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Aug 19, 2009 08:09 AM

O'Mei Chinese Restaurant Highway 7

Is O'Mei Chinese Restaurant on Highway 7 the only one (other than buffet restaurants UGH ) that doesn't serve complimentary Chinese tea with dinner? Every time we go there we have to ask for tea and then we are charged for it....per person. We have been regular customers of O'Mei over many years.

Every other Chinese Restaurant we have gone to for dinner,,,over many many years...a pot of tea is automatically brought to our table and always has been charge.

Authentic Chinese food is our favourite food and we dine out quite frequently.

I don't mean to sound petty....I'm asking just because I find it odd that O'Mei would be different.


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  1. I live in Windsor and most of our Chinese, Japanese and Thai places seem to charge for tea, either a set charge per person or per pot, which bugs me a lot. All of the Vietnamese places in town bring tea free of charge and will even bring pitchers of ice if you want iced tea. Refills are free and if you request new tea leaves or bags, they willingly oblige.

    I grew up in Toronto and don't recall ever paying for tea in a Chinese, Thai, Japanese or Vietnamese restaurant, except perhaps at dim sum, where tea is a main focus of the meal. I think this is okay, since some people come and sit for an hour or more, while nursing a few pots of tea and only ordering a couple of small plates. However, in a Chinese restaurant where a group might order 8-10 dishes, I think it's lame to charge for tea. Why not just offer tea gratis, provided a minimum amount per person is being ordered/spent? It's shocking to me that a higher end place like O'Mei would nickel and dime diners for tea, when a good number are there enjoying seasonally priced dishes of lobster, seafood, fresh fish, etc.

    18 Replies
    1. re: 1sweetpea

      Thanks 1sweetpea :)

      Is anyone else being charged for tea at O'Mei at dinnertime?

      I do feel nickel and dimed regarding the tea...does anyone else feel that way?

      We dine at O'Mei often...have Birthday and Anniversary celebrations etc. there too.....have been for years.


      1. re: bobinken

        I plan to make a first visit to O'Meiwith my SO and a few other couples this fall. I'll be scanning our bill when it arrives, which I'm sure will be sizeable, for any tea charges. We plan to have a large lobster 4 ways, plus other dishes. I'll be expecting the tea to be thrown in. At least one co-diner is a Cantonese speaker so I'm sure she'll have something to say if we are charged for tea.

        1. re: 1sweetpea

          As I have mentioned previously we are frequent customers of O'Mei over many years. We have had the lobster 4 ways along with many other items a number of times (our bill is ALWAYS HIGH) and have always been charged for the tea. Please don't get me wrong here and don't flame me...:) ..we are caucasian and so is the group we always dine with....does this make a difference?

          1. re: bobinken

            I know I'm going off-topic a bit but I have to ask - how do you order at O Mei if you don't speak or read Chinese?
            I just had dinner there this weekend and I asked for an English menu. They told me they don't have the regular menu in English, just the menu geared toward non-Chinese is available in English. Now I am Chinese but I can't read the menu. My parents just read out dishes they knew I liked and and I picked one. So I was curious - I saw several large groups of Caucasians eating there - how do you order?

            1. re: chefhound

              Answering this old post...we are the caucasians...we have been eating authentic Chinese food for over 50 years and over the years we learned from Chinese friends and now we know what we like so it has been fairly easy to order. Sometimes we ask for a translation of the menu that is in Chinese and most places are quite willing to do so. We ask them not to skip over anything because we like just about everything...even many dishes that would absolutely not appeal to a Caucasian taste.

              1. re: bobinken

                I am Chinese and don`t read Chinese and find it frustrating to not be able to order off the Chinese menu! I wish they would translate the `real`menu. With so many 1st generationers out there, I`m sure I wouldn`t be the only one who would appreciate it!

                1. re: Chocolatemama

                  We have made that suggestion to the different Chinese restaurants we frequent.. to duplicate the Chinese menu with an English translation of that exact menu so that non Chinese speaking people can order from a "real" menu but that has never seemed to is very annoying to us every time we have to have the menu translated if we feel we want to order something different. Maybe more people should make that suggestion to the restaurants...ask that the owners hear their request.

                  1. re: bobinken

                    That is not easy.

                    Many restaurant may not even translate it properly and cause serious confusion. I have seen beef tripe translated as "Albert Yip", because the Cantonese word for beef tripe is "牛柏葉" which pronounced just like "Albert Yip".

                    1. re: skylineR33

                      Ha Ha...."Albert Yip" is one of my favorite dim sum items. Ideally, I would like to see the phonetic translation (so we can pronounce and order it in Chinese) AND the literal translation (so we know what it is).

                    2. re: bobinken

                      I forgot to say that another thing that annoys me is that the specials posted on the walls are only in Chinese...should be in English as well.

                        1. re: Chocolatemama

                          Guess most 'authentic' Chinese restaurants, especially hole-in-the-wall ones do not realize the power of 'Chowhound' luring 'non-Chinese' foodies to try out their establishments!

                          Next time, invite me along and I'll be most pleased to do the translation for you folks!! Ha

          2. re: bobinken

            In my opinion it depends. Most places will not charge money for tea at dinner, but will charge it for lunch. If the quality of the tea is good then I won't mind being charged for it.

            1. re: Blueicus

              In my experience, the overwhelming majority of Chinese restos in Toronto don't charge for tea at either lunch or dinner, but many of the upper-level spots up north of the city now do indeed charge. For example, the exemplary Yang's, on north Bayview Ave., where I go for dim sum every now and then, charges - but the quality of the tea seems much better than ordinary, so I can't get too worked up over it. It seems to me Emperor, another good dim sum joint, also on north Bayview, charges as well - though I can't recall precisely, having only been there once (good dim sum, but I prefer Yang's). I've never been to O'Mei, but if it's just standard-issue tea in an upper-level joint - reviews of the food suggest it is indeed upper-level - I'd politely question the charge. Or wisely suggest in advance of the meal that, if they're charging for tea service, the tea had better damn well be a cut or two above the ordinary - or, given the large bill you're about to run up, you might get cranky. The place might forego the charge to keep the big spenders happy. In Chinese restos, I find, many things, if properly approached, are reasonably negotiable.

              1. re: juno

                Tea charge is standard for dim sum, rarely seen for dinner.

                Juno is right about the tea quality at Yang's, it's far superior to even other high end dim sum places in the city. I suggest you try Iron Goddess of Buddha or Chrysanthemum for a change of pace. Lai Wah Heen's tea is really good too, but that's another price bracket.

                1. re: juno

                  I find the tea charge is like a sitting fee at some of the restaurants. You can take it, or leave basically. I've asked about the tea charge before at both Grand and the one inside the Hilton on Hwy 7. Grand eventually changed their 'tea charge' to a 'condiment charge' (which is the same thing for me... especially if you go for dinner and do not order anything that includes a condiment you still get charged), and the Hilton restaurant said that you get charged whether or not you drink the tea. I never order tea at a restaurant (they just bring me water) because I've tried to cut out caffeine from my diet, so it always irks me a bit that I still get that fee on my bill, even after I bring it to their attention. That's how they do it in HK, so I guess they brought the practice over here.

                  1. re: BokChoi

                    Give chrysanthemum tea a try next time, there is no caffeine in it. It's made from the flower, thus no tea leaves.


                    That is annoying though, getting hit for something you didn't order.

                    1. re: aser

                      I do try to order chrysanthemum when I go to restaurants because of the lack of caffeine. Sometimes it's just without thinking that I order hot water with my meal and only get shocked with the bill afterward (too late to go back and order the chrysanthemum.... I should get it to go ;) . I'm sure they'd love that. Hey! I'm getting charged for it. Why not?)

          3. The original comment has been removed
            1. I am not surprised if that restaurant only charges non-Chinese customers for tea at dinner. I was there with family recently and the manager was all over us the minute we set down, trying to push us into ordering their giant, 7-lb lobster dish before we could contemplate the menu. During his pitch he never mentioned how much the dish would cost. Finally, we asked him: $20/lb = $140 for the dish. We politely declined and proceeded to order something more budget friendly. As a result, the service that followed was halfhearted. I vow never to go back to a restaurant that uses aggressive selling tactics.

              8 Replies
              1. re: rogieshan

                We were there again today...again were charged for tea...we are not Chinese...asked if they charge everyone for tea..said yes...I don't believe them because immediately we sat down we were served water and the Chinese families were all brought a pot of tea immediately..we had to ask for tea and we are old customers of theirs'. ...we have some wonderful Chinese friends and they told us they don't get charged for tea at dinner there. Also we were.overcharged for an item that wasn't on the menu that was so similar to one on the menu....we know how we are treated at many other Chinese restaurants and it is way better than at O'Mei. Also I don't find many of the waiters very pleasant. Ringo runs hot and cold...This may be our last time there for dinner but we do like their dim sum so may return for that once in a while. We know and fully accept that everyone is charged for tea at dim sum.

                1. re: bobinken

                  I don't get the hype over this place. I live very close to here. I ordered takeout once, three dishes. Serious disappointment. Never went back. I was told by some "chinese food experts" on here that I ordered the "wrong dishes". Ok, what ever.

                  1. re: ManAbout

                    Is that not possible? i do find that is a common occurence in restaurants, and especially chinese ones. They excel at certain dishes while others might be a total fail.

                    1. re: ManAbout

                      I don't think it is fair to judge the food quality of a restaurant based on their 'take-out' food. Especially in the case of Chinese food whose characteristic and quality is reflected by the amount of 'wok-hay' instilled into the dish. Take out cartons tend to trap in condensation which greatly impaired the food quality especially vegetables and fried dishes!
                      If a restaurant can be 'packed' on a normally quiet wednesday or thursday, there must be a good reason??!!

                    2. re: bobinken

                      I hope you call them out on their shameful ethics the next time you're there, or switch your dim sum allegiance business to a nearby restaurant like the Dragon Boat Cuisine.

                      1. re: rogieshan

                        I agree! Unfortunately, this 'shameful' practice not only applies to the restaurant business but extend to retail as well! Try shopping for goods at Chinese malls like First Markham Place or Pacific and do some price comparison between Chinese vs Western clientele and you'll be shocked!
                        Well, the Japanese have similar practices as well! I recall seeing my Omakase at Sushi Hiro a few years back, very much different in quality, selection and price than the 'Japanese' patrons sitting next to me who happened to order Omakase as well!
                        Lastly, I'm not much of a fan of O'Mei's Dim Sum preferring Casa Victoria a little further down the road instead!

                    3. re: rogieshan

                      This type of 'atitude' is not uncommon in the restaurant business. I can easily name a few fine dining establishments in town where especially sommeliers can do an abrupt 180 deg change when our party decide to order wine by the glass or no wine at all instead of a bottle to go with our meal!
                      However, back to your 'lobster' experience. Yes, I must admit, even with me being a regular, if there are meals that we decide not to order any 'exotic' dishes, I also notice the service of their 'regular wait staff ' also decline in quality!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        I've had your 'wine' experience. Again, this charging tea practice to only non-Chinese customers at O'Mei is nefarious. I don't recall seeing a Michelin star posted on its wall.

                    4. Just to throw my 2 cents in...
                      My go-to dim-sum place is Dragon Dynasty, and I admit to being not just a regular, but in fact a bit too-regular. :-)
                      That said, I am caucasian, and we not only get our tea free (quaintly, they have the managers stop by to greet you and write "Tea for Free" on your bill during dinner) and I'm not sure if this is just a marketing touch and done for everyone, or just regulars.
                      PLUS we've actually graduated to the "special" line-up at the rear of the dining room, where regulars get seated a little more quickly than the masses that line-up at the front doors on weekends.
                      Admittedly, this is a policy that used to bother me when I waited in line with my little slip of paper waiting for them to call my number, but now seems like a nice extra service for the regulars - (ok, that's hypocritical, I admit it :-)

                      Dragon Dynasty
                      2301 Brimley Rd, Scarborough, ON M1S 5B8, CA

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: TorontoTips

                        We also enjoy the dim sum at Very Fair Seafood and go there quite regularly. Many times one of the managers will come by to greet us and give us free tea...he marks it on the bill.

                        Very Fair
                        4002 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M1S, CA

                        1. re: bobinken

                          This is almost an across the board standard at dim sum restaurants (would not apply on any early-bird hours). Often accompanied by a 10% discount also. Personally I don't like this practice, but understand its effectiveness in promoting customer loyalty. The trick is to have one of the managers to recognize you which requires some level of regularity on your part. However given how some of the managers seem to be moving around the different restaurants, you can get this "special" if you are recognized by a manager even if its your first time.

                          1. re: T Long

                            We always dine at Very Fair for dim sum during their "special" hours...after 1:30 PM when all the items except the special items are priced as small. We still get our free tea when that particular manager sees us.

                            Very Fair
                            4002 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M1S, CA

                            1. re: bobinken

                              "Fair" enough...and good for you. Then I should be saying "would usually not apply...."