I have an habit to let the staff or chef choose my meal when I’m at a restaurant. When I tell other people about it, usually their first reaction is either “so, what if they serve you something you don’t like” or “hahaha, so, you’ll get the food that is expired”. Some will ask “really, does that make you happy?”. Here’s to surprise dinners.

Yes. I dare to argue that letting others choose will actually make you enjoy your dinner more.

A simple example.

Non-surprise dinners

Let’s go regular order first. Many people like carpaccio. So when it’s on a menu, many people will order it. They will have had different carpaccio’s in their life and will have a set expectation. They will subconsciously remember that amazing carpaccio they had on that rooftop terrace in Capri, the last time they made carpaccio themselves or that experience once when they had dinner at that Michelin star restaurant and they had Wagyu beef carpaccio. Even if you did not have these experiences, you probably had your fair share of carpaccio in your life, so chances are you had better. Some wil even start spoiling their own expectations by saying things like “man, carpaccio, that was a long time, I am soooo looking forward to having some”. So, when you get your carpaccio, it must be pretty friggin’ amazing to actually make a lasting impression. In all cases, expectations are ruining your experience.

Surprise dinners

Let’s go omakase. You do not know what you are going to get. So when you get carpaccio, you’re fine. You’re not overwhelmed by the staff’s originality in choosing your meal, but you’re fine. No high expectations beforehand, no expectations that ruined your experience.

This is actually exactly what happened when I had dinner with a friend at a restaurant in Amsterdam recently. The table next to us, chose carpaccio (and said they had better), we got carpaccio and we’re totally happy.

And it works for every dinner.
Choosing your dinner creates not only expectations (that are hardly ever met), it also creates the problem of opportunity costs, the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen (because you chose carpaccio, you weren’t able to choose the tomato soup).

Letting staff choose solves both issues. No high expectations that are not met, no opportunity cost. And on the upside, more surprise and a great store to share.

So yes, omakase, letting staff choose my meal makes me a happier man. Surprise dinners.

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