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Japanese food---tabehoudai


torakris
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I haven't been to Japan in six years so I wasn't aware of this recent tabehoudai rage. Are these places different than the baikingus ("vikings", or buffet restaurants)?

Has there even been a nomihoudai (all you can drink) fad in Japan as well?

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I haven't been to Japan in six years so I wasn't aware of this recent tabehoudai rage.  Are these places different than the baikingus ("vikings", or buffet restaurants)? 

Has there even been a nomihoudai (all you can drink) fad in Japan as well?

I could be wrong on this, but I think the nomihoudai may have started first then it led into the tabehoudai rage. As to the difference between tabehoudai and the buffets, I am not sure I have never thought about it. I am going to ask around today and see what I can find out.... Tabehoudai usually have time limits, that is the only difference I can think of.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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um, I hope there aren't any all you can eat sushi places.

Kind of defeats the purpose, since you're filling up on rice most of the time....

Soba

We were at one the other night and it had yakiniku, sushi, ramen. soba, udon, salads, hot dishes (Japanese and Western), and lots of desserts--all for one price.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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First, the differences between 'vaiking' and 'tabehoudai'.

I think 'vaiking' (it seems 'smorgasbord' is too long and hard to pronounce) is always a self-serve buffet consisting of already prepared food. It usually has a big variety of food, not just one specific type. Often found at hotel restaurants, .

'Tabehoudai' food can be either self-served from a buffet or ordered and brought to your table, and is usually a specific type of food. Sometimes, like at a yakiniku tabehoudai, the food comes raw and you prepare it at your table.

I think 'vaiking' is seen as an old-fashioned word, so a few years ago 'tabehoudai' started to replace it in many cases, regardless of the type of place. (These days 'buffet' has been a common way of describing what were formerly 'vaiking' restaurants. It is one of those newer foreign loan words that hasn't become 'standardized' yet, meaning there are several different procounciations: 'bu-fay', 'biew-fay' with a 'bu' that rhymes with 'view', 'ba-feeto' and 'bu-fayto with the 't' pronounced.)

I used to eat tabehoudai all the time, but it's kind of lost its novelty. And most of the time the food is not that great either. It took a while to learn the obvious: that it's better to eat a modest amount of really good food than to eat lots of mediocre food.

That said, there ARE some good tabehoudai out there. Places that are regular restaurants but serve tabehoudai at certain times or days are usually better than places that are tabehoudai only.

Our favourite all-you-can-eat place is a kushi-age tabehoudai restaurant. You pick up your skewered food at the counter then dip them and deep fry them at your table. The skewers aren't fancy, but hey- anything deep-fried is good, right? And this place IS good!

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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"Viking" restaurants? That is so cool. I wish all buffet restaurants in the US would start calling themselves that! I wanna pretend I'm a Viking when I go out to eat.

The problem would be the Monty Python fans: spam spam spam spam...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was talking to a group of Japanese friends yesterday and after much thinking and discussion came up with the following things:

baikingu (vikings) consist usually of prepared foods in a high class setting, normally a nice hotel

buffets can sometimes be the same as vikings but generally are in more middle rank restaurants

tabehoudai are normally foods that are prepared at the table (yakiniku, shabu shabu, etc) and can usually middle rank or less type restaurants

they all agreed tabehoudai gives the impression of slightly lower scale type of restaurant and that you would never see a tabehoudai in a hotel.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I went to the Sapporo Beer Garden in Sapporo, Hokkaido for tabehoudai of yakiniku and beer! It was loud, smoky, and you leave smelling like your dinner! :biggrin:

At the table next to us, were a bunch of grad students. All of them were beet-red drunk. One of them had his head on the table the whole time and would occasionally get up to go throw up. Another one was swaying non-stop on his seat. Every 5 minutes, they would all get up and sing a song. It was great fun...they were planning to ride their bikes home, all I could do was wish them luck.

I think the all-you-can-drink beer was the draw here, but the yakiniku was good. I think it's the "let loose" atmosphere at these places which make them special. :biggrin:

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  • 1 year later...

up until recently you rarely saw traditional Japanese foods at a tabehoudai/baikingu (viking) restaurant, but the new trend now seems to be organic buffets of traditional Japanese foods...

Haabesuto (Harvest) is one of those that opened in my area, I went there with friends a little while ago and it was just incredible.

and the most recent to open up by me is Nonobudou,another organic, Japanese style buffet. My friend and i plan on making a trip there as soon as spring break is over..... :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Our favourite all-you-can-eat place is a kushi-age tabehoudai restaurant. You pick up your skewered food at the counter then dip them and deep fry them at your table. The skewers aren't fancy, but hey- anything deep-fried is good, right? And this place IS good!

last year, my husband and i went to kushi-age tabehoudai. it was really fun to go to the bar and pick out skewered raw meats/seafood/vegetables. serve yourself a container of batter and panko (breadcrumbs) and sauces - then you are ready to go!

dip one (batter) dip two (panko), dip three (oil), dip four (sauces)

i would never go back but it was fun to try just once! i like the kushikatsuya we frequent much better than doing it myself! grease gets everywhere! that and hot oil splashes on your skin and your clothes :huh:

each table had its own vat of hot oil. all i could think about was the fact that the place was full of families and lots of small children. i didnt see any accidents - but let me tell you - all i could think about was the fact that if we were in north america, a restaurant like that is a law suit waiting to happen :raz: i wonder if that ever happens here? :unsure:

"Thy food shall be thy medicine" -Hippocrates

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last year, my husband and i went to kushi-age tabehoudai.  it was really fun to go to the bar and pick out skewered raw meats/seafood/vegetables.  serve yourself a container of batter and panko (breadcrumbs) and sauces - then you are ready to go!

...

each table had its own vat of hot oil.  all i could think about was the fact that the place was full of families and lots of small children.  i didnt see any accidents - but let me tell you - all i could think about was the fact that if we were in north america, a restaurant like that is a law suit waiting to happen  :raz:  i wonder if that ever happens here? :unsure:

I went to one with a friend while in Osaka over the Winter holiday.

My friend and I both made similar comments about how such a restaurant would never be able to operate in the US. It was sort of interesting to do ourselves, but the quality of ingredients and preparation was much higher at the more traditional kushikatsuya that we stopped at earlier in the trip. Plus, I can't eat enough to make that style of all-you-can-eat place truly cost effective -- it's not like regular kushikatsu is particularly expensive. It's also something that you order by the piece, so people eating alone or in pairs don't really gain much by heading to a buffet.

Some of the pictures from a site linked to in the Watashi to Tokyo blog are incredible. Yum.

-------

Alex Parker

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