The Songhees Have a Beat at Victoria Clipper

this-is-canadas-first-aboriginal-food-truckSonghees Seafood & Steam
Victoria Clipper Terminal
254 Belleville St
Victoria, BC

Visitors arriving at Victoria, BC via The Clipper will be in for a treat! Not only are they arriving in a city originally occupied by this First Nation, but also they have an opportunity to partake in this culture’s yummy in my tummy traditions. From fried bread (I love this over Naan) to salmon, their selection is delectable. Their homemade jam (usually made from blackberries) makes for a perfect dip with the bread they offer. At the end of the day, they may give away the leftover supply so a fresh batch can be made for the next. For this dough, it’s best experienced warm than cold. With my extra piece which I could not finish, I got to try both extremes.

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In what this place supplies is basically comfort food. You’ll find french fries too (I don’t believe this is a cultural product, but that’s okay), and I had their version of poutine and it was very filling. The fries were very good, and the paprika mayo dipping sauce certainly helped make this dish over the top!

Next time, though, I will have to try one of their burger combinations. There’s the choice between salmon and portabella as the main source of protein, and both sound good. My money is on the latter on my next visit. As much as I love bison, I find it hard to believe that some of these creatures roamed to this land during the last Ice Age to settle here. They may have but I find prairie type of oxen better tasting!

3½ Blokes out of 5

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[Guest Review] Not Everyone Jones’ for John’s Place

John’s Place
723 Pandora Ave.

Victoria, BC

(250) 389-0711

[This guest review is by Naomi DeBruyn of Void Girl. She was the former editor of Linear Reflections E-Magazine. In her last visit to Victoria, BC, sometimes visiting old establishments is not perfect. She was with friends in this outing ….]

Touted as ‘The place to eat in Victoria!’ I found this dining experience to one of the most pathetic I’ve ever endured. Yes, endured. It was more than an experience, it was an agonizing waste of time.

Having only two hours before our movie started, we decided on ‘John’s Place’ for our dinner. It was virtually empty, even with the addition of the three of us, the customers were still under ten in number. We were awaiting a fourth, but decided to order anyhow. A good thing we did, believe me!

There were multiple staff and the place was decorated with ‘star personalities’ who had eaten there, and old time sports memorabilia. Well, lucky those stars were who they are as I’m betting it influenced the service.

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Driving Far? There’s No Need to Park’s Kitchen

img_20160906_134103283Park’s Kitchen
606 Trounce Alley
Victoria, BC
(778) 265-2227

ES: I wish the Izakaya in Trounce Alley stayed longer. Actually known as So-Ya, they had a classy environment to fashion some trendy and nouveau Japanese style food. People can read our review here and I truly miss them. Park’s Kitchen replaces this operation. They had a soft opening and not many people noticed.

I have to wonder if the servers even have an eye for what’s good here. When James and I had our empty glasses of water just sitting on the table, no one bothered to glance to see if we needed a refill. I saw where the decanters were and had to help myself.

JS: Although the shell of So-Ya remains, the spirit within had long since passed on. What has replaced it is not very impressive. I was willing to be pleased but Park’s rarely shined when it came to either customer service, the kitchen staff or their lunch specials.

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But I’m going to give a bad sounding critique and the reason is the not-so-good outweighed what was best about this place. But to start, their sunomono salad was very creative if not refreshing.

The lettuce threw me off but the carrots were most welcome. The vinaigrette was sweet and cool. I have to say I finally found a sunomono that may have beaten Sushi Plus. But perhaps to put something else to replace the lettuce will improve on this creation.

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Defining the Divine at Grace Sushi

grace-sushi

Grace Sushi
#100-1619 Store St.,
Chinatown
Victoria, BC
(778) 265-9759

For over a year, Grace Sushi has occupied the space on Store St. that was once The Kaz. I’m not sure what the full story is behind the previous establishment’s departure, but in the past, they offered the space for Sen Zushi to occupy when their Fort Street location was devastated by a fire. Until it was all rebuilt, this other establishment fulfilled some sushi diner’s needs. Now they have moved back, and I’m the type to try all the places in town … just where I like to go lays with what is in the vicinity, before going to a play.

I had to see what kind of divine intervention could occur by walking into a location that’s now changed hands.

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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

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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