Friday, August 27, 2010


Samba's is a bloodbath, a vegetarian's nightmare....I love it.  If there were ever an institution that promoted hostility towards the vegetable kingdom, it would be this place.  Ironic isn't it, that the first picture in this post isn't of meat?
Believe it or not, the "fillers" at Samba's are pretty good, and they did a great job of distracting me from the main attraction (no, not the dancers...the meat).  They usually have a nice assortment of pasta, salads, fish and shellfish.  Haha, for those vegetarians who don't consider selections from the ocean as meat. 

A little of topic here, but I once knew a person who told me that she didn't want to eat meat because it was cruel to animals, but fish were okay because they don't feel.  This is the same idiot who wouldn't hesitate to buy a LEATHER Louis Vuitton handbag, or wear shoes made of LEATHER. 
Of all their meats, I'd say that the Top Sirloin is probably the star of the show.  It's one of the few times you get that tingly feeling at the corners of your mouth when you take that first bite of  heaven.  The meat is cooked perfectly (at least during the first go-around), the fat ring is't overwhelming or chewy, and the spice rub is out of this world.  It makes everything else on the menu look unpleasant.  I could have eaten Top Sirloin all night, but I was stupidly distracted by everything else, including items from the "filler" bar.
Once in a while, you do need a palete cleanser, in my cse, the mushrooms did a great job....too bad they were so good I had to eat more than just bit.

Live entertainment.

Flip the card over to the red side, and servers stop dumping meat on your plate.

Green means your good to go, bring on the carnage.

Another shot of the sides/filler you can get from the salad bar.

More live entertainment.
So the servers come around to each table with a huge skewer of meat.  They do a prety good job overall of getting the meat out quickly, and they make even rounds, so no favouritism in certain areas of the restaurant (as is sometimes the case with Dim Sum).  The food servers are good, but I can't say the same for some of the waitresses.  This one time, we go the bill and I asked one waitress for change.  She said that she didn't have any change and told me to go to the 7-11 across the street for change.  WTF?  Did she not know that I was a customer, or was she just a complete moron, I will never know.  I spoke to one of the managers (who is great and used to be manager of Aji Taro, when it was still a good place to eat) about it, but that was about it.
It's an interesting way to serve food, but can get messy because at the end of the night, your table looks like a battlefield, covered with blood and bits of flesh.....a glorious way to eat
We went to Sambas one night for a bachelor party. Samba's had no trouble seating our group of about 10 or 15 people.  My buddy Jay made a novelty ball and chain from scratch for the doomed man. 

Sadly, the ball and chain would become more than just a metaphor for how this fallen warrior's life would turn out. 

Anyway, the price for Samba's has seen some sharp price hikes (now $29 M-TH, $32 F-S) in the last few years and have made us think twice about going there.  A Keg Size Prime Rib goes for about $26, so I usually find myself going to the Keg.  But then again, you get a lot of variety at Samba's plus some live entertainment for the extra few dollars. 

Samba Brazilian Steak House on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 23, 2010

Screaming Mimi's

Ever have baked oysters for breakfast?  I have.  I love oysters. I like them raw or cooked, and pretty much any time of the day is fine for me.  If you like oysters, Screaming Mimi's in the Lonsdale Quay is just for you.  I was at a car show sponsored by the Datsun club a few years ago (haha, they invited us, a bunch of first generation Honda Civic guys) and because we had to set up pretty early in the morning, I didn't get a chance to have breakfast.  So after setting up, I wandered over to the quay to look for a bite to eat.  It was either McDonald's or the food court....yuck.  I was just about to leave when out of the corner of my eye, I saw what I thought was baked oysters....I took a step back, and I was right.  Why had I never noticed this before?  I always knew they had raw oysters, but baked in what appeared to be Kewpie??? 
Usually I'll get oysters on the half-shell topped with a mixture of Kewpie mayo and a bit of miso paste, broiled until the crust is golden brown.  This little recipe (with varying proportions of Japanese mayo and Miracle Whip, depending on the quality of the restaurant) is commonly known as kaki motoyaki, and one of my favourites.  Screaming Mimi's had a whole new take on it that I'd never seen - oysters baked on a bun...perhaps a Portuguese bun. 
They had baked oysters on the half-shell as well.

Screaming Mimi's had a nice assortment of all kinds of other seafood but I stuck to my oysters baked on a bun.  I've had mentaiko and mayo baked with a bit of cheese on a bun once in Shinjuku, but I've never had oyster baked on a bun.  It was a great combination and I went back for seconds....actually fourths because I got two at a time.  I tried to replicate this at home and it turned out pretty easy to make.  The bun absorbs all the oil from the mayo instead of pooling at the botton when you bake it on the half-shell.  Glorious. 

Anyway, I remember the price being pretty reasonable because that morning, when I set off in search of food, I was just looking for a quick, cheap bite to eat.  Check it out, Screaming Mimi's.

Screaming Mimi's on Urbanspoon


Arguably one of the worst all-you-can-eat Sushi/Korean restaurants in existence, but for some strange reason people still flock here to stuff their faces.  On two separate occasions, I've experienced food poisoning from the location on Granville.  Obviously, this place is not Japanese or Korean operated. 
BBQ beef ribs, just about the safest thing you could eat as long as you cook them long enough.
You're taking your life in their hands if you dare try anything uncooked here.
Okay, so, you're wondering why I'm being so harsh on this place?  Well, there are a few reasons.  First, the service really blows.  You'd think that since it's a Japanese/Korean restaurant, the staff might try to emulate the mannerisms and etiquette of a Japanese restaurant.....but not so.  At Shabusen, you are greeted with contempt, as if you are a nuisance, rather than their source of income.  The washrooms are disgusting and I had a peak in the kitchen and it's equally filthy.  The salad bar is a joke and here's where my story gets good.  On one of my early visits, years ago, I went like everyone else to stuff my face and get my money's worth.  At the time, I really wasn't concerned with quality as much as quantity....what can I say, I was a starving college student, working my way through school.  I stuffed my face with everything I could get my greedy little hands on, and even tried the shellfish.  Needless to say, that was a huge mistake because several hours later, I was puking my guts college education wasn't quite good enough to help me put two and two together.

A few years later, I ended up going there with my brother and a bunch of our friends.  Most of us were still not quite over the all-you-can-eat craze so we were still going to places like this.  We had almost everything on the menu, including some shellfish.  Waddya know, hours later, I woke up in the middle of the night, returning everything I ate to the ocean (via white porcelain receptacle in my washroom).  I returned to bed, defeated, when I heard more wretching.  I thought it was one of those moments where you are being violated so badly, you distance your mind from your body and it sounds like someone else is suffering.  But no, that was my brother, puking up a storm of his own.  Images of filthy washrooms (and equally filthy sanitation standards of the staff and food workers) and shellfish left outside without refrigeration flashed before my eyes.  

Needless to say, I haven't been back since, and I wouldn't recommend anyone go there, unless violent projectile vomiting as a result of food poisoning is your thing.

Shabusen Yakiniku House (Granville) on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 20, 2010

Uncle Willy's

I know what you're thinking, what the hell is Uncle Willy's doing on this blog?  But you know what?  It's really not as nasty as you may think.  My earliest memories of Uncle Willy's was back in the 80's when they first opened.  All-you-can-eat was the in thing, before the Chinese-run Sushi restaurants got to it.  The fad kind of died off mid-90's and Uncle Willy's locations started to shut down, except this one - near Metrotown.
Sausages, fried chicken, roast beef with horse radish, macaroni salad, some kind of meat-sauced pasta, and cottage cheese.  You can assemble some of the world's wackietst combonations on a single plate.  Actually, the sausages are just your standard breakfast sausage, but the fried chicken isn't bad.  It's got a nice crispy, flavourful coating, and pretty juicy inside....really, quite on par with KFC.  The roast beef isn't bad either, if you can find a nice rare slice....most of the time, it's cooked completely through though.
Sausages, corn, macaroni salad, ham with horse radish, fried chicken, and cottage cheese.  The ham is actually pretty good too, usually still very moist. 
French Toast with loads of straberry sauce.

Fried Chicken, perogies, peas and corn.
Ice cream on top of rice pudding and choclate drizzle.
Ham, roast beef, macaroni salad (and some croutons thrown in there for good measure), sausages, and cottage cheese.

For $12.95 ($8.95 for lunch), you can stuff your face on a lot of half-decent food. And that really is the point of all-you-can eat isn't it?  We're not talking about a 5 star gourmet meal here, but where else can you get a variety of food like this for $12.95 (except maybe a hospital or school cafeteria) and go back for seconds and thirds (or even fourths for that matter).  The turn-around time for food is pretty quick, and is often refilled so it's all pretty fresh. 

If you and a bunch of buddies are hungry and looking for some really fast food (actually, instant food since it's a buffett), with lots of available seating, no reservations required, Uncle Willy's is a pretty good bang for your buck.  I don't recommend you take a date here, unless both of you are looking for something nostalgic from the 80's.

Uncle Willy's on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 16, 2010

Troll's Fish and Chips

I've heard a lot about Troll's, mostly good things, but there seems to be a lot of bad reviews of this place so I had to actually sit down and try it out for myself.  Sometime last year, I had some of the fish and chips here from their take-out window and it wasn't too bad....really greasy as with any other fish and chips place, but not bad.  Yeah, everything was soggy by the time I got to the park bench where we were going to eat, but that also wasn't a surprise.  Fish and Chips are best had, fresh out that bubbling vat of oil.
It was Sunday evening when I came back from Nanaimo with my iaido sensei (just attended a gasshuku in Parksville).  Troll's didn't appear as busy as the last time I saw it, but still, the hostess warned us that it would be about 1/2 wait time from the time we ordered our food to the time it would be served.  Nice of them to give us the heads up if they were understaffed, but in all honesty, the restaurant wasn't that packed as I had seen before.
The salmon with house, when I go to fish and chips, I generally order Cod...I have no idea why halibut is more expensive because it doesn't necesarily taste better than cod.  In fact, I find that most of the time, the halibut is dry and overcooked...cod is always moist.  Salmon, most places have no idea how to cook favourite method of preparing salmon is sashimi....overcook salmon and it's heinous.  In any case, my sensei ordered salmon and the house salad as he tried it before and said it was really good.  I tried a bite and to my surprise, Troll's managed to make the salmon come out perfectly.   
Salmon with Caesar salad.
Cod and chips, with an extra order of deep fried oysters.  I ordered this, but after sampling the salmon, I might just give it a try the next time I'm at Troll's.  The fries were pretty much your run-of-the-mill fries, nothing special, the cod was tender and moist as I expected and the oysters were fantastic.

The wait time didn't seem as long as they warned us about, but I could see this place easily being understaffed during peak periods.  The staff were pretty friendly and it was nice of them to warn us, even though the actual wait time wasn't that bad.  The food was pretty good and the portions were enough to fill me up.  The prices however were a bit inflated if you dine in - $13.00 for two peices of cod and chips, and if you want to sub in a salad, it'll be about $2.00 extra.  I guess they figure their reputation is enough to charge such prices, but if you ever find yourself out in Whiterock, check out Moby Dick's.  For $13, you get two huge peices of fish, a large bucket of their house tartar sauce, and here's the kicker - an extra peice of fish.  Whatever you order, they always give you an extra peice, and it's not just a tiny little half-size thing, it's a whole peice...the portions at Moby Dick's are huge as it is, but the extra piece is always welcome.  So, you could order a single piece for $9.40, and get two pieces, which are still bigger and tastier than Troll's. 

Yes, it's obvious I prefer fish and chips from Moby Dick's, but if I were in Horsehoebay again, and the was no line up, I'd probably visit Troll's again and have their salmon and chips.
$9.40 vs $13.00

Troll's at Horseshoe Bay on Urbanspoon

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