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Todai Japanese Seafood Buffet


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Did any of you see the ad in last Friday's Seattle Time's  advertising the grand opening on Nov. 30 of a new restaurant called Todai All-You-Can-Eat Japanese Seafood Buffet at the Redmond Town Center?  I am usually not a fan of all you can eat places, but this place has caught my interest.   They are advertising all you can eat Lobster,  snow crab legs, half shell scallop, 40 kinds of sushi, shrimp tempura, shrimp cocktail, mussels,  and much more.  Sounds too good to be true, I guess it's just my skeptical nature.   One can always hope, though.

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Hey, go check it out and give us a full food report. 40 kinds of sushi? Sounds like my kind of place. It does sound too good to be true.

And, while you're there, pop your head into Ruby's and let us know if the atmo really is as truly cool as it's described (total retro diner) or if it's just another burger joint with a stupid pseudo diner motif :)

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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It looks like a good place to go for a birthday (if I can wait that long), as the birthday diner's meal is free.  Their prices are advertised... ฝ-ฟ for lunch and ฦ-ว for dinner.  Seems expensive for buffet, but heh I guess when you're talking lobster, sushi, etc....

I happened to find their webpage, which is

www.todai.com   which includes their huge menu.

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Well, it's my birthday tomorrow (the big 3-2), so how convenient that you mentioned that as a place for birthday dinner. ;)

I'm being very non commital about where I want to have my celebration meal. Hubby is threatening me because it is Monday and I still haven't decided where I want to go.

And now Todai is on my list. Hahaha.

Still, I don't know about going to a buffet for my birthday. It goes against all my gulletarian sensibilities! I tend to think of buffets as something to try so long as you have a backup nearby ;) I wish someone could give us their educated opinion of Todai, like, today!

I have a feeling I'll end up at Matt's in the Market (maybe). But, then again, Mamster's suggestion of Osteria La Spiga sounded pretty interesting too.

Oh, and speaking of Mamster, have you made it to Le Pichet yet Mamster? Your fellow e-gullitarians may have to take you on a field trip there if you don't go soon. :)

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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I also haven't been to Le Pichet, but would love to go.   Please give us a date, and hubby & I will meet you all there.

Happy B-day girchow!  Hope you have a wonderful day and meal tonight.   As tempting as Todai is, I would hate it if you went and had a bad meal on your b-day, so I would pick one of the other 2 places if I were you.  I have been doing more research on Todai, and it seems people either love it or hate it (see citysearch for Houston and Portland).  Some people complain of warm sushi.  Where ever you go, please give us a review.  

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Thanks for the bday wishes! So far it has been grand. My day started with chocolate, someone put a big smiley face balloon in my pod at work and I got a fabulous e-mail card from PapaChef that was too funny. And it's not even 9 a.m. yet. I'd like to give a big woohoo for birthdays.

We think we have settled on a bday restaurant: The Black Diamond Dinner House. It's a helluva drive for you Seattleites, but I live south of Enumclaw, so it's in my hood. If you haven't heard of it, it's a beautiful little restored 1920s era house (and unbelievably was formerly a biker bar hangout in the 70s). The menu is Northwest eclectic and the staff is always gracious. If you ever plan a trip to Mt. Rainier, it's a nice place to stop on your way back to civilization if your return trip is around dinner time.

As for a trip to Le Pichet, I'm in!! Maybe we could make it an early afternoon thing so that PapaChef could meet us in between his lunch and dinner rushes? PapaChef, what do you say?

And I vote for doing this after the holidays as my eating schedule is very full the next three weeks and I've already gained 3 pounds this month and it's only December 4. AAAGGHHHH!!!  

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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January would be good for me, too, since it won't be smack in the middle of finals or holiday preparations.  Is Le Pichet open Mondays?  Papachef's place is closed then.  Let's check in after xmas and nail down a plan.

Sounds like a great birthday, girl chow.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Yes, they are open Mondays for dinner and lunch. My schedule is better at lunch because I have drum lessons Monday nights, but I could possibly reschedule with my teacher if I give him enough notice.

Now all we have to do is come up with a mutually agreeable Monday. ;)

Le Pichet, look out.

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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This thread has gone far adrift, but I am one of those hands-off (i.e., lazy) moderators.

girl chow, you drum?  Are you in a band?  If so, what kind of band?  When I'm not cooking or doing homework, I'm usually making music, so you've piqued my (other) interest.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Yes, agreed, this thread has gone very far adrift. But because there are only four of us here, nobody else will know and/or care! Mamster, you are the best host! But I will fold food into the discussion by listing what we like to eat on jam nights :)

I am a VERY amateur musician. I started my musical career in the third grade playing the recorder. I rocked. I could play 20 songs on that thing. I still have it somewhere.

By the time I hit college, I distanced myself totally from my high school marching band days (I played the ever-so-cool French horn and mellophone) and blacked out my annual pictures of me in a band uniform.

After college, I decided to turn to a less dorky musical medium: guitar playing.

A few years ago, one of my best pals and I formed a "band," although it's basically 3 chicks and numerous groupies and a drummer who never shows (which is why I'm learning drums). I do rhythm guitar, she plays lead and sings (with minimal backup from me). We have changed our name several times: Not Quite Right (except everyone thought I was saying "Not Quiet Riot," which was very unsettling), The Sunday Drivers and most recently I have been calling us 50 Bucks. We both have jam rooms at our houses and that's where we spend many, many Saturday nights (thus far we only have performed for close friends and not yet in public, but I won't rule that out in the future). If you want to know about our sound, well, it's probably a cross between something weird like Flaming Lips and something righteous like Liz Phair. We basically suck, but we have a stellar time discovering chords that neither of us know the names of.

We both are Gretsch devotees. I have a super Hawaiian jumbo (emphasis on the "super") and she has a classic Gretsch reissue.

Oh, and back to food. Our favorite foods to eat on jam nights: anything Italian, chips and homemade salsa made by my band partner's husband and anything with goat cheese (last weekend was a green salad with goat cheese and pine nuts). We also stock up on bottled water and sometimes beer so long as our hubbies watch the babies for us (mine is 11 months, hers is 9 months).

Our favorite place to eat on band nights has been Thai Thai in Burien (near their house in White Center/West Seattle). Address: 11205 16th S.W., 206-246-2246. Also, sometimes we stop off at Taqueria Guyamas in White Center for a burrito and some tripe soup (the soup is only available on weekends!). Their address: 1622 S.W. Roxbury, 206-767-4026. They also have locations in West Seattle, Lynnwood, Capitol Hill, Renton and elsewhere. I have to say that the White Center, West Seattle and Renton branches are far better than their other counterparts (some of the chain is called Tacos Guaymas, by the way).  

White Center has great food!

Ok, Mamster, now it's your turn to spill our your musical addiction! And, most importantly, what do you like to eat during jam sessions?

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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I'm surprised no one poking around on the grub shack site discovered Rage Against the Coffee Machine, which is a little thing I did a few years ago to get over some writer's block.  I tell you, the hate mail I used to get from Rage Against the Machine fans made life worth living.

Nowadays I play guitar, bass, ukelele, keyboards, and sing in a band called Fluffy Kittens, consisting of me and a couple of friends.  Depending on our mood, we do either weird electronic pop or Magnetic Fields-influenced acoustic folk-rock stuff with three-part harmonies.  We usually practice Sunday afternoons (we all have jobs or school and the band member with the recording equipment has twin babies) and make lunch;  we all like to cook.  It's a great arrangement, much better than back when I thought I was going to be a rock star.  For lunch we've made potstickers, falafel, burritos, and plenty of other stuff.  Sometimes we give up and order pizza if the music is going especially well.  We want to start playing out quite soon.

Ah, food related story.  The day I made potstickers, the band member who usually makes his potstickers with peas and basil (his wife's a vegetarian) said, "Hey, your potstickers are better than mine.  What's your secret?"

Me:  "Pork."

girl chow, I'd love to hear some of your stuff sometime.  If anyone is interested in hearing some Fluffy Kittens, email me (mamster@grubshack.com) and I'll give you a URL with some MP3s;  I don't want to post it here.

[self-promotion mode off]

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Woohoo for the ukelele!! Long live Fluffy Kitten!!

Can't wait to hear those MP3s. Do you have a fan club yet? I can totally see those T-shirts....

Ok, now it is safe to resume our regularly broadcasted talk about Pac NW restaurant food. :) Sorry our fellow chowsers for boring you to tears off topic.

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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I wasn't bored at all to hear about you guys music abilities...I'm just envious.  I used to play the piano when I was growing up.   Now I have mom's old piano, but it needs tuning (and so do I).  I'll email mamster for the mp3 info.  My curiosity is piqued.

Le Pichet sounds good to me also for after the holidays.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey, we have Todai here (Honolulu), and I've never been there because my hubby DOES NOT EAT SEAFOOD or SUSHI!  (Opposites attract, so I married him anyway).  There's ALWAYS a line to get in.  I've heard from others who've been there that the food's great.  250 feet of seafood - it boggles my mind.  Give me some sashimi and Dungeness crab!!!!

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I've still been wondering about this place, but haven't been yet.  I did another citysearch.com search on it.  20 people have supposedly reviewed this place so far, mostly really negative.  Not a good sign.  Or it could be one unhappy competitor, posting 20 negative remarks ...I never know how much to trust those reviews.   I guess for now, I'll stick to the sushi bars and traditional Japanese places.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Yesterday I went to Todai knowing full well that it wouldn't be the best of anything, but there'd be a lot of it.  I was pleasantly surprised!

We had planned on going to Kamon's for all-you-can-eat sushi but found out they closed a couple of years ago.  Since I *needed* sushi, and lots of it, I recalled Todai's and away we went.

We arrived at 11:30 to big lines.  The place was packed and it took about 10 minutes to go through the line.   Sometimes the chefs had a hard time keeping up with the voracious demand.

Their sushi lineup was surprising:  salmon skin (ok), albacore (esculent), seaweed (good), two types of clam (ok), salmon (good), maguro (good), squid (good), octopus (decent), red snapper (decent), flying fish roe (fun), spicey shrimp (blah), spicey tuna (ok) and a number of rolls, all of which were uninspiring but not off putting.

One nice thing about Todai is if a member of your party is sushi averse, there's still plenty of decent food available to them at the hot bar.  There is a matrix to figure out the buffet cost:  m-f lunch: $12.95, weekend lunch: $14.95, m-f dinner: $21.95, weekend dinner: $22.95.  I'm not sure what the difference is between lunch and dinner besides the price.  Tea was $1.50 and a large sake was $6.50.

There were times going through the line where some of the pieces were below my tolerence level, but if you go in with a grain of salt you can enjoy yourself.  Often times you'll find that fish has a hard time staying on the rice, but that was part of the fun.  I certainly had my fill of sushi.

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Thanks for the review!  I especially appreciated hearing about the sushi in more detail, since Nancy Leson's review glossed over the sushi in about 1 or 2 sentences.  Your review was much more informative to the sushi eaters!  The most promising thing I heard was that there were huge lines, which to me translates to good turnover, which translates to fresh fish (at least to my reasoning).  I think I had read before on citysearch that some people complained about warm sushi.  But if the turnover/crowds are as great as it sounds, that would seem hard to believe.  Did you encounter "warm" sushi?  Sushi falling off the rice is kind of forgiveable if one knows going into it, as the same thing happens when I buy sushi at Admiral Thriftway.  Even though they make it fresh everyday, as it sits in the cold compartment, something happens to it, the fish sometimes wants to leave the rice, and it just doesn't taste the same as freshly prepapred at a sushi bar.  But sushi at the Admiral Thriftway is cheap by comparison, and will satisfy my craving in a pinch.  Would you say the sushi compares to grocery store fresh packaged sushi?  ie. grocery store maguro sushi?

I think I read the difference between lunch & dinner, is that at lunch, they don't serve lobster.  As I recall, some people at citysearch were complaining because they went for lunch and did not see any lobster.

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I would say that Todai's sushi is a step above supermarket sushi.  At Todai's you get much bigger pieces and I would say on average, a little better quality.  And of course there's more variety.  But they all did have the feeling of grocery store sushi, that is a lack of love, a soulless quality.

It's funny that people complain of warm sushi, because at lest the rice should be warm and at most the meat should be cool.  I was happy with the temperature, wasn't too cold, wasn't too warm.  The pieces that sat longer than the others were cooler though as they were sitting on refrigerated serving apparati.  Most of the store bought sushi says that you should let it sit on the counter for a half-hour so it can warm up.

We went to the weekend lunch and they were serving lobster claws so those people complaining of a lack of lobster probably went during the week.

By the way, I would stay away from anything that had been tempuraed, most of it sits in steam trays and get soggy.  The tempura roll they have was cool in conception as they cut the roll up before they deep-fried it so there was more batter, but by the time you get to it, it's already soggy despite not being in a steam tray.

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  • 1 year later...

I think I missed this discussion back in the day. Here are my thoughts on Todai that I posted on Chowhound back then.

Todai, Gahhh!

I hate to be so negative, but this was truly one of the worst eating experiences I have ever had.

Please forgive my diatribe, I just have to vent-

Last night a friend and I decided to investigate the wildly popular Todai buffet in Redmond.

I heard stories of all you can eat lobster, crab, sushi, and a myriad of other ocean related bites.

People seem to love the place despite the $22-$26 price tag.

When I walked in to Todai, it was fairly busy but not overwhelming. The food appeared to be of decent quality

Most food stations were very clean and well stocked.

My first small complaint was that drinks besides water were not part of the $22 buffet. I accepted this and ordered water.

On to the food.

We decided to start at the "Fresh Bar". I proceeded to take a few pieces of sushi, some crab, and a bit of salad.

The salad and the crab were ok, pretty edible. Sadly those were the only dinner items I would ever touch again.

The sushi was absolutely disgusting, the rice was dry and crumbly and it had no flavor even close to sushi rice.

The fish on top did not fare well either, it was very poor quality and somewhat warm... I tried to choke a few pieces down, but promptly quit. Across the table, my dinner companion seemed to have a horrified look on his face after he tasted his sushi.

We both decided to abandon the "Fresh bar" and move onto the hot items. Perhaps Todai would redeem themselves.

Nope

The lobster was in two forms, Garlic Lobster claw and Half lobsters grilled. The claw was covered up in some garlic slime that made it impossible to hold on to and open up. By the time I managed to retrieve a morsel of lobster, my hands were covered in slime. The half lobster looked a little better, until I tried to cut into it. I had no idea that lobster could be tough. I literally had to fight it with a knife to cut a piece of the tail. Once I cut a piece, I chewed and chewed and chewed.

By this time we were pretty disappointed in our meal, but the disappointment soon turned to hilarity when I tried my next dish: Cream Cheese Salmon. They took a piece of tough salmon, covered it in Kraft singles, smeared cream cheese on it and baked it.

We promptly gave up on the hot dishes.

Desert was a mixed affair. There were two highlights in desert. The butter cookies and the vanilla cup were pretty good. Everything else for some reason was nearly frozen, making it nearly impossible to cut through or eat. Many deserts had strangely textured cake layers as well. I ordered a peach crepe and it contained very low quality canned peaches. When I was eating my crepe, I had a very disconcerting taste of seafood as well.

Overall, the only good things that came from the evening is the fact that now every other thing I ever eat will taste wonderful and that I can warn other people of this establishment.

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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Todai is actually a large chain of restaurants across the U.S.. I believe that it was originally started by a Korean-American family but is now franchised out and has 20-some odd locations, including one in Hong Kong.

Like Islandmom mentioned, there is one in Honolulu. We've only gone when it's someone's birthday - that person eats for free. Bewildering variety (see here and here) at a relatively reasonable price given quasi-luxury items like crab and lobster (albeit of the lowest conceivable quality). Much of the food is vaguely Asian-American rather than Japanese.

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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  • 2 weeks later...

We've been to the Todai's in CA and you no longer eat for free on your b-day. They give you some crappy gift certificate for a future date, but you can only use it on a weekday lunch I think. The free b-day meal might still exist in the other Todai's but not where I live.

It used to be a good value for us, but frankly, if you're not a big eater, it's not really worth it in my opinion. This is after eating at various Todai's for several years.

OFF TOPIC**The Todai in Beverly Hills Mall is absolutely the worst one I've seen hands down. Dried-out, old, disgusting looking fish. I remember long, long ago thinking it was okay, but it has steadily declined in quality. The best I've seen is in a strip mall in Orange, CA.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Here's a bit of news about the Redmond Todai.

I've posted a link to an article about a Redmond teen who has filed a lawsuit against the Redmond Todai for allegedly giving him E-coli. The case is being handled by Marler Clark, the outfit that represented the Jack-in-the Box case several years ago.

Read on:

King County Journal article about Todai E-coli case

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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