I’ve lived in Hong Kong for six years. The restaurant scene is inconsistent to say the least, and I’ve been to some overpriced, downright bad places. But my experience at Enomod easily stands out as the worst. Here is an account of our lunch:
It’s a few days before Christmas and the restaurant is empty. This should alert us, but the place looks decent so we gave it the benefit of the doubt. The waiter takes our orders. Since the restaurant is empty and it’s almost Christmas, we half-jokingly ask for some wine on the house for filling the place out. He awkwardly declines. A colleague orders a juice. The waiter does not ask what juice; neither does he present anyone with a drink menu or any water. He takes the order down on a napkin – another bad sign.
Half an hour passes, during which we sit with no drinks – not even tap water. He then returns, not with our food, but to tell us two of the items we ordered have run out. We still do not have any water on the table. At last the starters arrive. One of them is ‘Spanish paprika sardines’. Saturated in oil, the sardines have clearly never been near any paprika. We ask why. The waiter mumbles something about the paprika being in the oil; then that the paprika ran out; then that the sardines are different sardines to the other sardines. This goes on for about 10 minutes.
Our patience wears thin. We say we would like the paprika sardines, as described on the menu. Then an uncouth man in a wool hat appears – the restaurant’s owner, we later discover – with a plate piled high with paprika. He sarcastically asks if this is enough for our needs. We are stunned into silence by his rudeness. He asks if we are ‘mad’. We indicate yes. To make up for the bizarre scene, he promises some complimentary bread (with butter this time!). It never materialises. Instead, the bumbling waiter brings two glasses of mulled wine – apparently just for the two ladies (we are a group of six). Everyone is puzzled. It doesn’t make sense for just two people to have wine, we say. So the waiter returns with water glasses, suggesting we pour the wine from the two glasses into these to share. Understandably, we decline.
As we are eating our main courses (they arrive after about an hour and are about half the size of a regular main course one might expect for around $150), the waiter stands awkwardly by our table and starts trying to explain himself. He is not actually a waiter, he says. He is the manager. He has never waited tables at lunchtime. His staff failed to turn up this morning. He does not know what to do. He has never been so humiliated. He looks as if he is about to start crying. We all feel incredibly uncomfortable. While we all think it highly inappropriate that he is making excuses for this LAMENTABLE dining experience, we tell him it is OK, that it is not really his fault but the owner’s (which is partially true).
After he drops the cutlery while clearing the table, and another long wait for our mediocre coffee, the waiter brings the bill with more mumbled apologies. He will deduct 10 per cent, he says. We point out that that comes to less than $100 off a bill of $900. He mutters something unintelligible and gestures at the two glasses of house wine. We decide it is not worth arguing any more.
Enomod is billed as ‘social dining’. ‘Anti-social dining’ would be much more fitting. By rights, we should have received complimentary wine and 50 per cent if not 100 per cent off the bill. The owner’s attitude was astounding and indicative of an establishment with no regard for its customers or service on any level. If this restaurant is still around in a year’s time, it will either be due to a miracle or a grave cosmic imbalance.
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