Saturday, September 17, 2016

Utrecht, Netherlands: At Zinnia Japanese Restaurant – To ‘All you can eat’ or Not

Many Japanese restaurants in the Netherlands offer the ‘All you can eat’ business model which you might think (and many do!) is value for money because you can eat as much as you can, but really, IT IS NOT!


The restaurant has a nice outdoor terrace for the warmer months.

A few months ago Dutchman and I were at Zinnia Japanese restaurant located in Transwijk Park in Utrecht southwest. We have been eyeing this restaurant for YEARS but never made it until last May when an opportunity came. There was an event in the park, the Bevrijdingsfestival (Liberation/Freedom Day Festival) which we were curious to attend. This is a yearly event and the last time we attended was many moons ago. Thus, time to re-check it out and I thought we could combine this with dinner at Zinnia.

Zinnia’s location in a park makes this restaurant quite unique. It is all green here and across it is a small animal and children’s park as well which would go well with family weekend visits. Just perfect.

While browsing the menu, Dutchman and I we were faced with a question, well rather, a decision to make – To ‘all you can eat’ or not?

Not many people are aware, or wish to acknowledge this but the ‘All you can eat’ business model in restaurants is based on profit and calculated risk. They approximately know the amount of food an average person can take. Of course you’ve got a few who can eat for 2 people but they are far and few in between, and will therefore not make the difference when summed up.

There are clearly 2 major disadvantages of this model for customers:

  • Not healthy at all – You are somewhat forced to eat more than normal because you are stuck in the ‘value for money’ limbo. The voice in your head, ‘Eat as much as you can because you paid for it!’ And followed by, ‘Eat more. It’s free!!!’ So you go home feeling sick from overeating. You actually feel like shit.
  • More expensive – Yes, this option definitely comes out more expensive than going ala carte. I mean how much can you really eat? If you go ala carte you just need a few dishes.

So our decision: GO ALA CARTE

It was the best decision for this evening because we left full in the stomach and satisfied, there was no overeating tragedy at all, hallelujah! Moreover, we paid approximately 20% less of the normal tarrif if we went for the ‘All you can eat’ option.

As for the food, we thought it was quite good, the portions were small though but that is how it is in Japanese restaurants. I noticed however that everything was salty. Maybe I had too much of the kikkoman sauce that I felt dehydrated and constantly craving for fluids the whole evening at home.

The lesson learned here: Stick to ala carte, unless you can eat like a horse.


We started with some prawn crackers from the house which are more typical Chinese than Japanese. I would not be surprised if the owner of this restaurant is a Chinese!


The first set of ala carte we ordered: Sashimi, yaki soba, tempura and roast beef.


Playing with the chopsticks with the Dutchman, and these Royal Club ginger ale drinks are quite nice and refreshing.


I like that the restaurant has glass walls. You can see the greenery around you.


I am loving the nigiris, gunkan, tempura and sashimi I ordered. We ordered some more: Yasai itami, beef steak chunks in garlic, fried chicken fingers and French fries which the Dutchman ate with chopsticks, haha.


Visit Period: May 2016
Destination: Utrecht South (Utrecht), the Netherlands

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