How not to run a Filipino restaurant

I do not claim to be a food connoisseur and I certainly do not have the expertise of Neria Soliman when it comes to cooking. But I happen to love fine dining and have been fortunate enough to savour the culinary wonders served in 5-Star hotels in many parts of the world.

Certainly, world-class standard was not part of my expectations when I visited a Filipino restaurant in Granville. I just wanted a taste of Filipino food and hoped that service would at least be on par with other Filipino-owned restaurants in New South Wales.

To my mind, there are two major factors that make a customer go back to eat in the same restaurant. One is the quality of food and the other is the quality of service. It’s very simple indeed. Simple as it may seem, this Filipino restaurant failed in both aspects, not once but on three different occasions.

The first time was when I attended a meeting of Filipino Journalists held in that restaurant. After waiting for nearly an hour for the food that I ordered, I felt that my blood sugar level was beginning to drop below normal. I knew I was about to have an attack of hypoglycemia, a condition that is common to diabetic patients. I therefore placed an order of Coca Cola for an immediate remedy. I waited for over an hour but no Coca Cola came. Food was still not being served and I had to run to the kitchen to make a follow up. Then and only then did someone pour the soft drink on my glass.

The next visit was when I was invited to attend a media conference for Gary Valenciano. Again, it took an hour and a half for my soft drink to be delivered, and only because I made a follow up. The food attendant who took the order admitted that she forgot all about it.

The final straw that broke the camel’s back happened during a press conference for Congressman Escudero of Sorsogon. The same Coca Cola story was repeated for the third time. What made the incident more interesting was that Mrs. Escudero had to order some biscuits for her husband. Obviously, the congressman could no longer wait for dinner to be served.

Then came dinner. First item to be served was fish escabeche, closely followed by fish sinigang. It was definitely not the season of lent, but the third dish was also fish! Whether it was daing na bangus or inihaw na bangus did not matter anymore! It was still fish! Talk of culinary art, the person who prepared the menu certainly had very poor taste. By the way, lechon kawale was also served, probably to remove the fishy taste.

Later, I found out that regardless of the number of functions being held, this restaurant had only one waiter and one cook. Small wonder, the owner himself had to assist in the delivery of food.

There are reports that along with 2 other groups, the Philippine Community Council of NSW had a meeting at this same restaurant in Granville last July 19. Many people complained about the delay in serving their meals.

It is not my intention to destroy or speak ill of a kababayan. It is my sincere wish that the restaurant owner will accept the contents of this editorial as constructive criticism and take it as a challenge to improve his service.

Until that happens, I doubt if I would ever set foot on that restaurant again. There must be some mysterious reason why the Filipino journalists continue to hold their monthly meetings in that same place. Well, the number of attendees is dwindling.