Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pu Tien Restaurant - Marina Square. Food is Great. Service is, well, self-service would have been better.

The problem with having a law degree is that, should one's family have a bad experience in a restaurant, they would look no further than where I am sitting to decide who should write the letter of complaint. Because, as my mother puts it, "you should be good at writing letters what".

Frankly, as it is quite a busy period of the year for me and I was the one to pay the bill as well, I would have let this bad experience slide, but with my mother sitting on my neck, I have to get the complaint letter prepared and sent out quickly. Hence the time off from Photoshop this evening to put a few sentences together.

I have informed my mother in advance that, given the service levels we are now complaining about, I would generally have a low expectation of a favourable or any response in this case. Anyway, enough. To start.

Dear Owners of Pu Tien Restaurant (Marina Square),


My mother and I, together with my children, went to your restaurant on 8 August 2010. A copy of our receipt is attached for your ease of reference. By way of a time reference, we arrived at about 2.15pm, after dropping my son off at his gym class.

The food at your restaurant is generally very good, and we enjoyed it very much. Our experience on the whole would have been much better if it had not been for the following incidences:

1. Upon arrival, we were given a table in front of the restaurant. As we had a stroller and 2 young children with us, as well as a lot of baggage, we generally try to sit in a corner or at the side, so that we do not block or disturb other diners. Hence my mother asked the wait staff if we could sit at an empty table in the corner. She informed my mother (right away, and without checking any reservation book) that this table had already been reserved.

This explanation we found quite acceptable at the time, but it appeared much less acceptable when, 15 minutes later, we were informed by the same wait staff that last orders were being taken as the kitchen was closing. During the entire course of our meal, the table remained empty. My mother, who was seated facing this table, observed this. I do not know if your wait staff have been trained not to lie to customers like this, but I would suggest that a remedial training session is overdue.

Maybe it is possible that someone had indeed booked a table but not shown up. I would have been happy to explain this to my mother except for the fact that I had tried to reserve a table at your very same restaurant 2 days ago. I made the reservation in advance by telephone for 5 persons at 12.45pm on Friday, 6 August 2010. My party of 5 arrived at 12.44pm and informed your wait staff. We were asked to wait 20 minutes for our table. I asked why this was the case since I had called in advance to reserve a table. I was informed that all reservations made were subject to availability of tables when we arrived. The wait staff informed us that there were other people who had made earlier reservations, for example, at 12.30pm, who were still waiting for their table. So we went to eat at the restaurant next door instead, where we were seated immediately and without a reservation (the food was equally nice there, by the way).

2. We ordered a total of 6 dishes. Our food started arriving at 2.30pm onwards. Halfway through our meal, we were presented with the cheque, as not only the kitchen was closing but also the cash register. This I do not mind as I would save time later at the end of the meal. Other people I know mind very much receiving the cheque in the middle of their meal because it feels like they are being chased out. My family and I are not so sensitive. We did not feel like we were being chased out of the restaurant until:

(a) the lights were partially switched off 15 minutes later, while we were still eating;
(b) the wait staff gathered together less than one metre away for their very lively chatting session;
(c) a man in work boots and an apron started mopping the floor around us with industrial strength bleach; and finally
(d) after their long and loud chat, the staff sat down 2 tables away for their own meal.

I do understand that maybe we eat slow, but to put matters in perspective, our last dish arrived after the man started mopping the floor around us.

In future, I would suggest that patrons of your restaurant be informed in advance if they are ordering too much food, or if they have come at an inconvenient time, where they could interrupt your employees in their daily routine. I am sure the mopping with the industrial strength bleach could only have been done at 2.45pm in the afternoon on Sunday, no earlier and certainly no later. I hope we did not trouble your staff with our continued presence during their chatting session at the cashier's counter (where we indicated earlier we did not want to sit). And I understand the need to save electricity and to extinguish the lights even when your customers are still desperately trying to finish their meal with some dignity (forget about enjoyment).

Anyway, for what it's worth, the food was delicious! I notice that I only paid S$5.65 for the service - clearly this was not enough!

Best regards

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mini Reunion

So I had dinner this evening with my Primary One class of 1979! Oh man. I really should find a less aging way of phrasing that.

Actually it was even better than it sounds. Our PRIMARY ONE FORM TEACHER was there. Totally awesome! I don't think she remembered us particularly well, and probably me not at all. I was not noisy or quiet or hardworking or lazy. Just somewhere in the middle, just another face in a crowd of very small mostly Chinese faces. Most of my Malay and Indian classmates were grouped together in another class so that they could study Malay as a second language.

Only 11 out of 42 of us were there. But definitely enough to make a lot of noise (mostly giggling). A friend of mine said he would not go for such a gathering as he thought no one would really have much to say to each other, other than what are you doing now. But I disagree by experience. I did have a bunch of things to say to everyone else. We didn't really get down to the what are you doing now bits as there was so much past, so much context, to catch up on.

Remember that scene in Charlotte's Web when the baby spiders all flew away, scattered by the four winds, to find their destinies elsewhere? Tonight it felt like 11 baby spiders came back to catch up over dinner. And in a strange and totally unexpected way, I left feeling more complete and at peace. Strange because all we really did was catch up on a series of shared memories and experiences. But I feel grounded because there are at least 11 people out there with the same memories that I have, even if they may mean nothing to the casual listener. It makes the memories more solid, more real, even with the horrifyingly large number of years that have passed.

Perhaps it is the realisation that there were possibly 10 different and alternative careers and lifestyles that I could have tried, instead of my present ones. After all, none of us have similar jobs, some of us never married, some of us never had kids. Anyway. Whatever. Nostalgia makes me ramble.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wow it's been a while

and I've been a little preoccupied.

It seems like just yesterday when we were bringing The Girl home from the maternity ward and she is now just turning One. Compared to her, The Son is an oasis of calm. The Girl, at the age of One, is already a night owl and learning to run and climb before she can even walk properly. She can scream and scold without learning to talk. She sleeps at midnight, almost every night, and I'm embarrassed to say I almost always fall asleep before she does.

This has led to many many good intentions to spend time on Photoshop which have not materialised. By now, I should be able to achieve a good BW conversion but I still can't. As at the current date, there are easily 10,000 photographs which require my Photoshop attention but which may never get it since I take new photographs all the time!!!!

Have been meaning to post her Milestones but have been putting it off for various reasons. Here it goes:

1. Flipped over early (3 months?), started crawling at 4 months, starting standing at 5.5 months (supported).

2. Started walking (with support) shortly after the 6-month mark, and began walking independently (albeit clumsily) 3.5 weeks before her 1st birthday.

3. Can say Mama, Baba and a few other words, has been able to for some time now, but refuses to attempt anything else. WILL NOT repeat after me, which I think is the root of the problem. The Son managed to learn many, many more words at this stage by being a little more compliant.

4. Can pick out and identify items and animals (Tiger, Horse, Camel, Elephant, Dinosaur, Giraffe, Dolly, Rabbit, ...) upon request. Sometimes she points with her finger, sometimes she points with a great fat foot. But usually she gets it right, to thunderous applause from the fans.

5. Looks like a WWF wrestler "Big Show" when she wears her sleeveless tank top Onesies.

6. Seems to be bigger and fatter than her brother was at her age. Also much more aggressive.

7. Really likes books. Messes up all the piles of books we set aside for her looking for her few favorites.

8. Teeth are taking their time to show up. Currently there are only 2 lower front teeth, and 1/4 of 2 upper front teeth.

9. Allergic to sea bass. Heavens to Betsy!