Sunday, February 1, 2009

Palace Problems

When is it necessary for waiters and waitresses to undergo weight-training?

When it's waitering at the Jaya Palace Restaurant, Petaling Jaya (JP herein). This super-ambienced restaurant, not far away from the Tai Thong outlets in style and price, serves food in bowls and plates so heavy your average female Starbucks barista would've trouble lifting a full portion with one hand. Still, that's the restaurant's problem, right? Why should guests care about the weight of the plates and how carrying them makes the waiters look like movers? Should we care? Unfortunately, yes. Because in a Chinese restaurant those who are eating often have to move the food, too!

I italicized the above because since JP's planners completely ignored this, it's obviously not a big deal - until you, someone hoping for a good time eating, are expected to shift the prawns in order to make way for the sea-cucumber, and the prawn-pot is as heavy as a flower-pot filled to the brim, and you realise that hoisting dumb-bells at dinner was supposed to be on the menu.
I don't doubt that the larger silverware and more antique-looking surroundings adds to the illusion of better (if only because grander?) food, but the JP should've considered serving up some essentials given that they've already invested heavily in infrastructure.

The p(a)lace was clearly understaffed. About four personnel handling more than a dozen tables? That's logistical suicide. It's also aesthetical deathrow: what's the point of having lavish curtains and a flowery fountain if the people serving your guests look like a football team down to eight men? The only smiles shone our way were semi-forced ones and none of them looked relax (I almost felt guilty eating when people were working so hard - is stress a virtue for Chinese businesses?).

In the London Chinatown, a single portion of fried rice or noodles (costing no more than 5-6 pounds) can be equal to about two and a half in Kuala Lumpur. I really truly madly kid you not. Guess what a THREE-portion serving of frieds noodles at JP looks like? Barely enough to make me feel like I've eaten. Are you getting this, all you Malaysian food Googlers out there (should I write that twice for effect?)? A plate of noodles meant for Papa, Mama and Kiddo is sized at what the Kiddo ALONE normally eats. In a word, it's the reverse of London Chinatown portions.

But the real straw(-mushroom) that broke this guest's back was the story of the Thai-style fried chicken. Was it tasty? Heck, yeah. Real crispy, no half-blood seeping out (as was the case with the roasted chicken, but don't get me started), nice toppings of Siamese veggy slices, served on a light plate - all good.

Except it took 45 minutes to arrive. A full half of football.

Being polite guests, we didn't wish to cancel this dish and pay less. We told the Captain about the late arrival, which is only natural, right? Sure, except we had to tell it three chicken-poop times. And each time we hollered, we got the same response, "You're still waiting?! Daniel, where's that Thai-chicken?!", at which the dude called Daniel - probably under the impression we weren't looking - would wordlessly brush the question aside with his head, the Captain would leave and there we'd be waiting again.

I'm not fussy but I usually don't appreciate the last thing I eat being a spicy TFC with an arrival time longer than a Qantas with a busted engine, and me being treated like I didn't know it!

And the finale. Receipt items printed in Chinese and nothing else. So here's a tip (not for the waiter, for you the aspiring luxury Chinese-food connoisseur): If you can't read Chinese and you want to take some folks out for a good chopstick-eaten meal, either blow the entire roof by going to Tai Thong or save and savor the cheap, greasy stuff at five out of ten corner-shops in the Petaling Jaya area.

At least in the latter haunts, you don't expect great service.


fishtail said...

Thanks for the tip. I don't see myself going to this place in the foreseeable near future.

Jessica Tann said...

hello! nice blog! (:

~Paula Wong~ said...

Actually.. this ain't the only place that does this.. have you seen some of the major retailing chinese retaurents such as tai thong and six happiness? not only are they understaffed, they get unskilled(a certain amount of skilled is required)waiters and bad tempered ones too...>.< kinda makes the image of the restaurant go downhill from then...

Alwyn said...

bad tempered waiters, eh? so far i've come across lazy, slow, incompetent, tired - but not angry ones!

~Paula Wong~ said...

Oh yes.. try asking them to just fill your tea cup(and mind you it was empty for like 1 hour) and she's like... "wait laaa... I will one laaaa"... lolx.. and mind you.. It aint some crappy chinese restaurant in the middle of no where.. it was the tai thong in Wisma Selangor Dredging...>.< haihz.... hence the reason why malaysians do not leave tips.. bad service... somemore service tax 10%de.. >.<