Hidden Charges In Chinese Restaurants

Roasted and salted peanuts
Roasted and salted peanuts.

You have placed your order. You wait for the food to come. You have nothing else to do. The salted peanuts on the table look inviting. You pick one and pop into your mouth. You like the saltiness and the aroma. You pop a few more into your mouth. Soon, you finish the entire plate of peanuts. Fortunately, your food arrives just after that. You tuck into your food. Scrumptious is the word. You are full. You belch a little. You use the wet paper towel to wipe your hands. You feel refreshed. You ask for the bill, pay with your credit card and think nothing about it afterwards.

Many Chinese restaurants do not reveal that extra items like roasted and salted peanuts, braised peanuts, pickles and paper towels are not complimentary. They are charged into the final bill. The peanuts may cost RM2 to RM3 per plate, likewise the pickles, and individually packed wet paper towels from 50 sen to RM1. Apart from the food ordered, these extra items can cost up to RM20 for a family of ten dining in a restaurant on top of the mandatory 5% government tax and 10% service charge.

What I would like to see is for the servers to tell patrons upfront that peanuts, pickles and paper towels will be charged and not nonchalantly placing them on the table together with the cutleries and walk away after that. Most times, we realise too late only when we check the bill, after we have eaten the peanuts and used the paper towels. Other times, we know these are extras but are too embarassed to tell the server we do not want them. Either way, I am of the opinion that the servers should at least ask if patrons want these extras. The next time you are at a Chinese restaurant, be aware of what are complimentary and what are not. There is no point in paying for food and items that we do not want or need.