poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie

Buffet Dining 101


A couple of weeks ago, my coworker hosted a first birthday party for her daughter at Todai, a Japanese buffet in Cupertino (though it is also a national chain).  It is an immense buffet with all kinds of Japanese food (sushi, gyoza, tempura, udon), Korean food (japchae, bulgolgi), Chinese food, and a wide selection of desserts.  (No mochi though, which was disappointing.  I heart mochi.)

Growing up in a cost-concious (a.k.a. Asian) family, I was trained early on in the art of all-you-can-eat dining.  These are the rules I follow, in no particular order:
1. Stay away from fried foods.  They will fill you up.
2. Go for your favorite pricey items first, e.g. seafood, prime rib, steak, etc.
3. Don’t fill up on carbs.
4. Balance the heavy stuff with some vegetables and fruit.  It will make you feel healthier and prevent indigestion.
5. Try a little of everything first before piling your plate with something that might only be so-so.
6. It’s not all about the money: if you like something, even if it’s cheap, eat it!  This is about the whole dining experience; you might as well enjoy it.

I didn’t realize that not everyone has a “buffet philosophy” until 3 years ago, when I was talking to two friends on the way to a birthday buffet.  They thought my approach was preposterous — too focused on a strategy rather than just eating for fun.  Maybe so, but I do always get my money’s worth!

Here are photos from my dining experience at Todai.  I’ve been to another Todai (in Virginia), which I think is slightly better.  The sushi in Cupertino was only so-so, but the rest of the food was pretty good.

The sushi island of the buffet at Todai.

The sushi island of the buffet at Todai.

The rest of the buffet.

The rest of the buffet.

The casserole dish of wasabi.

The casserole dish of wasabi.

My plate #1

Plate #1. Highlight: eel nigiri.

Plate #2

Plate #2. Highlights: Teriyaki chicken and gyoza.

Plate #3

Plate #3. Highlight: Japchae!!

My dessert plate wasn’t that pretty or memorable, so I don’t have a photo of it, but I do have a photo of another dessert plate…

JY's dessert plate

JY's dessert plate (food styling by JY)

The birthday girl!  (No, I did not eat the baby...)

The birthday girl! (No, I did not eat the baby...)

Author: Jen

Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

4 thoughts on “Buffet Dining 101

  1. Haha, I have totally had this buffet dining experience. My strategy is fairly similar to your family’s. If I find something good, I usually go back and have another serving of it. Pizza is always tempting but it’s filling, I just use it as a bread substitute.

  2. Well done, easy tips that everyone can follow.

    Coming from Scotland, known for its tight purse strings
    I would say if you are going for Indian food buffet, a good tip>

    —- Use rice wisely —–

    Spread rice to the cardinal positions on the plate leaving 4 spaces. Fill 3 with samples of different food stuffs, leave the 4th open for accompanying sauces/bread (not too much)

    This way it separates the food, you control the rice (which we know is a filler) while having enough rice to eat with each dish

    This plan lets me get maximum foodage while maintaining a polite image on the plate.


  3. Nice strategy Simon! I hate it when things get mixed up at Indian buffets, because then you don’t know which one you liked (and therefore, which one to go back for for seconds).

  4. Give me that baby.

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