[Invited Tasting] Todai

I've long heard about Todai, the monstrous buffet purportedly famous in the US of A, but never had the impetus to try it. If you're a regular reader, you'd know that I'm very wary of buffets. You inevitably end up paying for the quantity and not quality. And, at my age, I cannot afford to waste any calories on lousy food.

So, it was with skepticism that I attended a tasting at Todai. Moreover, I'd checked out its website prior to the tasting, and found it terribly dated and comically plebeian. And, to top it off, Todai touts itself as the mother of all buffets. With a self-promotion as boastful as this, it would be ironic, to say the least, if it didn't quite live up to its own hype.

As it turned out, the buffet was relatively decent. There was the usual, fair amount of average dishes, the occasional misses, but enough hits to make the very extensive buffet and its hefty $70++ weekday dinner pricetag worthwhile.

I deviated from my usual S.O.P. of revisiting the restaurant for a post invited-tasting dinner. As we partook in the same fare as the everyday walk-in diner, I didn't see a need for an incognito revisit. It wasn't as if the chefs specially cooked up dishes for us, separate from the ones served at the buffet, for the invited tasting.

I'll start things off with the hits, which is the seafood. If you're a seafood lover (like Beeps who once ate more than 30 oysters in one sitting), you'd love this place. The seafood here is very fresh, even if it doesn't get replenished speedily. My take is to sit within sight of the seafood counter, so you know when the seafood is replenished. The poached and chilled Red Crab was sweet and fresh.

I much preferred the Steamed Red Crab, I'm not a fan of cold seafood you see.

The gargantuan legs of the premium Snow Crab, also impossibly fresh and sweet.

The Braised Abalone, a shell-in hunk of seafood, was a lot bigger than I'd expected of a place like this.  This runs out in seconds once it hits the buffet lines, so you gotta be quick and nimble on your feet as you soon as you spy this.

The Abalone Ginseng Chicken Soup, a nourishing broth, was light. The herbal earthy accents of the ginseng was slight so it didn't overwhelm the delicate briny taste of the abalone.

The Seafood counter, with baby squid and mussels and clams and shell-in scallops. The supply of the seafood is kept low, and replenished only when the stocks run low, in order to maintain freshness.

Most eels you eat are of the freshwater variety, but here at Todai, the eels are straight from the sea. The BBQ Sea Eel is sweeter and less muddy, brushed with a sweet teriyaki sauce that complements its delicate flavour. Beware the bones though, there are about a million of them!

I'm not a fan of shisamo, but the Miso Shisamo, grilled and served with a gratin sauce, was moist and fresh.

Another hit was the Churrascaria Station, with a variety of meats, sausages and pineapples cooked upon order.

The skewers are grilled piecemeal so the cooked food doesn't get left on the counter for long or allowed to dry out.

The accompaniments

The side dishes were largely pedestrian though.

The Teppanyaki station was nice but relatively average. This was the seafood version, and I was surprised to find that the seafood was cooked well, soft and not rubbery at all.

The Stir-Fried Beef Teppanyaki was a little tough, this was a smidge overcooked.

The Teppanyaki Vegetable was very nicely done, with a bit of crunch and delicate soy seasoning.

The Tempura and Tonkatsu section was very ho-hum, and I think, one that you can pass on, because most of the stuff, despite being left out on parchment paper, was soggy. Unless it's fresh out of the fryer, my take is to skip this. This was the Fish Cutlet, which was nice but lacking in that delectable crispiness.

The cooked Chinese fare was mostly run-of-the-mill and another section you can opt to skip, except for the Chilli Crab, which was meaty and fresh. The gravy was surprisingly spicy and of some standard. Not the best around but certainly better than the Plaza Brasserie one. It's a bit like those run-of-the-mill cze char versions.

Mantous to soak up the gravy.

The Cereal Prawns, though, wasn't crispy enough. These had been left out for a while. Maybe if you got these piping hot from the fryer, it'd fare better.

The Steamed Fish with Garlic Sauce, wasn't half bad. Fish was fresh and moist, and the garlic-and-soy emulsion was delicate.

The Fried Pork Belly with Mango Sauce was a twist on the sweet and sour pork. Nice concept but very average still.

The Spicy Chicken was tarred with a spiced sesame teriyaki sauce. This was very uninspiring. Not worth eating at all.

The cooked Western fare also meh, like the Salmon Steak with Digon Cream.

The Oven-Broiled Fish & Bacon was also average.

The Broiled Green Mussels with drowned out by the spicy salsa.

There's an extensive Sushi Counter here, and it totally fills you up. These were sub-par. The Koreans aren't known to be great with sushi anyways.

Fresh Fruits to cleanse your bloated tummies.

The Desserts were an equal mix of hits and misses. The hits were the Mango Cheesecake, moist and nuanced.

The Strawberry Cheesecake was another hit.

Gateau Banana Cake

Chocolate Fountain

The average stuff if you still have space, like the Macarons.

Pineapple Sponge Cake

Swiss Rolls, like the strawberry version, were also very average.

Matcha version

Cream Puff

These were the don't bother range: like the Vanilla Puff, which was dry.

The Chocolate Muffins, while cute and tiny, were too dry as well.


The New York Cheesecake was too dry as well.

The Lints Schnitten, a pound cake of sorts with a layer of cream was also too dry.

The Walnut Tart was uninspiring.

The Kougelhof, a German/Austrian chocolate swirl pound cake, was also dried out.

There was a Korean counter (try the fish pancake), Italian section, self-serve drinks station, and ice-cream parlour. Be sure to come here hungry.

Many thanks to HGW for the invite and Brandon (who's also Korean like the Hubs!) of Todai for hosting the tasting.

P.S. You may like to know this little bit of "insider" info: apparently, a lot of K-pop stars patronise Todai when visiting Singapore. Rain, Girls Generation and many surgery-assisted plastic dolls of Hallyu pop culture have passed through Todai. If you're a fan, you may want to visit this place in the off-chance you'd see some stars!

Marina Bay Sands B2-01A
2 Bayfront Ave
Tel: 6688 7771
Open daily from 11.30am to 4pm for lunch; and 5.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner
Website: www.todai.com.sg


andmorefood said...

this is mad volume. how do you stay so tiny!

also - that seafood teppanyaki looks delicious, especially with the baby octopus. but I fear I may never come here - the parents don't like how the name sounds. superstition, eh.

Bern said...

i had a bite of most things. literally one single bite. but i went back for seconds of the sausages and grilled stuff at the churrascaria. i love them sausages. totally unhealthy but so yum!

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