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Woo Buffet Restaurant

Just passed by Toronto Life Square tonight and saw the sign. Website says they'll be open in March! Kind of looking forward to go check it out, it'll be on the 4th AND 5th floors. It's asian fusion - would be so awesome if it is actually yummy...

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  1. I am also excited!! I just wonder how much the buffet will cost...I'm hope $12.99 or less.

    5 Replies
    1. re: canadianbeaver

      I just read it's the same owners as StarWalk buffet at Silver Star and Steeles here in Scarborough. Should be good value. But we have always liked China Buffet King better.
      At least it will be better than Mandarin, that's for sure.

      1. re: caitlink

        StarWalk and Mandarin are somewhat different types of Chinese buffets targeting largely a separate group of customers, so don't think its fair to make a direct comparison....there are fans of each nuance of the cuisine out there and I suspect fans of one type generally don't like the other type that much.

      2. re: canadianbeaver

        I think the odds of $12..99 or less are slim to none. After all, this is Yonge/Dundas - prime real estate. Rent has to be through the roof. I figure at least the same price range as Mandarin, probably $20.00 plus. Time will tell.

        1. re: cynalan

          Yeah, I was thinking it'll probably be around 25-30 for dinner cause of location.. doesn't StarWalk charge like 20-25? In any case, I don't like StarWalk or Mandarin or China Buffet King (which I was forced to go to recently because of a high school reunion - it was horrible, horrible food).. it comes as a disappointment it's by the same owner of StarWalk.... But I like anything shiny and new. So I'll still pop by and have a look.

          1. re: cynalan

            I meant for lunch - but yes, it's probably going to be higher. Hopefully it'll be worth it.

        2. Couldn't find the other thread for this place, anyway went for lunch earlier.
          Price - total was about $14.64 incl tax. Our server said the 15% opening discount is indefinite, but then only one person in our group of six got deducted for the discount. Then we got 15% coupons upon exiting which expire Apr 30th.
          Decor - nice, washroom sinks cool. Apparently patio/bar/cigar lounge opening shortly but you'll have to order off a menu. Dinnerware and chopsticks neat too.
          Food - good average, can only compare it to Mandarin and Rex Saigon but Rex offers different food. I suppose same quality as Mandarin but not as much selection. Salmon and i think clam sashimi, lots of maki incl deep fried!, also smoked salmon/edamame beans/seaweed salad etc. 3 dim sum options - leaf wrapped sticky rice, har gau shrimp (not great), and siu mai pork dumplings. About 8 ice cream flavours incl green tea. There were hardly any labels though for all food.
          Apparently one of the owners used to work at Starwalk, his parents run Starwalk. So far so good i wish them well, will return!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Little T

            Yes, very strange - the other thread disappeared!! Just wanted to say the discount is over, it's now $12.95 for lunch, and no more coupons are dispensed. Still worth it, in my opinion.

          2. I have been twice in the last week and it's pretty good. If I was going to list things I am not crazy about:

            1) Chicken with whole chili pepper thats not in least spicy - crack some of those babies.
            2) No labels on 90% of the items
            3) If you want a non-alcoholic beverage, the servers need to go to the bar - just give us a self-serve station
            4) Hard to figure out who your waiter is - they all circulate and I found myself frustrated as to who to ask for the bill.
            5) Dessert is pretty limited, but then again going to any Chinese restaraunt looking for quality dessert is a mugs game. That said the tirimisu was pretty good.

            Hopefully they can address these things, because I enjoy the convience of having a buffet on the way home from work.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mramage

              #4 - it is possible they're running on the Chinese system where you're not assigned a specific waiter and they all split the tips. When we sat down, 2 different servers came to ask for our drinks order. Or they could just be disorganized!

              I've been for lunch twice and already see "decline". For example, tempura shrimp was plentiful the first time but was M.I.A. the second time. Also, the morsels of shrimp in the har gows has gotten even smaller.

              Did not see any "Asian fusion" dishes in the buffet, just Hong Kong versions of curry chicken and spaghetti with meatballs, if they count. Maybe in their a la carte menu...

            2. Is there anything for vegetarians?

              5 Replies
              1. re: piccola

                You can see their full menu on their website now. I'm going to go with...not really. Even some of the stuff you might think is vegetarian has a shrimp or two hidden in there.

                1. re: canadianbeaver

                  They do have tempura veggies - broccoli, mushrooms etc. Some of the noodles seem to be protein free. Also some plain Chinese greens, and corn kernels. Of course the salad bar as well.

                  1. re: Teep

                    Yes, but I wouldn't really think it'd be worth $12.95 or however much dinner is....since their better dishes tend to be with meat (in my opinion).

                    1. re: canadianbeaver

                      Pure cooked veggie dishes at a buffet are awful, unless there is a LOT of turnover.

                      1. re: Pincus

                        And some of the noddles dishes have meat in the them, though it's hard to tell. I just know my vegetarian family wouldn't eat there - but I love it!

                1. re: OnDaGo

                  Not as of Saturday -- I think late April, early May.

                2. Welcome to chowhound! I am sorry your first post has to be so negative. That being said...I don't think I would ever pay $25 for a chinese buffet...I also would never expect 'authentic' chinese food (whatever that means to you) from a buffet setting regardless of the nationality of the chefs, nor would I assume that they were chinese.

                  Good luck in your search for the ultimate buffet!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: robgm

                    How does Woo Restaurant compare with Mandarin? Becuz the closest Mandarin is at Eglinton their competition.

                      1. re: OnDaGo

                        Yes they have LCBO license. We asked for sake and they had 3 types.

                        Compared to Mandarin, much fewer selections. At our dinner there, I would say the hot items were at least at half the number, if not less. However they tended towards more traditional Chinese items, like Hainan Chicken Rice (which had a nice flavour but the rice was REALLY dried out), steamed fish, stuffed crab claws etc. Avoid the non-chinese stuff like "Thai grilled salmon" and "vietnamese spring rolls"!

                        The dessert table was especially poor compared to Mandarin's. There was only ice cream, cream puffs, tiramisu, creme brulee, and fruit. The creme brulee was poor, the others OK.

                        The only thing they have more of was real Japanese items - sushi/sashimi, (unlike Mandarin's fake ones with smoked salmon); tempura shrimp and veggies; seaweed salad etc.

                  2. Went again last week and service wasn't as good as the first time.
                    I like it for the sushi, sashimi, smoked salmon, seaweed salad, dim sum, steamed fish, ice cream etc.
                    Think it was $13.95+.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Little T

                      It is a Buffet what kind of service were you wanting?

                      1. re: OnDaGo

                        No, this is actually a very accurate statement. When I first went, they brought you the drink orders right away, kept refilling constantly, took our plates away right away. They also gave you fortune cookies with the bill. Now when we go, we find we are sitting at the table waiting for our drink orders to be taken forever (they ask you to wait to go to the buffet until you've made your drink orders), and they never refill, even if they've taken your plates away and can clearly see there is no more water in your glass. They also seem to pick and choose who they give fortune cookies too - I see about 50% of the people receive them.

                        1. re: canadianbeaver

                          Yes, even getting a glas of water was uber slow when I went opening week.. and we didn't get any fortune cookies!!!!

                          Not going again though so *shrugs*

                    2. Interesting.
                      Yes they were quick to clear plates (even though you weren't necessarily finished) but my water glass stayed empty.
                      How quickly things change after a month!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Little T

                        They also had a printable coupon off of dineto.com that got you 15% off. It had no expiration date, but said that management could refuse it at any point. Apparently, that time has come, as they told us it had "expired" and they wouldn't take it. I don't think it's worth it for $13.95 -- so sadly that was my last visit.

                        1. re: canadianbeaver

                          I guess this is a good example of why one should use comments on this board as a guide only. Just got back from lunch at Woo's. There were six of us and service was quite good. Glasses of water were filled without asking, plates removed promptly and we used the 10% dineto coupons. I thought the choice of food was limited, but the quality was reasonable for a buffet. All of us thought the place was worthy of future patronage. Also got the fortune cookies btw. My favorite dishes were the steamed fish and bbq ribs....I stayed away from the sushi mostly but I liked the salmon roll.

                          1. re: T Long

                            Yes, after posting I went to dineto.com and saw they had changed the 15% off coupons to 10% off, which was interesting.

                      2. I had the worst meal I've had in YEARS here. Truly awful stuff.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: airsey

                          I certainly won't be back. There wasn't a single item that I had that I would have a second time. I'm not a fan of Mandarin, but I there are times that it is convenient and satisfies a craving, I expected Woo's to be better across the board, but it wasn't. Hard to believe, but the shiu mai and har gow are better at Mandarin. Woo's "roast beef" was flavorless pre-sliced offerings in a nondescript gravy compared to Mandarin's sliced off the roast. The curried chicken was bland, as was the chicken with chili peppers. The best two items were the short ribs, which were over-salted, and the chicken wings which were excessively greasy.

                          The service seemed disorganized with several servers asking me the same things. Like previous posters experience, many of the items were not labeled.

                          The place was very busy, so I guess they'll be successful. I won't be back.

                        2. I went there for lunch today. We didn't make reservations so thank god we got there at 11:40 cause it started getting packed at 12. Food was OK at best. Nothing really stood out. The sushi was average but there was no variety and it's mostly rice. The nigri was HORRIBLE. Whatever happened to the sashimi that's advertised on their site? I ended up eating the fish only WITHOUT the rice (since they didn't have any penalties for wasting food) and it was pretty bad. The sashimi was freaking WARM and THIN. And there aws only salmon, nothing left. Overall I would not recommend checking out the Jap section and unfortunately Jap is my favourite. The fried section was a bit better, tempura was actually good because most veges were lightly battered. THERE WAS NO SHRIMP TEMPURA though which was a huge disappointment. Chinese food was alright, I had lots of cooked veges and they were cooked right so can't fault them there. Dessert was pretty sad, they only had one cake, ice cream, and fruits. Nothing special. I certainly wouldn't go back at $13.95. Standard buffet.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mtx

                            Yes, I stopped going there after they raised their prices but didn't add anything more. They only raised their prices because more people started to go. I have never seen shrimp tempura there and I hate how their sushi rice is multi-coloured (white and yellow...very strange). Honestly, I forgave them when they gave 15% off and when they were just starting out, but to not have improved at all over 5 months but rather have gotten worse is inexcusable. It used to be my favourite place, I went every weekend since they opened (TWICE on my birthday weekend), and I haven't been in over a month.

                          2. I realized my first review was poorly written so I decided to take an hour and revise it. Here it is:

                            So I went to WOO for lunch on Friday with a bunch of coworkers for my first time. Two of them had already been to WOO before and they thought it was good. Not making any prior reservations was almost a mistake, as we were extremely lucky to find a table for six. The place was packed around noon!

                            Let me start off by saying I’m a huge Jap fan and Jap AYCE is my favourite out of all Asian AYCE-type cuisines. Maki was average and there was no variety (rolls only included california, cucumber, salmon, and surprisingly eel). Even more disappointing was the sashimi, which was listed on their website but nowhere to be found in the restaurant. False advertisement #1. Their “sashimi” was nigiri which is fish on rice. Since there were no penalties for wasting food, I wound up eating the fish without the rice and it was horrible. The raw fish was thinly sliced, slimy, and WARM. And this is after visiting the Jap section on two separate trips so there should be no excuse! FYI I believe the nigiri is not placed on chilled compartments, they are placed directly under some lights...when I told this to a friend, he said it’s against the Canadian Food Inspection Policy.

                            Onto the fried section. It was much better! The tempura was good because everything was lightly battered and not overdone. But there was no shrimp tempura! Huge disappointment. False advertisement #2. I also had two chicken wings and they were done well, light, crispy on the outside, white, tender in the inside.

                            In the Chinese section (my least favourite AYCE cuisine), I had lots of cooked veges (to make up for my lack of salads and appetizers) and it was shockingly good - snow peas, broccoli were cooked just right, crispy and sweet. I actually went back for more snow peas. However, the other green bean sprouts were poorly overcooked. Bak chois were OK. Mussels were OK as well but it had a weird, foul taste and I couldn’t tell if it was the natural seawater taste (I don’t eat them that much).

                            Dessert was average like most asian buffets - there was one cake, fruit, ice cream, and some bite-size snacks - your run of the mill dessert bar, nothing worth dying for.

                            Would I go back to WOO Buffet? Certainly not. It’s your standard, average buffet like StarWalk, China Buffet, etc. Nothing really stood out, except of course the waitresses and expensive looking décor (seems to be the growing trend these days). I could swear I was walking into a nightclub when I first entered the restaurant. Now I do realize I'm a bit picky and biased and I didn't try every single item on the menu, but things could have been done better. They've been open for ~4 months and to have things go downhill that fast is inexcusable. Jap lovers like myself, do yourself a favour and don’t even bother visiting the Jap section. You will regret it. Better yet, save your money and eat somewhere else.

                            +Attractive waitresses
                            +Modern décor, atmosphere, ambience, nice washrooms
                            +Good customer service

                            -Limited menu, no variety at all
                            -Missing menu items (sashimi, shrimp tempura)
                            -Huge lineups at peak hours
                            -Badly served "fresh" foods (raw salmon was warm and nasty WTF)
                            -A bit pricey at $13.95 and there is no value

                            */**** (1 out of 4 stars)

                            1. Can't comment on the buffet but I had the small plates the other night, and I thought it was good. I mean, it's not Foxley, but I think Yonge and Dundas is pretty lacking in restaurant choices and this is a welcome addiction. I liked the pork loin with pear compote, the clear rolls with duck confit and the flatiron beef with spinach. The oyster was a bit of a disappointment - to me, deep frying an oyster is sacrilege. And I really wish that places would stop featuring cocktails called a "pornstar martini."

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: capiscum

                                I ate dinner at this place over the weekend, and I didn't like it much. It was after a baseball game, and my visiting relatives wanted to check it out.
                                The food was barely average, and extremely overpriced for what you got. Some good ideas, but nothing at our table was really pulled off well.
                                The worst thing was the service. It was completely incompetent, yet annoying and intrusive at the same time. Hovering like I've never seen hovering before, and there were about 14 servers/bussers/waterboys/smarmy managers all coming by to chitchat.
                                There was a big fiasco with the bill when it came, as we were not charged properly for what was ordered, and it took forever just to get out of there.
                                I can see where they're going with this concept, they just have a little work to do.

                              2. What are my best bets at Woo? Choice of venue is out of my control, so I'm trying to cut my losses. What dishes would you consider fair to good?

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: phoenikia

                                  I went for lunch there about 3 months ago and was ok with the experience. By comparison, It's less Canadianized than the Mandarin (trying hard not to use the overused "traditional" adjective), but with a lot less selection. I stayed away from the sushi looking stuff (didn't look right to me) and took small samples of the stuff that looked good. After the first small plate, I went for the stuff that I liked best of the samples.....voila...an enjoyable meal! Like you, I had my concerns before my first visit, so perhaps its important to try to have an open mind when trying new things.

                                  1. re: T Long

                                    Thanks T Long...will try to keep an open mind;) Your reply helps me out;)

                                  2. re: phoenikia

                                    Perhaps too late...but here is my take (just ate here an hour ago)
                                    don't expect gourmet...it is after all a buffet
                                    that said, the food is better than the standard(mandarin) and better than a lot of take-out joints.
                                    The best dishes on the menu for me were:
                                    - the roast chicken thigh
                                    - the lemon-grass pork (actually tastes like lemongrass)
                                    - the stir-fried greenbeans
                                    - Steamed sole (turnover is high at lunch so it wasn't wayyy overcooked)
                                    - the kimchi at the salad table was nice as was the cucumber + chicken thing
                                    - the desserts are limited but the choc cake gets devoured as fast as they can bring it out and the fresh strawberries don't hurt either

                                    1. re: meatnveg

                                      Not too late- still have another 3.5 weeks until the dinner at Woo....

                                      Thanks for taking the time to recommend specific dishes! ;-)

                                          1. re: phoenikia

                                            How much is the lunch buffet? And the dinner buffet? It's not on their website.

                                            Is it like most buffet places, lunch and dinner is similar but pricier at dinner time?

                                            1. re: Chocaholic

                                              Dinner is more expensive but has more dishes e.g. sashimi, special of the day, more apps, more fish, more variety of sushi

                                            2. re: phoenikia

                                              So, I survived Woo.

                                              The sushi looked scary to me- odd colours of fish. Which turned me off trying the cooked fish and shellfish. The Indian curries (yes, Indian curries at a Chinese buffet) looked terrible enough that I didn't want to try them. The har gow (at night) looked soggy and gross.

                                              It was surprising to me that some Chinese buffet standards were missing ( like sweet & sour chicken balls, honey garlic ribs, etc.). I ended up trying some deep-fried battered chicken drizzled with gloppy lemon sauce, a bit of yellow curry chicken and a few pieces of tempura broccoli and sweet potato.The Vietnamese spring roll I tried had an off taste. Most of the items I tried were fine for what they were. Almost the same quality I'd expect at Manchu Wok.

                                              This place has a lot of dishes that you won't see on most Chinese buffets (dim sum, pho, Indian curries, Thai stuff etc) but none of the non-Chinese options looked appetizing. I've only been to Mandarin twice, and my last visit was probably in 2005, but the food at Woo was generally worse and less appetizing than what I remember from my experience at Mandarin. Not sure what the Mandarin is like lately.

                                              The one positive thing I can say is that the server/bus boy was friendly, quick and courteous.

                                              In a word:

                                              Chocoholic, it is more expensive at dinner time. It's roughly $25.

                                              1. re: phoenikia

                                                Sounds like I won't be eating there. I went to Milestones next door last weekend. Had my prime rib and mashed potatoes. Was as delicious as I rmmbred the last time I had it over near the Scotia Theater.

                                                1. re: Chocaholic

                                                  I was gonna go go to Milestone's for brunch but ended up at Woo buffet instead. It's alright for 13.95. The japanese stuff was good, had the fish (salmon and other fish) sushi, but the chinese food was so so. i guess its alright for lunch price for variety. I think they need a better cook for the chinese food. The chinese food is not so great!!! The only thing I like in the chinese cooked counter is the sweet and sour pork and asparagus. I go back just to eat the japanese stuff for lunch. Eventho I ate most of everything I took only becuz I don't want to waste food. Burp!

                                    2. I have been to Woo a couple of times. The more I go, the more disappointing it is. I have only eaten there at dinner time, so I don't know how lunch is. The first time I went, had to wait a while in line, but the food was good. Had ok sashimi, some good chinese food, but most interestingly, they served half a lobster. I was kinda excited about this because you don't see this in most of the chinese buffet.

                                      The 2nd time I went was quite disappointing. Food was not good, choices were limited, and they don't serve lobster anymore. Don't think it's worth the price anymore.

                                      1. I was there in December on a Saturday evening. I was expecting the worst as a few people I know didn't like the food at all. I was actually pleasantly surprised. I stuck to the sushi (ok), appetizers and the steamed crab legs (I loved!). Everything else was ok.

                                        I would go back again as it is a nice place to hang out, chat and eat with your friends.