On a most peculiar meal
31st March 2011
A local Japanese restaurant recently started offering an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Japanese food is a favourite of both mine and Joan’s, it’s only drawback being that it’s somewhat on the dear side. Thus the notion of a free-for-all sashimi tuck-in at only £14.95 a head appeals, not only because it would metaphorically lend this beleaguered country a helping hand, but also because I like to eat a LOT OF FOOD.
So last week we turned up, sauntered in and slipped effortlessly into their strangely sunken seats. The waiter approached and explained the formula. Here’s what we learnt:
a) You may only select a maximum of 13 dishes chosen from a complex system involving two different menus.
b) You have 90 minutes in which to eat and leave.
b) If there is any food left over at the end you will be PENALISED to the tune of £5.
This wasn’t a meal, it was a battle of wits.
Not only did we have no idea of the portion sizes we’d arrived late, leaving us only 45 minutes to eat up.
What if we ordered too much and couldn’t finish?
Instantly they wrong-footed us by delivering two bowls of rice.
We’d only ordered one.
We didn’t NEED this much rice.
What if we left some?
When the rest of the chow arrived it was sizable but manageable: what Joan didn’t eat I wolfed down. To be safe we’d ordered only 11 of a possible 13 dishes. We had two in hand. Once we’d finished I was still hungry. I summoned the waiter.
“Sorry sir can’t order anymore teriyaki,” he explained. “You only have one chance with second menu. Your chance to order more teriyaki gone.”
So I chose an extra portion of salmon sashimi. This wasn’t so bad as I HEART sashimi – but we still had a problem. Fearful of the £5 penalty Joan was sitting there spooning plain rice into her gob. I had some rice left too.
CCTV cameras were mounted on the walls.
The waiters watched over us.
The clock was ticking.
“Next time we come I’m bringing a bag to hide food in,” said Joan.
I beckoned over one of the waitresses.
“We’re scared about the rice,” I confessed. “What happens if we don’t finish the rice?”
She didn’t understand so called over a colleague. I tried again.
“I’ll level with you. We’re desperately concerned that if we don’t finish the rice we’ll be punished.”
I wasn’t making myself clear.
A third person was summoned.
“Hi. Look. We’re really worried about the rice situation.”
There was a long pause.
She scratched her neck.
“Oh no,” she said. “Rice not problem.”
We paid and left.
I doubt we’ll go back.