Monday, January 23, 2012

Don’t do dining @Oka (Japanese Restaurant The Hague)

Rest of my blog is usually very positive, but today I had a must share experience. Let me explain.

My lovely wife Marzena is celebrating her 31st birthday today. Because of #LS12 was a week earlier than normal; this is a chance to celebrate with her in person. For the past 10 years we do so going out and eat Japanese. Trust me; we’ve had all Japanese restaurants in The Hague and Amsterdam already.

I’m trying something new this time: Oka in The Hague. According to their website, they earned the best spot in ranking for Japan restaurants around here. What a disaster, they deserve to go bankrupt. And I mean it. Read on if you want to learn why...

We order the best menu, that includes ao. lobster and champagne spoom. After 10 minutes, we’re informed they ran out of lobster (it is 19.00 on Saturday ;-) so we’re offered to replace that part of our menu with something else. Not to spoil our evening we do.

How can you run out of lobster? Only by killing the electricity on your tank or because you don’t dare to run a stock big enough for four people to order it.

In terms of wine, I decide to order a bottle of 2006 Chablis Premier Cru. When the wine arrives, I’m offered to taste first. Looking at the etiquette, I notice the bottle is from 2009 – not 2006. The waitress quickly responds that she wasn’t aware of this, and upon asking the boss she returns and says the 2006 is no longer available. She adds that she has no knowledge whatsoever of wines; it was her boss who handed her this wine. I responded by telling her that I understand, but that I would like to see the wine-card again.

Up comes another woman, who introduces herself as the owner. This is something that I appreciate very much. Her first question is if I had noticed that the bottle had been opened already, prior to me tasting. I indicated that I hadn’t come to the point of tasting, as I was under the impression that the lady was showing me the bottle first, prior to opening it, judging the corke and tasting its contents. The moment she showed the bottle, I confronted her with the fact that this wasn’t the bottle I had ordered (fyi: the wine had already been opened).

Her reply was that she could perfectly appreciate drinking that bottle herself, tonight. My response was confirmative, but I also mentioned that the bottle was -by far- not what I had ordered. At this stage she returned with –what now had became her bottle- and gave me back the wine-card to order an alternative.
A while later she returned, again indicating she was perfectly fine finishing that bottle herself. And again I wished her a pleasant evening, but also mentioned that I it was not my intention to cause harm to her business by refusing something I hadn’t ordered in the first place. I invited her to come with a suggestion, being the owner of the business. She finally understood and offered a good solution that I promptly accepted.

The cook on our table is young and innocent. No show at all, just acting like a robot, like a real junior. Must admit he did his best, and was friendly. However he simply cannot compete with any of the real Japanese artists you’d normally expect at places that high in rank.

Our –what is supposed to be- champagne spoom arrives. Lovely glass, excellent ice-cream inside. Now guess what they put inside the glass: a cheap Spanish bubble wine!

If the menu talks about champagne, I expect Champagne, as in the protected brand from France. The real stuff, not some cheap kind of Spanish or Italian imitation.

I decided not to confront them. All tasted relatively well, and my purpose was having a good night with my wife. Further down the evening, same boring cooking experience while having to stay sharp and ask the waitress to refill our glasses. 

At the end of our evening –after 2.5 hours- we decided to skip desert. We had seen enough and had eaten enough to survive the rest of the night. Picked up the bill, even gave a significant tip (for Dutch standards).

At this point the owner comes again, explaining that this must have been not our best evening. (I’m sure she must have meant it wasn’t her best evening.) She offers us a 25% discount on our next visit. I thank her very much for this gesture.

We leave, to find out that nobody wants to hand us our coats. At this stage, I decide to place the 25% discount voucher back on the counter and walked away.

My conclusion: I would not recommend this experience to anyone else, regardless the bill or any 25% off. Instead I’d rather recommend the owner to change, or go bankrupt.

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