SINGAPORE: Dining in Singapore has recently sparked discussions, with a Redditor sharing his observations on social media, describing “eating at a restaurant in Singapore is sad”.
Sharing his thoughts on social media, he shared, “You get ticket from the machine and when it gets called the server brings you to your table. You scan a QR code to order & pay. The waiter brings your food to you and that’s the only interaction that you have with the waiter. They clean up your table after you leave and thats it. Its actually crazy how this ‘service’ can be charged for 10% of the total bill.”
Dining in Korea and Japan
Comparing the Singaporean experience with dining in Korea and Japan, he notes the significant differences: “In Korea & Japan when you sit down the waiter immediately brings you a jug of ice water and cups, some restaurants also provide wet wipes for you FOC. Same in some European countries.”
Sharing the norms in Korea and Japan, where small side dishes are brought to the table at no extra cost, he added, “In Korea after you order the waiter brings along small side dishes FOC and refillable as much as you want. In Japan they have it on the table itself in some places.”
European dining etiquette
Pointing out how food is served in Europe, he continued, “Usually in Europe food will always be served together so that nobody has to sit and awkwardly wait while they food gets cold for the others to arrive.” He added, “In some European restaurants they bring out a bread basket.”
In some countries, like Korea and parts of Europe, post-meal perks are given to diners. He pointed out, saying, “Some places in Korea something called service where the owner just gives you stuff for free to make the dining experience more enjoyable, same with Europe or they might give digestif FOC too.”
He adds that a proper restaurant in Singapore is “frankly not even comparable” to Japan or Korea’s roadside stall services.
Further explaining, he says, “I just don’t understand how its acceptable for restaurants to not give you even a cup of tap water or unlimited napkins for use / charging you for wet wipes which frankly is a disgusting practice especially after Covid where people are more hygiene conscious. Also a small gripe but its also annoying when I’m alone and I can’t order side dishes since its too much but I feel like eating something else as well.”
Call for improvement
While not advocating for a tipping culture, he suggested that some restaurant staff in Singapore could benefit from a wake-up call, saying, “They put in absolutely 0 effort into the service and sometimes are rude / unpleasant. At this point I’m literally doing 50% of all the work that the staff was doing previously by taking queue numbers & ordering + paying by myself, I don’t see how that justifies me paying 10% of my bill towards such service.”
One Redditor commented, agreeing, “what irks me a lot is the practice of charging for tap water, it’s just penny pinching. I would like the option to wash my meal down with water and not some ridiculously priced sugar drink or alcohol.” Where the comment garnered 1200 upvotes in agreement.
Redditor Varantain added, “I like the law in some countries where if the restaurant has a beer/liquor licence, they must serve tap water for free.”
Reflecting on these stark differences and evolving expectations in Singapore’s dining customs, how will Singapore’s restaurant industry respond to ensure a more satisfying experience for all? How about you, what are your thoughts about dining in Singapore?