Yeo Sam Jo | The New Paper | Thu Jul 1 2010
Waiter did not mention price during order for expensive Sultan fish, complained diner.
Singapore, June 30, 2010- THEY feasted on a fish named sultan – and were made to pay a king’s ransom for it.
Well, not quite a king’s ransom, but a whopping $1,224 for that single steamed fish dish.
And the bill left a sour aftertaste.
The diner, who only wanted to be known as Mr Liu, 35, had taken his four friends to Resorts World Sentosa’s (RWS) Feng Shui Inn restaurant on June 12.
The group had initially wanted marble goby, better known locally as soon hock, but the waiter said there was no stock for the fish.
The waiter suggested the white sultan fish instead. The group agreed, without asking how much the dish would cost.
They were stunned when the bill arrived.
The single sultan fish, which weighed 1.8kg, set them back by $1,224.
Mr Liu, an assistant manager at a shipping company who migrated from Hong Kong to Singapore four years ago, was entertaining his former classmates from Hong Kong.
After trying their luck at the casino, they proceeded to the restaurant for lunch.
Mr Liu told Lianhe Wanbao that his friends, here on a four-day visit, wanted to give him a treat.
He didn’t want them to spend too much so he ordered a few dishes and a marble goby.
Mr Liu added: “(The waiter) didn’t mention the price (of the sultan fish), and we also didn’t think too much about it and just said okay.”
But they got a shock when the bill arrived.
Mr Liu insisted on paying because he was embarrassed by the pricey tab.
He added that he complained about the price during payment. As a gesture of goodwill, the restaurant gave him a 15 per cent discount.
Said Mr Liu: “The customer has the right to know and the restaurant should have made clear its price so we could decide whether it was worth it.”
On the last day of their trip, Mr Liu’s friends, who felt bad for Mr Liu, gave him HK$8,000 (S$1,440) for the meal.
An RWS spokesman told The New Paper that staff at the restaurant have been trained to recommend and brief guests about the dishes.
“It is not always appropriate to state menu prices to high-end customers who have come to expect certain discretion when they entertain high-level guests.
“This is a practice shared by most high-end restaurants.”
RWS conceded that what happened could have been a “lapse of judgement” which was promptly mitigated with an immediate goodwill gesture of an on-the-spot discount.
But is the price of the sultan fish, at $68 per 100g, too steep?
Capital Restaurant manager Cheong Weng Kee said his establishment sells the sultan fish for $6 per 100g – less than a tenth of Fengshui Inn’s price per 100g.
Mr Cheong said his restaurant has been selling sultan fish since 1974.
Chef Huang Ching Biao, 58, kitchen operations director at Jin Shan restaurant at Marina Bay Sands, said the fish is known for its fragrance and flesh.
“The flesh is tender and snow white. It’s a wild river fish, so it eats fruits that drop from trees and bears the fragrance of fruit,” MrHuang said in Mandarin.
Chef Pung Lu Tin, 50, of Seafood International Market and Restaurant, described its meat as “very smooth” and added that it was not easy to catch.
Both chefs said they have never come across a sultan fish commanding such a high price.
Fish from Malaysia
The RWS spokesman said: “The sultan fish that was served at Feng Shui Inn is known as the white sultan fish from Malaysia.
“It is classified as the second most sought-after river fish in Malaysia.
“The commonly farmed sultan fish can cost as low as $20 per kg but if the sultan fish is wild-caught, the value increases many-fold.”
Most seafood distributors that The New Paper spoke to do not deal in sultan fish.
One seafood distributor who wanted to be known only as Mr Lee described the price of the sultan fish at Fengshui Inn as “outrageous”.
Mr Christopher Ong, 46, who owns Ong Seafood Marketing, added that while the fish is known to be expensive in Malaysia, he has never heard of such a high price before.
The most expensive fish they could name were the paradin, or soo mei, and mouse garoupa, both of which can cost up to $15 per 100g.
In comparison, Fengshui Inn sells paradin at $43 per 100g and mouse garoupa at $35.
Give your views on this issue -> [HERE]
Off the cuff, I think what would have been the wise response to the bill would be to demand 50% off the bill for the dish in contention. That would share fairly, the responsibility for the misunderstanding.
As 'fudgester' attributes at [link]:
Customer: for blindly ordering without asking how much it would cost....
Waiter: For not advising the customer on how much it would cost....
Restaurant: For claiming that the SOP is that price should not be told to the customer...The 'blame' proportion would be shifted accordingly: based on the 'neglect' attributable to each party, but '50%' off-the-cuff seems fair based on the facts reported.
Too bad, neither the host nor his guests were astute enough to suggest this- their bitter experience has unfortunately resulted in a PR nightmare for the restaurant concerned. If only the 'dispute' could have been resolved there and then amongst them, much anguish would have been removed.
Restaurants at resorts world, if ment to serve only 'high rollers' ought to make their status plain (consistently high publicized menu prices). From reports, I believe that the 'Sultan Fish' dish despite it being an 'exceptional dish' of rare exquisite, was unfortunately casually suggested and therefore substituted for an ordinary one, without adequate advice to the customer about the gross escalation in price- and thus arose this unfortunate misunderstanding.
If resorts world is indeed positioned as a family orientated location, then some semblance of decorum in the treatment of the lay public must be accorded to diners, their guests and families, pricing and otherwise.
This unfortunate incident is a stain on the reputation of 'Resorts World Sentosa’s (RWS) Feng Shui Inn restaurant' amongst the lay public.
A statement of resolution over this matter by the restaurant concerned would be a welcome progression in the exercise of service recovery- a practice so lacking in 'orderly' Singapore.
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07072010: Re: Man shocked by $1,200 bill for fish at Resorts World