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.
So the mother of all seafood buffets turns 4 this year! Indeed 4 years is not a long time in most context but to survive 4 years in the Marina Bay Sands environment for a F&B is an achievement. No wonder this March Todai is launching birthday celebratory cusines from around the world to commemorate the special occasion. Of course, the usual suspects among the crowd favorites ranging from the king crabs, roasts and korean kimchis still feature prominently on the buffet menu.
From Russia, Todai presents the 4-layer birthday cake of red, yellow green and blue. The sponge is light and the cream has a slight cream cheese taste to it. This is one of my favorites. The Joll of Rice is a western African traditional dish that makes use of traditional spices, coconut oil and chillies. Todai's version included prawns whch made the dish look and tasted a bit more like paella, which I am not complaining! Representing the Korean tradition are the Miyeokguk and Japchae. The former is a dish of seaweed soup cooked with beef cubes while the latter is noodles made of potatoes stir fried with vegetables and meat in seasame oil. Though they are Korean traditional authentic dishes, they are not commonly found among the Korean F&Bs on our shores.
By calling itself the Mother of all seafood buffets, Todai sets the benchmark in this competitive industry. 4 years on, Todai is still showing strength in its offers to satiate the local diners in terms of variety and value for money. Happy 4th bday Todai, and with many more good years to come.
Thank you HGW and Todai for the invite.
Full Todai review here: http://ivanteh-runningman.blogspot.sg/2015/03/todai-4th-anniversary-tasting-session.html
Since my 1st original visit to Todai in July 2013, I've returned several times to 'The Mother Of All Seafood Buffets'. Love their modern ambience, attentive service, and large variety of food, especially their fresh seafood, tasty Korean dishes, and delicious desserts.
In conjunction with the launch of their theme for March 2015, 'Birthday Dishes From Around The World at Todai', they've has put together 7 dishes commonly eaten during a birthday celebration, drawing inspiration from China, Korea, Russia, Nigeria, and Ghana.
The Russian 4-Layer Birthday Cake at Todai is designed to resemble a Rainbow Cake, with the 4 distinct layers coloured a pretty red, green, yellow, and blue. The cake is light, moist, and fluffy in texture, with a slightly sweet, vanilla flavour. The cream is rather thick, but it's still pretty good as a dessert!
The Chinese Shoutao / Shou Tao at Todai have that sweet, smooth lotus seed paste within the soft, pliable Longevity Peach Steamed Bun. While they've coloured it to a bright pink hue, the shape of the bun itself only loosely resembles a peach, looking more like a pyramid shape, and could do with a little more moulding. A decent attempt, neither terrible nor outstanding.
The Nigerian Jollof Rice / Benachin at Todai has that classic deep orange colour, and the long grain rice has soaked up the tomato sauce base well, so each mouthful is a sweet, tangy taste of tomatoes. Almost like a cross between tomato rice, biryani, and paella! Texture of the rice is borders al-dente firm and soft, but at least the grains separate easily. The addition of okra / lady's fingers is an unconventional touch that differs this version from the traditional version.
The Korean Japchae / Stir Fried Sweet Potato Glass Noodles at Todai is among the best dishes available here. A combination of complimenting textures, the slippery, long noodles, silky mushrooms, crunchy cabbage and carrots, seasoning of fragrant soy sauce, garlic, shredded egg, sugar, and sesame seeds. So good I kept going back for more!
The Ghanaian Oto at Todai differs the greatest from its traditional, classic version. The chefs here have replaced the mashed yam / taro with mashed potatoes instead. Also, as traditional Ghanaian Oto has the least ingredients as compared to the other birthday dishes, it tends to lag behind in taste, so Todai has enhanced the flavour through the use of additional garnishings.
While the 7 birthday dishes are largely well executed, I would have also loved to see more such birthday dishes from around the world, such as the Sudananese Karkady, the Indian Doodh Pak, the Australian Fairy Bread, the Norwegian Blotkake, the Dutch Slagroomtaart, the Brazilian Beijinho, or the Argentine Chocotorta... maybe Todai could introduce these for their 5th Anniversary!
Concierge was really helpful in advising the location of the place. TODAI is known for its buffet and its current March promo recreates birthday dishes from selected countries.
Buffet area was not as huge as anticipated but it does have a good variety nonetheless. Go for the oxtail stew, beef short ribs, tenderloin beef and sashimi. The cakes were good too.
For the exotic, Jollof Rice (Nigerian birthday dish) was appetising, and one could imagine being in the African country but yet it tasted familiar. Rather nice. Almost like a fusion between kimchi fried rice and paella.
Lots of variety sushis, colourful ones too. If you fancy frozen fruits, they do have that too.
For more pictures, you may wish to click on this link.
This restaurant has been around for 4 years. Its located at Basement 2 of Marina Bay Sands Shoppes.
To celebrate their 4th birthday, diners can feast on the additional special birthday dish highlights from around the world, in addition to their wide buffet spread.
The special highlights include: Shou Tau and Yi Mian (from China), Japchae and Miyeokguk (Korea), Oto (Ghana), Jollof Rice (Nigeria) and 4 layer birthday cake (Russia). I especially like the Japchae the most. The 4 layer birthday cake was also good.
For the buffet, here are sections that I liked:
- Churrasco: I liked the beef steak, roast pork belly, grilled pineapples and mushrooms. All were good.
- Seafood: Snow crab legs, fresh oysters with a scoop of Japanese miso
- Deep Fry: I tried the fried oyster mushroom, fried shrimp, chicken karaage, fried squid, fried sweet potato and fried pumpkin.
- Oven Food: I liked the escargot with brown sauce, La Galbi (Beef)
- Sushi: I sampled and liked the Dragon Roll, Rainbow Roll and Alaska.
- Korean; I liked the seafood pancake, zuchinni pancake, gyoza, spicy pork belly with kimchi and ddukbokki. I also tried the Korean Side dishes: Kimchi, cucumber kimchi, seasoned lotus roots, seasoned dry radish, seasoned parae, dried anchovy, dried file fish, seasoned garlic stem,
- Pastry: This is the desserts section. I liked the oreo cookie swiss roll, macarons, crème brulee.
You can help yourself to beverages from the buffet. I like the soft drinks and coffee that you can enjoy free-flow.
A good variety of food for you to enjoy in a central location.
Todai is celebrating their 4th anniversary in MBS by introducing 7 dishes which people from different parts of the world celebrate their birthdays with. Its certainly fun to try these dishes, especially those which are eaten outside of Singapore. The dishes are placed at various separate corners of the restaurant accordingly. Todai also offers lucky draw whenever you spend more than $200.
Shou Tao (steamed buns that represent the mythological longevity buns as depicted in Journey To The West) and Yi Mien are dishes so familiar with Singaporeans that its difficult to make them special. You’ll also find them in any reasonable Chinese restaurant. However, I believe Yi Mien is probably a misrepresentation. Todai organisers probably meant Shou Mian (longevity noodles), which are cooked totally different style as Yi Mien.
Miyeokguk (clear seaweed soup with beef cubes) and Japchae (sweet potato noodles stir fried in sesame oil with vegetables and meat) are birthday dishes from Korea. For these, I’m sure they’re authentic since Todai is a Korean owned restaurant and prepared by Korean chefs. Both dishes probably look ordinary for the uninitiated, but they certainly taste better than they look. Apparently, these dishes are uncommon despite the multitude of Korean restaurants in Singapore.
Oto from Ghana is mad from hard boiled eggs, mashed yam and palm oil. However, the chef decided to replace yam for potato to better suit the local palate. Its fun to eat, although I didn’t think it was outstanding.
Joll of Rice from parts of West Africa is a mixture of coconut oil, fresh red chilli pepper and aromatic spices. Todai added prawns to make the dish look and taste better. As a result, the dish looks more like the more commonly seen Spanish paella and its certainly not as spicy as it looks.
4 layer birthday cake from Russia was inspired from the recently trendy rainbow cake. It actually makes for a good dessert dish for your buffet.
Overall, Todai remains true to its philosophy of offering seafood and sushi buffet with good service and quality at affordable price. On a weekday evening, the restaurant is 2/3 occupied. The freshly shucked oysters, fresh cold crabs and freshly cut sashimi are its biggest strengths. Wide range of meat preparations such as lamb, beef, chicken cooked in various international styles are another draw. It also continues to boast a good selection of various desserts, such as macarons, cakes helps wrap up a satisfying meal.