One of the things that my oldest daughter really wanted to do before we left the Netherlands was to visit the new Westfield mall in Leidschendam... for my wife and I, that was like a nightmare in the asking. However, given that the Netherlands doesn't really have malls... the concept of it was pretty new and interesting for her, and hopefully after a single visit she would be cured of that horrible curiosity! On the other hand, Australia is full of malls... and somehow, kids are attracted to these shining flashy beacons of excess consumerism.
So, we decided to visit the new mall... and I have to say that there is something sort of nice about a mall that has been very newly built... it exudes a sense of wealth or something that makes it less of a nightmare to walk through. However, the entire occasion is still an exhausting exercise and something that I have absolutely no interest in...
... however, one thing that I do love about malls are the food halls. And this particular new mall in Leidschendam actually had some sit down restaurants as well! Japanese food is always a hit with our girls (and the parents), and so we thought that we would try this Tatsu out... Japanese food can be a bit hit and miss in Europe and always pricey... so, this was a touch risky, but why not?
Like the whole of the mall... the newly built Tatsu restaurant exudes a sense of class and exclusivity. It is secluded in the corner of the food hall, and the longish entrance gives it a "set-apart" sort of feel compared to the rest of the food hall... however, the rest of the food hall doesn't look too shabby either!
Weirdly enough, each table is enclosed in these sort of cage-like bars... initially it feels a bit weird, but it does give a sense of privacy whilst being able to view the whole floor... unexpectedly nice!
Like many Japanese style restaurants in Den Haag, the restaurant operates an electronic menu with a tablet assigned to each table. From here you can order what you want from the "all you can eat" menu. Some things will cost a touch extra, but most things are covered under the single fixed charge per person. That said, the price is a touch steep if you aren't planning to sit down for a few hours... or are a family of small eaters like ours! So, we opted to sit for a couple of hours and slowly eat our fill....
When we first arrived, the tablets that restaurants would use for these tables were cutting edge 2010 tech... in other words, it was pretty janky at best. These days, technology in mobile has plateaued significantly, and even cheapish tablets are more than adequate to run an ordering and menu viewing app... Just tap on what you want, and send the order to the kitchen and within a few minutes your food will start arriving! This is much better than the MacDonalds type of fast food!
Of course, if you are particularly old-fashioned or just want to order "a la carte", you can also do that. I'm not sure if it ends up cheaper or not... but if you are here for a snack rather than a lunch or dinner, it certainly will be!
Something to keep in mind for the "all-you-can-eaters"... like most of the places in Den Haag with this "unlimited" menu, they discourage waste by charging you extra on unfinished plates. This is definitely a good idea, as it does make people think about what they are ordering... better to go a couple of smaller rounds instead of just hogging everything and leaving lots of wasted food.
So, there was a huge selection of food that we ended up ordering... I'm only going to post a few highlights here, otherwise I would have ended up taking more photos than actually eating! Now that the girls are bigger, I do have to start fighting for more own share of the food!
To start with, a Japanese restaurant is going to have to have decent sushi... and we were quite pleasantly surprised! Most of the time in Europe, the sushi is pretty damn ordinary... but Tatsu managed to make some really really nice looking pieces, and more importantly decent tasting ones as well! No cold crunchy rice here... or soggy...
The seaweed salad was an unexpected hit with the little one... seaweed is a favourite of the older girl (and the parents), and it is nice and healthy too... so, it was quite weird to see the little one pig it down! She isn't usually a fan of green things... unlike her sister.
Mmmmmm... Miso soup... Miso soup is another one of these things that I always will have to have at a Japanese place. It is one of these things that can quite easily be too salty or just somehow plain wrong. No worries here!
Ahhhh... Eel is one of my top favourites always. Normally, it comes at an extra price, so I was quite happy to see that the eel sushi was included as regulars in the "unlimited" menu... I could eat as many as I wanted without regret!
Gyoza are also a regular on our Japanese restaurant trips... both of the girls love the Japanese dumplings. I also like them, and my wife prefers them over the Chinese ones. Somehow they are lighter with the pastry, but I would happily eat whichever dumpling was placed in front of me!
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So, there was quite a bit more of mixed foods... meats, rice dishes, noodles... fried fish... everything was done perfectly, and I had absolutely no complaints. Decent cuts of meat as well... sometimes there are places that skimp with horrible cuts of meat, and that always ruins everything when you are chewing and chewing away at a particularly touch piece of overcooked thing.
Okay... I still hate shopping malls, but I have rediscovered my love for the food halls that inhabit these horrible palaces of consumerism. Tatsu was a pretty classy place to sit down, and it did serve up some of the best Japanese food that I have had in Europe... so, that made the rest of the standing around in shops less painful.
The electronic ordering system was quick and easy, and painless.... food arrived quickly and the whole experience was just pleasant!
If I was staying in Netherlands, I think that Tatsu could quite easily become a little regular place to visit... in fact, I wonder if we could fit in another visit sometime soon before we left!
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Address: Kornoelje 101, 2262 AC Leidschendam, NETHERLANDS
Phone: 070 222 8288
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