Just How Long is a Pho-Ever?

pho-everPho-Ever
1669 Pear St.,
Gordon Head
Saanich, BC
(250) 388-0028

For as long as I can remember living in the Gordon Head area, Pho-Ever has been around for … well, forever. I have not thought about visiting this place because it’s in a tucked away corner of Shelbourne Plaza and it’s the type of place some would not give a second glance to. As unobtrusive as this establishment is, they can serve up a mean Pho, and it had me savouring every bit of broth from the P-4 I ordered. That is, I had a serving of traditional noodle with bits of rare steak, tendon and tripe mixed in. The traditional plate of bean sprouts, cilantro, lime and hot pepper is offered and beyond that, was there anything that leapt at me?

Not really as there was nothing special in the presentation of the meal. It’s not like I was walking into a trendy restaurant over an every man’s place. The broth was exceptionally well made. It was clear and after applying some hot chilli oil to give it tang, the zest I was craving made the meal. The ratio of the various ingredients were adequate, and I did not realize how hungry I was. I was practically wolfing down the meal as I did not have a proper lunch earlier.

A word of warning: while the serving size of the bowl is perfect, to add any more product on top can get quickly expensive. The charge for adding extra portions of meat, prawn, noodle or vegetables averages $4, making that $11.95 meal turn into $24 if James was here. I stuck with the basics to evaluate the staple of quick Vietnamese street food.

This spot is great for Pokémon GO players. Not only is there a stop but also there were pocket monsters which popped in, eying my meal. I caught mostly common types, but I guess Psyducks love stopping by more often.

Sadly, during a non-busy time, the service was lazy. I had no water refill and the waitress only checked in once on my meal. While I lucked out and got my meal within minutes of ordering, I wonder what this place is like when it is actively busy during lunchtime? Between this operation and another, that’s a block and a half away, I think I’d rather go to the other. I like how they make their Bánh mì sandwiches — they are toasted up and are kept wrapped until I peel the foil out for nibbling when enjoying the view while up on Mount Tolmie.

When I glanced at this Pear St. operation’s menu, I did not find any sandwiches to order. Even though my heart was set for some pho, my eyes kept on glancing at Pokémon GO for some elusive critters that I hoped might appear while here. They used to pop up a few great nest migrations before, but I guess even they are deciding to avoid this place instead of congregating.

3 Blokes out of 5

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Szechuan Showdown Between What a City or Palace can Offer

Schezuan Palace IMG_20160126_164308252

Szechuan Palace
306 Burnside Rd
Saanich, BC
(250) 382-2823

J: Like bees that are attracted to pollen, Ed and I are attracted to the area surrounding Tillicum Centre. The sweet nectar that can be found with either going to the movies (SilverCity Victoria Cinemas), getting a cheap dinner (Marble Arch), having desserts (Mr. Tubb’s Ice Cream Parlour) or partaking in board games (Skyhaven Games) in one area is too much to handle with just a single trip. If you’re a film buff like us (in name only and not in physique), yes you will find yourself coming back for more.

On this particular trip, we were looking for comfort at Szechuan Palace and I don’t mean to have a good cry and a cuddle. Both Szechuan Palace and Szechuan City are run by the same family and they are only four blocks apart. I’ve been to this location once before with my mom. Our purpose was to get a decent dinner before a movie, but we didn’t get past the starter. Service was slow even though they weren’t busy. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. A lot of time and patience is needed when you dine here in the evening.

History was looking like it would repeat itself. The website has incorrect information. It’s operating hours are not updated, and there’s no evening buffet.

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The Stubborn Chef 拉麵館 changes the Ramen Scene ‘Round with AsUsual Cafe – 老地方

stubborn_chefStubborn Chef – 拉麵館
AsUsual Cafe – 老地方
3960 Shelbourne St
Victoria, BC
(778) 432-3818

Only James can think Kuma Noodle Japan has the best ramen all around Victoria. He’s most likely right, but he’s not had the complete Japanese experience (I had it in Japan, a place he has yet to travel to). Yes, I’m relentless in teasing him about this fact and one year, we will visit the Land of the Rising Sun to sample the food together. Back in Victoria, in the meantime, competitors eventually will emerge to challenge my buddy’s statement.

Trying to schedule his willingness to go out with my Pokémon GO adventures (I need to fuel up somehow) is like dragging a closet gamer out of the comfort of his own home to see the light, er sun.

We have tried a few places together. Foo Ramen Bar has been running for a while and unless you know which Japanese restaurants to go to, they will have this common staple buried along with the Udon and Soba. Next to the Victoria Public Market downtown is Ox King Noodles. In Gordon Head, The Stubborn Chef specializes in a variety of noodles. James finally checked out this place during one of his rare departures from Langford. By then, I’ve been here for the third time. Interestingly, the chef is a third generation noodle-maker. He’s been trained by the best and I’m glad he’s settling into the Gordon Head culinary landscape. The folks who ran this operation used to operate out of Chinatown in the past five years. And when it was sold a few years ago, I’m assuming the change of pace is because this municipality is closer to home. There’s less distance to travel. I’m thinking the owner/operator is taking a cue from James’ book. Why travel far when you can enjoy the comforts of home?

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[Victoria Fringe Festival 2016] SMUS Shake It Up with Disney’s Camp Rock!

CAMP-ROCK_4CLOCATION:
St. Michaels
University School
3400 Richmond Road
Saanich, BC

SHOWTIMES:
Fri Aug. 26 – 7pm
Sat Aug. 27 – 2pm
Sat Aug. 27 – 7pm

Sometimes it is tough to decide on what to take on as the first Victoria Fringe Festival presentation for the 2016 season. This year, the decision was a no-brainer and I had to see the results of what St. Michaels University School (SMUS) Summer Musical Theatre program produced. The folks involved always deliver a quality educational curriculum to teach the next rising stars the basics while having fun at the same time. On opening night, they put on the musical version of Disney’s Camp Rock.

This show highlights the musical stylings of bands like The Jonas Brothers and the modern sounds of the past decade. Like ’em or not (every generation has their favourite musicians), those who grew up with them had a rollicking time with this production. Opening night was not without a few chuckle-worthy moments, gaffes included; the group was able to roll with it and continue on. They also helped each other out on stage when lines were forgotten and I believe that’s the heart of what this program extols than to provide a higher calibre show other local professional theatre schools like Canadian College of Performing Arts works on. I’ve seen their production of Little Shop of Horrors years ago, and that was a memorable show to which I grinned like a Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland when rubber bands were shot towards audiences!

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Saigon Char-Broil’s Slow Sizzle

Some Chinese Place IMG_20151208_162203543

Saigon Char-Broil Vietnamese Restaurant
3710 Tillicum Rd,
Tillicum Centre
Saanich, BC
(778) 432-2000

E: To have a dinner and a movie altogether on the same day is not easy in the area of Tillicum. I somehow managed to convince James to see a horror film (a genre he doesn’t care for) and we both wanted a healthy option beyond popcorn and soda. Saigon Char-broil was very close and we didn’t have to cross the highway to get to Cineplex’s Silvercity Tillicum Location.

J: Ed, like me doesn’t like going to the movies on his own. It’s much more fun with a friend but you’d be surprised at how many people want to sit in front of a computer rather than get out of the house, even if you offer them a free pass. Stopping for a meal at a restaurant (including Saigon) makes more sense then spending roughly the same money or more on junk food at the theatre. I’ll have a snack if I’m at Vic Theatre, Sidney’s Star Cinema, or even UVic’s Cinecenta but if it’s a big corporation owned movie house like Silvercity, I put my money where I think it’ll do the most good, with the mom and pop food operations.

E: Mind you, that doesn’t stop James from getting sweetened yogurt from within the theatre operation. One large bowl of pho’ later, he was on dessert faster than I could swipe my SCENE card to see a film for free. That’s including trying to hear him say yes to my offer to treat him to the movies for the night. Mind you, when it comes to the drinks from this restaurant, I can go through a glass of pineapple juice in no time!

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Buffing Up at Szechuan City Restaurant

IMG_20150530_200442390Szechuan City Buffet
110 Burnside Road East
Saanich, BC
(250) 386-2288

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.

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