Our Take on Takeout – May 2022

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Wow it’s been a long time since we chewed on some Nanaimo takeout! Here are a few more we’ve visited recently, along with our thoughts. For more Nanaimo takeout opinions, check out our archive here.

Roll and Chicken

This joint near Country Club opened up a couple of years ago and serves the bizarre combination of sushi and fried chicken. Nanaimo loves both of those dishes, so this genius idea should be great, right?

Ups
The Hot Doritos Roll and a couple of yubu (inari) pockets.

The food options appear to be heavily Korean fast-food-influenced so there are some quite unusual options to try. Check out their menu and you’ll see what we mean. In addition, being able to grab sushi/pok√© and fried chicken in one stop is pretty convenient if you’re feeding a gang and no one can agree on what they want.

Downs

While we can’t complain about the food or the prices (which are fair) we do question the availability. On our first attempt to visit the restaurant, the kitchen was closed due to some equipment malfunction. Growing pains. No problem. Now, we see that the sushi and chicken menu is only available Wednesday to Sunday, with Monday to Thursday being a separate menu of what are essentially salad bowls. This means you’ll have to actually plan your takeout days in advance, which we consider to be a pain.

This is the ultra-weird “bbuling” chicken. Yeah we don’t know what that means either. It’s sweet. Yeah, sweet fried chicken. Jury’s out on this one.
Conclusion

Roll and Chicken is interesting, and has some unique tastes available, but any convenience gained by offering two cuisines under one roof is offset by the inconvenience of the menu’s limited availability. If they can figure out how to offer both menus all of the time, we think they’ll be a winner.

O’Falafel

Any place that opens up just across from the hospital should just be a money factory. There’s a legion of hospital workers who must grow tired of the cafeteria food and/or brown bagging it. When O’Falafel opened up, we’d heard great things about the food and the friendliness of the service, but the positive hype has since become muted so we checked it out for ourselves.

Ups
The shawarma and donair wraps were decent for the price.

Hmm, we suppose you could say that the location is convenient for many, and the shop does offer Skip and Doordash options. In any other city it would be a pretty typical neighbourhood shawarma shop, but since Nanaimo struggles when it comes to middle-eastern food, O’Falafel does have an advantage there.

Downs

Don’t be fooled by the food glamour shots on their website. Not only do these not resemble the food in any way, we’re pretty sure they’re just stock photos. Our pictures tell the truth!

We weren’t particularly thrilled with the service when ordering by phone. The person on the other end was gruff, and underestimated the preparation time by at least 10 minutes, which left us standing around in the shop twiddling our thumbs. The counter person was quite gracious when the food was ready though, so it wasn’t all bad.

Lastly, the food was hit and miss. While we both enjoyed our wraps, and the other appetizers were fine, we both were quite turned off by the greek salad which we found overpoweringly lemony. The hummus was too garlicky, and the babaganoush was so mild all we could taste was the smoked paprika sprinkled on it.

Conclusion

We’re sorry to come down hard on O’Falafel. We want everyone to be successful, but this place needs work. We’d like to see the menu revised to reflect reality, the service improved, and the recipes rethought to better align with local (i.e. our) palates. We’re not writing it off forever, but we’re in no hurry to try it again.

Wok Stars

Popping out of nowhere is the brand-new Wok Stars in the food court at Country Club Mall. It’s been getting publicity and tons of hype, but is it enough of a reason to set foot inside that mall again?

Ups
“Velveted” beef bao. Velveting means marinating in flour and egg before cooking to get that silky feel.

Wok Stars sells Asian fusion food so they have contemporary takes on noodle dishes and soups like pad thai and tom yum, but also bao (tiny steamed buns filled with meat and veg and eaten in two to three bites). We tried two variations of the bao – one with fried chicken and one with beef. We can confirm that they were -quite- delicious. The meats were well cooked and the (not so) spicy mayo and crispy onion toppings were very much a street food flourish that appealed to our comfort-food seeking bellies.

Downs

We visited on a day when the restaurant had experienced a huge rush (from the Curious Comic Con) so only bao were available. We’re not going to knock the restaurant for this because the mall was jam packed with hungry geeks that day (including us!) We thought we’d mention it in case you wondered why we both ordered basically the same thing.

Also, it bears mentioning that Wok Stars hasn’t figured out any delivery options yet, so if you want to eat this stuff you’ve got to actually go inside the mall. Imagine that! This also doesn’t really bother us as it’s just a matter of time now before they get delivery sorted out.

Crispy fried chicken bao – delicious!

But there’s one big problem: the price. See those pictures? Three cute little bao in each package? Approximately six bites of food in total? FIFTEEN BUCKS. Yeowch! After tax it was over $30 for the two of us, and we were left hungry. We have made our own bao at home in the steamer and, with respect, it’s not particularly hard or time consuming. We discussed it after and felt that price was approximately double what we’d be willing to pay – despite how tasty the food was.

Conclusion

Our hats are off to anyone who wants to make a go of it in the desolate Country Club food court. Wok Stars has it where it counts – tasty food, but the prices are going to be the unpalatable part of any visit. If you’re made of money, by all means give it a try – we think you’ll like it!

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