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Hokkaido Seafood Buffet review - Newport Beach

Occupying the building that formerly housed Geezer's Garlic Grill, Hokkaido Seafood Buffet opened up about a month or so ago, and its parking lot has been packed almost everyday since it opened.

I finally decided to give it a try, as it's very close to my workplace. I went for lunch today, and unfortunately, it turned out to be quite disappointing. The best description of the place would be that its food is mostly like a Chinese buffet, and it has a small selection of seafood and sushi added to it.

Its sushi selection is pretty poor and the quality is not very good, especially when comparing it to another buffet like Sumo Sushi. I've always thought that the sushi selection and quality at my local Sumo Sushi was quite good for a buffet. That was proven to me today, as the sushi at Hokkaido were pretty small, not very well constructed, and the selection of fish to choose from was very limited.

As I ventured through the other lines of food, I skipped most of the stuff that looked like Panda Express food. I did sample a bowl of shark fin soup, and while not of the quality that you'd get at a Chinese banquet, it was decent. On the seafood side, there were no crab legs or scallops (that may be saved for the dinner buffet), but I did sample some Rockefeller oysters, which were pretty good, along with some other cold mussels on a half shell, which were good.

Overall, it just wasn't very good, but judging from the crowds around me, other people seemed to be enjoying the food more, or their expectations weren't as high. They enjoyed the quantity, not the quality.

If anything, this reaffirmed my opinion of the good quality sushi that I can get at my local Sumo Sushi buffet. I'll be going there for my sushi buffets before returning to Hokkaido again.

Hokkaido Seafood Buffet
4200 Scott Dr
Newport Beach, CA
Mon-Fri 11AM-2:30PM, 5-9PM
Sat-Sun 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5-9PM
$10 for Mon-Fri lunch buffet, $20 all other times

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  1. I completely agree with Wonginator on his analysis of Hokkaido Seafood Buffet. Having said that, I'd like to say this about sushi at sushi buffets in general.

    I've found that all but the most expensive sushi buffets, including Sumo Sushi, Todai, and Hokkaido Seafood Buffet, have mediocre sushi offerings. Sure you can eat a lot, but it's not really items that you get that much pleasure from consuming. In addition, you don't really know how long the raw fish items have spent sitting out. Sushi buffets are a recipe for disaster in my book.

    For better quality sushi of the "candy sushi" variety that's usually served at sushi buffets, I would recommend the following three restaurants in OC. All of these restaurants offer quality fish, excellent freshness control, and the same style of fusion slap-stuff-on-a-california-roll sushi offered at the buffets. Their prices are also highly competative, since you can stuff yourself for much less than the price of dinner admission to one of the buffets.

    Sushiko Japanese Restaurant
    16871 Beach Blvd
    Huntington Beach, CA 92647
    1-714-362-8093
    (Inventive dishes and fresh fish. I highly recommend them. More than just California rolls with trimmings. Lots of fancier rolls, although not of the quality or caliber of an O-Sushi Ya like Sushi Shibucho or Frenzy Sushi. Very reasonable prices. Stuff yourself for under $15 dollars. Stick with the rolls here and avoid the nigiri.)

    Kura Sushi
    212 E 17th St
    Costa Mesa, CA 92627
    1-949-631-3200
    (Revolving sushi bar. They use RFID sensors to track how long a dish has been on the belt and rotate it out if it's been out for too long. Keeps the quality high. Most of their offerings are of the California Roll with toppings variety. Closest to what's offered at a sushi buffet in type of offerings. Probably the best revolving sushi bar I've ever been to. Eat well for ~$10.)

    Yen Sushi Restaurant
    5365 Alton Pkwy
    Irvine, CA 92604
    1-949-551-3599
    (Amazingly fresh fish for a sushi restaurant of this type and some very inventive fusion rolls. Nigiri is fine here. Bit more pretentious than the other two I've mentioned, so a la carte can get pricey. However, their sushi sets are very reasonably priced and offer good variety and much more food than I can usually eat alone. Get one of the sushi sets for between $12 and $20, and struggle to finish every tasty bite.)

    I hope this doesn't seem like a slam of Wonginator's post. Like I said, I agree with his review of Hokkaido Seafood Buffet in every way. His comments about the quality of the sushi there did, however, prompt me to post some alternatives to sushi buffets for great, "cheap" sushi.

    - Chubbypanda

    http://epicurious-wanderer.blogspot.com/

    7 Replies
    1. re: Chubbypanda

      Where's the best sweet shrimp?

      1. re: bernardo

        I'll suggest Shimura. He has a live tank where he keeps Santa Barbara spot prawns and sculpin, assuming they're available to him.

        Shimura Restaurant
        18906 Brookhurst
        Fountain Valley
        714-964-8840

      2. re: Chubbypanda

        Chubbypanda, I appreciate the info on the other sushi places. I still consider myself a novice sushi eater, as I'm still learning the types of fish that are offered by most sushi bars and have just begun to learn to identify the different fish by sight.

        I have tried another of the kaiten rotating sushi bars, called Kaisen, in Santa Ana, across the street from the South Coast mall. Don't know if they use RFID sensors also, but I've found it to be decent quality sushi.

        Thanks for the info on the other places. I'll add them to my list.

        1. re: Wonginator

          Hey Wonginator,

          Thanks for not taking my post as criticism of your's. Really, you should just eat what you like and consider tasty. My judgement/taste in sushi may not sync with your's, so please let me know what you think of those restaurants if you do decide to try them out. The number one expert on what you like is you.

          As a side note, did you know that "kaiten" is "revolving" or "spinning" in Japanese? =D

          - Chubbypanda

          http://epicurious-wanderer.blogspot.com/

          1. re: Chubbypanda

            Actually I did. I had to actually look up the definition of kaiten when I first visited a sushi bar with a conveyor belt. Haven't been to one with a river of water for the sushi to float on, but I've heard that the kaiten description also applies to those.

          2. re: Wonginator

            Funny, I used to work there and Kaisen does indeed use RFID sensors, that boot the old stuff off the belt after a while. The owner Takano-san buys pretty good quality stuff, he might be a little odd fellow sometimes but I haven't found too many places in the OC that I enjoy eating my sushi at. I still go there from time to time, the girls are always nice and they use live prawns, high quality beef, and fresh fish. They just celebrated their fifth year with 1.25 sushi plates.

          3. re: Chubbypanda

            Yen Sushi Restaurant
            5365 Alton Pkwy
            Irvine, CA 92604

            This sushi Restaurant did not have fresh fish at all. What good is inventive fusion rolls if the fish is horrible! It would take about $25 to $30 per person to be filled. Chubbypanda you must own or have a stake in the place for saying such nice things about it or the owner does not care any more about fresh fish. I am not trying to upset anyone but I was really upset at the quality of the fish there after reading your posting. But at least I learned something.

          4. I'm not one for buffets, so my expectations for this "fine" establishment wasn't very high to begin with. So let's start from the beginning. I recieved a coupon in my monthly mailer for a place called Hokkaido Buffet. I had heard about it before from a co-worker, it wasn't far from my home. From the outside it looked pretty nice so I was tempted to try it out. The advertisment stated that the lunchtime price was a mere $9.99, wow...was I in for a big surprise. Anyhow upon entering Hokkaido (I might add, I doubt any of the employees were even from that island, being that they spoke mandarin and all, last time I checked, Japanese was the main language spoken on Hokkaido) I should have turned around and drove back to the condo right then and there... Well upon entering those double doors and viewing the plastic trees and bamboo I promptly showed the hostess the advertisment, asking her if the price was good. I was told to give it to the waitress after the meal and it that it would be ok. So here's to the food part....cheap, chinese buffet style food, the fish was soggy, the rice kinda crunchy and didn't stick together, and the fruit bar stacked with a wonderful array of canned peaches, pineapples and fruit salad...mmmm... oh and the sushi selection was superb (for those of you who don't know me, that would be a sarcastic superb)....for some reason, california rolls and imitation crab rolls count as sushi here. The only sushi they really had was a few pieces of fly infested tuna, salmon and red snapper, they also must have forgotten to put vineger in the sushi rice as it fell apart instantly when I dipped it into my weak wasabi and soy sauce mixture... Anyways, after eating my fill of Hong Kong Express...I received the check, and to my dismay they tagged on their dinner price tag of $19.99, even though I was there for lunch...hmmm...that's funny, I thought the hostess said my $9.99 coupon was fine... apparently I didn't read the nonexistent fine print on the ad saying that the $9.99 price tag was good only Monday through Thursday... Anyhow, an embarrassing arguement ensued, and let's just say the whole customer is always right thing was out the door, customer service is not one of their strong points. All in all it was a fun experience, one I would never like to repeat again. So when I'm feelin' that sushi/japanese cuisine, I'm better off going to Mitsuwa Marketplace down the street, buying some of their wonderful prepackaged sushi plates (with a better selection to boot and real crab) or one of their katsu chicken lunch boxes. At least it's all made right, protected from flies and for the price it's a much better and safer bet.

            1. i think when the words seafood and buffet are used in the same sentence the red falg should be so visable as to physically block the enterence. to me it's like seeing a package of "fresh frozen shrimp". it's not literally an oxymoron, but it's essentially to the same effect.

              1 Reply
              1. re: eznice

                Yeah, but I've had many good meals at my local Sumo Sushi buffet that I thought there might be other good ones out there.

                There is a new West Coast Seafood Buffet that opened up in Westminster, so there is a recent trend for these types of buffets. Only time will tell to see which ones are succesful and will last.

              2. Have you heard of Joe's Sushi in OC? A small place, great for an all you can order sushi bar!

                2 Replies
                1. re: malisa

                  Nope, never heard of Joe's Sushi. Where is it located, and what type of selection of fish or rolls do they have?

                  1. re: Wonginator

                    Never mind, saw your post on listing the Joe's Sushi address in the other thread. Still, if you could comment on the selection of fish & types of rolls, that'd be appreciated. :-)

                2. Yen Sushi Restaurant
                  5365 Alton Pkwy
                  Irvine, CA 92604

                  This sushi Restaurant did not have fresh fish at all. What good is inventive fusion rolls if the fish is horrible! It would take about $25 to $30 per person to be filled. Chubbypanda you must own or have a stake in the place for saying such nice things about it or the owner does not care any more about fresh fish. I am not trying to upset anyone but I was really upset at the quality of the fish there after reading your posting. But at least I learned something.