Focus Chinese Seafood Restaurant

How do you deal with a restaurant dispute? An extra bottle of wine on the bill, extra servings of garlic bread, or meals you did not order? It’s a vexing question that has the potential to ruin a dining experience.

Let’s run a recent situation by you…

Looking for a quick lunch on the run, I recalled hearing that under the Focus building there was a Chinese restaurant that’s pretty busy.

Focus is an older block of units, with Focus Chinese occupying the downstairs space for the past three years or so. Very Asian in style, it’s a restaurant similar to many we saw in China or Kowloon. Utilitarian without many concessions to Western sensibilities, it’s careworn from heavy usage, in need of a good scrub as well as a coat of paint. Huge lobsters, crabs and fish fill the seafood tanks at the front of the restaurant, completely blocking the beach view. We took the largely Asian clientele as being a good sign of the food quality, and took a seat.

Our waitress was pleasantly attentive. She worked hard at communicating with us despite her limited English. (She’d come to Australia two months ago from Guangzhou.)

We ordered five dishes from the Yum Cha menu, a double-sided sheet, with dishes costing between $3.50 and $6.90. It was past 2pm and the plan was for a cheap no fuss tasty snack on the run.

Focus 1 Poking my head around a corner, I could see straight into the wet kitchen, a steam-filled room where a single dim sum chef was working. Lifting a huge square sheet of dumpling pastry into the air, he laid it down and began placing lines of filling across it. Oh my! Made to order yum cha!

“He is special yum cha chef,” the waitress told us. “He come in at 8 in morning to make the noodle.” She watched me take a photo of the food when it arrived. “You journalist?” she asked. “No, not really…” Well, that much was true!

Not surprisingly, our dishes were delicious: made to order Steamed rice noodle with prawn – exquisite at $5.90, Thai-style fish cake, Coriander and Combination prawn dumplings (all $4.90 per dish), and a Deep fried crispy prawn rolls – a crispy treat from the Specials section ($6.90).

Focus 5 Our menu is written in English and Japanese, so when we finished our meal, I asked to look at a Chinese menu as well as a dinner menu. Some quick photos later, I felt assured that ordering food on our next trip to China would be much easier due to my newly acquired translation tool.

But paying the bill, everything went pear-shaped. Our bill included a charge for 6 dishes (not the 5 we ordered), one of them being $25.00. Completely baffled, we were told that the $25.00 was a charge for the prawn dish.

“But we ordered off the yum cha menu,” I argued. “The most expensive dish was $6.90!”

“No, this dish off Chinese menu. Sorry!” The teller was firm and insistent.

Focus 3 Despite another round of ‘We only had five dishes’ I’d reached a stalemate about the bill. (Note the ‘I’ here.) The Main Squeeze is far kinder than I am. He hates fuss, he was tired, and had had enough. It was 3pm and the restaurant was closing, so he discreetly handed over the extra money: $57.50 for a $32.50 meal! There was no turning back.

But a bad taste filled my mouth. I felt ripped off and quite cross. I looked back into the restaurant with misgivings about some of the freshest yum cha we’d eaten on the coast, noticing only the less fine points of the décor.

So now, dear reader, I sit typing this cautionary tale, with a phone in one hand. Bulldog growl now under control, I ring the manager to try once more.

Attempt #1: “Sorry, you ring back. He too busy with tourist bus right now [sic].” Mmm…

Attempt #2: Manager: “You have receipt?”

“Yes,” I assure him, “I do.” We make an appointment for the next day.

Armed with my notes from the visit, photos of the dishes we’d ordered as well as the receipt, the matter is quickly resolved, and apologies accepted.

It’s only 4.30 in the afternoon, but a tour bus has arrived, depositing thirty Chinese at the front of the restaurant, eager to enjoy their evening meal. The tables are set, wait staff are ready to begin the service, and stacked piles of takeaway fried rice are ready to go. My problem fixed, I make a quick exit.

Focus 2 In hindsight, I’d prefer to resolve a dispute before leaving the restaurant. Judging by his eagerness to sort out the problem, if we had asked to see the manager before paying a bill, I believe this situation could have been quickly sorted. As it was, without the evidence of notes, photos and receipt, our claim would probably have been futile.

Difficulties in language barriers aside, I believe that restaurateurs and diners enter into an unspoken contract involving both parties: a fair transaction involving the restaurant, who will provide safe food and service at the stated price, and the diner who agrees to pay the bill. At times, this contract may come under question when the transaction is not adequately fulfilled. Differences are further heightened by cultural and language divides, however it is within the rights of both parties to have the matter sorted with a minimum of fuss.

Of course, both diners (and restaurateurs in reply) have another avenue of recourse. Me journalist? No, not really, but we do share a common tool. The pen is mightier than the sword!

114 The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5538 8338

Focus Chinese Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Chinese Cuisine Dinner Licensed Lunch Main course $15 to $25 Surfers Paradise Yum Cha , , ,

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Please feel free to contact Good Food Gold Coast at admin@foodgoldcoast.com.au ABN : 76 400 146 716