Wednesday 3 March 2010

Rasa Sayang- THE Worst Service Ever Encountered in London

*Update 21 April 2010- Following this review, I am heartened to say that instead of just pacifying me with a gift voucher or something along those lines, I was contacted by the manager Fee Bee Chong with an apology and invited back to dine personally with her and the two proprietors of Rasa Sayang (Ellen Chew from Singapore and Teddy Chen from Malaysia) so they could gain honest feedback face-to-face.

Read a full account of the revisit here.

Rasa Sayang 3 March 2010
5 Macclesfield Street
Tel: 0207 734 1382

First of all, let me categorically state that I rarely return to give restaurants a second chance if I didn't like them the first time round. However, due to a Metro 2-for-1 dining offer currently available under the 2010 Malaysia Kitchen campaign, I thought it may be a good opportunity for me to re-evaluate some of the participating joints on their list (some of which I have never tried, others which haven't really impressed in the past) just in case I happened to catch them on a bad day previously.

Boy oh boy was that a mistake in this case- whilst my initial visit to Rasa Sayang in March 2009 left me severely underwhelmed (read the full review here), even that feels like a Michelin star experience compared to the lunch from hell we had today, where a waitress with about as much social grace as a fungal infection left us angry, frustrated and united in our conviction never to step foot there again.

Let me break it down for you.

1) As specified on the voucher, I phoned up in advance to book a table, only to have Ms Fungal Infection curtly state that they don't do bookings before hanging up on me. That's right, even before we met she was getting under my skin. Bad sign no doubt, but we proceeded anyway.

2) Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by a smiley lady who asked us how large a table we needed. This smiley lady would eventually be our waitress, thank goodness. I responded and mentioned I had a Metro voucher, to which Ms Fungal Infection, whose voice I recognised and who turns out was stood behind the counter with evidently more seniority than smiley lady, interjected with a loud "I need to see the voucher first", arm outstretched. Bad vibes round 2, but hey ho.

3) I had both a Metro paper cut-out as well as a printout of the online version from the official website on me, and happened to pull out the latter first. This did not impress Ms Fungal Infection, who stated immediately that only newspaper versions would be accepted. I attempted (in vain of course) to question this, clarifying that it was an official voucher downloaded from the official website and not a photocopy, but her repeated response was simply "No. Management policy." to which another staff member close by chipped in "not Rasa Sayang". Hmm. Luckily I had a cut-out anyway, but if I hadn't I'd have been turned away- wonder how the organisers of the 2010 Malaysia Kitchen campaign feel about their efforts being spat on like this.

4) We sat down and were presented with a laminated 2-for-1 menu card, which listed the only seven items included in the offer. Each voucher entitles you to order up to four dishes for the price of two, so we went ahead and chose Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai with Chicken Curry, Mee Goreng and Curry Laksa.

Nasi Lemak- probably the best of all our dishes in my opinion, though personally I
still prefer
Sedap in Old Street and Malaysia Kopitiam round the corner.

Roti Canai with Chicken Curry- or more accurately, frozen store-bought r
oti paratha
that I could
have reheated myself at home. Note the absence of chicken curry,
which would
later give Ms Fungal Infection great cause for a furore.

Mee Goreng- a tad too sweet and ketchupy with an altogether un-mee goreng
colour. Satisfying if you're hungry, but not exactly what I'd call authentic.

Curry Laksa- found this to be much tastier and richer than my last visit,
though for some reason no one else seemed to like it.

As you can see, whilst hit-and-miss the dishes overall were actually more favourable than I remember (though my partner found everything bland and inauthentic), but this temporary interlude of acceptable lunching was erased when- yes, you guessed it, Ms Fungal Infection plonked us with a bill that gave us only one dish free instead of two.

When we attempted to clarify this, we were told that we had only ordered three eligible dishes and not four. Absolutely flabbergasted and by this point irritated beyond belief, we insisted that we did order four, to which Ms Fungal Infection then claimed our Roti Canai did not qualify as it was off the main ala carte menu and not the special 2-for-1 selection! What ensued next was the last straw- when my partner tried to explain that we had only ordered from the laminated card and never even saw the main menu, she proceeded to lecture him condescendingly, saying he was too loud, needed to "cool down" and stop shouting!

Soon after, she realised that the mistake was indeed on their part- our far more polite smiley waitress had mistakenly given us the smaller starter-size Roti Canai from the ala carte menu, which only comes with a tiny bowl of sauce, rather than the larger main-sized Roti Canai with Chicken Curry included in the deal. This essentially meant they owed us an extra bowl of chicken curry in addition to the refund, but by that point we were really beyond caring.

To top it all off, Ms Fungal Infection then refused to print a new bill, choosing instead to tell us verbally the new amount we needed to pay. And then as if to grace us with her trademark etiquette one last time before leaving, she went on to refuse to let me pay by credit card, saying the wrong bill had already been rung through and she was "using her own money to top up" the difference and therefore cash was the only way. Suffice to say we chucked the necessary bills on the table and left as fast as we could, though not before our nicer smiley waitress caught my eye and mustered a quick "sorry about that". Bless her soul.

From reading other online reviews, it is clear that we aren't alone in our fury and frustration at Rasa Sayang's abominable service. How bad this restaurant is is summed up best by Matthew Norman of the Guardian, who in this fabulous review accurately concluded that it is "the planet's most sensationally misnamed restaurant" with nothing to fix "other than service and the cooking".

Rasa Sayang (Feeling of Love)? Far from it!


  1. I read that indeed the place has an awful service and that the food can be sometimes quite disgusting.

  2. I will order it. I just love this kind of dishes but it would be nice if you can add something else, might be more illustrations about the Chicken Curry and its flavors.