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Feb 26, 2002 08:51 PM

Penang for lunch today - slooooooow, indifferent service

  • l

I remember Sietsema raving about the lunch special, but I also remember a recent Chowhound voicing her/his disappointment so I decided to check it out today, despite the 15-min. brisk walk from my office.

I arrived around 1:45 & the place was still pretty hopping even that late for lunch, but the restaurant was still only 1/2-full. So I proceeded to wait 15 minutes just for somebody to take my order.
The waiter finally sauntered over, saying "You need something to eat?" I was like - "Uhhh, yeah!" I ordered the $8.95 lunch special of beef rendang, with chicken satay appetizer. It came with rice, a cup of soup & a small salad of mango, onion & carrot. I also ordered a pot of green tea ($3.50, but made with tea leaves & I liked it), and I would have liked to order one of the desserts Sietsema raved about, but they ran up to $7.50!!!

I thought the reasoning behind a lunch special was that it was already mostly prepared & so you wouldn't have to wait very long, but I still had to wait almost 20 minutes for it. The soup was nothing to write home about - if it was meant to be vegetable, it was almost entirely chunks of celery, a veg I don't like anyway. The rendang portion with the rice was very generous, I really liked the satay & peanut sauce, liked the mango salad too. Then I proceeded to wait 20 min. between finishing my meal & the bill. In fact, the busboys were much more available & attentive than my waiter, who didn't seem to give a damn.

Am I thinking wrong, but isn't it common sense that solo diners take less time to order & eat because they're not taking their time chatting with table mates? I thought it was pretty obvious I was waiting a while. This solo diner's time in the restaurant ran about 1 hr & 20 min. Even the 2 women in the next table were waiting a long time for their check.

The decor of the place was very nice (tho the costumes the waiters had to wear were not flattering), the food was fine, but I was disappointed by the service.
So no 2nd trip to Penang for me - I'd rather make my 3rd trip to Malaysia Kopitiam a few doors down (with desserts cheaper than $7.50!)

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  1. Solo diners also tend to get worse service because their check (and therefor tip) is usually smaller.

    1 Reply
    1. re: WG

      That's really sad! I love to eat solo--relax with a drink, sample a couple things off the menu, take in the atmosphere. A good waiter should try to determine if a guest is in a hurry or wants to linger for a while and tailor the service to meet the needs of the guest. "Great" service shouldn’t be restricted to fine dining. It can be reflected in so many small personal touches as well as grand gestures. A little attentiveness goes a long way.

      I have served my share of meals. I'm not an argumentative person and I can usually tell if a problem originated in the kitchen or if the place is inadvertently short-staffed or if a waiter is just throwing attitude. While my tab will certainly not equal that of a larger party, I do tend to overtip (20-40%) and if the server is particularly great I’ve tipped as much as 200% of my bill.