The holidays is all about getting together with family to be gluttonous pigs. Christmas Dinner 2013 is Chinese hotpot at Totyotomi, a popular AYCE restaurant in Richmond (right across from cityhall and Richmond Centre). Take note: Food is plentiful but service is tragically awful. Also, it’s CASH ONLY.
I have eaten here several times and when I mean the service was awful, I really mean awful. There were past incidences of misplaced orders, lousy attitudes, dirty looks and the inability for the kitchen to produce any knife to cut our meat (they said they had no knives at the restaurant). The servers usually seem to have the world sitting on their shoulders. Their faces truly show how much they wish they weren’t working there. The restaurant is also sensitive to time limits. For further details, please see the end of the post.
First thing we noticed was the sloppy arrangement of meat. Prior to fixing the plating for the photo, the meat was almost falling off the dishes.
As for our orders, everything but 1 item came on schedule. Like most AYCE places, you order 20 slices, they give you 10. That is no problem as you can always keep ordering. Toyotomi can provide an excellent meal as they offer wide variety of items– sashimi, deep fried goods, seafood (oysters limited 1 per person), sushi rolls, most Chinese vegetables and a good selection of meats. However, this is if you order from the DELUXE menu which is $21.59 ($6.20 more than regular). In short, if you want the expensive meats, seafood, and sashimi, get the deluxe. See below for the full AYCE menu.
Toyotomi offers 13 soup bases for hotpot with each valued at $8.88 (8 is the luckiest number in Chinese culture). You can request your pot to be split for 2 soups for $1 extra. We chose the Pickled Vegetable and Egg. We had to dig around for the pickled cabbage but the century eggs we had came in huge chunks! Another popular albeit saltier choice is the Sukiyaki Beef soup. See below for the hotpot soup menu.
I am a big fan of beef sashimi and Toyotomi’s version is just delicious. They are neither stingy with the ponzu sauce or the amount of beef slices. This is FAT approved. Despite the fact the deep fried scallops were pre-made and defrosted from the freezer, they are a hit with friends.
The sashimi here come on ice in huge bowls. My family is tame in terms of AYCE but I have seen times where the cooks overload a bowl with pure sashimi. The fish is fresh– the squid is an absolute favorite of mine and I’m delighted the salmon slices were quite thick. Spicy sashimi is only available for tuna and salmon.
As mentioned earlier, sushi rolls were offered. They are nothing unique– simple tuna/salmon/California rolls, etc. However, what peaked my brother’s attention was the “Anderson Roll” which is made up of prawn tempura, avocado and spicy tuna sprinkled with tempura bits and mayo on top. We expected a roll but got one slice. It was an awkward moment staring at this lone piece. In English, the menu speaks only in “rolls” while in Chinese, we suspect they count it only in pieces. As a result, there was some disappointment at our table. However, my brother claims the Anderson “Roll” was nothing special.
Other restaurant observations:
Please be aware of the following:
- The restaurant is packed on weekends. Make reservations!
- Bring only cash!
- Use the building’s free parking lot. Entrance is beside Toyotomi!
- If you park there, register your licence plate with them in the waiting area
- Prepare lack luster service– the servers often do not look or act happy
- From experience, they don’t like to offer customers knives to cut up their meat
- If your meat is too fatty, you can request leaner parts. You must ask!
- All-You-Can-Drink is only possible if everyone in your table orders it.
- They are strict with the allowed 1 hour 45 min time limit. The time starts ticking once someone in your party is seated. If your full party has not arrived, you have the option to wait and not be seated yet.
- They enforce penalties on wasted food at $1/piece and post other people’s waste records on walls. One time, my father did not eat 3 pieces of fish because he suspected it had gone bad (it tasted different). They tried to charge him for it until he kicked up a huge fuss about the quality of their seafood.
Despite the difficulties encountered in the past, we dined here again. Simply focusing on the hotpot and sashimi, Toyotomi is a popular choice for crowds. To some degree, the menu trumps all. My stomach obviously agreed.
Here’s the AYCE menu. Deluxe AYCE items are shaded.