You would think that if you were to enter a crowded restaurant it must be pretty good right? Well that wasn’t the case when the justsaying crew decided to try Eighteen Chefs at The Cathay.
Before going to the restaurant, a few of my friends had already told me that it wasn’t that great, but I thought to myself, “if it’s so packed how bad could it be?”… Man was I put in my place. When they seated us in the restaurant they placed us at the worst table possible, the one next to the kitchen door. Honestly if any restaurant designer put ample thought into the layout of the restaurant they would not put a table next to a door that is continuously opening and closing, you just cannot fathom the irritation I had just from the repeated creaking of the door moving. But seating aside, let’s get on with the “wonderful” experience.
Eighteen chefs has practically removed customer service in the restaurant by letting customers write down their own orders, submit their orders to the cashier and take their own cutlery and condiments if available. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally fine with doing all of these things as many restaurants today have implemented the same service style as to save customers service charge. However, at Eighteen Chefs writing the order was confusing and the instructions weren’t very clear. As a first timer, I did not even know that the waiters did not take the order sheet from you but you have to make your way to the cashier – which meant that we were looking around to see what others were doing as we couldn’t quite get a staff’s attention.
Finally figuring the ordering process out, I made my way to the cashier. I was trying to get my order in but the cashier was on his phone– come on man, I’m trying to pay for my food the least you could do is be attentive. Once I got his attention, he rudely took my order sheet and I walk back to the table. A couple of minutes later, I’m called back to the cashier who tells me we’ve written our orders on the sheet wrong.
At this point I was getting a little irritated. Lucky for me, a waiter who was actually paying attention decided to help me out with the order sheet–crisis averted. I handed the order sheet back to the cashier confident nothing could go wrong. I then walked back to my table, but to my dismay, I get called back as I didn’t realize it was a pay-as-you-order kind of restaurant. So I walk back to the table take the money from everyone and finally settle everything with the cashier.
As the food started to arrive, we got our soups first. I headed to take cutlery for everyone from the cutlery station of course something had to go wrong here too–the soups spoons and the dinner spoons were mixed together. I had to take out the spoons and slowly dig through for soup spoons–but there weren’t enough for my table so some of us just used dinner spoons instead. The carrot soup tasted like chicken rice for some reason (I know right?? like huh??). It was under seasoned and the garlic bread we ordered only came after everyone finished their soup–talk about food pairing, disappointing starter.
Next, our mains–some of us had the Eighteen Chefs’ signature dish the “Heart Attack Fried Rice”, consisting of brown fried rice and steak–the others at our table had pasta. The steaks were ordered at medium, medium rare and rare; logic dictates that the rare steak would come out first yes? Well the waiter served a medium first, and of course before eating it we checked and it was actually a rare steak, it’s understandable if it was medium rare but it was really red in the middle–those kinds of mistakes just should not be made. The rest of the orders came after and all the steaks “done-ness” was mixed up and we had to slowly check which was which because some of us are quite particular how well cooked (or not) we like our steaks.
Presentation wise the mains looked good–served on a chopping board and all–but it really is the least practical way to plate any dish with rice. As you start to dig in rice just starts to fly off the chopping board as there is no border to keep the rice within the board. On top of that I had to use a fork knife and a spoon to eat cause simply because the steak wasn’t cut small enough to be eaten with the rice–alternating between three cutleries can be a real chore.
Taste-wise one of the two people at my table having pasta left halfway cause he simply could not stand how bland it was, while the people having the heart attack fried rice had the same comments I had–the fried rice was burnt and (not the good kind of burnt), the steak was bland (I literally took salt and sprinkled it on the steak to give it more flavour), and overall it was just atrocious. The whole experience was atrocious.
At the cost of at least $20 a head, this experience was surely not worth the value or the time. I’ve had steaks at coffee shops better than this and at half the price. The only 2 good things I could say about this experience was the waiter who took his time to help me out and the 10% discount you get for being an NTUC member… since it’s self-service they don’t include a 10% service charge.
With that being said Eighteen Chefs might have fallen to the all-too-common pit-trap where quality suffers as businesses expand.