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Todai in Fair Oaks- Any thoughts?

epsato Dec 29, 2011 08:47 AM

As a caveat to my post, I'm about as anti-buffet as a guy can get. To me, these eateries are hotbeds of bacteria and represent the absolute worst of suburban Americana's mall parking lot restaurant culture. To me, the words "chocolate fountain" are all I need to write off a place.

So of course, in light of this, my extended family is hosting another annual get together, and again it's at a buffet restaurant. Last year's Afghani buffet was disastrously disgusting dining experience at best, so I'm now wondering if an outing to Todai in Fair Oaks is going to be equally bad?

The usual logic (from what I've read anyway) is that fish is to be avoided on Sundays and Mondays, Sunday brunch is a dumping ground, with the executive chef at home AND that buffets are to be avoided at all costs.

So what are we doing? Going to a sushi buffet on a Sunday. Am I being paranoid or does this sound like the sort of place to avoid like the plague?

Thoughts and reflections on Todai would be much appreciated. Perhaps I'm misjudging a book by its cover? Or this this place the stinkbomb I'm envisioning it to be?

  1. s
    Soup Dec 29, 2011 11:46 AM

    Not a buffet fan with two exceptions (indian and breakfast as long has they have a made to order omelet station). That being said, I been to todai only 3 times, each for dinner. My kids really like it (I.e., they had free run of what every they wanted). as for the food, it is your average standard buffet food. I have actually had a lot worse quality sushi and regular sushi places around town. I think the turn over is high so stuff doesn't sit there that long.

    I understand it can be really easy to talk the place down but it isn't that bad. And, I can understand for a large group, how it could be convenient (fix priced, everyone has a large choice and get try a bid of everything). I think you can find something you will like just not everything will be great. For $30 (least that what is was last time I went), it not bad. You do have time to steer them towards other places though.

    Would I go back to Todai? The answer is no. My curiousity has been satisfied but I wouldn't discourage anyone from going either. It's not bad.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Soup
      epsato Dec 29, 2011 12:24 PM

      Thanks Soup! I'll give the place a chance (not much I can do about it- my alternative suggestions all got rejected) but will be sure to go in with low expectations.

    2. TheMatt Dec 29, 2011 03:30 PM

      My feeling on Todai (from my experiences at lunch) is to focus on the cold items and soups and forget about the hot items.

      As Soup says, their sushi actually isn't that bad. Great, no, but you've probably had worse. They have some salads as well on the cold bar. In the middle is the soup area. Their udon soup is pretty good (hard to screw that up, really), made to order (you ring the bell or some such) and they also usually have a cold soba soup as well.

      That's the left and middle side of the restaurant, the right is dedicated to hot dishes and I've just never liked what they offer. Maybe it's better at dinner, but...

      As for desserts, it's a mixed bag of the usual tiny cakes, etc. I think they might have made-to-order crepes at dinner. If nothing else, it's a change from the usual items.

      2 Replies
      1. re: TheMatt
        Bob W Dec 30, 2011 06:51 AM

        I'll second Matt's approach. I generally stick to the sushi and salads and maybe some noodles. Just not crazy about the hot stuff. One exception -- the tempura is actually pretty good and fresh.

        I've never bothered fighting the mad rush for some lobster.

        1. re: Bob W
          TheMatt Dec 30, 2011 07:28 AM

          You know, the tempura isn't too bad. Though, maybe I'm just a fan of the salty-savory dipping sauce they have in the thermal pot next to it.

      2. Delucacheesemonger Dec 30, 2011 08:05 AM

        Have not been to your Todai, but the ones l have been to, Las Vegas, New York, suburban Philadelphia were all decent when first opened and then seemed to go downhill slowly. l stuck strictly with the sushi, always fresh, but presliced recently frozen stuff, not bad, but as said not great. Do it again , no. Also would avoid desserts, they were quite poor.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Delucacheesemonger
          Unraveled Jan 9, 2012 11:08 AM

          I've only been to the one in Fair Oaks Mall. It's definitely deteriorated over the years. I've been to them around 5 times in the past 6-7 years. It wasn't bad when I first went. A little expensive, but a lot of variety and everything seemed fresh enough.

          I went about a year ago, and it was definitely worse. The rice to fish ratio grew, and I felt like the selections were less. I don't plan to go to there again.

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