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May 13, 2007 07:58 PM

I know you all hate Todai here but which one

would be your favorite? and how much are dinners??
And does anyone know what is included in the buffet at Oiwake?
And finally- does anyone know any other Japanese buffet style place in WLA?

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  1. I really hesitate to recommend any of them. Is the one at the Beverly Center still open? If so it's no worse than the other ones. There is also Buffet City on Wilshire Blvd. in West LA. Equally as bad as Todai or even worse. Also don't want to forget about the Lighthouse in Santa Monica. The equal of Todai in all its unappetizing best, (worst?) features.

    Buffet City
    11819 Wilshire Blvd Ste 106A
    West Los Angeles, CA 90025
    310 312-0880

    Lighthouse Buffet
    201 Arizona
    Santa Monica

    16 Replies
    1. re: tony michaels

      Thank you Tony- Buffet City: Do they serve seafood- sushi type? or are they all Chinese?
      For this occasion I am not looking to find quality but just a sample of Japanese/sushi type for someone who has never had sushi/Japanese before (yes, maybe the last person in the city of LA) but without spending $50, can sample as many variety of food

      1. re: miffy

        Plenty of bad sushi to go along with the bad Chinese food.

        1. re: tony michaels

          oh I know they must be- if you had to pick would you choose Todai rather than Buffet City?

          1. re: miffy

            Todai, but it's a coin flip really.

        2. re: miffy

          I don't think any persons initiation to sushi is going to be a memorable or life changing experience at any sushi buffet place. You're going to spend $50 for two without tax and tip at the crummy Todai for dinner.

          You're better off taking them to a middle of the road traditional Japanese restaurant (not a sushi place) and ordering a combination plate that includes sushi. If they like it you can order a few more pieces or hand rolls a la carte.

          1. re: monku

            Sakura is a good solid traditional Japanese restaurant in WLA. It isn't high end and it isn't low end, but pretty middle of the road standard Japanese food. They've been there probably 40+ years and very popular even with old time Japanese Americans. People are lined up there before they open at 5:00pm and it will fill up after they open the doors (front & back...parking in the rear).

            You should sit at a table and order traditional Japanese combination plates of which some come with sushi or sashimi and you can order sushi for appetizers. You could be out of there easily for $40 including tax and tip and maybe a couple beers.

            Sakura Japanese Restaurant
            4545 S Centinela Ave
            Los Angeles, CA 90066
            (310) 822-7790

            1. re: miffy

              You mentioned looking for a buffet place in WLA.
              It's on Centinela near Culver Blvd. next to Culver City/Mar Vista.
              Right across the street from the popular Angel Maid Bakery. Nothing seedy about that area.

              1. re: monku

                Thanks Monku~ I just have never been in that part of town- but I will now be visiting ;) Do you remember the name of this place? I will look it up online- Thank you for being so resourceful!

            2. re: monku

              I agree. If you're interested in helping this person develop a taste for Japanese food and/or sushi, why expose them to crap on their first visit? Better to take them to a decent restaurant. I've heard that Noma in West L.A./Santa Monica is pretty good, although I've only been there once and it was quite awhile ago. Or how about an izakaya where you can get lots of smaller Japanese dishes prepared different ways such as fried, grilled, noodles, sushi and/or sashimi? I like Izayoi in Little Tokyo, and Musha in Santa Monica seems to be reviewed fairly positively. Please reconsider Todai, not that I haven't eaten there although it's been years, but if that was my first exposure to Japanese food then I wouldn't necessarily view it positively unless I liked watery crab legs, improperly cooked sushi rice, less than fresh sushi fish, totally nasty hot food, and an industrial setting. Ugh.

              1. re: Debbie W

                You're going to get out of a place like Sakura for less than you're going to pay at Todai with a much better overall, ambience and service. Sakura would be a good place to start and you can always move up and down from there, but a solid starting place.

                Dinner at Todai if I remember is around $27/person not including tax, tip and beverage. I kind of felt like I was raped when I left there, but the group of people I was with insisted we go there...never again if I can help it.

                1. re: monku

                  LOL. OMG, my sentiments exactly. I was there about a month ago b/c the group I was with wanted all you can eat sushi. I rejoiced when I saw uni (my fave!) but cringed once I put it in my mouth b/c it was the GROSSEST stalest piece of urchin I've ever met. Yes, never again if I can help it too.

                  1. re: emmaramma

                    My point exactly....what would a sushi newby think if they took a bite of that uni you had. I'm cringing thinking about your experience.

                2. re: Debbie W

                  oh - I think I am starting to get the idea of this place- When I was little and went to Onsen (Hot Springs) in Japan, they had breakfast buffet- it was fun and picked up small dishes as I wished- as a child it was a fun experience

                  1. re: Debbie W

                    Stay far away from Noma! On my last visit the fish did not taste fresh and the toro was inedible. It seemed to have gristle running through it!

                  2. re: monku

                    That would be a good idea- thanks Monku!

                  3. re: miffy

                    Taking someone to Todai or any buffet where sushi is an after thought to introduce them to Japanese food and sushi is like taking someone who's never had a hamburger in their life to MCD to find out what a hamburger is like.

                3. It's not on the Westside but a fairly decent and often times quite good (depending on what you decide to eat) Japanese Buffet is at Kyoto restaurant in the Wilshire Grand Hotel. Weekdays only.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bon Vivant

                    Hmm- when I last went to Kyoto (so many years ago) it did not have any buffet but regular box meals-- do they have dinner buffet?

                  2. Oiwake's buffet is like $10-$12 for dinner and you have to eat a lot to get your $10 worth there. Everything is kind of pseudo Japanese and prepared well in advanced and sits out there for a long time. It's a pretty low brow buffet and that's being polite since I know the owner. You want a place to meet and drink, karaoke and fill your stomach then its the place.
                    Standard fare everyday; teriyaki chicken, fried rice, chow mein, vegetable tempura, miso soup, cold soba noodles, salad bar, sushi rolls (tuna, cucumber, California rolls-fake crab) the size of your thumb, some kinds of oriental vegetables and dishes made from what looks like they could be leftovers from the day before, mini-cakes, Jello and frozen ice milk for desert,

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: monku

                      gosh- that is not Japanese- that is American Chinese food -

                      1. re: miffy

                        No...bad excuse for Japanese food.

                        1. re: monku

                          Hehe, I was just there for the lunch buffet which is about $7. It was good deal for a big crowd but it's not exactly destination dining, lol. I think Todai is better, though it is 4x the price. I don't think it's 4x better.

                    2. I don't hate Todai.

                      The first time I went, I actually thought the place was great. That was years ago, and I think it was in Orange County. I've been a couple more times since then to the Woodland Hills location. I don't eat Japanese food often, so a lot of the distinction between sushi places doesn't make sense to me. The website will give you price info for lunch and dinner. Depending on the time you go, it should run about $15-26, before tax and tip. Go for lunch, if you want the cheaper price. Check the website, and click on locations before going, to make sure they are open when you go.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: katkoupai

                        yes- quality wise, these friends think Cafe 50's got great food- but since I have never introduced Japanese food to them, I thought showing them how it looks like and the general idea, thought it would work- I will just give them what I heard here and have them decide

                      2. I think Todai has its place in the culinary food-chain.

                        It's fine for what it is.

                        I think the Todai in Arcadia (in the Santa Anita shopping center) is pretty good.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Thanks guys~ for positive note as well! For a while I started to feel very ashamed of Japanese restaurants in US

                          1. re: miffy

                            Didn't want to say because maybe it wasn't relevent but Todai is owned by Koreans as are many sushi restaurants around the southland.

                            1. re: monku

                              oh- well I guess their main target was not Japanese people or foodies like I always hear in Chow

                              1. re: monku

                                Btw- I just wanted to thank you for all your inputs- ;)