Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Szechuan City, 100- 182 Wilson Street, Victoria B.C - - (250) 381-2838



A divorce within the Szechuan City family has brought down an empire, further evidence on why to avoid marriage.

Once a booming franchise with four locations, Szechuan City has been dismantled because the couple who owned the restaurant chain divorced and split the business. The divorce also caused the adjectives "good" and "tasty" to separate from this review.

The first time I came here was two years ago, against the advice of all my friends after they experienced something that wasn't to great. One of my friends even imposed a lifetime ban on the place, something I was even thinking about after eating this crap (who am I kidding).



Apart from cold prawns with cocktail sauce, the buffet was garbage. Most of the hot entrees were cold, and the sweet and sour pork was sustaining its heat by swimming in a hot tub of it's own juices.


Pictured above is a very old deep fried pork chop with some sort of custard cheese icing, dried up chicken legs, and sauteed prawns that have been cooked with all the flavor attached to the outside of the shell.



I wasn't shocked to discover they also cheap out on the spring rolls, offering some sort of mini roll that was undercooked and filled with mushy cabbage. The deep fried yams were old and they didn't replace the sesame balls once! Oh but wait, they have onion rings.



The chow mein was greasy and palatable. It seemed to be one of the few items that was replaced, while the fried rice was turning crusty.

The strength of Szechuan City remains it's self serve options such as fountain drinks, slushees and coffee machines; but how much longer can this place salvage itself without decent food?



At least the fat man was happy with his prawns, as Frank looks out the window for a better tomorrow.

Price for Lunch: $10.45

1.9/5

Don't force a beatiful thing; caress it's supple, caring love



I viewed a comment on the previous post requesting an entry displaying "rules" for people who want to succeed at the troughs without going home disapointed. Here, I put together something quickly for those of you who need to gorge (hopefully all of us) and are frightened at the prospect of leaving a buffet having only eaten one plate, god forbid.


Don't force it baby

Wrong. Always force it. Those fingers down the throat. So you hit a brick wall halfway through your first plate? It happens to all of us at one point in our lives. Sometimes it's unexplainable. Maybe theres something in the food that forced us to feel like shit well before our time. In case this happens, look over both shoulders, walk into the bathroom, and let it go. You will walk out a new man with a new purpose, while being able to salvage at least a 2 plate performance.


Drinks

Did you have enough to drink? Are you aware how much "drink" is required to successfully flush out the salt? Have you ever heard about the one drink per plate rule?

Thats good because there is no one plate to drink rule. One universal trick is to always drink ice cold water whenever you feel parched, and to never eat to much to fast before you have something to drink. A good drink can save the day. And I don't mean go have a beer with your meal. Just enjoy cold water, especially if your feeling like you might not be able to eat enough. There is nothing worse then being forced to leave early because you drank too many fizzy pops or sugary juices that can make you feel full before the time is right.


Choose your items wisely

Seafood. If they have it, eat it; being a double edged sword of course, because we have all heard the horror stories of elderly people eating the wrong mussels and dieing. But don't think about this. Seafood is light, tasty, and hopefully where you hit the establishments in the crotch in terms of getting your value out of a buffet. You can probably squeeze an entire plate out of just mussels and squid. Oh look salmon! BEWARE FILLER ALERT. Salmon is great... but it's high in real protein and essential fatty acids. Eating enough of this stuff will make you clear headed enough to realize what your doing is extremely unhealthy, therefore hurting your performance. Stay away from salmon unless its candied, smoked, or covered in a rich, creamy sauce.

Items like bread, vegetables and soup are only there to fill you up before you start eating real items. Approach eating bread with caution. Croissants are fine. Maybe eat a little broccoli to keep the balance, and a bowl of wonton is fine. Stay away from congees and corn soup. Your not paying ten dollars for thickened broths.


Sup brah

Companionship at a buffet is almost always necessary. Nobody wants to be the person sitting at a table for two by themselves with nothing but a newspaper. This can be a demoralizing experience and may cause you to go up for that casual bowl of soup before you do what you really want to do, which is pig out. Having your bahs and bows around pigging out with you always makes it alright. Not saying that it isn't alright to begin with.


YOU HAVE RIGHTS

Most buffets run for 3 hours during lunch and 3 hours during dinner. If you feel sick after one plate, relax, collect yourself, even sip on hot tea if you want. Just spread out your meal. Most of us eat our lunch in 30 minutes, but if you want to take it easy, remember that most places will allow you to eat from their buffet for a maximum of an hour and a half.


Does this actually work?

Stretch your stomach out the night before. Eat a big meal around 9pm before going to bed and you will be starving by noon the next day with a stomach that could easily put away three plates.


Do you have any secrets to share? Leave some comments!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Victoria Burger Blog sparks frenzy at the National Post


I am amazing, dk is amazing, and I'm sorry for not posting a review in a while. I've been detoxing and giving my body a well deserved rest. You know what that means? I got a review on Szechuan City's Wilson Street location just about ready to hit the blog waves. And this ones a shocker so stay tuned.

I was also shocked to discover that the Victoria Burger Blog, along with it's incredible dissection of Jonathan Kay's McDonald's Angus burger review, has sparked a frenzy over at the National Post.

Remember to come back here tomorrow night for fresh brand new buffet blog material.
And maybe check out this little ditty.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gregor Craigie interviews Guy Alaimo for CBC's On the Island


Guy Alaimo on CBC 90.5 in Victoria (z-share link)

CBC: 23 minutes after 8 o’clock this Friday morning. This is on the island on cbc radio 1.

So are you planning on taking your mother out for a Sunday buffet and still not sure where to go? Well Guy Alaimo has bellied up to many a buffet trough in his lifetime and he started his own all you can eat love affair at age 11, and now he’s channeled that love into the Victoria Buffet Blog, and Guy Alaimo joins me now in studio, good morning.

Guy: Good morning

CBC: So what’s the record number of platefuls you’ve scarfed down?

Guy: Ok well, that would be, my prime time of buffet eating would have to have been when I was, ooh, 13 years old, which is kind of shocking when people, like, talk to me, because you think, you know, your in your prime when your thirty, but um, actually it’s the opposite in the buffet world. The older you get it seems, well I guess its depending on who you are, but for me, 13, ate about 5 plates.

CBC: 5 plates and they were…

Guy: 5 plates, um, I used to average 5 plates for about 2 years between, uh, 12 and 14.

CBC: And have you ever regretted 5 plates, has it ever come back on you or just made you feel a little…

Guy: Oh definitely, especially when you have a beer after you eat, um.

CBC: Yeah…

Guy: Don’t drink alcohol when you eat 5 plates at a buffet

CBC: (Chuckles), good advice

Guy: Um, and uh what else? Uh, yeah you know, for instance there lots of health concerns I’ve had, you know? Waking up in the middle of the night with heart palpitations, um, you know, (laughs) that kind of stuff. But uh, you know, yeah, at the end of the day its all worth it for me.

CBC: Tell me, I want to ask your best buffet experience and your worst, what would have been the highs and the lows.

Guy: Uh, best buffet experience was in Ontario, in Toronto, um, a buffet chain called the Mandarin, you may have heard of it, its fairly popular, its developed quite a name for itself, being, winning award after award every year, and you know. I went there being skeptical because I’ve had a lot of buffets, and the first time I went there it was excellent. They had fresh prawns, um, they had a barbeque station with Maui ribs, which is quite rare when you go to a buffet. I haven’t seen that yet since I’ve um, in my buffet years. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen Maui ribs. It has a full desert bar, with brownies and like (laughs), like I don’t know.

CBC: (Laughs) You’re getting weepy aren’t you?

Guy: (still chuckling) It was, yeah I’m starting to cry a little, sorry

CBC: And what about the worst?

Guy: The worst ok, ok the worst would be wings buffet in uh, in, here in Victoria. Um, it was, probably about, it was surprising because I went there when I was 15 and I had a great experience because it was 5.95 and it had crab legs and swe.., like amazing sweet and sour pork, and I went back there about, uh, 3 months ago because, I was writing uh, an investigative report on buffets for the Nexus, which is Camosun colleges student newspaper

CBC: Yup

Guy: And I was shocked because I went there around 6 o’clock and it was packed, but the food was, like it was, it was, (laughs) it wasn’t very good.

CBC: It was bland, cold, what was it?

Guy: Uh, it was, it was, um, it was interesting because I’ve never actually tasted food that was moist and dry at the same time. It had like qual…, polar qualities and it was pretty interesting, and um, the egg rolls were just, were not very good, and I’m going to give them another chance, um fairly soon, because that was the lowest I’ve ever seen, and its only fair to give them another chance.

CBC: I’m interested that your low buffet experience was here in Victoria and your high was in eastern Canada. Did you notice a geographical difference across the country or continent or is that just coincidence?

Guy: (Laughs) Um, I think it’s a lot to… you know I really… I thought about this a lot, it’s a good question. Um, I do think in Ontario you do have the bigger chains, um, for sure. I know in Victoria the biggest chain we have is Szechuan City, and um, they used to put out a great buffet- that’s gone downhill. Um, hmmm. I don’t think there’s a geographical difference; I really just think its coincidence. I think Victoria has some really good buffets, and I just think it has a lot to do with the people who are…, the ownership, the management; it’s just, you know, I know for instance if I were to put out a buffet in Victoria I think it would compete with an eastern buffet.

CBC: Is that a business idea, or are you, I mean are you kind of mulling it…

Guy: I’ve thought about it definitely, you know I’m 23 right now so I have a lot of time to think about it, and I’ve thought about what kind of items I would have, and that kind of stuff

CBC: Would healthiness be a criteria because I have to admit when I think about buffet I’m really hungry and the first thought in my mind is not “oh I should have a nutritious lunch”, its “yeah I wanna eat!”

Guy: (Laughs) yeah, um, it all depends on who you are, you know? Um, some people value life more than they value food and some people value food more than they value life, and I think if you value life it probably is smart, well if you value a long life it probably would be smart to not eat to many Chinese food buffets, or buffets in general, because you will, you know I’m not a scientist and I’ve never done research but I mean, from my own personal experience waking up in the middle of the night with a, you know, a heart that wont beat, I can tell you that it isn’t a, definitely not good for your health, but you know I love it so much that I don’t see myself in the near future changing, and when I, if I do open up my own buffet I think I would offer healthy options for people who don’t want to feel sick because its not fair that, just to offer food that is not good for you.

CBC: Now Mothers day is approaching.

Guy: Yes it is.

CBC: Taking mom out for a buffet is a tradition for a lot of people, any recommendations?

Guy: Definitely, I’ve done a lot of research on this, um, I called around 30 places yesterday in greater Victoria, and uh, and the biggest surprise for me was Romano’s Macaroni grill at Mayfair mall. Um, there having a buffet, and they said “it’s going to be a lot of food,” so they’re going to have eggs ben…

CBC: Sounds promising

Guy: Yeah its going to be amazing, like I mean this is what, where I was going to go until I heard what Bear Mountain had, but I’ll get into that a little later. Um, basically you have, uh, breads, eggs benedict which is a staple for any breakfast brunch, lasagna, sautéed prawns, chicken marsala, roast beef, crepes (savory or unsavory), salad bar, special pasta salads, macaroni and cheese for you pasta lovers, and fresh crab for an omelet bar. So its only 23.99 per person and 12.99 for children and it goes from 11am to 4pm at Macaroni Grill at Mayfair mall, and the phone number is 385-2211, they have lots of room left.

CBC: Guy, we’ve only got time for one other quick suggestion, any one real quick one?

Guy: Ok, quickly I’m going to say Oak Bay Marina is the best buffet brunch in the city, but they’re sold out, so I’m going to say, well the one I’m taking my mother too, is called, um, well its in Bear Mountain, and its at Panache, if you’ve heard of that or not its on 199 Country Way and its 75 dollars but children under 6 are free and 25 dollars for children until their 12 years old, and they’re going to have king crab legs, so the second I heard king crab legs I booked for three, for me my sister and my mom.

CBC: You’ve made me very hungry this morning Guy. Thanks for joining me.

Guy: Oh no problem, thanks for having me, I appreciate it.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Victoria Mothers Day Brunch Buffet Rundown

Last Minute Mothers Day Buffet Brunch List

There are dozens of places in the capital region offering buffet brunches for mother’s day.

Here is a run down for some of Victoria’s better known locations.

**Note: This is an older post from 2008, thus the following brunches may still be available for mother's day in subsequent years. Please contact each restaurant separately.


Romano’s Macaroni Grill at Mayfair Mall

385-2211
$23.99 per person, $12.99 for children
11am-4pm



“A lot of food.”

And by the sounds of it, I have to agree. All your regular breakfast fare including eggs benedict, breads, lasagna, sautéed prawns, chicken marsala, roast beef, crepes (savory or unsavory), salad bar, special pasta salads, macaroni and cheese and much more. An omelet bar will be available with many toppings to choose from including fresh crab, procuitto and asparagus. Desserts will be available, and last year they had some incredible fruit sculptures, so cross your fingers.


Samuels
655 Douglas St.
388-4488
$19.95 per person, $15.99 for children
11am-1pm


FULLY BOOKED

Although I’ve heard good things about this one, it sold out last week.

Wow, the woman on the phone was a bitch.

“It’s sold out so you don’t NEED this information, anyways.”

Thanks, I’ll decide what information I need. Shut up and do your job.



Charters Restaurant at McMorran’s

Cordova Bay Road
$26 per person
SOLD OUT


Friendly people on the phone and beautiful location equal BOOKED.



Beklens
5166 Cordova Bay Rd.
658-6899
$25.95 per person
10am- 2pm


Just around the corner from McMorrans, I don’t know much about this one other than there is still lots of room available.



Panache at Bear Mountain Resort and Spa
199 Country Way
391-7160
$75 per person, $25 for children, children 6 and under free.
10am-3:30pm





I booked a reservation for three after she mentioned king crab legs.

There will be 5 stations including seafood, omelets, entrees, dessert and carving station.

Sounds like a winner with fresh prawns and sushi bar. Lot’s of fruit. I don’t see how this can go wrong! I’ll soon find out.

Still lot’s of room available for the 10am and 2pm seating. The seating at noon has a little room left.



Oak Bay Marina
1327 Beach Dr.
598-8555
$30.95 per person, $15.95 for children aged 5-12.
9:30am- 2pm


Last I checked, all that was available is a table for two. Hurry call now. It’s probably taken.

This is the best brunch buffet I have ever been too, for one reason: The freshness of their seafood. Stay tuned for a more in depth review since I lost 2 hockey bets that had a marina buffet at stake.



Laurel Point Inn
680 Montreal St.
386-8721
$49.95 per person
10:30am- 2pm




STATUS – FULL, no seats available

Too bad because you’re missing out on two carving stations and a lot of fresh seafood, plus a chocolate fountain.

J.J Morgans
1520 McKenzie St.
721-2188
$12.95 per person
10am- 3pm

ONE TABLE FOR SIX LEFT

Comes with seafood including smoked salmon and prawns, eggs benedict, country sausage and dessert. Tons more items but I haven’t been there in a while. Good price.



The Blue Crab at the Coast Harbourside Hotel
146 Kingston Rd.

480-1999

$46 per person

10:30am- 2:30am


SOLD OUT




Bengal Lounge at the Fairmont Empress Hotel
721 Government St.
389-2727
$25 per person
11:30am- 2pm





Unfortunately, the main event in the Empress Room is sold out, but the Bengal Lounge, which features its famous curry buffet, is open and apparently has ample seating for their mother’s day special.



Malahat Mountain INN
It’s on the Malahat, you can see it from the road, big log cabin.
478-1944
$35 per person
9:30am-4pm


There is still plenty of room on the scenic patio for a buffet which mainly focuses’s on seafood.

Dining room is sold out (For 2008).



Embassy Restaurant
520 Menzies St.
382-8161
$29.95 per person
11am- 2:30pm



Four carts of food including carving table, fruit and desserts.

There is still one table for two left. Maybe you’ll be lucky and snag it if you call them.

They also have a Sunday brunch buffet every week.



Hotel Grand Pacific
463 Belleville
386-0450
$38 per person
11:30am- 3pm



BOOKED….*sniffle*

If you get a chance, book yourself a spot for their weekly Sunday brunch buffet. I’ve heard good things, and it consists of a “full buffet spread” with a “carvery” and “tons of fresh seafood” including salmon, crab and prawns.



Ma Millers Pub

2903 Sooke Lake Rd.

478-3512

$8.95 per person

10am-1pm

NO RESERVATIONS NEEDED

Nope. Just your straight arrow, laid back, root em toot em, rick shaw boulevard Sunday breakfast buffet brunch. Everything you need from bacon and sausauge to pancakes and muffins. $8.95 IS A DEAL



Six Mile Pub
494 Island Highway
478- 3121
$12.95
$10am- 2:30pm





Still room available for all three seating’s and sounds promising with over 40 items, but I’m not sure how many of those items are condiments. Just jokes just jokes! I had a friend who went there a couple of weeks ago and he came out with raving reviews. To be fair he was a fat man, so I trust he knows what he’s talking about.


Well there you have it. A mix of reviews, shout outs, availabilities and tantalizing teasing for all you buffet fans and people who are still scrambling to book Mother’s Day brunches. I hope this helped you realize what the true meaning of Mother’s Day really is.

Take care, bye for now.

-guy

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My first contribution to the popular Victoria Burger Blog is now up, and I'm going to be on the CBC talking about buffets.


Go to www.vicburgers.blogspot.com, or click on the link on the side of this page to check out my very first burger review. I did it on McDonald's new Angus burger.

Guy Alaimo being interviewed on CBC 8:15AM this Friday!

Founder of the Victoria Buffet Blog, and member of the Victoria Burger Blog team, will be interviewed this Friday on CBC. Guy will appear at 8:15am on the program "On the Island".

Tune into 90.5fm in Victoria for what's sure to be a rousing discussion. You can also listen online at http://www.cbc.ca/listen/#

Szechuan City, 110 Burnside Road East, Victoria B.C - - (250) 386-2288



Szechuan city is the name for a chain of Chinese food restaurants in Victoria which provide a buffet during lunch and dinner. Though this chain has deteriorated from 4 restaurants down to only 2 over the past few years, it still packs a punch in terms of variety and taste.



When you talk about variety in a buffet, many things come to mind. Variety of items is one thing, and variety of options is another. A buffet option can be a self serve drink, ice cream machine or even a slushy machine. The buffet table itself is an option. One thing about Szechuan City compared to other buffet restaurants, are the number of options it possesses.



Apart from a fully loaded buffet table, Szechuan had a functioning ice cream machine, slush puppy machine, fountain drinks, desert bar, salad bar, coffee/hot chocolate dispenser and all you can drink Chinese tea, on tap.

I set myself up with a Chinese tea and ice cold diet coke before I went to the buffet line and started choosing items.



One thing I always liked about this particular Szechuan were it's cold prawns set up with cocktail sauce in the salad bar; however, this time the prawns tasted very fishy with an odd, grainy texture. Adding to my displeasure was the sheer obviousness of how old the cocktail sauce was.



And damn it, the egg rolls looked and tasted like they came out of an Oriental mix pack from the frozen section at Safeway.

Disappointed(egg rolls are important to me), I moved on and was pleasantly surprised by the main buffet line.



Shanghai style noodles, fried rice and regular chow mein sat beside teriyaki meatballs, honey garlic short ribs, barbecued pork and szechuan style pork chops.



The barbequed pork was fatty and sitting in a pool of sweet sauce, while the honey garlic short ribs were tender and easy to peel off the bone.



The szechuan style pork chops, were full pork chops, marinated in spicy sweet and sour.



Further down the buffet line, were an assortment of fried items such as calamari, deep fried chicken balls, prawns and chicken wings. The deep fried chicken balls were good because the batter was not overpowering, but the deep fried prawns were over battered and as a result, became soggy and difficult to digest.



The calamari was generic fried squid, with pepper and salt.

Of course, like any other Chinese buffet, there was some vegetable dishes like celery chicken, beef with broccoli and zucchini with mushrooms. Apart from the zucchini with mushrooms, the other vegetable dishes had a visible abundance of meat.



And finally, rounding up this already item-heavy buffet, were black bean mussels and two types of dim sum: pork buns and ground pork wrapped in a thick noodle topped with fish eggs.



My favorite of the above three had to be the ground pork wrapped in noodles and topped with fish eggs. They were delicious and tender, while not to salty and a little sweet from the fish eggs. I found the pork bun to be nothing special; there wasn't enough pork in the bun.



So this buffet is pretty damn solid in terms of options and the food was decent. Their main entrees are nothing to go crazy over in terms of originality, but the comfort of knowing I can just get up and pour myself a cold beverage without having to wait for a server, and the ability to make my own coke floats, make Szechuan City on Burnside one of the more enjoyable places to eat, while still being able to offer a wide variety of items.

And they have AMAZING peanut butter Nanaimo bars.

Price for Lunch: $10.50
4.3/5

May Gold Village: Best buffet in Greater Victoria for the month of April

With 45% of the vote, May Gold is the best buffet in the city for April, 2008.

Thank you all for voting and congratulations to May Gold Village.