Tsukiji Fish Market - Ala Moana
I see that Tsukiji Fish Market finally has opened among the restaurants on the top level of Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu, with $17.95 lunch buffet and $30.95 dinner buffet...has anyone tried it yet? Is it worth it?
Ate at Tsujiki's about a month ago as a party guest. If I had to pay, I wouldn't. I still prefer Todai's in Waikiki for selection. The food was OK but not spectacular. I don't belive that they have the assortment like Todai? How can you rate boiled king crab legs and generic sushi? Both were good but nothing to stand out. Also ate at Shogun which is now closed but if I had to compare, both were equivalent. Maybe I'm a little critical but most of these all-you-can-eat places specialize in bulk preparations. Not too bad but not the greatest...just so-so.
unlike everyone else who have posted so far, i would recommend tsukiji's, but only under these conditions; go for lunch, not dinner, and sit at the bar, not at the regular tables. this way, you have a quieter environment, can enjoy the mauka view, and can chat with the bartender whilst enjoying sake (and they have a decent selection). the only difference between the lunch and dinner buffets, i believe, is the addition of prime rib.
my boyfriend comes from a family of fishermen and he's picky about fish. as he said, you're coming to a buffet, and the sushi served at tsukiji's is quite good for what it is. if you really want good sushi at tsukiji, you have to sit at the sushi bar and pay the sushi bar prices. or, better yet, don't have sushi at ala moana center if you're going to be that picky about it. go enjoy sushi at john dominis' sushi bar before they close, or go to sushi king, or genki, or sushi sasabune where you don't get to pick your sushi, the chef does.
that said, for a buffet, they have pretty darned good kal bi. i disagree that the shrimp tempura are anemic. they're prepared more japanese than local style, and generally speaking, smaller shrimp are sweeter than bigger ones. their selection of japanese style vegetables was well prepared, not overcooked or soggy or mushy. their curries, mochi and croquettes were enjoyable, and the fresh fruit/veggies were good too. what's nice is that they put out the food in small batches, which, while it sometimes meant longer waiting times for your favorite things, meant that each item was fresher (and in the case of fried items, not greasy and soggy) than it can be at other buffet places (makino chaya among them). as for the complaint about the ice cream--yeah, i'd agree that it's rather junk you gotta pay $3 for it, but my view is that the made-to-order crepes, which are included in the buffet price, are waaay better than the $3 soft serve ice cream. i generally don't like crepes and never order them, but i tried a bite when my boyfriend had one, and i loved the orange marmaladey bite so much i got my own.
if you want your $17.95 to be of value, then pile your plate with the substantial, good stuff-- tender and perfectly marinated kal bi, chicken karaage, curries, tempura (they have green bean, carrots, i think broccoli, as well as sweet potato and of course shrimp), japanese veggies, sushi and poke. i never tried the made to order noodle dishes but i know one japanese national couple ate that exclusively so i'm gonna assume it was good. we never got a chance to try the robata bar, but we tried the sushi bar, and it's good sushi for a mall sushi bar that tries to be more japanese than genki.
let me say again--tsukiji's is a great experience for lunch, especially if you're sitting at the bar and are mindful of what items you pick.
by the way, todai is now $27.95 mon-thurs for dinner, a dollar more on weekend nights. and they don't do the "if it's your birthday, you eat free" thing anymore. birthday person has to pay on his/her birthday, and then gets a coupon to eat free within three or six months (can't remember), as long as s/he is accompanied by someone else at regular price or something like that. as for kyoto osho? someone told me their hot foods weren't hot, the cold stuff not cold, and when they complained that the sushi was spoiled, the manager berated them for not knowing about japanese food and how it's supposed to taste. to prove it, the manager took a bite of the sushi on their table....then spat it out and apologized, saying yeah, the fish was spoiled. (note that the family who complained included local japanese!) no discount on the tab, though.
I just had dinner there yesterday and will echo the same sentiments. Fairly good selection, but not very exciting. I commented to my dining companion that the food "looked the same" to me. Save your $$$$.
On another note, given the current direction, I think neither Kyoto Ohsho nor Tsukiji's will be running long term. And the Makino's in Vegas is waaaay better than its Hawaii counterpart. What's up with that? Oahu residents deserve better.
It will be interesting to see who survives this restaurant opening, Tsukiji or the Kyoto Osho across the walkway. Very similar buffet set-up and pricing. We peeked in Tsukiji and the sushi and hot entree's looked pretty good, the crowd for a Friday evening was not bad, probably since it is new. I would also be interested to hear if anyone thinks the price is worth it or not. Does either place stand up to Makino Cha-ya?
AVOID. Went there this past Sunday. Thought it was a terrible rip-off, and I regret both the time and money greatly.
The objective, indisputable facts:
- $35 for "Sunday brunch" "buffet"
- You sit and quickly discover that all beverages are extra - soft drinks, iced tea, etc.
- You further find out that *ice cream* is also an extra $3. (At this point, the wait staff are themselves apologetic.)
- They have fresh savory mochi, but also anemic shrimp ("shrimpy" is more like it) tempura, and nothing interesting in the way of sushi - just the basics (tuna, salmon, tofu, egg, eel, California roll).
- The suggested tip calculated on the bill gives you 3 choices: 15%, 20%, and (eyes popping) 25%. Have I mentioned it's a buffet? Or that we were one of only 2 tables of non-Japanese tourists? And that undoubtedly the ignorance of foreigners there re: U.S. gratuity expectations is being exploited?
- Let's not forget the live Hawaiian music, noteworthy mainly for the unrepaired audio problems that involved a lot of loud feedback for long periods of time as they wound down.
I would think Tsukiji gets a thumbs-down based solely on the objective facts, but here's the subjective component of the review:
- The food itself is difficult to distinguish from Todai, which is a better deal and more fun (at least, it was when I last visited, which admittedly was years ago). But just to be clear, this place charges high-end prices for non-high end food, then has the gall to gouge a few extra dollars out of you at every turn.
I was so disappointed by the experience that, for the first time in my dining life, I actually wanted to offer some constructive suggestions to management, but of course there was no management on hand to hear what I had to say.
I would be surprised (and appalled) if this place is still around in 2 years, at least in this format. Wouldn't have eaten there if a colleague from Nebraska hadn't been too weary to turn tail for the food court, which offers higher quality and more choice at a fraction of the cost.