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.
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…