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Paying for rice.

OK, so I've survived the charge for carbonated tap water of several years ago,and pretty much ignored the fee for bread at some establishments,but I'm completely stymied by being charged for rice at a so called Pan Asian restaurant. I don't eat out as much as I used to but like to think I'm up with current dining trends but did I miss this one?
Your thoughts, experiences?

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  1. I've noticed this trend, too. Very irksome, especially when the rice is a modest portion of plain white rice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pinehurst

      So it's now a trend? I like Asian food ,Vietnamese,Chinese,Thai,Malaysian, Philippino,Japanese, so you can imagine my surprise at having to pay for rice in a restaurant offering a traditional rice centric cuisine.An ingenious way of adding to the bottom line, I must admit but some how disturbing.

    2. You pay either way, whether it's built into the cost of the dish, or charged as an extra. I think all restaurants these days are trying to cut down on waste.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Whinerdiner

        Having been in the business I am familiar with costing and limiting waste but traditionally when Asian restaurants wish to limit the potential waste of a bowl of rice especially when catering to an American customer base, the cost of rice is factored in but the server has instructions to ask how many orders of rice the diners wish.

        1. re: Duppie

          I've been in the business as well. I assumed they had asked if you wanted rice, so if you did not, you wouldn't be charged for it. I guess I read more into it.

          I have noticed at my local spot that we used to automatically get a container of white rice for each entree ordered. Now, however, we get one rice for two entrees. That works fine for us, since most of the time the extra went into the trash anyway.

          1. re: Whinerdiner

            No, the price of a rather small portion of rice was on the menu but I guess my point is that other than some patrons who require everything on the side or on what ever fad diet is in at the moment, could you imagine a fragrant curry ,spicy Mabo tofu or thick Kare Kare without rice? So basically you're stuck with paying the price.

            1. re: Duppie

              I get your point. Really. I just think that times are changing. Restaurants are tap dancing - trying to balance rising food costs against increasing menu prices. I think we'll see a change in what used to be "complimentary" - whether it's tea in one place or the bread basket in another.

              Again, you pay for it either way. Having been there, you know better than anyone that nothing is free. Either a restaurant builds everything into the cost, and raises it's prices, or it makes up the cost in other ways. I'd hate to be around on payday if they don't get the equation correct.

              1. re: Whinerdiner

                Agreed, but having been there I also recognize that it will inevitably turn some patrons off unless you consistently serve a product that is singular in it taste and quality, and believe me this restaurant was quite ordinary. Now the next question is ,does their NYC branch have the same policy?

                1. re: Duppie

                  Years ago I was managing a restaurant that decided, for the first time in about TEN YEARS, to raise it's prices on food. These were not huge increases - fifty cents here, a dollar there. We had new menus printed, identical to the old ones except for the prices.

                  I honestly didn't think anyone would notice, or even care. This place had a pretty brisk bar business, where patrons had no problem paying top dollar as they waited to be seated. Boy, was I wrong! You never heard such complaining! The same guy who just dropped $50.00 at the bar on $10.00 Martinis, was having kittens because the chicken parm went up .50.

                  No matter what you do, you are going to turn some patrons off.

      2. Thankfully, I haven't seen that trend reach here yet. For years we avoided being taxed on Chinese take-out here in NYC, so I guess now it's pay the riceman because the Rice Man Cometh. Should we badger Asian restaurants for seizing the opportunity to collect additional monies especially in such a hurting economy? No. Is it disturbing that we have to pay for a simple staple like rice when we dine out? Yes. There's really not much we can do about it except hope that the trend doesn't spill out over into other cuisines and THEIR staples. Could a charge for salad dressing be far behind? Or a charge for grated cheese? *gasp*

        1. In Paris you pay for rice as well as tea, different way of doing stuff.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            Even cognizant of the excellent Vietnamese food in Paris,I've never been there long enough to run out of great French bistros where that is a option
            Now is that a recent development or something of a norm in France?

          2. Restaurants in Hong Kong charge for tea and rice. It's perfectly normal there.

            2 Replies
            1. re: dpan

              Haven't been back to HK since 97, but don't recall having to pay for either.

              1. re: dpan

                Restaurants in Japan also generally charge for rice.

              2. This has been a very regional practice for many years. In southern Connecticut and NY, rice was almost always included at Chinese (and other Asian) restaurants going back more than 50 years in my experience. Tea was also served gratis when dining in.
                Approx 30 years ago my sister moved to Boston and was shocked to find that in Massachusetts, rice and tea were ala carte extras.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bagelman01

                  And going to dim sum, you'll almost always be charged for the tea.

                2. Yes, it's apparently a fairly recent trend. Maybe about a year ago, the Chinese place I go to for take-out started charging for the containers of steamed rice. I was told it was to compensate for their cost increases.

                  1. Maybe they got tired of bringing it to the table of low carbers like my family and got tired of tossing it out, untouched. I try to let them know not to bring it before that happens, hate the waste. I always tell them no rice when ordering takeout (or corn starch or added sugar...).

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: mcf

                      Exactly. As I indicated earlier,to prevent that type of waste the servers would ask how many portions the diners required.

                      1. re: Duppie

                        When I order takeout chicken soup, I always specify NO rice or noodles. I am paying the same amount, but I am getting at least twice the soup, which is the most precious quantity. I eat the soup at home as is, or if I want, use the soup as broth for another recipe or even add some homemade rice or noodles if I want. Win-win.

                        1. re: Duppie

                          I missed that, and I wish they would ask.

                      2. Where I am, rice has always been a separate chargeable item at Chinese restaurants.

                        1. I've lived within ordering-in distance to Manhattan's Chinatown for seven years. Many, if not most of the restaurants charge extra for rice. So here, at least, it's not a new development; it's a neighborhood norm. Rice is free elsewhere in Manhattan, as far as I know.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: small h

                            I've been dining in NYC's Chinatown for 30 years and have yet to be charged for tea or rice.

                            1. re: Duppie

                              It's possible that this is an order-in, rather than a dine-in, thing. Congee Village charges a buck for rice (which I can't prove, since their menu doesn't say so), as does 456 (ditto). But if you click on this menu for Xe Lua, you'll see several reminders: "Don`t forget to order a side of jasmine white rice or organic brown rice to go with the meal!" Because the rice is extra.


                            1. re: redfish62

                              Yes, because the server is responsible for what your meal costs.