goer recommends... it's kind of underwhelming. The curry tastes like yogurt, the chick peas had a faint taste of tomato that had no business being there, and there was only one bread option. The daal was pretty decent and the tandoori chicken was at least up to buffet standard. The butter chicken had cubed chicken, as opposed to nice chunks. I have to say I found that slightly off-putting.

Most importantly there was simply a lack of items, and I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask for this buffet to be fleshed out a little. I suppose Sabri's is better than Maharajah, but it's probably not a place I'd bother frequenting.

I miss eating at Indian buffets that have cashew curry, and home-made ice cream. Indian milk just tastes fucking awesome for some reason; like breast milk from a giant sexy almond or something.

There's little sexiness at Sabri's, and the numerous signs telling me not to waste food are completely unnecessary. I don't come to buffets to stare at large plates of food, I come to eat them.

I will commend Sabri's for one fabulous decision they've made: they didn't attempt to add any traditional Indian desserts to the buffet line.

PRICE 10.95 for Dinner + tax

Just wanted to mention that there is an excellent ice cream place in the same plaza as Sabri's if you want desert.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Szechuan Palace Restaurant, 103 - 106 Burnside Road West, Victoria B.C - - (250) 382- 2823

If any of you remember the original Szechuan City restaurant, it was located where the Szechuan Palace is now located. The transition took place about a year ago, and it was something the Darkness and I had not prepared for. In fact it was so much for Auggie to take in at once, I had to stop him from acting out before we even got inside.

Once we entered, greetings were sprung upon us by a very friendly waitress who sat us down and got us drinks. Throughout our buffet lunch, the service was excellent. Plates were removed right away when they were finished, drinks were refilled 3 times at no extra charge, and she wouldn't stop talking to us. We were tended to like we were the only people in the restaurant. Come to think of it, I think we were the only people there.

Being only 1 o'clock in the afternoon, it was shocking to see nobody there, especially considering the amount of business the previous Szechuan buffet had at the same location. It was hard to find a seat back when the old Szech was still kicking around. I understand fads change, but something bad must have happened to see the place go from full capacity to nobody.

Such a nice lady

The food was half o.k, half bad. The egg rolls were decent and possessed a traditional Chinese five spice blend, which gave it a hint of cinnamon.

Their sweet and sour pork was average tasting, but the pieces were big.

The honey garlic spareribs tasted like the honey came straight from the bees nest, and was the only saving grace from an otherwise lackluster buffet.

Another item that deserves some mention is the deep fried chicken balls, which were actually quite good. The batter was chewy and has some flavor which can only be described as "oily goodness".

Something I couldn't stop noticing was the lack of palatable selection. A vegetable dish with green beans in black bean sauce was dried up and looking dead.

The black bean mussels were also dried up and shriveling away to nothing.

They had hash brown patties, the kind you get at fast food places like McDonalds and A&W, not to say those patties are a bad thing, in fact I enjoy them all the time, but they taste sour after sitting for 2 hours.

Not one, not two, but THREE separate trays for onion rings. I mean as unoriginal as onion rings at a Chinese buffet are, these guys went the extra mile and used three containers dedicated too onion rings; containers that could have been used for fried fish, fried prawns, even sesame balls would have gained this spiritless buffet some respect.

And just as things were really starting to roll downhill for Szechuan Palace, I witnessed an act of disparity.
Pictured below, an older couple walked into the restaurant and approached the buffet, only to be intercepted by our friendly waitress who tried to convince them that the buffet was still good enough to eat. The buffet is so poor and unappetizing, the staff has to try and convince customers to try it.

I should have said something to this couple.

O.K, so how about desert? Something has to give. Woah, look!


Well, I cant say I expected anything less. The jello was warm.

The events which have taken place over the past year at 103 - 106 Burnside Road West, are equivalent to events such as the New York Yankees collapse in the 2004 playoffs and the 2007-2008 Ottawa Senators. The location has gone from housing one of the most spectacular Victoria buffets, to housing, quite possibly, one of the poorest presented buffets I have ever eaten. Good chicken balls, spring rolls and honey garlic spare ribs, barely keep the food selection intact, while exceptional customer service, induced by a low number of customers, keep the establishment as a whole above a failing grade.

Price for lunch: $9.50 + tax

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Donald Kennedy

Victoria Buffet Blog will soon be seeing occasional posts, reviews and contributions from the man pictured below.

Donald Kennedy currently resides in Victoria, British Columbia, and is managing editor and the main brain and contributer for the Victoria Burger Blog: a blog Kennedy created in March of 2008.

Kennedy's previous buffet experience include stints at Purple Garden, Crystal Jade and an unfortunate visit to Wings buffet on Gorge road.

He has also contributed some of his buffet expertise to the
Nexus; a student newspaper that is run from Camosun College in Victoria, B.C.

"Crystal Jade was undoubtedly a unique spot--I don’t think I’ve seen scrambled eggs at any other Chinese buffet. The eggs tasted like they came from a kit, but they were primo kit eggs. Other than the eggs, this was a pretty run-of-the-mill buffet, entree-wise. The strength of Crystal Jade was in their ice cream machine. Buffets with ice cream machines are few and far between in Victoria. Crystal Jade didn’t have chocolate or swirl options (and they were lacking in sundae toppings), but they did have the best dessert choices I’ve seen in a Victoria Chinese buffet restaurant." - Kennedy from the February 20th, 2008 edition of the Nexus.