Last Updated: October 4, 2017
Most of the Chinese banquets I’ve attended are to celebrate the union and love of a newly-wed couple. While you rush through the eight-course dinner that you have worked up an appetite for since 7pm, there are some behind-the-scenes things that your banquet servers are secretly doing that would make you think twice before eating or drinking what’s in front of you.
Here are eight such things that experienced banquet waiters/waitresses have let us in on, for your reading (dis)pleasure:
Before your food even reaches your table, some banquet waiters/waitresses would have already portioned out a piece from your plate to feed their own hungry stomachs.
Banquet waiters and waitresses usually have their dinner at around 5pm – 6pm, so trust that they are as hungry as you are by the time the first course is served. This is why you’re usually not exactly full from a wedding dinner, or are missing a few spring rolls to go around.
When you arrive at your seat at the wedding reception, you are usually greeted with a plethora of cutlery along with a saucer of the chilli padi in soy sauce. This condiment has actually been sitting there since the moment the servers set the table, which would probably be about two to three hours before the actual dinner.
Imagine the amount of germs and dirt that would already be in the saucer when you start to dip your food?
The Chinese tea that comes so piping hot and fragrant that you think it’s made fresh using premium tea leaves? Also a lie. During the rushed dinner service, servers don’t have time to personally brew your tea fresh after each teapot is empty.
Instead, there is a giant cooler box on the floor of the kitchen in the back, filled to the brim with hot tea, and every server goes in with their hands to scoop the tea into the teapot.
I can only imagine how many hands have “accidentally” been in the tea that is served to you.
If you were thinking, “lucky me”, because you don’t usually drink tea, the ice-cold soft drinks you get aren’t any better. Again, servers do not have time to scoop ice into your glass every time you ask for a refill or a new cup of Coke, so instead, they scoop the ice into the cup with their hands.
Apart from dozens of pairs of hands touching the ice cubes, your drink is most probably also flat. There are many glasses of soft drinks already filled and ready to go, so just before they serve it to you, all they have to do is fill it up with ice.
For some reason, your button has dropped off, or you have a special sauce request to go with your food. More often than not, the servers have exactly what you need – they just aren’t willing to go through the trouble of getting it for you.
The act of them walking to the back seemingly to help search for whatever you need, is a facade for them walking to the back to take a short break. Unless of course, you meet nice servers who are super helpful, then you’ll probably get your ‘Coffee with two cubes of sugar added and stirred anti-clockwise.’
Yes, I’ve heard of that request.
Always be polite to people, even if you’re hangry. The server that you’re constantly being grouchy and rude to? That’s probably the server that’s going to make sure your dining experience is something you’ll remember for a long time (in a bad way).
The chances of them spitting into your food are relatively low, but you’ll definitely get worse service than the other diners at your table. Notice how you’ve been repeatedly knocked into accidentally, or why the portion of your food seems to always be less as compared to everyone around you?
Only just enough food to go around is usually prepared, and sometimes in the rush to bring the food to your table on time, something may roll off the plate.
Food that is round or slippery have the highest chance of rolling off the plate, and they are usually quickly picked up and put back, then placed in front of you. But hey, five-second rule, right?
The truth is, many places do not have filtered water, so when you ask for filtered water, you really just get tap water filled with lots of ice to cover up the tap water taste.
Mineral water is present somewhere in the hotel, but the waiters are far too busy running around meeting other requests and delivering food to your table, that it’s not really a priority at all.
There are many things that I’ve seen while being a part-time banquet server myself that have totally changed my perception of fancy banquets. The only tip I can give you is to always be nice to your servers. After all, they’re all just trying to do their job and make a living.