food glorious food · rants

Hidden charges

My colleagues and I enjoy driving out for lunch during the lull period. In fact, driving out for lunch is the highlight of our work day because we get to eat at a nice place and come back to work with a full tummy. For lunch today, we headed to Chin Lee Restaurant located at the void deck of a block of flats along Bedok North Road.

In my opinion, they serve one of the best traditional Teochew dessert, the or nee. It is not too sweet which is unlike many of the cloyingly sweet versions out there.


Anyhoo, the point of this entry is not to rave about the food at Chin Lee. Instead, I would like to draw your attention to a little unknown cost. Well, it was pretty unknown to me until today.

Now, we all know that restaurants charge for the wet napkins and peanuts/pickles that the place on your table at the start of each meal. I don’t have a problem paying for it because I am sure it all adds to their operating costs. However, I was pretty appalled that we (4 pax) paid $10 (excluding 7% GST) for “cover charge” and 2 plates of “pickles”. They were steamed peanuts, by the way.


It works out to be $2.50 per diner for (1) a pack of wet wipes (2) chinese tea (3) steamed peanuts. In the bigger scheme of things, $2.50 is a negligible amount but I don’t get why 4 pax needed TWO portions of “pickle” (peanuts).

Also, having to pay $10 on top of a meal for items that were already placed on our table is a bit cheeky. I know places like Crystal Jade and Ding Tai Fung will bring these “pickles” to your table once you are seated which is when we usually say “No thank you”. The ones at Chin Lee were already at the table and although we knew that these were chargeable, it did not occur to us to tell the serving staff that we did not want/need it. So yes, maybe it was our own fault then.

Let me put it this way: I don’t have an issue paying for the items that I need/want. Really. However, I do have an issue with the items being placed on our table without any mention that they are chargeable.

Oh and to add on, I just realised that the or nee is reasonably-priced at $3.50 per (rather large) bowl but the deep fried prawn salad is $20 for about 8 minuscule pieces of prawns. Expensive, man.






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