REVIEW: New Lotso Garden Cafe Dinner Buffet at Toy Story Hotel Leaves Us Disappointed
The new Toy Story Hotel just celebrated its grand opening at Tokyo Disney Resort, and we’re here to check it out. For dining onsite, the only option is the Lotso Garden Cafe, which offers buffet meals for both breakfast and dinner. So naturally, we stopped in to check it out!
The Lotso Garden Cafe is located just off the lobby to the right, cleverly themed as a storybook. We presume the portrayal of Lotso is more in line with how his fictional designers would imagine him than as the scheming villain of “Toy Story 3”.
Right at the entrance, guests are greeted with a Lotso statue and photo op, which nearby Cast Members will gladly assist diners with.
Throughout the restaurant are faux trees in a flat art style cleverly hidden within support columns.
Murals throughout the restaurant depict Lotso in his garden with the animals, harvesting fruits for all to enjoy.
A giant lit rainbow also bisects most of the restaurant.
Table design is pretty basic, with plain white tables flanked by green or orange chairs. Booths feature green upholstery.
The buffet features two identical areas, with both offering the same food. It’s useful to bounce back and forth if you’re looking for the cuter items to be replenished.
As Japan is still taking precautions against COVID-19, guests are required to sanitize their hands and wear gloves at all times when using the buffet.
Decorative pot lids can be found at both buffets. We saw the Little Green Man both of our visits, although Lotso also makes an appearance.
The buffet is pretty standard in design, with serveware and trays available below so guests can jump in at any point in the line. But now it’s time for the most important part — the review!
Chicken Cream Stew
What else would you expect other than fairly bland. The chicken bits are fine and the soup had a nice texture, but it was served pretty close to cold. A minus in our eyes.
Chicken Gizzards and Mushrooms in Garlic Olive Oil
These were quite good as well, actually. It was served fairly warm in a delicious oil that greatly enhanced the flavor of the chicken. Mushrooms were well-cooked and not yet soggy.
Sticky brown rice with cheese, carrots, and spinach. It makes for a nice combination and a bit more interesting than plain white rice, but it’s still not as good as something like true fried rice. Nonetheless, we wouldn’t mind eating a bit more.
Pan-fried Noodles with Seafood
We weren’t really sure where the “seafood” was here, they just tasted like cold, plain noodles. And cold, plain noodles are boring, let’s be honest. Pass.
Salmon and Fish Mousse
Maybe it’s because we got the end of this batch, but the salmon was rather dry on this one. It didn’t come apart easily and was rather unpleasant to eat, although the fish mousse on top provided a nice accent. If the salmon was more fresh, we probably would’ve enjoyed it more.
The gribiche sauce, which is essentially a cold egg sauce, added very little to the flavor itself, but did compliment the fish mousse well with a different texture.
Hamburger in Demi Glace Sauce
Pretty standard fare not just in buffets in Japan, but across Japan in general. They like these patties in demi-glace sauce, and it’s not terrible, but not all that inspired either. The was well done and slathered in sauce, but still only lukewarm. They had trouble keeping things hot here, for sure. Nonetheless, it wasn’t bad.
Chicken Nuggets and French Fries
Can’t go wrong with chicken nuggets and French fries! Tokyo Disney Resort does a surprisingly good job with their nuggets, keeping them juicy and warm while packing in delicious (and surprisingly high grade-tasting) chicken. The fries were a bit less salty than we would’ve preferred, but McDonald’s is always in Ikspiari if we need that extra sodium fix. A plus for picky eaters for sure.
Cream of Corn Soup
It’s creamy and warm (unlike most of the food here), and it tastes like corn liquefied, with some corn kernels thrown in. It’s a nice, filling addition, but isn’t anything special.
Rice is rice, and this is Japan. If anyone messed this up, there would be riots. Fortunately, it’s good quality rice with a pleasant taste as rice goes, and sticks together well.
Those who desire can add some chicken curry to their rice. It has a nice chicken taste to it with no spice, as Japanese curry rarely does by default.
Pork and Cabbage in Chinese Sweet Miso Sauce
We were pleasantly surprised by these (which always seemed to be nearly out when we passed by). The cabbage makes for an excellent garnish to a tender piece of cold pork, with the sauce adding a nice salty-tangy flavor that accents the pork well.
Vegetable Curry Tortilla Wrap
These tortilla wraps make a nice choice for vegetarians in your party, although not explicitly described as such. The curry inside is again a non-spicy type, with the rest of the wrap pieces being close to what you might find in a deli spread from the grocery store. Certainly not terrible either way, and in fact one of the nicer and more consistent items available on the menu.
Tuna Carpaccio with Tomato Balsamic Sauce
One of our favorites on the buffet for sure, with a tender piece of tuna that practically melts in your mouth alongside a delightful tomato balsamic sauce, definitely worth grabbing two or three of the serving spoons on your way around.
Smoked Salmon and Cod Salad
Considering our previous disappointment in the cooked salmon, we were pleased with the raw salmon and cod option. Both were refreshing and subtle as they should be, playing into each other’s flavor palates quite well.
Potato and Green Pea Tart
If you’re skeptical based on the name… we were too. It’s like a mini quiche but with pea mush instead. Probably not the best choice all, but certainly not the worst. And it sort of looks like Buzz Lightyear!
Potato Mousse with Bell Pepper Sauce
Meanwhile, Jessie’s dish is a potato mousse with bell pepper sauce, which was just bad. It was like yogurt that went bad, unpleasant from beginning to end. It makes for a cute picture, but definitely doesn’t translate into taste well.
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Seafood and Couscous Salad
If this is your sort of thing then you won’t be disappointed, although that crumbly texture you get from couscous or quinoa isn’t really our favorite. Certainly could’ve been worse, like the mousse it sits in front of. The plainness of the couscous overrules any seafood flavor you might otherwise get.
Crisp greens and some fresh bell peppers made this an excellent addition, especially when paired with the three dressings.
Lemon, Japanese-Style, and Thousand Island Dressings
Not much to describe outside of the obvious, they are exactly as described on the label and if any of these dressings are your style then you’ll enjoy them with your salad.
These very thinly sliced vegetables were around at both breakfast and dinner, and didn’t really serve much purpose. They were so thinly sliced and dry that they hardly retained any flavor, but weren’t crispy like chips. Imagine trying to make chips out of vegetables and forgetting to fully dry them, and you’ll get how these were.
Whatever this was, it was certainly like no caprese we’ve ever had, and not something we were fond of. The pink-white mush tasted like egg salad, which didn’t really go over well with the cherry tomatoes provided or the mozzarella balls, or at least what was left of them. People were mostly picking those off and leaving the tomatoes behind.
Pumpkin & Cream Cheese Salad
This was a surprise winner, with a delightful pumpkin taste (and American pumpkin at that rather than the more savory Japanese pumpkin) that mixed with the cream cheese well to create a rich and delightful addition to the buffet. A winner for sure.
Strawberry Carrot Salad
Where the “strawberry” was supposed to be, we weren’t entirely sure. These tasted like shredded carrots soaked in vinegar, not at all a pleasant flavor that just ruins these entirely.
Potato and Meat au Gratin
Their fancy way of saying “shepherd’s pie”, this was probably the best thing on the entire buffet. A wonderful mix of mashed potatoes, spices, ground beef, with a delicious gravy on the bottom which tied it all together. This might be Tokyo’s best attempt at shepherd’s pie, which they’ve tried a couple of times lately with varying degrees of success. Plus how cute is that design on top?
These were always dry and unpleasant, there’s a tendency to cook all of the flavor and juices out of vegetables when they do this at Tokyo Disney Resort, so we weren’t surprised at our disappointment.
Walnut and Raisin Bread
Both of these breads were well done for what they should’ve been. The cheese bread had a pleasant salty flavor that mixed well, with a crusty outside and soft interior. The only thing we would’ve enjoyed more was if these were fresh out of the oven. Meanwhile the walnut-raisin bread was mildly sweet, blending the nutty and semi-sweet palates together with the soft bread within to make a nice addition to any dessert plate.
The spinach bread surprisingly wasn’t all that spinach-y, in all honest. It had just a hint of something close to a greens flavor, but certainly nothing near a level that should put off your average Joe. Plus the Little Green Men design, like all other cute food here, is lovely!
The idea of the chocolate spread is to decorate your Little Green Man with eyes and a mouth, a task that proves surprisingly difficult to do if you get a bottle with a bad nozzle.
Strawberry Melon Bread
Strawberry Melon Bread in the shape of Lotso himself is on offer at both meals, and was easily among our favorites. Bear in mind that we love melonpan in general, but the crusty, sugary top made for a nice addition to the buttery, flaky interior. Truly cute food worthy in both look and taste, and a can’t-miss on the buffet.
Butter and Jelly
The melon, pineapple, and orange slices were all fine enough, although the former two mostly likely had been frozen before.
Mango Roll Cake
We’ve expressed our general displeasure many times on this site for the Japanese tendency to err towards fluffy fuwafuwa-type desserts rather than more rich choices, and this roll cake is no exception. The mango flavor tasted far too artificial for our liking, although the design was certainly cute. Probably not the worst if you can get past the strange mango, but it wasn’t our favorite dessert.
Another light and fluffy choice, this time with a half strawberry slice on top to add to the sponge cake and frosting. It could be worse, but it certainly could’ve been better. Like most things at this buffet, it was alright.
Strawberry Cream Puffs
These were surprisingly nice, with a somewhat rich strawberry cream inside and another strawberry half to compliment. The outside was a bit crusty like melon bread, which added a nice extra touch you rarely see from cream puffs. Definitely worth grabbing a couple!
Just like the one we tried at Chef Mickey a few months ago except with even more fruit pieces, it has a delicious and crumbly crust combined with mango pudding on top that just dances on your taste buds! This one is a must-have for sure!
White Chocolate Mousse
The best dessert by far, with a fresh piece of mango on top of a white chocolate mousse, icing, and finally the blue jelly. The jelly itself felt pretty unnecessary but didn’t necessarily distract from anything either. Grab half of this cake while you’re there, you won’t be disappointed.
We never were able to catch this when it was fresh, and everyone always felt compelled to cut out the words “Lotso Garden Cafe” at the bottom first. But nonetheless, it’s still cute! Lotso’s tiramisu certainly lives up to the hype. The bold flavors of cocoa and a lighter espresso come together with savory mascarpone cheese to make another pleasant dessert. Bonus points if you get a corner piece with the strawberry, as we were always unable to.
Guests also have a choice of coffees and teas available with their meal. Three Coke Freestyle stations were also ready, two at each buffet and one at the back of the restaurant.
All in all, Lotso Garden Cafe’s dinner buffet joins Chef Mickey and Sherwood Garden Restaurant in the league of mediocre buffet fare at Tokyo Disney Resort. It’s a field we would love to see them improve upon, but it seems the reforms and updates we’ve started to see across some menus around the resort just haven’t made it to buffets yet.
Even if the resort was open to those without reservations, we wouldn’t recommend a dedicated trip. But if you’re already at the resort, you might as well give it a go.
Lotso Garden Cafe is open 6:00p.m. to 9:00p.m. for dinner every day, and reservations for both the restaurant and a stay at the Toy Story Hotel are required to dine.
What would you want to try from the Lotso Garden Cafe? Let us know in the comments below!
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