Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Racial epithet scribbled on wall of beloved local buffet restaurant

Thanks to DK for alerting me to this; as reported this morning in the Times Colonist, a top 5 buffet has been attacked with a racial epithet.

Caribbean Village in the Quadra Village is a one of a kind restaurant for Greater Victoria. I reviewed their lunch buffet last September. The food was excellent.

I'm not surprised Mr. Bowen was unnerved by the event. I even mention feeling "safe as fuck" eating in that restaurant as a result of the mans imperturbable behaviour. You should watch the way he handles drug addicts loitering around his store.

Here's a link to the review I wrote a while back. Take away the Oak Bay Marina, and the Blue Crab, and the Caribbean Village is the third best buffet in the city.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

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

Editors Note: Yet another Victoria review from blog contributor Angelo Alaimo! And It is now official... The current Szechuan City has no link to the former powerhouse buffet which took the city of Victoria by storm in the early to mid 2000's. It is truly the end of an era, and no words can accuratly express the sadness, and feelings of emptiness I have suffered as a result. In my sadness, I feel creative, and will probably post some sort of memorial article in the near future. Thank you for continuing to view this blog as your official Victoria buffet authority.

After a sudden closure, and months of waiting for "Renovations" to be complete at Szechuan City, the grand re-opening occured last week to the pleasure of many. Of course "renovations" in mandarin translates to "under new management" in English. I apologize in advance for the cell phone pics, but my DSLR died a couple weeks ago :(

Upon entering the "new" Szechuan City, you are asked to pay ahead of time before being seated - just like before. On our visit, it did not seem like the new owners/management had their debit system up at the time, so at press time, the only confirmed methods of payment include credit card and cash.

The buffet set up consists of a approximately 5 meter long buffet station, a dessert bar, and a wide variety of drinks which includes pop, coffee, water, and juice which just happens to be in a "Slush Puppie" machine. Normally, something inside a Slush Puppie" machine would indicate it is of the iced variety. Not the case here... also note the labeling of the right canister in the picture below and compare it to the colour of the liquid inside. We buffet goers were slightly confused for a moment and it warranted an image capture.

The service under the new management at Szechuan city is actually very good. I was very impressed with the care the servers put into their work. Plates were cleared promptly and the staff also striked up a conversation with patrons.

Now, onto the most important part.... the food.

As one can see in the previous review of this establishment, it has received a rave review from the buffet blog. Unfortunately, under the new management, Szechuan City will be unable to hold its dominating 4.3/5

The main buffet table contained items such as several chow mein rice and noodle dishes, ginger pork, mussels, beef and green beans, deep friend chicken, squid, snow peas, sweet and sour pork and some others which I did not sample.

Soup selection included hot and sour and won ton soup. The won ton dumplings were fairly decent but unfortunately, the only other ingredient in the mix was broth. I like to see some vegetables in my wonton soup so I thought this could be much improved.

Going back the rice/noodle dishes.. I found them to be bland..In fact... I started to feel Szechuan City doesn't use MSG in these dishes. Well, at least perhaps it was forgotten in the batch I sampled. To be honest, the flavours of most of the dishes seemed a bit off, and perhaps with a little bit of tweaking of the sauces, can be good with the mostly quality ingredients present.

I enjoyed the beef and green beans and other vegetables, such as the bokchoy were decently cooked. The ginger pork, unfortunately seemed too fatty/tough, and I ended up second guessing the legitimacy of the pork labeling.

As for fish, you had a choice of squid, mussels, and another assorted fish type dish. I did not sample the squid or the mussels, but my chime ins did and hopefully will send me their reports soon. I did however, try this assorted spicy fish dish. I forgot it's exact name... but it's best to be avoided. See the picture below for the random ball of grey processed mystery meat and/or fish. It was rubbery, had no taste... yes I tasted it.. but I did not swallow.

Of course, the most important part of a chinese food buffet is the spring rolls. I am happy to report, the spring rolls at Szechuan City are excellent! So good in fact, I ate at least three. According to other reports, sushi was available, unfortunately I cannot confirm this as none was present during my visit; however, I did see what looked like to be ginger and wasabi in the dessert bar area.

Highlights for dessert include fresh fruit, rice krispy squares and soft serve. I hadn't tried the soft serve prior to my most recent visit, but its fairly satisfying after you've stuffed yourself. I washed down said rice krispy squares and soft serve with a great cup of coffee. I had a hard time finding the cream, so if you do end up heading off to Szechuan - the creamers are in the dessert bar.

Overall, I was disappointed to see the food quality - with exception to the spring rolls - head downhill from the establishments previous glory days. The restaurant definitely has the good service going for it which I love to see, but the food needs some adjustments. Perhaps my suspicion of the missing MSG is correct, or just the fact the restaurant is getting over its first startup bumps. I'm happy to speculate and give them the benefit of the doubt, but the bottom line from my experience shows the food needs work.

Price for Dinner: $14.95


Friday, June 5, 2009

Szechuan City has re-opened

According to a report from the Good Food blog, Szechuan City on Burnside has finally re-opened after months of being closed for renovation. The Buffet Blog is on the case and we are aiming to have a review up by sometime next week.