This is my 2nd food tasting at Todai, the 1st one was about 2 years ago. Drawing from some insights from a few design week talks I attended, here’s some of my thoughts on what will bringing me back to Todai as a paying customer.
I was surprised that the layout and most of the food selection have remained unchanged. Maybe a review of the food items and change/rotate 10-20% of the less popular ones every 3-6 mths will keep the buffet interesting. The strawberry promotion is one good idea and there should be more of it.
Most people get their value (and Todai incur bulk of their cost) on the main seafood items: Salmon Sashimi/Tuna Sashimi, Alaskan crab, oyster. Based on some of the reviews, the supply delay/disruption of these premium items draws strong emotions. So these items should be managed properly i.e. ensure no stock out at anytime but place a manager to regulate the supply tactfully.
There are rows of empty tables and chairs outside the restaurant meant to accommodate more people but can give passer-bys the impression that the restaurant is empty.
Todai is sandwiched between cheaper seafood buffets options like Vienna International Seafood & Teppanyaki Restaurant (HGW rating of 43%) and hotel buffets like The Line (HGW rating of 71%). Its rating of 51% shows that. Browsing through some of the seafood buffet reviews, I noticed that people have a love-hate relationship with buffets. Some love it and some hate it with not much of an in between. One thing that draws people to buffets is promotions which reinforces the value-for-money draw of buffets. Maybe Todai can offer 1 for 1 coupons to customers to draw them for repeat visits with their friends. The current pricing for weekday dinner is Adult: S$58++ Child (below 1m 30cm): S$26++. I know that kids love the selection at buffets but they don’t eat much, especially not much of the premium seafood items. How about a kid below 1.3m eat free with an accompanying adult? I am sure my kids will beg/blackmail me to bring them to Todai.
Kitchen stations and food display are arranged to methodically, I mean you will never find a hotel buffet with food stations called …..Seafood, Pastries, Italian, Korean, Deep Fried, Chinese, Oven Baked probably carried over from the US design to orientate clueless Ang Mohs. How about doing away with the food groupings and make the signage for the individual food items more prominent? The open kitchen concepts also means that the food smell will linger on your clothes after your meal.
One will not expect much service from a buffet since it is largely self-service but I noticed that the predominantly Korean staff may not be fluent in English to handle any customer queries that arises and this will influence one’s decision to return. The English proficiency is also shown in the prompt but could-be-improved-English in sentences like “We will do a feedback to our Kitchen”
Very disappointed on 2 counts. First, the food. The food was ordinary as international buffets go. The main disappointment that a lot of dishes were left empty as early as at 7.30 pm! We waited 1.5 hours for the chawanmushi to appear, and it only did after we asked for it almost 2 hours later. The chili crab dish had chili but no crab for a long time.
Second, the service was not good. The lady at the reseravation desk was not helpful and made very effort to help us find a table.