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Location: Penang, Malaysia

February 08, 2008

1st class price, 2nd class product, 3rd class service

To my Vietnamese friends who is also celebrating Tết Nguyên Đán, wishing you guys Chúc Mừng Năm Mới. One Vietnamese friend who visited me in Penang last time jokingly asked me, "Beside food, what else do Malaysian sell?" At every corner of the street, you will see food courts, hawker centers, restaurants, etc. here. Favorite past time for Malaysians is of course, eating!!!

For small companies, nowadays big Chinese Malaysian companies as well, there will be a dinner at the restaurant to mark the last working day before Chinese New Year. This is known as "sau gong jau" in Cantonese. The reunion dinner should be eaten at home. Then, from the second day of CNY onwards, people will usually go out and eat "big" again at the restaurant with family members. This is not something new, but is a trend that has become a norm since about 20 years ago. Restaurants are getting more and more, and when is the best time to earn big bucks, if not CNY?

To me, my grandmother is the best cook. I am not a fan of going to restaurant during CNY. While many restaurants are not open, and many people are not working, those left open will try their best to maximize their profits from the ever-forgiving gullible public. To be fair, not many people have such a wonderful grandmother who doubles as a great cook.

In the United States, the price for candies will drop to a significant low before Thanksgiving to encourage people to buy a plenty. Here in Malaysia, people will raise the prices of almost everything, including haircut, before CNY.

Eating out at the restaurant is still affordable. However, I am against this idea. The reason is that I don’t feel like enriching other people by paying first class price. Due to demand for seafood is high and many fishermen are also celebrating CNY themselves, these restaurants will stock up frozen seafood much earlier before CNY. Thus, you will get second hand products.

Then, not all the chefs are working, so those work come to work will be paid triple or more. Waiters will be lesser too. Typical restaurants could not cope up with the number of customers during this time. So, food sometimes will be cooked to a less than satisfactory level. Service will be extremely bad and that's what I call 3rd class service.

In addition to this 1st-2nd-3rd, then you have 4th class people around. In the past, beer is always a favorite during such "eat-big" feast. In recent years, those uneducated Chinese people are also trying to "upgrade" themselves. Citing health as a reason, these Ah Beng nowadays "lim ang jiu" (is drinking red wine) instead of beer.

Anyone from a country with wine culture will shake their head looking at how these Ah Bengs misuse and abuse wine. You can be sure that they have no idea what wine tasting is all about. No idea what kind of grapes, no idea on the aroma, knows nothing except that they know the alcohol level is higher than beer. Some even mix Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Adding some ice cubes and whiskey to the wine are other possibilities… But so far, I have not seen any Ah Bengs eating fried noodle with Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, etc.


Blogger Winston Tan said...

lol! enlightening... i'll definitely think twice before i go to these 1st class price, 2nd class product and 3rd class service restaurants!

10:21 AM  

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