Not Quite Singing the Praises of Johnny Rocket


Johnny Rockets
1644 Hillside Ave · (778) 406-2101
228C-1150 Douglas St · (250) 590-1170

El DeBarge’s tune “Who’s Johnny” will come to mind for a few who is not familiar with this burger chain. When I saw the signs by The Bay Centre of another burger chain opening up in this garden city, I was slightly curious. I’m aware of them since I see them nearly everywhere in Los Angeles, California, and I like the 50’s theme. Their first operation opened last year over the early Summer and the other had their grand opening at the start of Autumn. A few months later, I hope their consistency stabilizes, otherwise this franchise is in trouble.

A few of the ideas remain in their international operations — with vintage photos decorating the walls and a few stock furnishings — but the image is not complete. The only holdovers are with the condiments sitting at every table instead of walking up to a center kiosk like in a MacDonald’s or A&W. If I want to the real deal, like visiting Arnold’s from Happy Days, someone needs to develop time travel technology.

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Come to Shima for the View, for Sushi by the Sea

Shima Sushi
1218 Wharf St,
Victoria, BC
Phone: (250) 590-7370

When the waitresses at Shima admit Victoria, BC has way too many Japanese restaurants, I have to wonder when some will close up shop out of frustration to get a regular clientele or which operation stands out as the best? I’m sure there’s a list out there which locals has voted on as the best. I can’t say I completely agree either.

This operation has been around since 2010. While I have walked by on many an occasion, the desire to try this place out was limited. The menus on display showed prices were above average and they did not offer anything unique when compared to other operations.

For some reason, James Shaw tagged along. I did not invite him to join me and despite him saying he’s quitting the foodie’s life, he still follows me to places I intend on reviewing. Either he does not know what he wants to do with his life or he trying say (by being present) he wants to return. Despite trying to shake him off, he wanted to see where I was going. As we both settled in a cozy corner, we both eyed the same item on the menu: a clam miso soup. I had to go for my traditional staples, a sunomono salad (perhaps one of the best I’ve had since the chef did not skimp on the octopus) and a deluxe platter of nigiri. To sum up my buddy’s thoughts on the said soup: you get your money’s worth ($6). Not only are the servers very generous in the serving of this mollusk, but also the aroma had feeling I ordered the wrong starter.

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[Burnaby, BC] Cold Treats on a Cold Day at Sulmida Dessert Cafe

Shaved IceSulmida Dessert Cafe
4697 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
Phone: (778) 379-8935

When ordering shaved ice desserts as delicate as a fresh snowfall is tasted off season, some folks may think I’m weird. I couldn’t care less as when Winter is in full swing. Technically, I was here in October, and I can imagine this place struggles during the cold months. But when I’m away from home more, I like to explore.

The evening was mild and I had to check out Sulmida Dessert Cafe, located on the opposite side of where Metrotown is in Burnaby, BC. I had the strawberry vanilla and slowly savoured the sweet milk center. I attempted to consume it like a tootsie roll made by Jack Frost and had no luck. A spoon was needed. My love for local BC berries were met with my taste buds feeling conflicted. They are out of season. I suspect this operation makes do with what they can get from wherever (Mexico).

The single sized servings start around $12 and go higher for share me. After one spicy meal in the area, I had to go for icy to cool my stomach down. The larger fruit slices are soft. When mixed with flash frozen, I was curious as to why have both. I took time to savour my treat as the ambient temperature was chilly enough to prevent everything from melting or softening. At another season, I’m sure these dishes will melt fast.

I knew I should not take too long too, before it became a slushy mess. The vanilla ice cream on top was tops and tastes like Breyers.

It’s a safe bet to assume this place is very popular during the summer months. Shaved ice is a treat in both Asia and Polynesia. I don’t often come across this type of operation in the wet Pacific Northwest but they have been popping up on the Lower Mainland more than the island I call home. Perhaps I should move.

3½ Blokes out of 5

[Seattle, WA] It’s a Kind of Magic at Marcela’s Creole Cookery

RestaurantMarcela’s Creole Cookery
106 James St
Seattle, WA
Phone: 206-223-0042

If you have not been to Marcela’s Creole Cookery in Seattle, Washington, please do yourself a favour and check them out before they close on December 22, 2017. I discovered this operation while wandering Pioneer Square on a Sunday night. I heard of this diner and was often a passenger in a vehicle whenever my friends and I passed by this area. As much as I would have liked to say let’s stop by here on those past visits, those pals are not obsessive foodies like me.

By the fortune in the need to refuel (I walked over from the nearby Chinatown-International District) and craving something other than American cuisine, this place not only hit the mark but was spot-on. Not many inspired diners offer enough or they are just not authentic enough to give me the tastes I so desire. I ate a little more than I should, and that’s okay.

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Instead of going by order of what I ate first, I have to give their crawfish roll high marks for putting the classic Asian spring rolls to shame. I’ve have many varieties over the years and while a few have a pleasant combination of vegetarian flavours, this mountain lobster really adds a taste to make the crumble wonderful. More meat could have made this single serving perfect; instead it was found in the center like a tootsie roll. Instead of plum sauce, perhaps what I had is a pineapple cayenne mix. Other ingredients included the holy trinity in cooking this style of food with carrot added on top.

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The Sandwich Nazi Reigns Again … on VOD!

viff2015sandwichnaziLa Charcuterie
19080-96th Avenue Unit 8
Surrey BC V4N 3R3
(604) 882-0881

While everyone loves to have a good sandwich, not every body visits the same place to have it made … and hear the life story of the shop owner at the same time. The Sandwich Nazi made waves last year at the film festivals. As I wrote in my review of the film, “A trip to the industrial neighbourhood of Port Kells in Surrey, BC is needed to experience ’s capricious if not salacious behaviour in The Sandwich Nazi. Yes, the allusions to Seinfeld are there, and if the two had to be compared, Kahil is funnier.”

Filmmaker Lewis Bennett said in an interview on otakunoculture.com about how he loves how juvenile humour can play out on screen (i.e. when the cameras are rolling). “I’ve been drawn to people like Salam since I was in kindergarten. He kept making us laugh so we wanted to spend more time with him. The project started with a short documentary and as we were making that film we felt that there was a whole lot more to his story so we expanded it into a feature,” revealed Bennett.

I thought about visiting this operation on my last recent trip over to the Lower Mainland since I was there with a friend driving us around, but alas … it was on a day when the shop was not open. Fortunately, for those people who have not seen this funny, serious and somber documentary, it is now available on iTunes and Google Play. Additional services include Vimeo on Demand, Amazon Instant Video, and Microsoft Video.

To stay abreast with other releases, including a physical home video release (let’s hope there will be outtakes!), please visit them on:

Twitter @TheSandwichNazi
Facebook @NoSandwichForYou

Not Really Floored with El Furniture Warehouse  

533 Yates St
Victoria, BC
Phone: (778) 265-9575

El Furniture Warehouse is a strange name for a dining establishment. They began operation in Vancouver, BC and they made a name for themselves with reasonably priced meals — mostly in the pub style variety — for $5 or less, and since then they have expanded. After a fair number of years on the mainland, they decided to become island bound and set up shop in Victoria, BC.

The evening I was there was busy. I asked if I can grab a bite in under an hour as I wanted to get to a live theatre production in time. I was promised that’s possible and given a seat by the bar, the only space available. I like the fact this place is well stocked with a variety of beers, but I stayed sober if I had to run to catch my show.

I also knew what I wanted and placed my order in no time. My meal arrived fairly quickly, and it was not what I thought I’d get. I asked for a salad. Given how loud this place can get, I’m betting the waiter I ordered from could not hear.

I got a burger and fries and did not bother noting the change to the server. I ordered “The Works” which had no tomatoes or lettuce despite saying so on the menu, and the bacon — I hardly was able to taste it. The in-house specially made sauce gave the burger a good kick but there was nothing to make me think this place is special. If folks want cheap bites to help sustain them for a few hours, it’d be a place to hit. For filling bites, I’d go elsewhere.

Unlike other operations which gives you heaping amounts of fries, this place offers a reasonable portion to complement your meal than be it.

I may one day return to give this place another chance, but my first impression was not good. Another server came by with the salad I wanted and I saw it came with a burrito. I said I was given my order already and he walked away confused.

2 Blokes out of 5