I was recently invited to a tasting session at TODAI, an international all-you-can-eat buffet chain restaurant located at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, and totally jumped at the chance. You see, I love buffets, and the many types of food that come with it. Variety is the spice of life, right. And oh, did this place have variety. From fresh seafood, to Korean, Chinese, Italian, Western, TODAI had these and more.
Personally, I felt that the highlight of the buffet was definitely the Alaskan snow crab station. Piled high on a bed of ice, these goodies disappeared at the blink of an eye but were replenished quite quickly by the staff. Biting into the big fat leg of the crab resulted in sweet, delicious juice bursting into song in my mouth, seriously making me swoon. Dry is definitely not a word that exists in the realm of this dish – each and every piece was so juicy (I had about 4 or 5 pieces), tender and sweet in a fresh seafood sort of way (not in the dessert or processed sugar kind of way). So. Good.
The freshly shucked oysters were of pretty good quality and taste as well – they tasted fresh, were fairly plump and juicy, and weren’t grainy or sandy. They only allowed people to take 2 pieces at a time; which actually if you think about it, is quite a good system, not only to prevent hoggers and allow more people to enjoy them, but also to help ensure that you get a positive experience which won’t happen if you leave them on the table for too long. Also tried the fresh mussels and prawns – the mussels were good too, nice and firm and fresh; the prawns were okay, fresh too but I felt were a bit bland, not sweet enough for me.
This two-each-time rule also applied to the chilli crabs – but they were so popular and had an insanely long queue that I didn’t try them in the end. The sauce was not bad though, had quite a kick and wasn’t too sweet.
TODAI had sashimi and also a very wide selection of sushi as well – but unfortunately although the variety and innovativeness (quite unusual flavours of sushi) for the latter was there, the rice and general presentation of garnishes piled onto them looked kind of messy and unappealing (and plus, the dish is really very carb loaded), so I just had three for taste – and they were just okay. As for the sashimi, there were only salmon and tuna available, and were also so-so as well – I’d say save the space for the other fresh seafood items.
Or even for the oven baked / grilled / fried items (all around the same station) or Chinese dishes – these were actually surprisingly good as well. In particular I liked the baked salmon, garlic chicken wing, beef shortrib, steamed fish, yam and red bean ball, and the caramel and fig duck (in the pictures below). From the Korean station, the thick glass noodles were yummy – light and savoury and the pan-fried fish coated in egg, delightful. The seafood pancake was a bit doughy though.
From the appetizers station, I really enjoyed the cold preserved seaweed, curry tuna mashed potatoes that were really tasty – and the rest were not too bad as well – sautéed mushrooms and garlic, smoked duck, and roast beef carpaccio. And from the churrasco section, the steak, roast pork and grilled mushrooms were pretty good, juicy and flavourful – but it seemed like a matter of luck as to whether you are able to get any of these; only if you happen to be there when the chef is cooking up a batch. But I didn’t really try asking though, as someone from our table was in luck and got a plate of each of the two earlier mentioned meats, so perhaps asking would yield some results.
So much food right? And there’s more – an Italian counter, which I never got around to trying. A small dim sum corner, which I took a token siew mai from – tasted alright. A Japanese zaru soba counter, a salad counter. There was also a comprehensive drink counter with a wide selection including soft drinks, water, green tea, flavoured teas and yes, you read it right, Milo. I think they were trying to add some local flavour – well, the drink was a hit at our table. Crazy amount of food displayed at this place – pretty much able to provide something for almost everyone, I believe.
And of course, we can’t forget about dessert! The spread for this was pretty impressive as well, with an entire macaron tower, a soft serve ice cream machine (that allows you to do the vanilla and chocolate twist, I’m sold), and also little plates and glasses of sweet treats. By this time I had really little space left, so I just had a small banana chocolate mousse and some tiramisu ganache looking cake, as well as a twist of soft serve smothered with lots of nuts. The little cakes were quite nice, smooth and lightly sweet, though I didn’t quite fancy the very cake-y base. The soft serve well… tasted like regular soft serve, but the nuts made it awesome – though some chocolate sauce would’ve improved it a bit further – it was a pleasant finish to a rather large, satisfying meal.
Overall I was really quite happy with the quality and variety of the food, the ambience, service (I heard most of the staff are Koreans, and while they may not understand English that well, they were all pretty friendly and efficient), and feel that it is good value for the price. My only gripe is that I spotted one or two flies hovering about in the restaurant – which is something I don’t quite like. However I also found out that the management is aware of the issue (which apparently came with the premises) and has been actively working on this and spending a lot of time and money on solving it, so that’s good enough for me. One or two flies are fine to me as long as they don’t get too near the food and the place is in the midst of getting rid of them.
Also, some items are seasonal and they try to refresh their menu once in a while to keep regulars interested, and they have a monthly theme as well – when I went last week there was a ‘kimchi’ theme and so there was an extended selection of various kimchi types available for diners to sample. They also stated on their placemat that no MSG is used in their food, which is great, actually. I was kind of thirsty after the dinner though; perhaps the food did have a bit more of other types of seasoning instead.
Comparable to and I feel, even better than some international hotel buffets.
For more details and pictures, please visit my food blog Ingredients Of Happiness at: http://bit.ly/IOH_TodaiSG.
If you are wondering what to eat or where to eat in The Shoppes @ Marina Bay Sands.
My suggestion is to dine @ TODAI- situated at the Basement in the mall.
The Restaurant serves these different Buffet Cuisine (Korea, Japanese, Chinese, Western and Italian) as best to my knowledge.
Unfortunately, if you are looking for Thai, Vietnam, Indian or even Malay Cuisine which are the typical food you could find in Singapore- They are NOT served.
The Buffet items I had last night were pretty similar as what is shown on the Online menu in the profile page. The only difference was there were no festive dishes. (referring to the Korean festival)
Next, TODAI is really well known for its Value for Money Buffet in MBS. They are very generous serving expensive, quality food items at affordable prices. Some of my favourites are - Chilli Crab, Snow crab, Oyster and the Salmon Sashimi. Unfortunately, I didn't get to drink my Ice Milo (my all time favourite) as it was not displayed instead was replaced by the diluted Nestle Frappe. I hope to see the Ice Milo and more new variety of food items on my next visit. : )
Lastly, to wrap things up. I would hope to see some improvement from their service and cleanliness standards- I hope they could clear the plates more often and wipe the table. (which they didn't wipe at all!)
I also notice some brownish stains on the seat cover, luckily my dress wasn't stained.
Another addition to the buffet scene in SG, this is a buffet chain founded in the United States, currently owned by Koreans that already have outlets internationally. Located in the most ulu corner in Marina Bay Sands Basement 2, it has a capacity for about 430 pax. With a number of function rooms located in various corners of the restaurant, it allows for private groups dining. Corporate functions dining ideas immediately came to mind, and mentally made a note to suggest this to my colleagues.
A little trivia that I noted as I sat down was a little paper placemat that indicates a cartoony pictorial of where the different food types/genres are. This is no doubt no biggie but yet it is a little thought that provides the diner that little convenience to know where to go for food.
At any buffet joints, I always take a little walk around the buffet spread to check out what's available and it is a good spread with a couple of novel items. Not entirely very different from other buffets around but some points that I would like to highlight as follows:
1) Hygiene: I really appreciate the thought that each food item has its own tong.
2) Food presentation: Each serve is on a plate and not a lot at any one time. As the food preparation for each item is right behind the counter, food gets prepared when the quantity is running low and served there and then. This differs from the usual giant aluminum trays of food at other buffets and also means food at any one time is often freshly served. Also, care is also taken in the presentation of the food items, despite this being a buffet. This avoids the horrible rojak mix that one sometimes sees at buffet joints.
3) Drinks: At least 2 coffee machines to dispense drinks such as expressos, cappucinos, etc. There are also drink machines to dispense soft drinks and the likes. But I guess, the highlight of the drinks section is the hint of nostalgia that I get when I drink the milo. To those who still remember the Milo van that is omni-present at most school external events such as sports day, I bet you will remember the ice milo taste. Well, the milo available here is as close as it gets and its just so nostalgic as I drink the milo here. :P
4) Appetizers/Cold dish section: Selection of cold cuts, sashimi, sushi, salads and so on. Some highlights in this section are:
- Snow Crab legs: There are special scissors and spatulas available for each diner to facilitate feasting on the snow crab legs. Nice thought.
- Shucked Oysters on demand, 2 pcs at a time
- Freshly sliced sashimi pieces, different cuts (primarily sake, maguro and kajiki)
- Smoked duck slices with fresh apple slices: I like this item a lot! The smoked duck is not too salty and the fresh apple provides a refreshing texture when you eat it altogether.
5) Korean section: Besides kimchi, there are also other korean cold pickled items available, although they are overly salty for my liking. The kimchi is darn good stuff though. In this section, there is also the pan fried items such as seafood pancake and so on, albeit in bite-size portions. I personally prefer the fish pancake.
6) Pasta/Pizza section: Paper-thin pizza and pasta are available in this section. Pasta is cooked on demand, so you can order first and return to collect later. Seafood ingredients are very fresh but the pasta itself is not the al-dente kind. So people who only like al dente pasta, take note.
7) Cooked food section: Variety includes, tempura, deep fried items, stews and so on. I personally like the ginseng tempura, old-school battered deep fried prawn and duck slices in caramel sauce. A little note on the veg served with mushrooms and sea cucumber dish though. The veg and mushrooms are OK but the sea cucumber is not. No doubt it is springy in texture but the taste leaves much to be desired. There is a strong 'bicarbonated' after taste.
8) Dessert section: Dispenser for Soft ice-cream (choc and vanilla flavours), variety of fruits and cakes
Note that there is also the grill section that grills meat items on demand, including grilled pineapple too. Somewhat like a Brazillian Churrascaria. I was however too stuffed to give that a go.
Staff manning the counters are primarily korean, as with the service staff. Generally good service.
At $54++ (weekdays) and $58++ (weekends) for dinner, it is considered reasonable since this is the average for buffet spreads around SG. Lunch boxes (sets) are also available, ranging from $20s to $40s. There are also senior citizens rate on Monday and Wednesday, where they will get 20% discount off the buffet price. Oyster nights are on Tuesday and Thursday. There are also other promotions ongoing on a monthly basis, as with any other special events too. For example, as I was there in September, hence there was a student's deal during the school holidays as well as as teachers' offer at 50% discount.
Overall, no doubt that it is just like any buffet joint with hits and misses but on a personal front, its a place for re-visits with family and friends. In fact, plans to re-visit are underway. :)
Todai is supposed to be a good upscale seafood and international buffet restaurant but I beg to differ at the quality of food that it dishes out in their singapore outlet.
As a restaurant specialized in seafood, we were rather disappointed at the quality of seafood that was served to the customers. The snow crab legs didnt seem to be too fresh. The Sashimi too was one of the worst we ever had. The sashimi didn't taste fresh and tasted awful.
Amongst all the counters, we enjoyed the churrasco meats. However, they were not consistent in their quality. There were some cuts that were definitely too dry.
The service wasn't that great as well. They were rather short handed for a restaurant that was running rather full house that evening. We tried to order some beverages and the orders came back wrong. It took about 2-3 tries before the drinks order was served correctly.
In addition, we were lucky to be one of the "388th" customers and we were presented with a dining voucher (worth $68) which we can redeemed in the same meal. Great! The certificate says that the diner is entitled to one glass of house wine. We ordered and ended up being charge for the wine. :X Took them a while to rectify the bill.
There are definitely a lot of improvements that the restaurant needs to make before my friends and I would be returning.
I would recommend this to anyone for the following reasons:
1. Good spread;2. Creative sushi, a lot I havent seen before;3. Fresh sashimi, cut when you order;4. Snow crabs, chilli crabs, a few types of shell fish are in the spread - good value for money;5. Large space, ample sitting areas;6. Buffet that comes with cappucino, espresso, green tea, milo, etc.7. Creme Brulee is quite good.
A few things that can be improved:
1. When the restaurant got crowded, the rate at which the plates were cleared became slower.2. More variety for desserts, like durian pudding.3. Bulgogi and chinese dim sum can be improved. Bulgogi is a bit too tough.
We enjoyed the meal thoroughly.
this is my first visit to Todai, on a Friday night at $68++ per pax... The presentation of food, ambience and service not present... it is like some cheap buffet like Sakura... esp the drinks counter and dessert section.. Even buffet town wins in town of variety... Am totally disappointed with the experience... The quality of food is seriously below average as well... I tried almost everything... Will not go back ever again...