Dear editor:

Had a ridiculous experience in Nara Thai Cuisine in Westgate Mall today.

We, my wife and I, ordered dishes and rice. When the rice was served, we realized it is in blue color. Photo as attached.

Because my wife has severe food allergy and dare not to try anything she has not taken before, we requested to change the rice to normal plain rice, at least for her. We were then told that the blue rice was steamed with Anchan flower, not food coloring. The waitress brought us a laminated brochure and showed us some information. We explained that my wife’s food allergy was severe and there could be catastrophic consequences. She could be demanded to hospital emergency for the allergy. The waitress went to check with manager. Later, the manager came and told us that “we are not allowed to serve plain rice. The boss has forbidden us from doing so!” We asked him that, since they have fried rice in their menu, before the rice was fried, was it plain or blue. The answer is “plain”. When we asked ” in that case, why not you serve us that plain rice? We don’t mind if you charge as the blue Anchan rice.” We emphasized it is not because of preference, it is because of the risk of wife’s severe allergic reaction which had demanded us rush to hospital emergency and had adrenalin injection. However, the answer was still “sorry, we can not do that, we worry if other customers saw the plain rice and would ask the same.”

I am not sure if it is because we are fuzzy, or if they are too rigid.

First of all, if their food is unique or out of ordinary, they should advise the customers first, before or when ordering. They said “it is on the menu”, but the actual indication was in a separate piece of laminated brochure which was not attached to the menu and was not passed to us, only after we asked about the blue rice then they brought that brochure over as explanation material. I appreciate they might be trying to promote their product, but they still should keep the customers informed in advance, instead of retrogradely.

Secondly, the autonomy should be given to customers, instead of presuming”it is good, you must love it!” They should have set the price of plain rice and the blue rice at same price, and promote the blue rice to the customers, saying something like “we have this unique serving of Anchan rice, you like to try out? Since it is the same price anyway…”

Thirdly, there is plain rice available, not like they have to steam the plain rice just for us. And we don’t mind to be charged as the blue rice. Why it is so rigid not to serve the already-available plain rice? What does it mean by “we worry other customer saw the plain rice and would demand for the same”? Shouldn’t the customer be accommodated rather than being asked to? Shouldn’t the dining experience be pleasant instead of being frustrated? Why it is a concern that the customers ask for plain rice? Why there is even a boss order which “forbidden us from serving the plain rice”?

Most importantly, it is not simply because we don’t like it. I took the blue rice myself. Not too different from the plain rice but I didn’t expect it to be. It is because my wife might have allergic reaction to it, and we wish not to take the unnecessary risk. For some recreation activities, like Roller Coaster or Bungee, the service provider would place health warning and suggest “not advisable for those with heart conditions, or pregnant ladies”. Shouldn’t there be some basic consciousness to accommodate such a simple request from customer, instead of simply saying “no, boss order can not”? What kind of service standard are we talking about?

After all, we will never go back to this restaurant again!

Douglas Zhong
A.S.S. Contributor

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