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Dec 15, 2008 04:24 AM

Tokyo Japanese Hibachi & Sushi Buffet, Freehold

Name: Tokyo Japanese Hibachi & Sushi Buffet
Location: 4345 Route 9 North, Freehold, NJ 07728

When to try this place Friday night. Considering it's only been open for a few days, I am pleasantly surprised that it is good.

The restaurant is divide to 2 sides, one is for Buffet and the other is for Hibachi. I am not a big fan of this Americanized version of Hibachi; it's just glorified stir-fry to me. So naturally I went for the buffet.

Adult price for dinner is $22.99 (Fri to Sun); $19.99 for (mon to thurs)

There are plenty of choices for both raw and cooked food. It's definitely comparable to places like Makkoli and Minado, and I felt this place actually has more choices in terms of cooked food.

The wait staff is definitely new and very inexperience, but this is a buffet so it's really not that important as long as they come and remove the plates from our table.

I will definitely return to this place. It has actually become my first choice if I want to go out for Japanese food since it's close to where I live.

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  1. thanks for the review, yCf. based on your recommendation, we decided to try Tokyo Sushi Buffet tonight. when we arrived at 5 (the time they open), there wasn't much sushi out on the buffet. however, it did come out in time and the sushi was good. the only problem with eating the sushi was that there was no soy sauce on the table. every time we wanted more soy sauce, we had to balance little dishes of it back to our table from the buffet. there was a nice selection of sushi and sashimi, cold salads, and warm dishes. there was also a live station of peking duck pockets and hibachi skewered meat. the live stations did not get going until 6pm. i would rate the experience as one step above Makkoli in terms of food quality and selection. however, Tokyo Sushi Buffet was just shy of Minado, which remains our favorite sushi buffet. overall, i would recommend Tokyo Sushi Buffet for their selection and value. one star

    14 Replies
    1. re: njchowgal

      there are definitely things they need to work on regarding the service. there were no steak knives (or knives at all) even they were serving leg of lamb and prime rib. Considering this place just opened, I have no problem tolerate this.
      It's definitely better than Makkoli. Haven't been to Minado for a while, but I do remember Minado was good. Given time I think Tokyo can be just as good.

      BTW, does anyone if Todai is opened in Menlo Park yet?

      1. re: yCf

        I love Makkoli and have been going there for a while, so I'm really curious to see how this place stacks up. Heading there tonight (a meeting got canceled, my wife is encouraging me to take myself out to dinner), I might as well not pass up the opportunity. I'll post a full review about my experiences.

        1. re: MarlboroMan

          How does the sushi compare to that at Makkoli in terms of quality and variety?

          1. re: FoodDude2

            Tried Tokyo sushi for lunch today. In comparison to Makkoli, this place is just AWFUL. Maybe awful is a bit harsh, but lets just say I was highly disappointed.

            I should have known from the start when I noticed there was no soy sauce on the table and rather, you must fill your small dipping plate with soy sauce at the sushi bar. However, because other people are messy, my soy sauce was "pre-mixed" with spicy mayo from previous patrons. Also, I am pretty sure all the soy sauce offered was of the "light" variety. I like my soy sauce salty, so that was 1 of many negatives.

            Sushi/Sashimi selection is pathetic. If it isn't tuna, salmon, crab or a combo of these with some combination of avocado and cucumber, then they basically don't have it. I usually find the white tuna sashimi to be one of my favorites at a sushi buffet but it was here only out under the "sashimi combo" plate and only a few random white tuna pieces offered there. However, it was not even sashimi, but actually nigri sushi. In fact, there was NO SASHIMI OFFERED AT ALL. No red clam sushi. No white tuna sashimi (only in combo area and very few there). No octopus sushi. Don't even think about anything interesting like Uni or Conch. They did have squid sushi, but who really likes that? I would estimate there were about 4 or 5 sushi selections, maybe 7-8 sushi roll selections and a few vegetable roll selections. They did have a Dragon Roll and something called a Pink lady roll. All in all, pretty sad for a "sushi buffet." Also, they were not making any made to order hand rolls for lunch either. Also, the overall quality of the fish was below that of Makkoli as well, and that is not saying Makkoli is any great shakes.

            Hot food is subpar. Salt and Pepper shrimp is garbage. It was basically normal small shrimp (30-40 count size), fried with salt. No head-on shrimp with the delicious salt and pepper crust that makes them so delicious. No golden crabs. The dim sum selection was at best mediocre. It's like this is a sushi buffet, owned by Americans and designed for Americans who don't actually like Sushi or Japanese food. They offered a tempura selection, but surprise surprise, no tempura shrimp actually available. No grilled meats or snow crabs or peking duck slices for lunch. The roast pork buns were pretty good though.

            The miso soup may have been my favorite part of the meal. HOWEVER, they don't even offer udon noodle soup. Only Miso, seafood, hot and sour (is this a chinese buffet?) or the clear onion broth soup. They merely offer udon noodles as a lo mein type dish. Of course it was greasy.

            Overall, I expect to never go back here. I would go to Makkoli every time before going here, even though I live no more than 7 minutes from this restaurant. I was deciding between eating here and eating some Pho up in Edison. . . and I made the wrong choice.

            In case anyone was wondering, Makkoli is the "seafood buffet" on Rt 18 S in East Brunswick in the Vitamin World shopping center.

            1. re: FoodDude2

              Sushi by KAZU on Rt9 Howell across from the IVY league is by far the best around that area hands down. Why waste time at these silly wannabe buffets....sorry to hear about your bad experience.

              GIve KAZU a try you wont be dissapointed if your serious about Sushi

              1. re: Tapas52

                LOL Any legitimate sushi restaurant trumps this buffets without question. Sometimes though I like to get the lunch option because for 10 bucks, I can get my moneys worth of the better quality options offered. That is the only real appeal for me. If money was never a factor, I'd eat a ala carte sushi dinner every time lol.

                1. re: Tapas52

                  I agree kazu is the best. Just make sure you call before heading out. twice a year they close down and go back to Japan.

                2. re: FoodDude2

                  wow... sorry you had such a bad experience.
                  When I went there, it was just opened for 2 days, I assume the problem with putting out soy sauce and providing better service would be fixed by now. Apparently not.
                  I think it is common practice that they cut back on their offering for lunch since they only charge half of dinner price. So I am not surprised that they don't offer sashimi and raw oyster and clams for lunch.

                  1. re: FoodDude2

                    FoodDude2- sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. i agree with you that a legit sushi restaurant is way better than a buffet, because you can choose what you want. this is why we don't often eat at sushi buffets. do sushi lunch buffets usually offer things like red clam and octopus sushi for $10 a head?
                    our experience was during the dinner, and there was a broader selection of food available- snow crabs, specialty rolls, etc. our favorite was the salt and pepper shrimp- med/lg shrimp in the shell (no head), perfectly cooked and seasoned. dh brought more back with every trip! we both agreed, however, that this was the worst miso soup we've ever had. also, i would note that the buffet offered both low sodium as well as full flavor soy sauce as well as spicy tuna mayo on the side.
                    did we eat at the same place?

                    1. re: FoodDude2

                      The reality is, its a sushi buffet, you pay for what you get, you really should expect no more than you would from any other buffet style eating establishment. Consider that you are also paying for what you get, at a normal sushi restaurant you pay anywhere form $70-$100 fro 2 people to eat enough to get full. Each roll costing anywhere from $5-$12 for specialty rolls, and sushi pieces being an average $2.50 a piece and sashimi about $5-$7 for 2 pieces. At this buffet you pay, I believe, $22 a person, so for almost less than half of the price, you should expect to get what you are paying for. You can not compare a buffet to a normal style restaurant.

                      1. re: cneckfresh

                        Whose comparing it to anything but Makolli? Makolli is the gold standard for sushi buffets in the local area and this place falls FAR below.

                        1. re: FoodDude2

                          Based on comments like FoodDude2's on this thread, compelled to try Makolli - too much comment to add to this thread, so -

                      2. re: FoodDude2

                        I went to Tokyo.. about 2 weeks ago, for dinner. I was quite pleased with my meal. I'm planning to return this week with friends (who we've dined at Makkoli with). We're kind of tired of Makkoli.. while they are consistently good, they never vary anything.

                        Makkoli is good for lunch. At lunch, you don't have things like sashimi, or yellowtail, ikura (salmon caviar), etc. But mostly everything else. I have not tried Tokyo for lunch. Sounds like it pales in comparison to dinner.

                        When I went to Tokyo, these were my impressions:

                        Sushi. Many different types of rolls, only a few kinds of nigiris (salmon, tuna, shrimp, squid). Standout was the sashimi assortment, which definitely beats Makkoli's. White tuna, hamachi, octopus, tuna, salmon, mackerel, all nicely arranged. Yup, no soy sauce on the tables (I mentioned this to the cashier lady.. she's never heard of chowhound, either. Her loss). Maybe next time I'll see bottles on the tables, since a manager took note of my request. (Then again, this was the same guy who said they had root beer when I first got there. They didn't. I had water, which by the way was excellent. Don't laugh.. I hate water with a nasty tap/aftertaste.. theirs was crystal clear in taste and appearance.).

                        Fish quality: outstandingly fresh.. the white tuna melted in my mouth. Rolls were delicious, labeled, and varied. There were even spicy tuna and spicy california hand rolls.

                        Hot food: Lots of variety. I never made it to the crab legs. Lots of variations. There was even cold jellyfish salad!

                        So, definitely more makis than Makkoli... but the sashimi was better. I'll go again. Going to see if we can sit in the hibachi room and order that for the women & children, while us men chow down on the buffet.

                        1. re: MarlboroMan

                          I went back the past Saturday night. I had a party of 19 so i made reservation a few days earlier. When we arrived they put us in 3 different tables. 2 tables that seat 8 and a booth. I was expecting them to arrange a few large tables together for our party, but oh well... so far, for the 2 times i visited, I get the feeling that the owner/manager isn't too experience in running restaurants and the waiters and waitresses are rather inexperienced.

                          Soy sauce is still next to sashimi but to be honest, i don't really understand what's the big fuss because all you have to do is to get a dish of soy sauce and wasibi the first trip to the buffet tables...if you need more just go back and get more. It's a buffet after all.

                          It was pretty crowded on saturday night. good selection of sushi and sashimi and hot food as usual. Quality was decent for a buffet place.

                          I think the best thing at the sushi & sashimi tables are the dragon roll and the raw clams and oysters. For hot food, I like their shrimp dishes. I think the shrimps are very nice in size and tasted pretty good.

                          The "grill station" needs some work. I haven't tried it personally, but my friends and family all have their meat/seafood over or under cooked. I would prefer a noodle/udon bar over a grill.

                          Anyway, this is definitely a place I would return to every once a while, and I hope their service would improve in the future.

              2. There's another sushi buffet that you have to try when it opens up. It's going to be located in the Menlo Park Mall called Ichiumi Sushi and Seafood Buffet Restaurant. It was originally called Todai and they recently changed names. They have a few restaurants and one of them is in Manhattan on 32nd between 5th and 6th Ave. My husband went to that one for the Christmas luncheon and he can't stop talking about it.

                16 Replies
                  1. re: wench31

                    Have been waiting for Todai (or now Ichiumi) to open. The first time I visit Todai is actually in Hong Kong... It was about 5 years ago and it was amazing. I don't even want to describe it because it depresses me when I have to compare buffets in Hong Kong vs. any buffet place in America.

                    Todai later opened up a location in Westchester, NY. It was nothing compare to their Hong Kong location (which was expected) but it was at least comparable to Minado. For whatever reason, it didn't last long and closed down after a while.

                    I am anxious to see what the Menlo Park one will be like. Being in Edison, I imagine it will be super crowded... I remember when CheeseCake Factory first opened. I waited almost for 3 hours for a table !!!

                    1. re: yCf

                      Had lunch at Tokyo today with 3 sushi eaters and 2 who could take it or leave it.

                      The sushi eaters gave the place mixed reviews. There was general praise for the tuna and the salmon as well as some of the rolls. Everyone thought that there was plenty to choose from. I liked that they also had medium/small cocktail shrimp and sauce as well.

                      As for the hot food, mediocre is the best one word descriptor. As mentioned, the salt and pepper shrimp were a disappointment - luke warm to cold with little flavor and no fresh hot peppers at all. I was excited to see Vietnamese style spring rolls until I tried one. The tempura and teriyaki dishes were like the shrimp, cold and mostly flavorless.

                      Never thought I would say this, but they made Marco Polo look good.

                      Skip it.

                      1. re: seal

                        wow! thats bad....... went there once, don't think i even made it to the buffet.

                        1. re: seal

                          Seal - Sorry about the disappointing meal.

                          1. re: seal

                            seal- thanks for the review on lunch. it seems like this place is a no-go before 5pm. after my second dinner there, i still like the place for what it is- a sushi buffet with a good selection of non-sushi items. if you do try the dinner, please let me know how it compares to lunch.

                            1. re: njchowgal

                              Sounds like everyone went there for lunch hates it. Everyone went there for dinner seem to be okay or like it. I think njchowgal sums it up very nicely - a sushi buffet with a good selection of non-sushi items.

                              1. re: yCf

                                where is Makolli? sounds like the place to go for sushi!

                                1. re: yCf

                                  Maybe I'll go today for lunch to see if I hate it too. :)

                                  We went on January 30 for dinner, with 2 friends and their children, 2 and 6 year old girls. We sat in the hibachi room. The lady's all had hibachi, us two men had the buffet. My friend kept commenting he was in sushi heaven, so I guess he liked it. I loved my sushi. There were no steamed pork buns or anything else like that.. that one whole area was empty. The hibachi chef near the hot food said stuff was coming out, but nothing did the whole time we were there. Still, more than enough to eat.

                                  Hibachi was fine, nothing special. My wife still prefers Hunan Gourmet on Rt. 9 for teppanyaki/flippy food. Entertainment value-wise, it seems the chefs all have the same shtick. Everyone does the onion volcano, creates a fireball (starting with an oily happy face), puts out the fire with a "pee pee boy" and then squirts it on someone, flips pieces of zucchini into customer's mouths, etc. Same show, different restaurant. As a young boy, it used to really excite me. Now, the best part is when a chef occasionally fills my mouth with sake.

                                  Anyway.. my wife was really ticked when the waitress asked me if I was done (I wasn't), and she rolled her eyes. We got the bill, there were two different amounts. Turns out that because we had a party of six, we were charged 18% tip. That pissed off all of us. 18% tip on a buffet? I served myself! And what service there was wasn't worth 18% to begin with.

                                  If we go again, I'm bringing cash, and I'm not paying 18%.

                                  1. re: MarlboroMan

                                    Hi MarlboroMan, you said that there were 2 different amounts. Was it different if you paid in cash? Or was it that they split the bill for your party already?

                                    1. re: wench31

                                      One was without the tip, one was with the tip added in. I paid by credit card. Our friends reimbursed us with cash. The tip was not optional, they had already charged it to my card.

                                      It'd only be different if I paid with cash because I'd refuse to pay the 18% tip. If they argued about it, I might leave no tip at all, and then never return.

                                      It would have been nice if they mentioned the 18% BEFORE we placed our order. Very sneaky. Also, I don't recall seeing it on the menu anywhere.

                                    2. re: MarlboroMan

                                      If you go with a group of 6, bringing cash is not going to help since I would presume that 18% was already added to your bill when presented, not after you gave them your credit card. With fewer than 6, you remain in charge of how much tip to give regardless of whether you use credit or cash.

                                      1. re: RGR

                                        That's just the thing.. the 18% WAS added on AFTER I gave them my card.. pretty sleazy if you ask me. I got the bill, no 18%. Looked it over (I always do, my wife just likes to pay it without looking), gave my card, came back with the two bills with 2 amounts, then the muddled explanation of the 18%. So, next time (if there is a next time), I'm bringing cash, and leaving what I think is a fair amount of tip despite their opinion.

                                        1. re: MarlboroMan

                                          wow, that was weird that they did that. They should put the 18% on your first bill. The shocking thing is that I went there with 19 people and they did not put the 18% on the bill. I did pay by cash and I used a 10% off coupon found in some Chinese newspaper.

                                          I just get the feeling the owner doesn't really know how to run a restaurant from things i read here and personal experience.

                                          1. re: yCf

                                            I went there again on Sunday night. Dinner plans with the in-laws got canceled.. my wife doesn't like sushi, perfect opportunity for me to dine alone.

                                            Good stuff.. this time they had the dim sum-type stuff out. Yes, good roast pork buns. Wish they would serve hunks of roast duck instead of "look for the duck in the bun." Mini spring rolls were tasty. A little meager on the sashimi. The chef's special roll of the day is usually much heavier on the rice than any of the other rolls. FINALLY - someone took notice, there's soy sauce on the tables - both regular and "light" varieties.

                                            Soft serve ice cream machine has disappeared.. I don't think it was ever working.. but they have a nice assortment of hard ice creams. I always forget it's there, since it's not near the desserts.. kind of confusing.

                                            I ate a little too much. Probably not the place to eat when you're on a new diet for the new year. Ate Chinese food 3 times and this place. Still lost 1 pound.

                        2. The original comment has been removed
                          1. My wife and I went there today and enjoyed a great meal. The sushi was fresh and delicious. There were over 40 varieties offered. The price for lunch on weekends/holidays was $16.99 and well worth the price. The selection was outstanding. There was a salad/fruit bar, hot bar with lots of choices for people who do not like sushi. They had about 10 or so Dim Sum choices and a grill where you can have your choice of items grilled fresh. There is hand dipped Turkey Hill ice cream along with a lot of other dessert choices. We did not have dessert there because we enjoyed the food and did not leave room for dessert. The servers were very good. The empty plates were quickly removed and our soda glasses were kept filled. We think we have a great meal at a great price and we will be going back again soon. We love good sushi and we are glad to have found this place to enjoy a large selection of tasty sushi and sashimi. I will be spreading the news about this place to my friends and co-workers who like sushi.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Karraway

                              went there last night for the first time in a long time. I thought it was closed down when we first got there since the big "tokyo" sign on the building were gone. Upon further review, they were just doing work on the exterior of the building.

                              Anyway, it was very good. Good select of sushi and rolls. There was a big plate of sashimi of tuna, salmon, mackerel, white tuna, and octopus.
                              Hot food was decent, especially the steamed flounder and the stir fry clams.

                              This is not great sushi/ japenese food by any means but it is nice to have it as a medium price dining option in this area.