Seafood Symphony

todai-041

I had my heart set on seafood.  We had planned to get together with the BBQ Extended Family over Easter break and we usually get together around food.  Inspired by fellow blogging nerd Jane, we had our sights on hitting up the legendary road side fish market, Malibu Seafoods.   Poor weather, a healing ankle, and post-grad school work were all factors in rescheduling to a later date.  We decided we should still get together for lunch.  A vote sent us to Todai, a Japanese buffet restaurant at the Puente Hills Mall in City of Industry (who in the world named that town?).

A Todai sushi chef preparing a beautiful slab of salmon for all to see!

A Todai sushi chef preparing a beautiful slab of salmon for all to see!

Usually, buffets are a smorgasborg of mediocre offerings.  Less-than-stellar renditions of everyday food that sit in steam tables waiting to get sneezed on by unsupervised children.  You don’t find everyday food at Todai (unless you’re a ninja or samarai).  And there aren’t a whole lot of snot-nosed kids, either!  I didn’t count, but there are probably close to a couple dozen different sushi choices.  The artistry of this traditional Japanese craft is definitely a feast for the eyes.  In my opinion, sushi is the most beautiful food on earth.  But I didn’t come to Todai to gawk (which I did as we waited for the rest of the fam to arrive), I came to gorge!  We prayed and it was on!  I went for some nigiri (which is a strip of raw fish laid lovingly on a ball of sticky rice), and an array of sushi rolls (which can have either raw or cooked seafood, usually with some veggies, rolled up in rice and seaweed).

My nigiri standards are ahi tuna and salmon.  Both were fresh, with absolutely no smell.  The tuna was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and the salmon beautifully rich.  I decided to try an unlabeled white fish that had a small piece of lemon on it.  I fell in love!  Went back for more and was told it was white tuna.  Never heard of that before.  It didn’t have the buttery consistency of the ahi, but I actually liked it’s firmer texture better.  The lemon was a beautiful touch.  I had a couple other pieces of nigiri that were weirdly chewy (I think it was tilapia).  I don’t get how raw fish can be chewy.

The BBQthDirector's first plate.  The total number of plates I loaded up is none of your business.

The BBQthDirector's first plate. The total number of plates I loaded up is none of your business.

The rolls were good.  The California rolls (crab and avocado) were pretty standard and the spicy tuna nice, but not spicy.  The unagi (eel) was pretty terrible.  Very fishy.  On the other end of the spectrum were two culinary masterpieces.  The smoked salmon roll was incredible (you know me and smoke!).  It had cucumber and cream cheese and an interesting sauce on it.  Then there was the tempura battered roll.  Absolute love!  I had no idea what was in it, but it was so good, it coulda been possum and I’d go back over and over.  Turned out to be my favorite of the bunch.  Even my corn-fed, meat and potatoes out-law, Dan, liked it (props to him for getting a bit adventurous and trying some of the raw stuff–which he didn’t really like).

Just for kicks, I went after some of the cooked food.  I like teriyaki so I sampled both the chicken and beef along with some pot stickers, tempura vegetables, fried rice, and chow mein to round out the plate.  The teriyaki and fried rice was no better than the stuff you can get at chinese fast food places and the chow mein had a strong ginger flavor that I wasn’t down with.  The tempura was nicely crisp and very good all around, as were the pot stickers.  Overall, the cooked food was just decent.  Next time, I’ll pass.

Dessert Crepe the "Jay Way"!

Dessert Crepe the "Jay Way"!

A nice surprise was the crepe station.  They griddle it fresh on demand and give you some nice choices for fillings: raspberry sauce, bananas, peaches, mandarin oranges, pineapple and whipped cream.  There’s also chocolate and caramel sauce and powdered sugar for topping off.  Very enjoyable!  The BBQthDirector had one with whipped cream, raspberry sauce, bananas, chocolate sauce and powdered sugar.  I went back for one with whipped cream, raspberry sauce and mandarin oranges.  The BBQ Kids had a great time experimenting with combinations as well!  There was also a dessert section with a bunch of bite-sized cakes and such that were all just okay.  The crepes are definitely the way to go.  Don’t waste any gastronomical real estate on the other stuff!

So, for a “Plan B” type of thing, Todai came through.  I’ll definitely return.

The BBQ Extended Family with BBQ Boy III jumping in at just the right moment!

The BBQ Extended Family with BBQ Boy III jumping in at just the right moment!

Todai Sushi & Seafood Buffet on Urbanspoon

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12 comments so far

  1. Jane on

    Wow, “stellar”…that’s pretty rad, Jay!
    I’ve never had sushi, but I have always been afraid to try it! I love Chinese food, but think I’ll stick with my cooked entrees!

  2. jaynepomuceno on

    C’mon, Jane, where’s your sense of adventure? If the “College Class Director” can do it, you can!

    James B. (my photo tutor), I haven’t had the chance to pick up a mini tripod. Didn’t want you to think I was skipping my homework. I was much more aware of trying to use natural light. The restaurant was poorly lit.

  3. giantsfreak on

    I love Todai!!! I have never understood why people don’t try sushi, when I came home for Christmas sushi was the first thing I ate because I am not sure people even know what sushi is in Wisconsin.

  4. Jane on

    Well you know, I’ll try anything at once! It just doesn’t seem like anything I would enjoy, even if it were good I don’t know if I could get over the thought of it! But it’s not something I will go out of my way to get. But someday, I will try sushi!

  5. Renae on

    I can’t eat sushi, because I am allergic to shellfish. I am not brave enough to venture into a restaurant with uncooked shellfish floating around because I can have serious allergic reaction from just touching it, not to mention ingesting it. 🙂 With all of that said, I am glad you enjoyed it and had a great time!

  6. Robb on

    JAY!!! u like sushi?!?!? oh my soul!!! it is one of my top 5 most hated foods by me!! wow!! EWW!!!!!!!!!

  7. jaynepomuceno on

    Daniel, even if you found a sushi place there in Podunk, WI, I wouldn’t trust it. You’re a bit far from the ocean. What are your favorite sushi choices? Do you go for the raw stuff?

  8. S.J. on

    Jay, that comment about you and smoke… yeah I know how you are with it. I see you smoking in your office all the time. What a horrid testimony and now you flaunt it in your blog… tisk tisk. (;-))

    OH, and Jay, you need to take me out for some REAL sushi. I like the fake stuff so I’m sure to love the real stuff. 😀

  9. S.J. on

    haha that first smiley was supposed to be like this ( 😉 )
    or something like that…

  10. giantsfreak on

    I agree with the comment about sushi in Wisconsin, and I pretty sure I haven’t had anything raw yet but I will try just about anything once.

  11. Becka on

    I’ve had sushi (not the raw stuff) and it wasn’t too bad! I kinda liked it, but not enough to think of it as a treat or anywhere close. Btw, we have great seafood in DE! 🙂

  12. jaynepomuceno on

    Yeah, Becka, I’m sure the Atlantic Ocean provides some nice marine fare. I’d say its the second best ocean in the world!


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