Gosh….where do I even begin? Was this our worst makan experience ever? Good and worthy Groupon deals are as real as a dancing unicorn? Don’t believe 100% you read in “preview” or “invited” food reviews? (yes, I’m gullible…unfortunately.) Should I write in bulleted forms because there’s so much to get off my chest (in case, our chests)?
Let’s begin from the start. Groupon alerts me of latest deals, and I saw there’s Seafood Buffet Dinner at Bali Hai. I have been to Bali Hai in Penang and love their food. Seafood buffet at RM55 per pax, RM100 for 2. Normal price is RM98.00 for 1 person. Plus, it’s a seafood buffet. Hey, that’s a very good deal.
So yesterday, I googled to find out more about this deal.
Saw some invited reviews by bloggers.
Of course, everyone sang praises about the buffet especially about the huge oysters that they ate.
I excitedly bought 2 vouchers and we went there last night.
Then everything went downhill.
|This pic was taken from inside the car before we went home. I couldn’t get a proper shot because BF was already in the car and he just can’t wait to get away from there 😛|
|This Ramadhan buffet starts from 8 July until 9 August 2013.
The usual price for 1 adult is RM98.00.
|Big, colourful umbrellas hanging on the ceiling.
This area is reserved for ala carte diners only.
Issue No. 1: Seating
When we walked into the restaurant, I told the staff that I have made a reservation for 2. Gave her the voucher and asked about our table. It was so confusing. She pointed where the buffet food was and the buffet diners’ sitting area. I asked her again where is our table since I made a booking through phone earlier. “Oh, it’s free seating”. Pointed her fingers here, there and everywhere, then walked away hurriedly. The huge, round tables that she pointed at were occupied by families. Errrr….are we supposed to share table?
Fine, whatever. I saw some empty tables inside and a few others in the open area. I don’t like al fresco dining and it rained heavily about an hour ago. So we chose to sit inside, next to another makan buffet couple’s table. I asked BF to take his food first.
Seconds later, a staff came and asked me to sit elsewhere at the open area because apparently the table is for ala-carte diners only. So I asked why can’t I sit here since it’s empty? What if it rained again? Besides, the table is empty. Most seats in the open area were occupied. The rest of the tables were too far from the buffet area and chairs were not arranged properly.
His reply? “Do you see any rain now? If it rains, we will ask you to move inside. This table is for paid diners. Buffet seating is outside.” What??!!! I paid a freaking RM100 lah, not makan free.
Shit, BF was not there with me to help safeguard the table. I paused for the longest moment to kill some time while he and a few other staff just stood and watched me. Seeing that BF was still at the food area and me not wanting to create a scene, I gave up and moved to eat under the gloomy sky.
By the way, about 15 minutes later, the whole row of “paid diners” tables were taken up by buffet makan diners, including my previous table.
Issue No. 2: Food (or the lack of them)
BF returned, almost threw his plate on the table and wasn’t happy to find that they have asked us to move to another table. He wanted me to identify the staff so that he could complain. Again, I didn’t want to create any scenes. Let’s just makan and go home.
Makan?? He said there was hardly any food. A buffet with no food. Literally.
|All he could get after a long queue.
Almost all serving trays were empty.
People were scrambling for whatever was left inside.
It’s like the infamous ‘mad rush for Yuen chicken wings‘ scene.
The staff took a long time to refill.
The quantity of food served was way too little, hence people grabbed more than they could swallow.
|More empty trays.|
|Sob sob…nothing left.|
|There were 12 to 15 trays of different dishes including 3 carbo food.
We came back a few times, only to find empty trays.
It’s a sad sight….to queue with an empty plate in your hand, just waiting and not knowing when the food will actually arrive.
The moment the staff placed the food, a scramble ensued as if the diners hadn’t eaten for days.
To think that the actual price per pax is RM98 and people paid that amount to berebut makanan.
|BF went for his second trip, hoping that his luck would be better this time.
And…he came back with 5 pieces of watermelon…lol
He said they haven’t refilled the food.
Tired of waiting, just take the fruits lah.
|People often say that third time’s a charm.
He managed to get some fried chicken.
|For my second round, I stuffed myself with more bihun and rice, another helping of venison, a piece of fried chicken and some clams that I could find amid the many empty shells in the serving tray.|
|Saw a sudden queue at the buffet area. BF went there and got us a plate of deep fried squids.
Squids were fresh but the batter lacked of seasoning.
|On our last attempt, we got Kam Heong Crabs.
I only had 1 piece as it was too spicy for me.
I forgot to snap a pic before we ate them, so here’s the empty shells….hehe
Issue No. 3: Service
For us (especially BF), a good service is very important regardless of how delicious the food is. It could either make or break any restaurants.
We had many complaints about the service here, right from the moment we stepped into Bali Hai. Now this calls for bulleted forms (lol):
- The arrangement of seating was poor. No proper direction or signage to inform us, the buffet diners, about the seating areas. The waiting staff was not helping either.
- Too many big, round tables used in their buffet. Those are more suitable for ala-carte and family dining. That’s why they lack of seating and walking place as precious areas were taken up by those giant tables. An inconvenience for buffet people to walk around.
- We felt a little discriminated, especially when we were asked to move to another table while other buffet diners were left undisturbed.
- In addition, there was no tissue paper or serviette at the buffet tables, only at ala-carte tables. Come on, you include crabs and prawns (which we failed to get any) in your buffet menu. Surely you don’t expect us to use the table cloth to wipe our dirty hands
- No apologies offered when they ran out of food.
- Lack of courtesy/ manners. One staff actually told BF, “kalau you nak tunggu, tunggu lah”.
- Extremely slow when refilling food.
- I requested for plain water as they didn’t serve any at the drinks section. The staff asked me to get it myself from the main drinks counter which was located on another part of restaurant. I think only staff is allowed there as I saw only waiters go there to get drinks that were ordered by ala-carte diners. How weird and awkward would it be if I showed up and asked for water? After requesting several times, he finally went and get a jug of water of me.
- Nobody came to clear the empty plates at buffet diners’ tables until much later. Most of the staff were too busy serving at the ala-carte tables.
- Nobody say thank you when we left…sob sob.
|Staff in black shirts at the ala-carte dining area.
Too much focus there.
Not fair lah.
We paid for the food too, you know.
|A lady with empty plates and glasses on her table.|
We hope Bali Hai Kota Damansara would improve on their service.
Their food in Penang’s branch was really good and I could still remember the them even though I was there in 2009.
Although we paid only RM100 and yes, it may be just a Groupon deal, but we think all diners deserve an equal treatment and good service.
The food was alright, I have no complaints.
However, the whole incidents of poor service, no food, long queue and waiting as well as scrambling for food were a huge, huge disappointment and nightmare for us.
A totally wrong reason to be remembered.
(plus it didn’t help when BF kept grumbling about the place throughout the night, even while we were watching The Wolverine….lol)
Well, all the best to them.
Oh by the way, there was no oysters last night nor in the buffet menu.
Those lucky invited bloggers and their “previews”.