The very popular US seafood buffet, Todai, which has locations mainly on the east and west coast of the US, has slowly expanded into Asia, opening up restaurants in Hong Kong and Korea. On a recent visit to the Chicago ('burbs) location, I discovered they are planning to open in Beijing and Shanghai this year (as well as opening a lot more restaurants in Korea).
Todai locations are always huge restaurants, which have an unbelievable variety of food. The main (and only) reason to go is for the sushi, though obviously its not of the highest quality. There is also a hot foods station (most are borderline inedible), a noodle station, and a desser station.
The idea of Todai in China sort of came as a shock. I'm not sure where the Beijing and Shanghai versions will be located or when they'll be opening this year (can anyone on the ground can provide more info?), but wherever it is, the competition is going to be fierce. Each city already has a number of sushi buffets or low priced (at least during lunch), quick sushi options. The prices of Todai is what I think will kill it in China. In Chicago, during the week its $15 for lunch and $25 for dinner (more on the weekends, but they add crab legs and other high end offerings). However, in Hong Kong, the lunch price is the same as the US, but dinner goes up to $31. In Korea it's even worse, lunch is $21, while dinner is $29.
Without them improving their offerings from what is served in the US, I can't imagine paying RMB115 for lunch or RMB200 for dinner at Todai when there are so many alternatives. While it may be able to gain some popularity among the expat community, how will the Chinese take to the idea?