Posted 29 December 2003 - 03:04 PM
It's owned by the Todai people, and seems to be an experiment in a slightly different concept. We went at lunch (we were originally planning to go to Jimbo's udon next door, but it was full). It was, if I recall correctly, 11.95 for adults and half that for children. It's nearly twice that at dinner, but there is a much larger selection.
There is a small salad bar and place where you can serve yourself things like chicken katsu, but for the most part you order off the menu. You can order up to two items per person at a time (including children), and when you've finished eating all that, you can order up to two items per person again. We only managed 1.5 rounds anyway before getting pretty full.
The lunchtime menu is fairly standard stuff (mixed tempura, tempura udon, zarusoba, unagi donburi), with a few slightly less common things thrown in (ginger pork, hayashi rice with shrimp, chirashi sushi, salmon batayaki). The tempura was quite competent, while the fish on the chirashi sushi was noticeably fresher than what I remembered from Todai, including amaebi, though the crab was ersatz. The unagi was miniscule and enveloped by egg shavings on its bed of rice. The salmon was cooked perfectly, not dried out! The ginger pork was soupy and not that gingery, but my son ate the whole thing. No dessert at lunch, except for orange slices.
Verdict? Can't complain for $11.95! Some of the crude preparation you would expect for such a mass production, but otherwise slightly better than expected. Place was packed when we went there - probably will remain packed if the prices and choices remain the same. Probably won't go back there, however, since we're not exactly looking to gain any more weight.
The dinnertime menu is much more ambitious, and it seems the Todai people have gone out of their way to import some of the kind of homestyle or izakaya dishes you rarely find on Japanese menus in the U.S., though I can't say anything about the execution.
The actual restaurant aside, what do people think of the concept? A priori, it seems implausible to me that they could prepare all-you-can-eat food to order without driving their kitchen staff insane. They seem to have "solved" that problem by sticking to fairly quick and simple prep and keeping boxes of precut ingredients at the ready (their kitchen is open), but is it worth the trouble of moving away from the conventional buffet concept?
Posted 07 January 2004 - 12:36 PM
Sun-Ki, did you notice how are the menu-ordered dishes put down on the table - as they are ready, or altogether?
Posted 08 January 2004 - 02:29 AM
Posted 12 January 2004 - 02:25 PM
Emily in London
Posted 10 April 2004 - 12:17 AM
Posted 12 April 2004 - 10:22 AM