J: Hope Key is one of those places I was introduced to by a friend a few years ago. Although I have previously visited here, I’ve never tried their food or their drinks. My only experience with Hope Key was relaxing in their loft while my friend enjoyed her bubble tea. But now things are different, I was hungry and they were offering a dinner buffet after many restaurants in downtown Victoria had closed for the night. With Ed just as desperate to find a place to eat, he stepped through the doorway willingly.
E: On a late night, we were without a chance in hell to find a place that would be open after 9pm. James keeps on thinking we’ve run out of places to hit to review, but I always point out that it depends on how much you’re willing to spend on a meal. Given his frugalness, that pretty much eliminates many places.
I wasn’t prepared to spend a lot either since my dollars were depleted after several travel excursions. Vancouver and Seattle can do that. We were without a hope until he mentioned this place.
Taste of Tokyo
9842 Resthaven Dr.
J: No matter how hard we try the Two Hungry Blokes can’t seem to stay away from the attractive town of Sidney-By-the-Sea. It’s either we keep coming back to browse their locally owned shops in and around Beacon Avenue or to fill our bellies from the various eateries we have yet to fully explore. This time, it was the latter. Ed was being treated to a meal for his services rendered and I was paying out of my pocket. After 4 years of talking about it, then scheduling, and rescheduling, we finally managed to visit Taste of Tokyo. It would’ve been a perfect Saturday night if the fog hadn’t rolled in.
E: With me also imitating a fog horn to indicate that we were about to hit land, I’m certainly glad where we landed was in the bay within the heart of Tokyo! Yes, I could go on about my trip from more than a decade ago, but I have fond memories. I even sailed within this bay to spot, of all things, the Statue of Liberty, see where NHK Japan’s head office is and walk along the causeway. But hunger did strike fast and hard. Out of all the Japanese style buffets offered within or near Victoria, I always find going here to be the best and I always hit their baked oyster selection first! Throughout the night, their sushi and nigiri offered are get as much as you want before the selection of fish changes for the next plate is put out!
E: I’ve done the BC Ferries Pacific Buffet on and off over the years when I’ve missed a meal in trying to get to the ferry on time. Sometimes in my planning, arriving can be a close call, but other times — especially with James around — we have a sizable gap as wide as his belly.
To err is human but to eat a man’s worth of delicious ferry food (insert sarcasm here) requires watching James stumble when the ferry tips over because of some ocean wave.
J: All of Ed’s mocking aside, we made it early to the ferry that was to depart to Vancouver. I hadn’t much of a breakfast to digest and paying almost $8 for an egg salad sandwich at the Swartz Bay terminal would require a lobotomy on my part. I was hungry but not at those prices. And the idea of eating in the cafeteria on the ferry wasn’t appetizing either. For a man like me, the buffet is a cheaper option.
Szechuan City Buffet
110 Burnside Road East
J: I’m always raving about May Gold Village at every opportunity, their food ranks from average to above average and the service is great. But when it comes to my own personal experiences with buffets, there are others more experienced than I. Hope Key is another one I like for their friendly atmosphere (and their loft I can escape to when I want some privacy) but neither of them can compare to Szechuan City on a Saturday night.
Ed and I hit this place at night one hour before their closing all because of a co-worker’s obsession with chicken balls. This man I am sure is on a never-ending quest for buffets with decent helpings of the chicken kind. He’s snubbed May Gold for lacking what other buffets provide but he loves Szechuan City because they serve really good chicken balls. I swear my co-worker’s knowledge on the subject must rival Forest Gump‘s Bubba Blue’s knowledge of shrimp.
J J Morgan Family Restaurant
1520 McKenzie Ave
This corner restaurant by McKenzie and Cedar Hill was once a favourite of mine during my youth. Back then, it was known as Pizza Patio and yes, while I’m dating myself, the memories are oh so pleasant. When birthdays were held here, kids were allowed to head back to the kitchen and make a pizza just the way they wanted it. They could pile the ingredients on high, slather tons of cheese or spread tons of sauce on it and make the product look like a sloppy joe.
Since then, it has become one or two other restaurants before settling as J J Morgan, a traditional restaurant with western flavours than anything else. They have a reasonable Sunday buffet and I went there with buddies a long time ago to chime in about how they fared back then. What they offered did not convince me to return. Fast forward to now, well, it seems the tastes have not changed by much. At least the service is always friendly.
Purple Garden Chinese Restaurant
#138-1551 Cedar Hill X Rd.
E: There are times where I wonder if finding a good Chinese style buffet is even possible. I have memories of going to Raymond’s Restaurant and Szechuan City, Both are decent. With Purple Garden now added to the list — which has been doing buffet for just as long — is it even possible for the quality to go lower? Must I order dishes just to get some awesome sauce?
J: I think the problem for Ed and I is that we arrived near the end of the lunch rush. The food tasted old. That’s to be expected with barely any new food put out. The service was even lacking.