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Friday, January 06, 2012

The Coffee Shop at Holland Village

Just now after work my wife came over to look for me, and we decided to have dinner at Holland Village.
Got this picture off Google Maps' photos. Copyright belongs to the original photographer
We went to the Holland Village Food Court for dinner. Christina had Hor Fun. We had beer and pizza friday at work just before I met up with her. I was pretty stuffed after 2.5 slices of pizza, so I did not want to have a heavy meal. 

Deciding to get some chicken wings, I went to the western food stall and ordered 4 chicken wings. Each cost $1.50. 

I went to stand at the stall for 3 minutes. The stall was empty. I waited and nobody came around. After a while I felt I could do without eating anything, and so I returned to my table. The minute I returned to my table I saw the stall keeper walk to the stall. I was a bit annoyed that the timing was so bad. Almost seemed like the guy waited for me to walk off before going to his stall, but that was just probably me.

The man tending to the stall was a man slightly sized above average, about 50 years old with a moustache. His eyes were a bit unfocused. I could not tell his ethnicity. He looked a bit Indian but could be Chinese as well. 

As soon as I gave the orders to the man at the stall, he did not say anything, and his fingers made a pinching motion that told me he wanted the money now. It was not a very polite gesture. And it had a feeling of urgency, that he needed it fast, needed it now. He would probably have taken it if I could produce it right there and then, before going to process my order. 

There was a Malay guy before me, and he received the same treatment. He gave the payment, followed by me. 

I got my wings on the spot because they were already barbecued waiting to be served. After I took the wings I emptied some chilli sauce from a bottled dispenser. This was the same kind of sauce that is served with local chicken rice. The chilli sauce was very watery and liquid. I was growing increasingly annoyed at the service and quality of the stall. I did not remember it being like that the last time ate here.

When I went to my table with the chicken wings, I realised that I had forgotten to take utensils to tear the wings. I went back to the stall and grabbed 2 sets of forks, spoons and knives. These were disposable utensils. I was already quite displeased with the whole policy of the stall, the low-quality service and the watered down chilli sauce. Now I see they were just using plastics utensils. What happened to people who order steak and chicken wings? The plastics utensils probably have a high chance of breaking when force is applied during cutting and tearing. I  had the irrational impulse to take a few more pieces just to spite the stall keeper. 

The man was serving another customer when I was doing that. As soon as I took the 6 pieces of utensils the stall keeper told me "boss, you need spoons? If don't need don't take la. Actually you only need forks to eat chicken wings right?" His tone managed to be accusing and whining at the same time.

I was quite surprised he was actually paying attention to how many I pieces of utensils I was taking, how many forks, how many spoons and how many knives. He managed that while serving another customer. That drove me quite mad. 

Raising the utensils in my hand, I showed them to him and I told him, "Boss, how little do these cost? Why do you want to be stingy with them?" He said something in defence about not wasting something we don't need." 

His food prices are not the cheapest and still he was so stingy with his supplies. I saw other customers who ordered a main dish for their meals get a set of utensils plus 2 packets of chilli sauce and a piece of paper napkin. I did not even have a piece of napkin for my 4 pieces of chicken wings. 4 chicken wings totaled up to $6 which is even more expensive than some of the main items they sell. 

He told me that chicken wings only need forks to eat. Why should he dictate how I eat my chicken wings? Why do I not need spoons? What if I have a small kid I need to feed the chicken to with a spoon?

There was something about this food court that borders on getting on my nerves -- the music was blasting to the point I had to raise my voice when talking, in order to be heard by my wife sitting across the standard-sized coffee shop table. I cannot be sure if this was already the case when I last ate at the place.

It definitely did not help my mood and maybe it darkened his mood and made him treat customers the way he did too. Maybe they are trying to deter customers from having a long meal with a slow chat after. This would free up the tables and seats for more new customers. That's just my wild guess.

After the incident I remembered another encounter with this same man just a week ago at his stall. I was planning to order some calamari rings to take away to a new year party at a church mate's house. I asked if he had calamari rings. He told "Look at the menu. If you see I have, then I have.". Again that was hardly the proper way to do business. 

A polite "Sorry I don't do calamari" would be much more polite, direct, economical with words and efficiently get the message across, than saying what he said. I just don't understand him. 

He is definitely not happy with his job. Maybe he is not even the owner of the stall. Maybe it's his character to be always grumpy and rude. 

In any case, I would think twice buying from this stall again.