Restaurant fines diners who leave food on plates

One Japanese establishment says fishermen put themselves in too much danger for customers to leave roe uneaten.

By Jason Notte Feb 15, 2013 10:17AM
Image: Pair of chopsticks, close-up -- Sergei Kozak, PhotographerThe American idiom for over-ordering at restaurants is that an eater's eyes were bigger than their stomach. When that same person orders more than they can eat at one restaurant in Sapporo, Japan, their eyes may be bigger than their wallet as well.


Seafood restaurant Hachikyo makes explicitly clear on its menu that diners who fail to finish their signature dish -- the "tsukko meshi" bowl of rice topped with all-you-can-eat salmon roe -- must pay a surcharge, according to Singapore Press food site Soshiok.com.


The restaurant asks diners who don't finish every roe and grain of rice for a donation to help fishermen who risk their lives to harvest "ikura" salty salmon roe in harsh conditions.


“But what if I'm full?” Then get a friend to help, force the issue or pay the fine. “But what if that's the only size and it's more than I can eat?” Then don't order that particular $25 dish. “But human beings can only eat so much and overeating leads to obesity!” Again, if diners are going to be this cheap and whiny about it, maybe they should consider something else on the menu.


The food reviewers at RocketNews24 were a bit taken aback by Hachikyo's “grain of rice” edict, but here in the U.S. an over-ordering surcharge isn't a completely uncommon practice. Chinese buffets, Korean barbecues and all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants will often tack a few extra bucks onto the bill for diners who loaded up on more than they can chew.


Say what you will about sunk cost, but wasted seafood is becoming an expensive problem for restaurants like Hachikyo. The documentary “Jiro Dreams Of Sushi,” which debuted last year and detailed sushi master Jiro Ono and his Michelin three-star restaurant in the Tokyo subway, dedicated a chunk of time to the effects of overfishing on not only high-end restaurants like Jiro's, but on conveyor-belt all-you-can eat sushi places and other seafood establishments as well.


Darden's (DRI) Red Lobster seafood chain, for example, recently began introducing more poultry items to its menu and cutting back its all-you-can-eat shrimp specials in partial deference to rising costs. That hasn't been well received by Red Lobster customers, who have been turning away from the chain and decreasing sales, but it also revealed that a price war on huge seafood portions was unsustainable and detrimental to everybody involved.


As Hachikyo is trying to point out, wasting roe wastes both the efforts of fishermen and future supplies. By adding a surcharge now, the restaurant's owners may help stave off a price hike for all diners down the road.


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136Comments
Feb 15, 2013 2:33PM
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US Navy has a saying "Take all you want, but eat all you take."   Also, "Stop wasting rations today."
Feb 15, 2013 1:08PM
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I had a girlfriend who wasted so much food at buffet restaurants, it was one of the reasons I finally dumped her.  Maybe if there had been a fine for taking food she didn't finish, she would have been careful, and I would not have been disgusted by her wasteful ways.
Feb 15, 2013 1:30PM
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My Mother/parents taught us well...Eat what is on YOUR PLATE........AND

 

Don't TAKE more then you can EAT...

 

Think I might have used "the starving children in Biafra" thing on my Kids...

One of them finally suggested "we send some of the food to them"...I let up, after that.

Feb 15, 2013 12:47PM
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don't they have doggie bags? just take home what you don't finish.
Feb 15, 2013 1:59PM
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I do get upset when I see huge plates of food left by parents when they have ordered a big meal for their little kids who take 2 bites and say they are full!  Probably enough food gets dumped in the garbage to feed many of the unfortunate homeless. 
Feb 15, 2013 2:05PM
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This sounds like something New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would do. He would also try to regulate plate size on top of it. Go get 'em Michael...
Feb 15, 2013 2:39PM
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My company commander in boot camp told us "take all you want, eat all you take".
Feb 15, 2013 12:46PM
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But honestly Japanese portions are much more manageable than the American portions. One can easily finish it.
Feb 15, 2013 12:22PM
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who cares what resturants in japan use as policy? 
Feb 15, 2013 2:06PM
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Remember all that food scraped off plates ends up in a pig's belly.......... YEA BACON!

Feb 15, 2013 2:28PM
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I worked on a commercial salmon fishing boat for 2 years in Alaska.  It's not easy work, but conditions are hardly what I would call harsh or life threatening. 
Feb 15, 2013 1:33PM
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From the looks of some of the people that "snuffle around" the Buffets....

 

They should put out "troughs" instead of dishes...?

Feb 15, 2013 2:52PM
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Then don't offer seafood as all you can eat!
Feb 15, 2013 2:42PM
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Take all you want , eat all you take.
Feb 15, 2013 3:02PM
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Incredibly stupid practice.  As a consumer, I agree to pay a certain price for a certain meal at a certain portion.  When I purchase that meal, it is mine and I can choose to do with it as I please.  The portion is what it is, regardless of whether I finish it or not.  Under this logic, the price should be reduced if I eat the entire meal or I should get extra for free.
Feb 15, 2013 12:47PM
Feb 15, 2013 2:34PM
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What a line of crap.  One thing you can be sure of; "they are making money  on the item or it would NOT be on the menu." Charging the customer again for something that costs $15 to make and you charge $25 for is a complete lack of ethics. Do they give a discount to folks that do not take as much?
Feb 15, 2013 5:38PM
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Wow! Reading through some of the comments confirms my fear that most people in this wonderful country of plenty still don't get it: Our wasteful behavior is depleting our natural resources just because we still believe that we have the right to do so! Just wait till Mother Nature slams her bill onto our tables and charges us for our recklessness!
Feb 15, 2013 3:33PM
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     THE SOLUTION TO THAT IS------------------------FOOD FIGHT.
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