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Tokyo Shanghai Bistro Opens on Elmwood

Tokyo Shanghai Bistro opened last Friday at 494 Elmwood Avenue between Hodge and West Utica, and business is booming already.

The menu is quite extensive, with Japanese and Chinese options including sushi, and an unlimited buffet that is eat-in ($6.95) or take-out ($5.50/lb).  Because there is so much on it, I recommend picking up a take-out menu, which is the same as the eat-in menu, as a sort of study guide – and because it has a a coupon for $5.00 off on a tab of $30 or more until October 31st.
The only problem with Tokyo Shanghai is deciding what to eat; the inside of the large trifold menu is all Japanese, while the outside is all Chinese.  My waitress said that she makes a lot of trips back and forth while people decide, and I understand why.  Lunch as a singleton made choosing even more difficult because I knew a wouldn’t have any companion(s) from whose plate(s) I could do a wider sampling, and so I decided on the Vegetable Tempura Bento Box ($8.95) and a pot of Oolong Tea ($1.50).
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Other than the buffet, which is Chinese, there are a lot of lunch specials, ranging from $8.95 to $11.95 on the Japanese side of the menu, and Chinese dishes start around $5.00, and go to $8.25 for single dishes.  
Then there are dinner choices that include soup, salad and fried rice, and go from $10.95 for vegetable dishes, up to $26.95 for lobster.  I would say Tokyo Shanghai is reasonable, and that you can feed yourself very well on any budget, depending on how you navigate the menu.
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Owner David Wong (above, with hostess Michelle) comes from a restaurant family in New York City.  He says he’s been actively in the restaurant business since he was 14 years old.  When friends of his came here for college, he started researching Buffalo and through the Buffalo News and Buffalo Rising, he learned a lot about the city.  “Those are the two top search results,” he says, “and that’s how I fell in love with Elmwood Avenue.”  
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In the last 3 or 4 years, Wong says he’s been back and forth a lot, and was able to spend time here, scouting locations for the restaurant he hoped to open.  Located in the former Rice Paddy location, Wong says all the restaurant needed was “some touching up to bring out the potential.  Everything was mostly all here.”  It’s pretty and warm inside and roomy enough where you won’t feel like your sitting in the laps of your fellow diners, even when it’s crowded. The tables are spaced out nicely on the beautiful hardwood flooring Wong installed, and there are tables and booths.

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Wong says he worked this whole endeavor out in less than a month when it came down to 
signing the lease.  He says he already had the connections back home, and when it was time, he brought his chefs in from NYC.  “I knew exactly who I needed in here,” Wong says.
“I knew there was room for another great restaurant on Elmwood,” Wong says, “and this is everything I thought it would be.”  When asked if he lives in the neighborhood, Wong answers, “I had to.  I love the diversity here, and the way there’s always something to do.  It’s just like it looked online; you have to fall in love with it.”
About that family back home – I asked Wong if the people whose top chefs I feared he’d stolen had come to check out his new place.  “Oh, yes, they were here,” he says.  “They love it too.”
494 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222
Fax: 716.886.3808
Mon – Thurs: 11AM to 10:30PM
Friday & Saturday: 11AM to 11:30PM
Sunday: Noon to 10PM
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