Pluto's - Victoria

Many years ago, while wandering the streets of Victoria (in tourist mode), I came across Pluto's. The special of the day as advertised out front on a sandwich board was a "halibut dog with blue cheese slaw". That was all I needed to know and I went in to be charmed by the old garage turned restaurant and the tasty food.
I have recently learned that Pluto's and its iconic, one of a kind (left in Canada) gullwing roof style and neon signage will be closed to make room for condos. Before you cry and whine about that, remember that people will always need places to live. Pluto's will be moving on at some point and we hope they take the aesthetic with them but I wanted to pay another visit. So on a certain Saturday evening, we found our way to Cook at View Street and were quickly seated in the spacious restaurant.
We started with one of their famous milkshakes (evidently too large for one jar). Of the many flavour choices, we landed on salted caramel which frankly, was amazing. Rich and sweet, we don't eat a lot of milkshakes and this made an impression on us.
We try to do fish and chips at least once each time we go to Victoria. This time all the joints at Fisherman's Wharf were closed for the season, so we tried  Pluto's. The serving was generous enough and the cod itself was firm and tasty. We weren't crazy for the batter however which was a little on the thick side and maybe a touch greasy (not always a bad thing). Fries and slaw were decent enough.
We also had a Lamb Burger and chose Tortilla Soup as a side in lieu of fries. The burger was impressive, served with feta and a mushroom sauce. Once assembled it was formidable and almost required a knife and fork. Nice pickles too. The soup was unremarkable but clearly house-made and chickeny. No complaints but not amazing either.
If you are wondering, Pluto is a reference to the dwarf planet and not Mickey Mouse's dog. Each of the booths has pictures and facts related to a planet (ours was Mercury) which is obviously the table identification system for the servers. The service was quick and friendly and the dining area is spacious and relatively comfortable. They are opened all day every day and serve breakfast from 8am most days.
For what its worth, we give Pluto's 3 out of 5.
Pluto's Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Grilled Cheese Please - Victoria

On a lovely winter evening walk, Marie and I came across the Centennial Square Chrismas light display in downtown Victoria. A quite beautiful effort, the square had become selfie central for dozens of happy shoppers and diners.
As I strolled around looking for potential angles, I overheard a conversation that was punctuated with, "OK. We'll meet you at Grilled Cheese Please!". My ears perked up! A quick search on my phone revealed that GCP was a mere half block away! A few more selfies later and Marie and I set out for what we hoped would be a foodie paradise.
In my haste, I almost roared right past but Marie's sharper eyes spotted the sandwich board and the cafe front which is a bit buried in an alcove. Inside we met Michael, the owner who is, not surprisingly, enthusiastic about grilled cheese sandwiches. He started with a food truck and a necessarily limited menu but here in the brick and mortar location (brick and mortar is literal in this part of downtown), the menu possibilities are quite endless.
As I frequently tell anyone who will listen, grilled cheese must be accompanied by tomato soup. Here at GCP, the tomato soup is house-made, velvety and rich. Excellent and only slightly reminiscent of my childhood where the soup was canned. While the new expanded menu is quite exciting, in our state of hunger and approaching low blood sugar, I could not give the menu the analysis necessary. It was all we could do to stab our fingers at a couple of things that looked good.
The first was the Baconator Sandwich. Featuring bacon, smoked Cheddar and Gouda, with garlic spread on cheese bread, this was a winner! Each sandwich comes with a dipping sauce and we chose chipotle mayo. 
I'm not sure why I thought the Albacore Melter would be anything but canned tuna. Sushi grade would certainly be a $20 and not a $10 sandwich. Still, tuna, provolone, and garlic spread on 12 grain were also to our liking. Each of the sandwiches gets a crusty buttery exterior toasting as you can see from the pics. It is the perfect foundation for any of the many possibilities starting right from the classic and moving along to almost anything that you can imagine.
In addition to the many sandwich possibilities, there are all sorts of pub-like starters (tots, wings, poppers etc.) and sides to complete the grilled cheese experience. Not a ton of seating but grab it to go and sit at Centennial Square.
For what it's worth, we give Grilled Cheese Please 4 out of 5.
Grilled Cheese Please Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tibetan Kitchen - Victoria, BC

Marie and I decided to spend a quick weekend in Victoria before the total impact of the holidays hit. I love sailing on BC Ferry's although, the cost of taking a vehicle has become impressive and so we opted for the transit route all the way from Aldergrove to Victoria and back.
True enough, it takes some time (about 5 hours from home to downtown Vic; really only an hour or so longer than driving) but it was kind of relaxing to be able to gaze out the windows at the scenery while someone else paid attention to the traffic for a change. Also, our consciences are clear as we did not add to our carbon footprint as far as travel is concerned.
Upon arrival downtown about midday, we sought out Tibetan Kitchen as it was featured on "You Gotta Eat Here" but more importantly as Tibetan food is not found on every corner. We were warmly welcomed by a member of the family who run this restaurant and who indeed are from Tibet.
We started with Momo which are dumplings common to Tibet, Nepal and generally the Himalayan region. These were deep-fried and filled with tasty pork but there is a vegetarian option and you could have them steamed also. They were accompanied by a spicy sauce. Very nice! I was impressed with the number of vegetarian options here and asked if that was a Tibetan thing. The answer is not really. Tibet is a generally cold country and their diet is more meat-centric because of the limited growing season. They are, however, catering to Victoria's evidently extensive vegetarian community. Good thinking.
We tried one of TB's several lunch specials, Pork Curry with mustard greens, served with rice, pooris and lentil soup which was frankly delicious! At $14 this is a very good deal. We loved the curry.
Finally, we had Chicken Shepta. This was basically a stir fry on rice but Tibetan style (with a generous addition of veggies as previously discussed). Ginger, garlic, tomato paste, soy sauce and mild curry formed the sauce for this tasty and healthy dish.
Colorful and busy is how I would describe the decor, with a distinctive nod to Tibet and the Dalai Lama. His words are posted here and there for our edification which is a good thing. Comfy enough and with friendly folks, we recommend this place. Expand your horizons and try something a little different.
For what its worth, we give Tibetan Kitchen 3 1/2 out of 5. 
Tibetan Kitchen Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Umami Ramen & Cafe

I think opening a ramen joint next to a sky train station, is a stroke of business genius. Umami Ramen and Cafe, adjacent to Surrey Central is sufficiently large enough to cash in on the transit using clientele. During our visit at mid-afternoon on Sunday, the kitchen was kept hopping by a pretty steady flow of customers so it reflects some good judgment to not open as a half dozen table type of place.
I'm not sure what is going on with the name of this place. Early photos that I have seen showed Umami Ramen and Grill (as does the upper sign if you look closely). Skip The Dishes lists, Umami Ramen & Umami Asian Fusion (as one place). The current sign is clearly overlaid with the word Cafe. Didn't ask; don't care.
We ordered 2 combos with ramen, reasonably priced at under $15 per combo. One included a Chicken Chashu Rice Bown which was really very good. The chicken was very tender and with a decent amount considering that the adder to make it a combo was only $2.99. Topped with green onion, seaweed, and a couple of sauces (mayo and hoisin?), it was a tasty dish.
The other combo included Chicken Karaage. This arrived way too quickly upon ordering which set off some alarm bells. Sure enough, it was not hot out of the fryer. It was not exactly cold and certainly, it was tender and tasty enough but we knew that it had been waiting for a while as maybe an unwanted order or too much was cooked or whatever. I certainly am not on board with wasting food any more than we have to and it wasn't a horrifying experience, but it was a bit of a slip.
We tried the Shia Tonkatsu Black as we often do. This was garlicky and rich with wood ear mushrooms, roasted garlic, bamboo, and half a soy sauce egg. High marks for this. We noticed that they offer ramen with truffle among the many choices. I like truffle and was tempted to try it but we have seen a bit of a truffle overload in recent years. Someone else can try it and let us know.
Also on the extensive menu, is a number of Thai, Malaysian and other southeast Asian type dishes and we decided to try their Singaporean Laksa Ramen. This was another hit. Slightly spicy coconutty broth with all the trimmings including a little dollop of shrimp paste to be mixed in. The prawns were added recently and still had some bite to them. I'm taking it to mean that there is some capability in the kitchen to handle the varied menu. It means that its more difficult to decide but at least everyone should find something that suits them.
It's a decent-sized place as I mentioned at the outset. The decor is sharp and comfortable enough. Our service was very friendly and efficient to start but as the placed got busier, became a little distracted. Presumably, for the dinner hour, they would be better staffed. If you are connecting at Surrey Central give this place a try.
For what its worth, we give Umami Ramen and Cafe (or grill, or fusion or whatever) 3 1/2 out of 5.

Umami Ramen & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jamila's Kitchen and Grill

For the record, when I wrote a couple of days ago that you should not trust "so-called medical experts", I did not mean medical doctors. Your MDs have been to school. They are basically scientists and you should listen to them (although, even then, you are entitled to the traditional second opinion). I meant that you should be suspicious of anyone who wants to treat your chi. Avoid people who tell you that you have chakras or meridians. Stay away from mediums for god's sake and do not mega dose on vitamins or rely on herbs etc.
I now return you to our regularly scheduled review!

An item showed up on my newsfeed (which Google has kindly tailored to my interests and opinions, thus feeding my tendency towards confirmation bias), which found me moving a restaurant that I had never heard of, to the top of my "I want us to eat here" list. The news feed story was about this sign posted in front of Jamila's Kitchen and Grill:
No, not the customer parking sign. Read the sign below which reflects a kind generous spirit on the part of the owners of this little family-run restaurant. If you had the misfortune to read my previous post, you would have read about my despair over the divisions among us. Well, these folks are the antithesis of division, doing charitable works across all lines.
So we decided to have lunch at Jamila's which is on the Barnett Highway, a few blocks west of Coquitlam Centre. Before Malik and his wife, Jamila, took over the restaurant in 2017, it was an Indian joint. They have expanded the menu to include the Afghani food, then Greek, Indo-Chinese and even Pizza. The whole family can come here and everyone will find something to suit them.
We decided to try some of the food of their homeland namely Afghanistan, starting with Boolanee.
This is a flatbread stuffed with potato, onions and herbs. It was very satisfying, putting us in mind of Indian flatbreads with a decent buttery chew and just a bit of crispness. The yogurt based sauce that came with it, packed just enough heat to make it interesting.
Next up was Sabzi Qurma which is a chopped spinach dish similar to the Indian saag. Separating it from Saag is the presence of black beans and Afghan spices. It was rich and comforting and I enjoyed it a great deal.
On the side was more basmati rice redolent with cinnamon, raisins and carrots. I would be happy to eat this all the time.
We also tried their Chicken Shami. This was two skewers of ground chicken again with the Afghan spices and fresh herbs. The tender chicken came with a vinegary green dipping sauce, rice and flatbread. Loved it.
JKG is not a huge place (4 or 5 tables?) and is more casual than fancy. This couple was very friendly and even accommodated us when we arrived before opening (1:00 on Sunday).
I am a big fan of charitable organizations like UGM, Salvation Army and others who look after the less fortunate. I find myself moved when I see the Sikhs set up a table and feed people in the dicier parts of town. This though is a couple doing charitable work of their own accord and without the financial support of an organization. It is already difficult to make a go of it in the restaurant business without giving away some of the profits.
So make sure that you tip generously knowing that you will be contributing to fine works.
For what its worth, we would give Jamila's Kitchen and Grill 3 1/2 out of 5, but their generous spirit moves us to give them 5 out of 5.

Jamila's Kitchen and Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hey Boomer

I am not so egotistical as to feel that you need to read my opinion about anything beyond whether something needed salt or whether the service was friendly. Sometimes though, I feel the need to give in to venting. I did so here... and I intend to do so here. To satisfy those of you who only look at the pictures anyway (and just so you know, I'm OK with that), I will intersperse random photos of things that I have cooked at home over the last couple of years.
I recently came across a quotation from Leo Tolstoy; 
"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him."
And thus came the expression, "Hey Boomer"; a taunt directed towards those of a certain age who believe that their opinions and understandings cannot be changed or updated, due to their years of experience and wisdom. To be fair, people of any generation can get stuck in this kind of closed-mindedness, especially if they belong to a herd or have been indoctrinated since youth.In my opinion, "Hey Boomer" just serves to emphasize one more line of division in an increasingly divided and polarized world, that of generational differences.
Let's review the things that divide us:
First, there was race. Despite the evidence that we have all descended from a common gene pool and that if you took the time to peel off our epidermis (which admittedly would be a slow and messy process) we would be almost the same, people have been treated shittily because of their skin colour, I assume since the beginning of our history. 
Then there were borders. Those invisible, arbitrary lines that we paint on the ground, often making official the divisions between already established herds (see"race" above) but often for the convenience of the developed world to divide up the available spoils of the developing world. Increasingly, rather than remove these lines, we want to add more, often because of perceived slights or because we're not getting our fair share (see Western Separatism) or because of imagined threats to our culture (see Quebec separatism). We in Canada have treated our indigenous peoples shittily by herding them onto reservations and into residential schools and now they have created borders of their own with independent nations. 
Religion may be the most divisive institution of all. I cannot begin to scratch the surface here but mankind has been willing to subjugate, murder and die for something that is based on anecdotal evidence and unproven history and lies. Though most religions teach love and tolerance, few if any practice it without restriction. Nuff said.
We're not done with divisions yet as we are definitely divided by gender and sexual orientation (and I know they are hugely different subjects ). Neither of these is the result of conscious decisions on our part. We are what we are which makes misogyny and intolerance even more despicable. People who are mistreated tend to withdraw into their own groups creating understandable divisions.
Politics have become the most rediculous of divisive factors and no one seems to be in the middle. Don't all people want to just be able to make a decent living, enjoy decent health and family, and a peaceful comfortable life? It doesn't seem like it. According to the left, the right wants to take that away from you and vice versa. The American House and Senate are the perfect example of this. Each is totally unwilling to bend beyond party lines even when the good of their constituents and country is at stake. Even when the evidence calling for compromise is beyond debate. These people who are the supposed leaders of our world (politicians in general) are some of the worst dividers of all.
Economic factors divide us as the gap grows and the middle class disappears. Eat the rich is not a practical solution to anything. I always ask the question, how much do you need? Thank goodness for Warren Buffet and others who give charitably and generously and do not steal from their own charities.
Have I missed anything? Oh yeah! Now we are dividing ourselves by generation. By my calculations, there are 5 identified generations meaning we need to multiply all of the above divisions by 5.
In the interest of transparency, this makes me a male hetero caucasian agnostic middle-class boomer of fluid political persuasion (mostly in the real centre) but I kind of just think of myself as a very flawed human being who is willing to listen to any genuine opinion if it is based on evidence. I don't feel like you can say "Hey Boomer" to me as I attempt to practice open-mindedness and remain willing and anxious to learn (though to claim to be perfect in this would be a little self-indulgent). Over the last decade or so, my belief system has changed from faith-based to evidence-based with a healthy helping of skepticism. It was not something I set out to do and it was certainly not comfortable but just happened as the truth became apparent. Skepticism does not mean a sneering dential of beliefs that one doesn't care for. It means one reserves reaching a conclusion until a subject has been thoroughly researched including vetting sources. In this way, I feel I have been able to avoid some of the divisive "fake news" such as climate change denial, fraudulent health advertising (be aware that stem cell therapy is unapproved and unproven) and stupid Facebook postings.
What can we do to become less divided as time goes by? Well, I'm not convinced that we can but it would have to start with the truth. Don't believe everything you hear, read on facebook or that comes out of the mouths of advertisers, clergy, politicians, and even other so-called medical experts. Be aware that we are being bombarded with bullshit and work a little harder to separate the true from the false. Hopefully, the truth will teach us that we can agree no matter what out preconceived divisions. I think that the future depends on it.
Sorry to be so morose, self-righteous, depressing and contrary. I think that I'll stick with opinions about food for a while.

Disco Cheetah

I love the concept but I don't understand the name.
First, there was a truck and now there is a truck and a brick and mortar location at Davie and Bute. Either way, if they're doing Korean fried chicken, I'm there.
They do a few baos at DC. This was the Van Tofu Bao with fried firm tofu, tomato and Gochujang sauces and some cucumber etc. It was decent. The tofu pieces were too large and the result was too high a ratio of largely tasteless tofu to fried surface and sauce. Smaller pieces but more of them is my suggestion but not bad and reasonably priced a $5.50.
The main menu is fairly simple. Pick rice bowl, salad or wrap. Then pick a protein and sauces/dressing. Then sit down and enjoy a pretty tasty and dare I say, kind of healthy meal. I had the Pulled Pork Salad with Honey Beet Dressing which I thought was impressive at $11.50. The pork is roasted 5 hours with soy and Gochujang and there was a generous amount of it. The dressing was slightly sweet and distinctive. Good on them for a couple of creative options instead of the usual salad dressings. Lots of salad worthy bright veggies. I would have this again.
What we came for was the Korean Fried Chicken. We ordered this as a rice bowl with garlic mayo and chilli mayo. Again, they were generous with the protein and at $12.50, we felt like it was of good value (prices are based on protein whether you order a bowl, wrap or salad). Nicely crisp yet tender chicken with a sweet chilli glaze before the sauces even started. A few veggies on the side all on rice. Not bad!
They also have some french fry/poutine type options. Quick and friendly service which room for a little over a dozen people to sit down. This is a great place if you want something tasty but informal and quick.
For what it's worth, we give Disco Cheetah 3 1/2 out of 5.

Disco Cheetah Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Boston Pizza

'Tis the season of free 'customer appreciation' lunches from our suppliers and so I hopped on board with Tim and 9 of my workmates to test out the patience of the local Boston Pizza.
We've been to work lunches here in the past.  I admit that I was impressed with their pierogi pizza but overall, I am not really a BP guy. It would, however, be a pretty decent place to watch a Canucks game.
And it's not just in the bar that they have TVs and Canucks memorabilia. You can watch from pretty well anywhere in the restaurant. At any rate, Tim was good enough to order us a couple of appetizers.
There were a couple of types of wings on the table. These were the original hot wings type. They were not too bad. I noticed that we scarfed them all down.
Next up were Cactus Cut Potatoes. For a moment, I thought I was in a different restaurant but I checked the front of the menu again and sure enough; Boston Pizza. They were served with their signature cactus dip (again; ?). Tasty and decent but certainly not mind-blowing.
For my main course, I had a Grilled Pineapple, Beets and Goat Cheese Salad. Lots of almonds made it ok but the beet bits were on the dry side and the red bell pepper was wilty.
Family members and co-workers all know that I am going to annoy them until I have taken a couple of pictures. The shrimp tacos looked pretty decent.
A couple of the guys had sandwiches which also looked OK. I assume this was a clubhouse at $16.50.
Honestly, I would only come here for a free lunch but considering the pretty good surroundings, a place to watch the game with friends and very nice service I shouldn't be a jerk about it.
For those reasons, and for what my opinion is worth, I give Boston Pizza, 3 out of 5.
Boston Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

About Us

Are you guys eating again? At some point Marie and I became the kind of people who take pictures of everything we eat, whether in a restaura...