Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dynasty Restaurant, 1320 Cliffe Ave, Courtenay, B.C -- (250) 703-2831

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.

Price for Dinner: 12.95

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Popseys Restaurant, 1090 Ironwood Street, Campbell River, B.C - - (250) 286-4828

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!

Price for Dinner SUNDAY ONLY: $12.95 + tax

Saturday, July 5, 2008

China Kitchen, 1891 Island Hwy, Campbell River, B.C - - (250) 286-6776

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.

Price for Lunch: $10.20