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A group of eight to nine pax went to a Chinese restaurant in VivoCity and paid S$91.20 -- before taxes and service charge -- for two servings of stir fried vegetables.
Stunned, the group did what any sensible person would do -- inform Shin Min Daily News about it.
The tip-off was provided by one of the diners, surnamed Lin, 28.
He told the Chinese media he went to dinner at the Crystal Jade Pavilion restaurant on Oct. 24 with his parents, relatives, and friends.
Total bill: S$397.65
According to the receipt issued upon payment, the total bill for the group of "six or seven" adults and two children came up to S$397.65.
Lin said: "I ordered stir fried Hong Kong kai lan (Chinese kale) in oyster sauce. The waiter suggested a large portion as we had a [large] party."
"Unexpectedly, when we were settling the bill, I found that two large plates of Hong Kong kai lan cost S$91.20 before tax, which averages out to S$45.60 per plate."
Lin added that he confirmed with the cashier during checkout that the price was correct and was told that it was.
Lin also said the menu showed a regular portion of Hong Kong kai lan priced at S$22.80 and it could serve two or three pax.
He found it puzzling that the large portion was twice as expensive.
The customer said: "I work in the F&B industry myself, and I usually pay attention to the price of food. I understand that the price of vegetables is rising now, but I was still shocked when I made payment."
"If the waiter had told me that the large portion was double the price of the regular portion, I would have ordered two regular portions [instead]."
Lin explained that diners would not expect the price of the large portion of dishes to be double that of the regular portion.
This was especially so as the restaurant only provides the price of a regular serving and does not indicate the price of larger servings on the menu.
He added that he has been to the restaurant for the past decade and did not encounter anything like this.
Shin Min understands that the published price of S$22.80 on the menu is for a regular portion, while a medium portion costs an additional S$11.40 -- or 50 per cent extra.
A large portion of the vegetables is double the price -- S$45.60.
Industry players respond
Shin Min spoke to those from the F&B industry and found out that it is common practice for the large portion of vegetables to cost twice as much as the regular portion, with the regular portion serving two to three pax, while the large portion being able to serve up to 10 pax.
Another industry player said the price of Hong Kong kai lan is indeed more expensive than local kai lan.
The process for preparing it is also complicated, which is why it is generally only available at the mid- to high-end restaurants.
For example, the preparation process involves removing the skin from the vegetable's stalk.
Moreover, the price of the dish would also factor in the cost of transportation, manpower costs, dishwashing, and cleaning.
The price of the dish also reflects the location and brand of the restaurant, it was explained.
Those in the F&B industry who responded to Shin Min's queries said this incident could be the result of poor communication between the restaurant's service staff and customer.
A rep from Dragon Phoenix Grand restaurant, which is located in Temasek Club, shared that waiters at higher-end restaurants usually do not mention the price of dishes when a diner is ordering.
This is because the diner might feel offended, especially when they are unsure of who their guests are.
It was implied that the person paying the bill might feel that they "lose face" if they appeared to not be able to afford whatever they were ordering.
A rep from Imperial Restaurant added that diners should clarify prices at the point of ordering, and that it is not disgraceful to do so.
Restaurant apologised to customer
Shin Min reported that the restaurant has since apologised to Lin via email and explained that its waiter should have told him the price when he was placing his order.
The reply by Crystal Jade Pavilion explained that the portion of vegetables served that day was calculated based on the number of diners, and that the price in the menu is for the regular portion that serves two to three pax.
It was further explained that since one of the diners in the group was a frequent customer of the restaurant, the waiter put down an order for a large portion of kai lan according to the customer's preference.
The apology from Crystal Jade Pavilion added: "Our team should not have taken the initiative to place a large order without telling customer the price. They should be more careful when taking orders."
"We will continue to remind the team that guests in large groups should decide the portion of food they want to order to avoid unpleasantness and miscommunication."
Top photo via Shin Min Daily News
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