Woo Buffet Restaurant & Lounge
Woo Buffet Restaurant & Lounge is perched atop Yonge-Dundas Square, amid the massive billboards, neon lights, towering televisions and retail outlets. It's the new player in Toronto's buffet and lounge scene, or shall I say, the only player. Stepping out from the shadow of his father of Star Walk Buffet fame, owner and operator Wayne Woo set out to create a new and exciting venue while living by the motto stick to what you know.
Entering 10 Dundas East, we ascend the three levels of escalators arriving at Woo. Our booth offers a grand view of Yonge-Dundas Square. Avoiding a more traditional decor, the dining room is a well-conceived attempt at the modern restaurant-lounge while accommodating the formality necessary to offer a buffet-style food service, i.e. prepared food islands.
After a failed attempted at an a-la-carte-only menu, Woo has returned to what he does best, and, with the help of newly appointed Executive Chef Chris Kanka, implemented a rotating menu of fusion-inspired cuisine featuring unlimited Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Vietnamese eats. Sadly, the impressive breadth of Woo's offerings translates to a lack of depth in many of the more complex dishes.
The sushi at the Japanese station includes oily mackerel, buttery soft salmon, bbq eel, and impressive tamago (egg). Unfortunately the sushi rice is over-cooked and tightly packed which gives the nigiri a moist and somewhat mushy mouth feel. The tempura suffers from re-used oil. The deep fried crab claw with shrimp paste is light, perfectly fried and delicious.
In good Star Walk tradition, the Chinese station offers buffet classics such as fall-off-the-bone bbq spare ribs, delicate steamed fish, crispy sweet and sour pork, mussels and noodles; none memorable but all edible enough.
The dim sum station features four unlabeled steamers containing steamed buns; banana leaf wrapped rice, and steamed shrimp dumplings. The dumplings, thick with an abundance of dumpling skin come with surprisingly tasty shrimp. Most popular is the hearty butternut squash and shark fin although they should really stop serving this and go watch the movie Sharkwater.
The glowing centre buffet islands offer chilled items like ketchupy mango salad, deviled egg, fusilli and subtly spiced cold shrimp.
Desserts include an insanely dense and chocolaty cake, sweet and toasty coconut macaroons, refreshing and subtly coconuty jelly cake, exceptionally fresh fruit and ice cream.
Dinner runs $20.95 (weekends $23.95), and lunch is $13.95.
Photos by Jason Lam