Diners insulted by staff over rice bowl faux pas

Four customers at former Chinese embassy chef Peter Chang’s were insulted by the serving staff after a cultural misunderstanding over a rice bowl in a US restaurant.

The bill which caused so much offence...

The bill which caused so much offence…

As reported by the Washington Post, trouble broke out at a Sichuan restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, run by Peter Chang – formerly the chef for the Chinese embassy – after a server wrote insulting remarks about the diners on the bill – and then forgot to delete them.

The waiter apparently brought a family-style bowl of rice that is meant for sharing for groups of people, as opposed to the individual bowls the diners were expecting.

One of the customers used to live in Beijing and queried the sharing bowl but was told by the waitress that for groups of three or more, rice is served in a sharing portion.

The diners were offered the choice of individual portions but declined as the rice had already arrived. The party felt the matter was closed and forgot all about it until it was time to pay.

Committing the second ‘faux pas’ of the evening, the group then asked to split the bill four ways to which the waitress commented that it was “totally how [customers] do it China”.

“I obviously had no idea what that meant, because I’m just a white guy from Arlington,” one of the diners, going by the name of Matt, said.

“But my friend from China, he told us after [the waitress] left, ‘In China, one person pays for it. That’s not at all the way things are done in China, so she’s being sarcastic.’ Then we saw the receipt.”

At the bottom of the bill were two comments typed into the point of sale (POS) system.

The first said, “I’m a plad a——.” and the other: “I have a small penis.”

Despite obviously misspelling ‘plaid’, the server had clearly taken umbrage at the diners’ sartorial choices.

Unsurprisingly, the diners summoned the manager who explained that the servers “were just joking” via the POS system and had “meant to delete the comments” before issuing the bill.

Despite the manager’s apologies, the diners were not impressed, saying that the servers didn’t appear to be particularly sorry.

“I would say they seemed slightly embarrassed,” Matt said. “It wasn’t like, ‘We’re so sorry. This is unprofessional. We mean to treat our customers better.’ It was more like, ‘Sorry-this-is-embarrassing-it-was-a-joke’ sorry.”

The manager, Qian Cheng wrote an apology, saying that the severs had previously been warned “about leaving offensive comments in the system.

“They always do that. I’ve told them so many times,” he said. “And they did it again.”

Since the story was published, Peter Chang has fired Cheng, as well as the waiter and waitress on duty and another manager, Lydia Zhang.

Chang issues a statement saying, “My goal is to enforce discipline, supervision of all employees and to better the training of services [sic] so as to build a managing team that is professional and effective, so that the quality of services will be guaranteed.

“My company will make greater effort in improving the food quality monitoring system so my insistence on offering fresh and healthy food with Chinese characteristics will not only be upheld but improved and perfected.

We accept guests’ complaints and/or criticism wholeheartedly.”

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