Tim Ho Wan, which means "to add good luck", opened to rave reviews in Singapore early this year.
Founded by Hong Kong chef Mak Kwai Pui in 2009, long queues can be seen outside its first restaurant in Plaza Singapura everyday.
Although the 80-seat restaurant opens daily at 10am, customers arrive much earlier, sometimes as early as 7.45am. A second outlet in Toa Payoh Lorong 6 is also equally crowded.
So how is Tim Ho Wan rewarding food lovers in Singapore?
Service Charge for take-aways
By imposing service charge on take-aways.
Recently, 8-days magazine did a food review on Tim Ho Wan's Toa Payoh branch.
It questioned why Tim Ho Wan customers have to pay GST and service charge for take-away. Customers are also asked to pack their own food.
A blogger observed that while Tim Ho Wan provide you with styrofoam boxes and plastic bags, the 10% service charge and 7% GST still apply for takeaway orders.
The service charge is meant to reward good service. Now, we have a restaurant which charges for service despite making the customers serve themselves.
In a 2012 media interview, Seah Seng Choon, executive director of the Consumer Association of Singapore (Case), is of the view that service charge is payable only if service is rendered, such as in a restaurant where diners are served by waitstaff. Customers should not have to pay service charge for takeaway food items.
“Cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world”
If you were to eat at Plaza Singapura's Tim Ho Wan, you will notice staff dressed in the "cheapest 1 Michelin Star restaurant" uniforms.
Except that Tim Ho Wan in Singapore is not a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Singapore does not have a Michelin food guide here. We have Michelin-starred chefs opening restaurants here but it is disingenuous for one to brand itself as "the cheapest 1 Michelin Star restaurant" in Singapore.
And we all know Singaporeans are suckers for brand names.
In fact, not all of Tim Ho Wan's Hong Kong outlets are Michelin star restaurants. Only Chef's Mak's original outlet in Mongkok and his outlet in Sham Shui Po are the ones with Michelin stars. The rest do not.
So why do you care about such meaningless facts?
Because as fellow food lovers, we should reward eateries that enhance our food culture in Singapore.
If restaurants are taking advantage of us, we need to tell them so.
Even if the dim sum is as delicious as Tim Ho Wan's dim sum. And more expensive than the real Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong.
Top photo from here