Han’s Korean Restaurant
615 Johnson St
Phone: (778) 265-1760
E: Sadly, the diner Skinnytato closed operations around late Summer of last year, and in its place, the diner went from Polish to Korean. Will I miss it? Not necessarily. Some mom and pop operations can only last as long as it is profitable or the owner/operators wish to keep their business going. Another possible reason is that the people behind Skinnytato decided to retire. I did not investigate to know for sure, but with what James is about to officially announce, all I can do is sigh. He is getting old too.
J: After seven years, I’ll be packing it up and moving on. Also, I am disheartened to see many of the restaurants we have reviewed close up shop. It didn’t matter if a restaurant was good or bad; sometimes Victoria is a tough place to run a place that serves food. We just don’t have the customer base a big city like Vancouver has. Victoria is a little more cut throat.
E: In other words, he’s burnt out (as a mutual friend pointed out). The many labours he has to do at his day job(s) and responsibilities to his family show his mind is elsewhere these days. He’s no Hercules. I’m finding he is not willing to put in the effort into any idea he has or we have come up for this site anymore. He was ambitious and industrious once, but it’s all gone. We were going to pen an article on a variety of novelty sodas we discovered at the Lilly Gobble Sweet Shop early Summer, but even that is constantly getting put off by him than me. I’m willing to bet he wants that article idea to fizzle.
I firmly believe he is making a big mistake by walking away from what we spent many years shaping as this blog’s identity. He does not care and shrugs off everything I suggest to him. Two Hungry Blokes is not ending. I plan on carrying on.
Now in its fifth year, Esquimalt Ribfest is growing in popularity and it may well be exceeding the capacity of how many people can be at Bullen park. I finally made it back to this show. For once, I was not ill or down with a sprained ankle. Three years have passed since I was here last, and while nothing much has changed — especially when it’s moreorless the same group of ribbers — I feel changes are needed if it’s to accommodate an ever increasing crowd and be versatile. Grizzly BBQ is a new entrant, but their scents were not enticing as I was letting my nose be my guide for which ribber to hit.
James went on Saturday with a date (he’ll argue otherwise and I was amazed). When he told me, of course I had to ask him for his thoughts so I can provide a summary about this event. He too thought it needs changing. He hoped to get his drinks and meat side-by-side than to hop across the field. I told him that’s how this event has always been, and it’s his fault for not getting his alcohol first and meal second. He arrived during the mad dinnertime hours and lucked out getting in. People were entering in small numbers, equaling those who left. Once inside, he looked at the scary lineups of everyone craving protein and was thankful the time it took to get to the till was not long. He enjoyed the food and wasn’t here to review since he was with his girlfriend. But I grilled him for opinion anyway and he had a lot to say in how space was used. He did give high marks for Gator BBQ‘s beans tho’. He thought it included either honey or molasses.
Dong Thap Noodles
303 12th Ave S
Phone: (206) 325-1122
If you are ever in the heart of Seattle’s International District, a visit to Dong Thap Noodles is a must. Sadly, with James rarely traveling with me these days, I doubt I can take on this diner’s Pho Super Bowl Challenge alone. I needed his help with this dish, and whatever’s going on in his head, I can only guess. Either he’s lost the passion (with this blog) or he’s afraid of really getting heavier if we continued our foodie adventures. His ongoing joke with me is that whenever we’re dining around in other cities, he always feels far more bloated by the end of the trip. There’s also the possibility he can not stuff his stomach like he used to.
I needed a hearty bowl to re-energize. After spending two-thirds of the day at the Washington Convention Center, I was starving. I met up with local friends afterwards and we went to Dong Thap. Upon entering the establishment, I gazed at the half empty gigantic-sized bowls on tables which still needed to be cleaned up. If only my pals had the appetite (you have to reserve in advance for the challenge), then maybe we could do it with a group of three. I can see five people tackling a single order and succeeding, but I had to wonder if rules exist for this challenge?
128-560 Johnson St
Phone: (250) 590-2648
The difference between the different types of pizza available out there — Neapolitan, Sicilian and traditional American — is distinguished by what type of flour is used for the dough and what ingredients are used. For Neapolitan, San Marzano tomatoes must be used, and the Market Square based operation is Famoso for it. Okay, bad pun, but when this establishment is technically a franchise, neither James or I were quick or that highly interested in checking this place out when it came into business years ago. Now that I’m seeing this place is a permanent fixture, perhaps it’s finally time to check this place out and give a very late answer if Prima Strada should worry about their competition.
I say there’s none to be found. Very little overlap really exists. The Strada offers wood fired (and wonderfully scented) tastes whereas Famoso only reveals the fact their product is baked in a clay-shaped oven. I didn’t ask but I’d be curious in learning what form of heat is used. In a decades old building, I do not think allowing age-old techniques would be allowed by the fire marshal so adapting the space was important. When considering the Mexican place next door had a fire and closed down as a result, I’m sure safety is a huge concern.
622 Fisgard St
Phone: (250) 590-7687
E: Who would have thought Victoria, BC’s Chinatown is fully multi-cultural? By the Gate of Harmony, I can find French, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese dining options, and I’d be hard pressed to say which is better. In a warm summer night around the town, and both James and my hunger were unabated, I let my buddy choose where to go dine.
Enter Pho Vuong, a nice cozy little operation located at the basement floor of a building and it was right next to a Pokéstop! Yes, I’m still playing the mobile game Pokémon GO, but I’m not as hardcore. If there’s opportunities to eat and spin, why not?
J: I was entranced by the traditional Chinese music being played out of speakers attached to the Friendship Gate. It was my first time hearing it and it somehow added to the atmosphere of its location. But for fine dining, there wasn’t much in the way of choice late night. What was comforting to see was families who owned the restaurants or families and their employees sitting down for a good meal. This night had some magic in the air.
1122 Blanshard St
Phone: (778) 430-4444
Not too many dessert type shops exist in Downtown Victoria proper. While plenty of chocolatiers are sprinkled around the touristy areas, namely Roger’s, Oh Sugar and Empire Doughnuts, these companies fills a gap. There’s other operations I’ve walked by, but am I being picky? I’ve often wondered if other delectable confectioneries will set up shop to sate my sweet tooth.
The Cookie Guy fills in a much needed gap which certainly satisfies my inner cookie monster when that craving comes. Best of all, they make them just like grandma! Even better, they are warm, soft and oh so gooey. Their turnaround is very fast since it is all baked in-store; Honestly, you can not get any fresher than this!