Website (now also app) review: Menublender

Menublender is a meal subscription website (now also an app), which allows you to pre-order your meal at an eatery in Rotterdam, saving you time (no need to read the menu, reduced waiting time for food, and no need to pay the bill on the spot, as you already paid beforehand) and money (discount on your meal). The eatery also benefits, as they get publicity (some of the eateries and meals were entirely new to me) and more meals get sold than before joining, as the members need to use their amount of pre-bought meals within a fixed time frame.

I like the idea of getting a meal with a nice discount and having less waiting time, so I gave it a try. At the website of Menublender, I bought the starter pack for 3 meals, which should be used within two weeks. I was one of their early members and I reserved the meals through the website instead of in the recently launched app. Looking on the website, there were many places in the list that I have always wanted to visit and new ones that looked interesting to me. I narrowed that down to these three eateries in Rotterdam: Anne & Max, Hinoki, and Old town.

Anne & Max

Anne & Max Rotterdam interior Christmas

With Menublender, I ordered the super club sandwich (whole grain bread with chicken, bacon, avocado, and secret club sauce and vegetable chips on the side) and the other person, I was with, ordered the pulled beef sandwich (focaccia bread with pulled beef, cheese, and homemade BBQ sauce). The bread in the club sandwich still had a crunchy crust and it was soft in the center. The pieces of chicken were quite large and the vegetables tasted fresh. It could however use a bit more sauce, as it was a bit dry. The pulled beef sandwich has a soft and airy focaccia bun with a sweet-savory, warm, pulled beef filling. As drinks, we ordered lime mint ice tea and berry soda.

I really like the interior (I went around Christmas time) of the Anne & Max cafe. It was spacious and not too loud or too quiet. The velour chairs were comfy and the toilet in the back was also very clean.

Anne & Max Rotterdam super club sandwich pulled beef lemonades


I haven't been to Hinoki before and with Menublender, I was able to try their Shio ramen with a discount. We also ordered two cups of hot green tea.

The first thing, I noticed is that their ramen noodles are curlier than I am used to. It is done that way to hold onto more of the soup and make the noodles more flavorful. Before I dug in, I took a sip of the noodle soup and it was a nice and rich broth. The thinly sliced cha siu is a bit on the dry side. The bamboo shoots were crunchy and well seasoned and the spring onions were really fresh. The fried onions missed crunch and lacked a bit in flavor.

Hinoki restaurant Rotterdam shio ramen green tea Japanese food

Old town 

You can find Cantonese and Malaysian food at Old town. It is a bit hidden away in a side street, but still easy to reach, when you are shopping in Rotterdam city center. Through Menublender, we both ordered the rice stick soup with chicken and vegetables. As side dishes, we ordered the fried pork roll, flour baked shrimps, and fried tofu (a Malaysian dish that I have never tried) and shrimp dim sum.

The rice stick noodles were fresh and chewy and although a bit too oily for me, the chicken and vegetables sauce poured on top was full of flavor. The vegetables were a bit overcooked, but you get quite a large bowl of noodles with big chunks of chicken and many vegetables for a reasonable price.

The Malaysian dish with a variety of fried food wasn't super crunchy, but was seasoned with an interesting mix of spices. The shrimp dim sum is one of my favorite dim sum and I have eaten some very good ones, and compared to those, this one was okay.

Old town restaurant Rotterdam rice stick soup chicken vegetables side dishes fried pork roll flour baked shrimps fried tofu Malaysian Cantonese dish shrimp dim sum ha kau

The rules of Menublender

You have to order your meal at least 4 hours in advance. Basically, you can decide what you want to eat for lunch during breakfast or your daily commute to school or work. You can also only order once a day, so you cannot also get a meal for another person, who you want to eat together with, with your subscription. He or she needs to get their own subscription. However, I didn't find out how you can tell the eatery that you are together, as you can only reserve separately, for one person. Moreover, if you want to cancel your meal and change it to something else, you need to notify Menublender 8 hours in advance through web chat or email. You can also only order on weekdays and not on holidays and weekends.

What do I think?

Once, I was late and there wasn't a way to tell the eatery that I was going to be there 10-15 minutes later. Luckily, the food wasn't thrown away and I still got the food very quickly. They also didn't make a big deal out of me being there a bit later than reserved.

Every meal with Menublender, I also ordered some drinks and side dishes, which I still needed to spend time asking for the bill, paying for them, and waiting for the change. I wish there was a way to pay for them beforehand too. But I have seen some meals on Menublender, which include a drink. So, with those, you don't have this problem.

The selection of meals offered needs to have variation (you don't want to eat the same things all the time and food preferences vary from person to person) and the meals need to be tasty (some of the bestsellers to make sure that people return). This is going to be difficult for the business owners, as they earn the most from the bestsellers and it would not be a good idea to give a discount on those. That's probably why some meals that can be ordered on Menublender are meals that are the less popular choices and meals that have the least production costs. Not always are those the meals that will attract and keep customers. If the Menublender members don't like the meals that are offered, they will not eat there, even with a discount.

The competition between the eateries that have joined Menublender is somewhat strange. You want more people to eat at your place instead of others, but you will also need to sell more meals with lower profit margins. The Menublender members also occupy a table, which could have seated full price paying customers. Somehow, you need to figure out a way you can stay profitable. Some eateries have meals that are only takeaways (not occupying any tables) or non-takeaways (maybe, earn extra on drinks and side dishes). You can also set time limits like only during the not too busy hours, but this is contradictive to the extra people with a limited, one hour lunch time or one hour break between planned activities (for example: after work, before movie theater or gym), you are supposed to attract with Menublender.

In essence, the supply side needs to stay attractive and it needs to be profitable for the eateries that have joined. Increasing the number of Menublender subscribers is also very important.

Putting my marketing consultant side away for a moment. As a consumer, I liked the variety of eateries and meals that I could choose from. The discount was also nice, but I did need to give up some flexibility, as I couldn't change my mind about what and where I want to eat at the last minute. I also needed to keep in mind to use up the meals within the fixed time period. It was harder than I initially thought. Things can get busy, you may get sick, or suddenly, you go on an unexpected vacation abroad. Luckily, the people at Menublender are really understanding and quick to respond to enquiries. If you can give a valid reason for not using the meals in time, even after their many email reminders, they might kindly give you an extra week.

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