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Oct 24, 2013 08:26 PM

Piggybacking on the 'charging for bread' thread, how do you feel about Asian restaurants that charge for rice?

Or tea, for that matter.

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    1. If it's a dish that's typically accompanied by rice (not a noodle dish) then yes, being charged for it would piss me off. I can't say I've ever been charged before for it, so any place that did would just scream "nickel and dime" to me. I don't drink tea so I can't say anything to that.

      1. In my experience, all Asian restaurants charge for rice and always have. It's a standard menu item.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          Where do you live? In my region - DC and the MD & VA burbs - rice is never a separate charge unless you order extra rice. Most will give you brown rice upon request without a separate charge - I guess because it has become such a common request that they routinely prepare it as they do white rice.

          1. re: Just Visiting

            Location's in my profile.

            So, where you are, would they offer you a free choice between boiled rice, fried rice or soft/crispy noodles in a Chinese restaurant? Or boiled rice, pilau rice or one of the breads in an Asian restaurant? Here, these would all be menu items for the customer to order and pay for.

            1. re: Harters

              No - just regular ordinary white rice or brown rice. Definitely NOT fried rice or noodles. Those are never included.

              1. re: Just Visiting

                In Central PA most places offer white or fried as the free option. Fried is pretty bare bones though, maybe just onions.

                1. re: melpy

                  We have the choice of steamed, fried (just egg, usually), or brown. I've never been charged for rice.

                  1. re: Kontxesi

                    I've been to quite a few places that charge extra for brown rice.

                    1. re: chowser

                      I've tried to cook brown rice once or twice.... I would charge extra for it, too. :|

            2. re: Just Visiting

              I live in Taiwan, and paying extra for rice is very common. Doesn't bother me - it's usually a nominal fee.

          2. Charging for rice used to annoy me. The reason was that it was understood, I thought, that rice accompanied a meal, the same way that a hamburger bun accompanied a hamburger, that sugar and cream accompanied a cup of coffee, and that bread appeared automatically on a table before anything else was served.

            What I really objected to was the restaurant being sneaky about it. If nothing was said until the the charge showed up on the bill, that was irritating. On the other hand, if the charge was mentioned on one of those little billboard things, about three or four inches tall, advertising drinks or appetizers, I did not mind. Ditto, if it were asterisked on the menu.

            When I lived in Singapore, my attitude changed relative to restaurants in Singapore and Malaysia. There, as my Singaporean Chinese girlfriend pointed out, there was a strict custom. There were restaurants that were long and skinny, facing the street, with many tables bordering the street before you actually entered the restaurant. (Okay, a patio or street cafe arrangement.) Usually there was no air conditioning. All food was served on melamine plates. Prices were rock bottom.

            There, the restaurants charged a pittance for (1) napkins! (yeah, napkins); (2) appetizers, consisting of dried soybeans, rice crackers, mini-pretzels and dehydrated peas coated with dried wasabi, which appeared automatically, whether you wanted them or not; and (3) rice. This charge appeared automatically on every bill and nothing was every said about it. Singaporeans understood that this was the custom. Restaurants with tablecloths, air conditioning, and regular plates, did not charge for such things.

            So, because it was routine and everyone understood it, no one complained. I should also point out that the charge was about 50 cents (Singapore dollar) which was about 25 cents (U.S. dollar) back in those wonderful days.

            I should also point out that a standard-sized plate was heaped high with rice. The first time that this happened, I looked askance at my girlfriend, who explained: This is a working man's restaurant--many Thai and Malay laborers. Rice is the mainstay of their diets. It is understood."

            So, I guess whether I got irritated or not depended on what the custom was, but certainly, in the U.S., if a restaurant says not a word and then charges you for rice, this is sneaky--especially if the charge is substantial, for instance, more than a U.S. dollar.

            Thanks for listening to my long-winded response.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gfr1111

              I don't know if that's so much a Singaporean custom as it is a mainland Chinese custom.

              I had no problem paying for the napkins, but I rarely wanted to eat the grotty boiled peanuts or mysterious pickles.

              As for charging for rice, ya, most places I've eaten at in China that served it charged pittance for it. Unless it was a dish that specifically included rice...

            2. I've never seen an Asian restaurant that charged seperately for plain rice if it was coming with another dish. I'd be more than a little peeved and ask them to take the rice away and take it off the bill. You pay extra if you want the fancy stuff ('special' fried rice, noodles etc.) not plain rice.