Monday, 11 October 2010

Listen to the Customer, By Gum! Bad Service in Korean Restaurants

Turns out I'm not the only one to be sourly discontent with restaurant service culture here in Korea.  I wish I'd known about this (old) post when I was writing up my screed about Passion 5 (great bakery, HORRIBLE service in the restaurant) -- Joe hits the nail on the head, and touches on most of the same points I did, but better, and more thoughtfully.

It's vindicating to read.  So... Zenkimchi on "Korean restaurants have sh***y service" part one
And part two: "Korean restaurants don't know their asses from their elbows about making customers happy."

To go with my piece: Nice design = crappy service.

I won't feel totally vindicated until I have an apology from Passion 5, in the form I asked at the end of my rant.  But at least somebody agrees with me.

All of this also amounts to further support for why I almost actively avoid foreign restaurants while I'm in Korea.  Why bother?  It's overpriced, often pretentious, and the wait staff (often/usually) doesn't know how to give western-style service anyway.  Why not go to a Korean restaurant, where at least the service is what you expect, and the dining atmosphere and style fit the type of service?

PS: Fatman Seoul also adds a discussion of restaurant service culture in Korea, which is worth reading, here.

10 comments:

The Korean said...

My personal philosophy always has been: Go to a place where you pay for the food and not for the service or decor, because you don't eat the service or decor.

Roboseyo said...

I'm with you... in most cases, and definitely for meals. One thing I love about many Korean restaurants is that they actually take pride in keeping prices low... sure, I might shout across the restaurant to get another cola, but the food's great, and the price is amazing.

I usually avoid the pretentious places, too, unless they've been enthusiastically recommended by someone whom I know has taste.

FatManSeoul said...

FatManSeoul haz a sad ~ why don't you love us and our relevant writing, Roboseyo?
http://www.fatmanseoul.com/2008/08/21/golden-arches-and-lousy-service/

Chris said...

It's not something I noticed terribly often in Korea, but that might be because I'm just oblivious >_>

Michelle said...

It's in Korea too?? I thought it was just here in the states!! ......*disappointed and sad* What happened to the whole "respect" mannerism?? *sigh*

Bathhouse Ballads said...

Shit service I can hack because I come from Scumland UK where eating out in anything other than fast food joints is a pricey business. Less than 9 months ago a meal for five in a pretty bog standard Indian restaurant cost me over 300.000 Won (with two bottles of crappy house wine)and a pizza for 3, 150.000 Won (no drinks)! Eating out for many people in Scumland is something you only do on special occasions. Here in Korea I eat out twice a day! Crappy service is much more tolerable when you're paying a pittance!

Roboseyo said...

True, BB, and I don't begrudge the 3000 won jigae house a bit of bad service, a gruff demeanor, self-serve water, or having to holler a YOGIYO!

but I DO begrudge that stuff when I'm paying 18000 won for a plate of spaghetti, and 9000 won for a cup of coffee I could make better at home. A western-style restaurant (and they usually are) with western-style prices (or higher ifyou're in kangnam) should have western-style service. I don't like shouting "Yogiyo" above the live violin quartet, if you know what I mean.

3gyupsal said...

Maybe make an amendment to that. Non-Korean restaurants in Korea have shit service. Whereas Korean restaurants are usually better.

I hate going to spaghetti slop shacks and paying 15,000 won to be treated to small side dishes of pickles and tiny pieces of garlic bread that come out a good twenty minutes before the main courses arrive. Also don't forget that the main courses come out one at a time, so you might end up sitting at a table looking at a pile of noodles for twenty minutes before your date gets their meal.

That doesn't happen too much in Korean restaurants though, because usually everybody just eats the same thing.

Roboseyo said...

you're absolutely right, 3gyup. Korean service works in Korean restaurants, and the side dishes are more generous.

kushibo said...

I think Korean restaurant service varies too much to put on such a label.

There's the surly waitress who stands in the corner of the business district eatery and glares at you if you ask for anything. There's the overly enthusiastic and do-anything-you-ask wait staff of the Western chains. There's the "어서 오세요! XXX 입니다!"-yelling fast-food workers who almost always get yours (or at least mine) order right.

I'm contrasting that with my experiences lately in Hawaii, California, and Las Vegas.

In Hawaii, the fast-food chains frequently get my order wrong. In sit-down restaurants on the Mainland, "wait staff" get their name because you often have to wait and wait and wait to get their attention and then you have to wait and wait and wait for them to finally do what you asked.

In contrast with Korea, though, hole-in-the-wall restaurants tend to have very consistently attentive service without the surliness.

YMMV