Sedap reason for going back to Masai-chusetts

For 13 years, my parents were based in Masai when they were transferred to work with the Government Health Sub-Centre to provide healthcare in and around that area.

Back in the old days, homemade kueh was sold
by peddling vendors such as this...

Masai was but a shanty town, served by one main road and Pasir Gudang was then a fishing village that was just starting to be developed into Johor Port.

The memories of living in the Government quarters within the compound of the Health Sub-Centre, the interactions with friendly villagers and our parents’ patients who became our family friends, are experiences forever engraved in my mind.

This and other exciting anecdotes are documented under Memories in my story, Going back to Masai-chusetts, in my 2017 bestseller, *My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.

Facade of the Sedap Corner at Kota Masai

At my dad’s retirement from the Health Department, our family moved back to Johor Baru but we stayed in touch with the folks in Masai and made frequent visits, sometimes just for a drive to see how the town and surrounding sites were being developed.

As Johor Port was established, the nearest town – Masai – also expanded, not only with residential and commercial properties, but also with new businesses that supported the shipping industry.

By 2020, the Masai of today has developed beyond recognition while Jalan Sekolah – where the Balai Raya and the Health Sub-Centre with quarters are located – is still there.

With the passing years, most of my parents’ friends there have also passed on and now there is little reason to visit Masai again.

A range of Sedap Corner signature kueh mueh

In a recent chat with Alisa Lamlertkittikul, Executive Director with Sedap Corner, she was happy to share with me the latest update about their family’s restaurant business.

Earlier, Alisa had informed me that their new direction was to replace the outlets in the malls with new openings at strategic spots, and the first was planned for Masai.

“Our outlet in Masai-chusetts is finally open!” she declared happily – borrowing my name for Masai used in my story, Going back to Masai-chusetts.

Much had gone into setting up this restaurant in Kota Masai and she went on to tell me more about its soft opening on Oct 28.

A section of diners in Sedap Corner Kota Masai

The Sedap Corner brand, established in Johor Baru since 1987, has garnered a host of fans and with this new opening, diners don’t have to go to the flagship restaurant at Jalan Abdul Samad to enjoy a taste of their favourite Asian food, local kueh and cookies.

Now fans of their food and snacks in the Masai-Pasir Gudang area, can have easy access to this all-day-dining menu at Sedap Corner Kota Masai because the menu served here is identical to that of the flagship restaurant.

It is easy to spot the new place because the Sedap Corner brand is easily identified by its logo of an open wok or kwali designed in a bright corporate colour and is supported by its tagline, “The tradition lives on!”

The tradition of familiar Asian food and snacks truly lives on here as diners can enjoy a taste of nostalgia and be transported back to a bygone era.

Another section of diners in
Sedap Corner Kota Masai 
Alisa explained that dining at their Kota Masai restaurant will take diners back to the old days when life was much simpler – and I agreed with her – but she went on to show me how they have created interactive wall murals for diners to take photo mementoes.

In this age of modern technology where handphones are also cameras, these colourful murals with a touch of nostalgia, will certainly make interesting photo backdrops for diners here.

The décor here also shares the corporate identity as their flagship outlet, complete with square and rectangle tables topped with a mosaic of ceramic tiles, matched with wooden chairs.

A mural that reminds us that 
"The Tradition Lives On," at Sedap Corner
A familiar range of local kueh-mueh hygienically stored within glass showcases and choices of baked cookies in sealed jars are also available.

Even in the few days since its soft opening, this new outlet has been filled with diners who were (probably) curious to check out this new place but (I am quite sure!) after they have tasted the Sedap Corner flavours, they would very likely become regulars here.

My heartiest congratulations to Sedap Corner on your new opening in Kota Masai!

Now I have a good reason for going back to Masai-chusetts!

Sedap Corner Kota Masai (Halal) is located at No. 28 Jalan Ekoperniagaan 1, Taman Kota Masai, 81700 Pasir Gudang, Johor. Opening Daily from 11am to 11pm for dine-in and takeaways.

*Note: The My Johor Stories series of books are available from MPH bookstores nationwide and online from website: mphonline.

Missing each other so very, very much!

In March 2020, when Malaysia imposed a border-closing between Malaysia and Singapore, Malaysians who work in Singapore had to make the difficult decision on whether to stay in Johor Baru or in Singapore.

A participant sending a message to her loved
one at the recent Miss You My Love event
Even way past midnight on March 17, many rushed to enter the island republic in a human exodus – mostly on foot across the causeway – because the border between Singapore and Malaysia would be closed with effect from March 18.

While these Malaysians reached Singapore safely, they never anticipated that this separation from their families in JB would be for months and now, almost a year.

Even though they may yearn for the company of their loved ones back in JB, many have opted to stay on the island as they were the main providers for their families and could not afford to lose their jobs.


This family designed their own poster with
a poignant message, "I miss you Daddy"
The border crossing in the South, between Malaysia and Singapore is among the busiest in the world and for more than seven months since March, the causeway that links the two nations, was virtually clear of any vehicles.

It was after more than 200 days of the border closing that travel restrictions were slightly relaxed for more trucks and vans to transport food and essential items to the island republic and for some people with approved travel permits to commute.

The sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the border closing early this year changed everything, not just within families but also for the local economy.

The R&F Princess Cove yacht with families
 on board, waving to loved ones in Singapore
It was unprecedented that the Singapore-Johor Baru border had to be closed for so long and for the first time in modern history, the daily commute was impossible.

It was normal for Singaporeans to cross the causeway at preferred times of the day or night to visit JB for food, shopping, and entertainment, undeterred by the traffic congestion and long queues.

The people of Johor and Singapore have co-existed for generations, many with family and friends who live on both sides of the causeway and they would meet regularly by simply crossing the causeway.

With the border closing, all this came to a standstill.

Waving and send much love!
It was good that the use of modern devices allowed people to stay in constant touch through video calls and chats. But as the period of separation increased, the longing to see each other again in person, also increased.

This longing was so acute for some people that they arranged to “see” each other, positioned at specific spots on the Johor coast across to the Singapore coast in Woodlands.

Online news about these “meet-ups” by families desperate to see each other again, soon went viral. In JB, many stood at the edge of the R&F open carpark next to the coast or at the R&F promenade.

And when Richard Hu, Chairman of R&F Malaysia, observed that the families chose strategic spots along the R&F property at Tanjung Puteri to look across to their loved ones standing at Woodlands on the Singapore coastline, he was deeply moved.

Waving and displaying their
message on a poster
Richard then proposed that R&F offered the use of the Princess Cove yacht to ferry the families out on the Johor Straits for a closer view of their loved ones in Woodlands.

“It was so heart-breaking when I read the news that many families were forced to be separated,” said Richard who initiated this precious reunion event, organised by R&F Princess Cove.

Richard then discussed with his team on ways to help the families and how to create the opportunity to let them “meet” each other in person again.

“This is the least we can do, to offer the use our yacht to let the family members meet each other at the closest distance possible instead of virtually through video-calls on devices. Nothing can be compared to seeing each other in person,” he added.

Looking closer by using binoculars
R&F Princess Cove posted the info about their event dubbed, Miss You My Love, on Facebook on Oct 20 along with an invitation for families to participate, and they received more than 150 responses within the same day.  

These families in Johor, who had been longing to meet their loved ones stranded in Singapore for the past months, jumped at the opportunity to see them again from the yacht that will sail on the Johor Straits for a closer view of the Singapore coast.

Due to the overwhelming response, R&F Princess Cove arranged for four trips on the yacht as only a limited number of passengers could board the yacht at one time.

This child is looking closer,
using a pair of binoculars
On Oct 24, the R&F Princess Cove yacht was specially decorated with a banner with the words, Miss You, My Love! emblazoned on it so that it could be easy to spot from Woodlands on the Singapore side.

Some 20 people, representing 10 families here took their turns to board the R&F Princess Cove yacht and headed out to the boundary of the Johor Straits, believed to be the closest possible point for them to “meet” their family members who were stranded in Singapore.

As the yacht cruised towards this point for their much-anticipated moment, all the pent-up emotion broke loose. It was just surreal – being so near and yet so far.

Some couples who had been apart for so long, just looked at each other in awe and silence while the kids shouted and called to their parents/father/mother whom they finally saw in person again after seven months of separation.

Some families held up their hand-written messages and drawings to express their love and longing. And there was not a dry eye on board.

Those on the Singapore side waving posters
to acknowledge the messages from loved ones
 on the R&F Princess Cove yacht, in the Johor Straits
Due to the border regulations, the yacht was not permitted to hover for too long.

Then it was a painful parting again as families and friends reluctantly waved farewell to each other from afar, while their heavy hearts eagerly anticipated the actual reunion, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

Thank you ever so much, Richard and the team at R&F Princess Cove, for your thoughtful gesture which means such a great deal to the members of these families who are missing each other so very, very much.

The R&F Mall and R&F Princess Cove, a property development that overlooks the Straits of Johor, is located at Jalan Tanjung Puteri, 80300 Johor Baru, Johor.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of R&F Princess Cove

A solid set lunch at Amaya

During the refreshment slot at a recent event held in a hotel, I overheard someone exclaiming, “Oh, how I missed the taste of hotel food!”

Signage at entrance to Amaya Food Gallery
I smiled because I shared the same sentiment. In the early months of the Movement Control Order due to the global pandemic, the economy came to a virtual standstill when only essential services were available while people stayed home to stay safe.

As the economy gradually reopened, movement was less restricted provided with instructions to adhere strictly to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in the New Normal.

It had indeed been some months since we attended an event in a hotel and with the small High Tea buffet spread, diners queued to receive their portions served by the staff.

With my mother at Amaya for
dinner on Christmas Day 2019

Again, I overheard the comments exchanged about the food, which I must agree, tasted rather good. It was evident because everyone at our table returned to the buffet for second helpings!

Now most food courts, cafés and restaurants are reopening, not only for food deliveries but also for dine-in, with the spaces properly sanitized and everyone observing the SOP and physical distancing.

Recently I was invited to the Amaya Food Gallery for lunch and I accepted without hesitation because this restaurant in Amari Johor Baru has earned a strong reputation for its good food.

In fact, our Christmas Day dinner with the extended family last year, was celebrated at the Amaya Food Gallery.

Salad of mixed lettuce served with
a side of Japanese sesame sauce

When I was ushered into the restaurant and shown to our table, I could not help feeling a sense of déjà vu because it was to the very same table and the very same seat when I last dined here!

[I could not resist scrolling through my photo album to find the photograph with my mother, captured last Christmas during our dinner at the Amaya Food Gallery, because it was so uncanny that I was seated here again, at the very same spot!]

It was just so good to be back again for a taste of their new promotion, a four-course Western set meal that was available for both lunch and dinner.

A serving of Hokkaido Pumpkin Soup
The meal will start with a salad, followed by soup. Then for the main course, a choice between Fish or Chicken, [I picked Chicken!] and will end with dessert.

Our friend, who recommended this set meal after she had tasted it, gave us a tip that the portions served were substantial and many families and couples have chosen to dine here not only because the food was tasty but also for its value for money.

I liked how the table service was attentive yet unobtrusive as the staff served the meal, course-by-course, while our group enjoyed the food along with the stimulating company, peppered by exciting bits of conversation.

Supreme of Chicken for main course

The refreshing appetiser of hand-picked mixed lettuce served with a side of Japanese sesame dressing, was a generous salad portion.

This was followed by warm Hokkaido Pumpkin Soup, a soothing and comforting soup that was good to the last drop.

Then I watched – impressed – as the serving staff presented the Fish or Chicken dish to the diners who had ordered that very choice.

The pan-seared Supreme of Chicken was served on a bed of Mushroom Mashed Potato with a side of seasonal vegetables and Rosemary Glaze.

Fish main course of Pacific Sea Bass Fillet

I also had a peek at my friend’s serving of mouth-watering Pacific Sea Bass Fillet served with Basil Pesto Mashed Potato with a side of seasonal vegetables and Dill Glaze.

I must confess that I already felt comfortably full when I was just half-way through my main course, but I still did justice to the delicious dish.

Our conversation flowed spontaneously as we moved from topic to topic and all too soon, it was time for the final item on the menu, a dessert of Red Velvet Cake with a scoop of Vanilla ice-cream.

And the portion was just right to end the meal sweetly. [P.S. I always have room for dessert.]

Dessert of Red Velvet Cake with ice-cream

At RM55 net per person or RM110 net for two people, the solid set meals at the Amaya are really, quite a steal!

Besides the Western set, there is also a choice of the Sabai Set for Thai food, the Malay Set, and the Meatless Set, that are served for lunch and dinner. With such good choices, we will not miss hotel food again!

Amaya Food Gallery is located on the lobby level of Amari Johor Baru, No. 82-C Jalan Trus, 80000 Johor Baru. 

For reservations and to arrange your private dining event at Amaya Food Gallery, Tel: 607 – 266 8888 or email: To book, go to:

For more info, visit website:

Discovering the-making-of IMSHA

For six consecutive years since 2014, the Iskandar Malaysia Social Heroes Awards (IMSHA) have been identifying and recognizing the social heroes in our community.

With Edey Suresh [Left] and Thanam
Visvanathan-Suresh [Right] to discover
more about the birth of IMSHA
The objective of IMSHA was to “Spot, Recognise and Empower” social workers who carry on their work valiantly, serving voluntarily and unconditionally.

Very often, the contributions of social workers go unnoticed because they preferred to serve with anonymity.

Now the social heroes in Iskandar Malaysia who have been doing their work quietly over the years, are being identified and honoured with the IMSHA recognition which will be publicly presented to them in a grand awards ceremony graced by VIPs, corporations and fellow social workers.

At the IMSHA Night, these humble social workers have the privilege to shine among their peers and enjoy being appreciated for their selfless contributions – and have fun being dressed up smartly – for just one night in the year.

Organized by The Iskandarian, the official newspapers of Iskandar Malaysia, in collaboration with Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), SIRIM Berhad and other sponsors and partners, IMSHA has established itself as a prestigious annual awards event.

Happy recipients of IMSHA 2019 with guest-of-honour Tunku Temenggong Johor

Between 2014 and 2019, IMSHA received 1410 nominations of Civil Society Organisations (CSO), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and Non-Governmental Individuals (NGI) who are doing social good in the Iskandar Malaysia region.

From among these hardworking nominees, 60 NGOs and 60 NGIs have been acknowledged as winners at the annual IMSHA.

For IMSHA 2014, only 173 nominations were received. Every year the number of nominees gradually increased and in 2019 there were 301 nominations.

Edey and Thanam took me on a walk
down the proverbial Memory Lane
This rising number of nominees is proof that the spirit of volunteerism is very much alive in Johor.

I remember attending the inaugural IMSHA in September 2014 held at Le Grandeur Palm Resort, in a glittering affair graced by the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (2003 – 2009), who was Patron of IMSHA for 2014 and 2015.

Meanwhile Edey Suresh, Editor-in-Chief of The Iskandarian had shared with me about their visit with Tun Abdullah when they went to invite him to be the IMSHA Patron and for him to grace the IMSHA event, planned to be held in Johor Baru.  

In addition to presenting Tun Abdullah with the Malaysian traditional buah tangan, they also brought along copies of The Iskandarian newspapers to introduce Iskandar Malaysia’s official newspaper to him.  

Edey said that Tun Abdullah Badawi [Right]
paused significantly longer to look at Page 10*
Edey said that as Tun Abdullah turned the pages to review the newspaper, he paused significantly longer at Page 10* to admire this page printed with My Johor Stories!

IMSHA thought that it was appropriate for Tun Abdullah to be its Patron as he was a Board Member of the South Johor Economic Region, a major Federal infrastructure project in Johor under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

The South Johor Economic Region which started in 2006, was also known as the Iskandar Development Region before being renamed, Iskandar Malaysia.

In the inaugural IMSHA, awards were presented in 11 categories from which 22 winners were drawn – 10 for Individuals and 12 for Organisations.

In addition to the 22 winners who were recognised for their selfless contributions, the Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (JARO) was honoured as the recipient of the prestigious Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Iskandar Malaysia Ultimate Social Hero Award.

Edey [Right] taking a we-fie with Thanam
and members of Leadership Council in 2014
I was thrilled that JARO was recognised for their many years of training and employing the disabled and helping to give these artisans dignity in their lives.

When I congratulated Datin Patricia Lim, who received the award on behalf of JARO, she told me that JARO shared the award with me because my regular coverage of JARO activities had helped to raise its profile in the community.  

Her spontaneous acknowledgement was indeed a pleasant surprise as I never thought that my work played such a significant role.

Since the inaugural IMSHA in 2014, I had the privilege to attend each subsequent IMSHA Night to witness how Iskandar Malaysia’s unsung heroes each took their turns to proudly receive due recognition.

Speaking of unsung heroes, I had featured the work of several NGOs who happened to be IMSHA winners, in an exclusive story, A tribute to our unsung heroes in my 2017 bestseller, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.

So in Book Three of My Johor Stories, I thought it was apt for the IMSHA story to be featured under the section Proudly Johorean, along with other brands that were proudly established in Johor and developed into household names.

Thanam, IMSHA Chairman [Right]
sharing interesting details with me
I know that the IMSHA was the brainchild of Johoreans, supported by Johor agencies and corporations, that had developed into a coveted award in Iskandar Malaysia. And to discover more details on the birth of IMSHA, I needed to speak to those who were involved since its inception.

Most NGOs are familiar with Past President of NGO, Johor Women’s League (JEWEL), Thanam Visvanathan-Suresh, who is Chairman of IMSHA, but very few may be aware that the founders of IMSHA were in fact, two young men.

In line with the spirit of volunteerism and working with anonymity, these young men decided to work behind the scenes while Chairman Thanam became the face of IMSHA.

So it was my privilege to hear from Thanam and Edey, all the interesting details and exciting anecdotes as they walked me down the proverbial Memory Lane to recall how the idea was hatched for the birth of IMSHA, up to now when it is recognised as a quality annual award which is backed by a strict selection, governance and judging criteria.

It was amusing to learn that while Edey initially thought that the IMSHA event could be held over a simple High Tea, Thanam was aware that the awards event would be a grand affair, one that should properly celebrate the achievements of our social heroes.

Thanam with Tun Musa Hitam in his
office, while he autographed his book for her
Thanam believed in having all the bells and whistles because to her, the awards event was one evening when the hardworking social heroes could dress up for dinner and be honoured in the presence of their peers, guests and VIPs.

I could not help laughing as I visualized her description of the glamourous and prestigious event from her descriptive phrase, “Rambut dua tingkat affair, complete with manicure and makeup!”

IMSHA was privileged to have Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Patron in 2014 and 2015, and the brand gained further recognition when former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam was Patron for 2016 and 2017.

IMSHA 2018 and 2019 were taken to new heights when the awards events were graced by guest-of-honour, Johor Prince the Tunku Temenggong Johor, Tunku Idris Al Haj Ibni Sultan Ibrahim.

In 2019, IMSHA achieved yet another major milestone when it was recognised as a Good Practice Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Award Provider by the United Nations in Malaysia.

When we look back on how far IMSHA has developed over the years, who would have thought that this was an idea hatched by two young men who were passionate about the project to spot, recognise and empower the unsung heroes in Iskandar Malaysia?

Thanks, Thanam and Edey, for your time and effort to rake up your precious memories to share with me the juicy tales and key moments in chronological order, to let me document the story of IMSHA in Book Three of My Johor Stories.

Now I must get down to writing the story on the-making-of IMSHA!

. . .

Important Note: It was heartwarming that IMSHA winners, nominees, and volunteers, stepped up to support the needy community here in practical ways during the Movement Control Order due to the global pandemic.

Also due to the prevailing pandemic, IMSHA 2020 has been deferred to a later date when conditions will permit a grand celebration with our deserving social heroes.

* From 2013 to March 2020, I contributed to a page dedicated to My Johor Stories in The Iskandarian newspapers.

Of good friends and good food

“I will be at your place by 11am,” said Florence because I had offered to drive us even though she initiated the invite for a makan-jalan to celebrate my birthday.

With Florence [Right] and Wei Leng [Left]
When I accepted her invite, she asked if I preferred to drive and I immediately said, “Yes.” I also added, “No blindfolds allowed!”

This was because she celebrates my birthday with me every year and in one unforgettable year when Florence came to pick me, she also blindfolded me to drive me to an unknown destination for a surprise birthday celebration.

Even though I had deep reservations about that blindfold, I did not spoil her fun but just went along with her gimmick.

Amusing ourselves in R& F Mall by taking
we-fies with, of all things, toilet bowls!
She drove on and on, and when we finally arrived at the destination – her home – I was so ill with motion sickness that I was unable to fully appreciate the taste of the homemade Chicken Pie her mother had specially made for us!

So now, there were no more blindfolds for me, and Florence even let me drive because she had learnt her lesson well.

Yet she was keeping mum about where were going until after we had picked up Wei Leng.

As I was doing the driving, she had to tell me where to go. When she said, “R&F Mall,” I still had no idea where we were going to dine because there were many restaurants and eateries there.

At Routine by Soon in R&F Mall
When we reached the mall, she proposed that we browsed around the shops to work up an appetite and that was what we did.

After we had shopped for about an hour, she asked, “Are you ready to eat now?”

Then she led Wei Leng and I down the escalator, back to the concourse and commented that by the time we reached the restaurant, we should be ready to eat.

Up to that point, I still had no idea which restaurant or café we were going to, but I just went along with her mysterious plan.

Another we-fie at Routine by Soon
We were literally steps away from the restaurant when I finally realized that we were heading to Routine by Soon because Florence and I had long planned to go but failed to do it, so this was an excellent opportunity to dine here for the very first time.

In fact, it was also Florence who invited me to dine at People and Places, the other restaurant by Soon.

Although it was situated in the city suburbs, People and Places became a popular destination for their menu of Australian-style dishes.

Ready to tuck into familiar favourites,
Quesadilla Brekkie [Left] and Avocado Toast
However, during the Movement Control Order, People and Places was compelled to close in mid-2020 but its menu was consolidated into the fare offered at Routine.

A quick scan of the menu confirmed that popular items like Barramundi with Kale Salad, Quesadilla Brekkie and Avocado Toast, were all available here.

While waiting for our orders to be served, I observed how the serving staff were on hand to top up our drinking water, and they kept an eagle eye on diners to ensure that the glasses were continually filled.

A serving of Barramundi with Kale Salad
It did not take long for our orders to arrive and as the staff were familiar with how diners liked to share their food, they did not hesitate to provide us with individual side plates.

As the portions were shared among us, Florence politely asked if I would like anything else. Before I could reply, she quickly added that there was a Plan B to the celebration where we would head to another café for cake and coffee.

Wei Leng and I were delighted with her plan and joked that we were also ready to consider Plan C, D and E, if any.

After a spot of shopping, we ordered 
takeaway food for dinner; photo while waiting
We continued with our leisurely meal, chit-chatting, and thoroughly enjoying the taste of an Australian brunch in Johor Baru.

A good meal marked the start of an awesome outing that continued with cake and coffee*, a spot of shopping and in the evening, we ended with buying takeaway food for dinner.

I am so blessed and ever grateful for the thoughtful gestures and generosity of my dear friends who never let a year go by without celebrating my birthday with me. Thank you very much!

Routine by Soon is located at Lot G-025 and G-026 on the concourse level of R&F Mall at Tanjung Puteri, 80300 Johor Baru, Johor. Open from 10am to 10pm.

. . .

*In stark contrast to the pleasant experience at Routine, Florence was deeply disappointed (and embarrassed!) by the bad experience at this café where she brought me to try their cake and tarts.

There were no other diners in the large dining hall except us. After the staff gave us the menus, she indicated the call-bell on the table for us to summon her when we were ready to place the orders.

She responded to the call-bell and came to take our orders: Two coffees – one latte and one hazelnut latte – and one mocha with three cheese tarts. The three tarts were served to the table first and it was followed by one latte and one mocha.

The two staff were standing by the cake counter, talking and laughing. Nothing wrong with this except that they did not respond to the call-bell which we pressed at intervals – three times!

Florence had no alternative but to discard the call-bell and called out to them before one staff responded and came to our table. We had ordered three drinks for the three people at the table but only two drinks were served. The question simply was, “Where is one more hazelnut latte coffee?”

We asked the staff why they did not respond to the call-bell when we pressed three times and her vague reply was because it was not functioning.

Eh? Remember, it was she who told us to use the call-bell to summon her to place our orders. If it was malfunctioning, then why tell us to use the call-bell?

I asked to look at the order list and the printout clearly listed the two types of coffee, one mocha and three tarts. Not too many items or too complicated and yet they did not bother to check that of the three drinks, only two were served.

When the hazelnut latte was finally served, it was put on the table and the staff walked away. She was probably nervous and ashamed, so I went to ask her to confirm what was served before the drink was touched lest it turned out to be (another!) mistake. She then confirmed it was hazelnut latte.

I also asked to meet with the store manager or supervisor, but the staff mumbled an excuse and disappeared behind a door… and just left me standing there!

Throughout the time we took to finish our coffee and tart, no store manager or supervisor showed up to meet us.

When she paid the bill, Florence noted that the staff had compensated by waiving the cost for the hazelnut latte and apologized by saying, “Sorry.”

Florence graciously accepted it but deeply regretted the experience, especially as she wanted me to try out this café for my birthday celebration.

I too much regretted it because such an awkward situation arose from the lack of basic training, poor customer service and a bad attitude, which reflected badly on the café brand.

By sharing this experience, I wish to remind owners that service standards in cafes and restaurants must be continually improved and maintained because the diners’ appreciation of a meal is not only about the good food or drinks but the entire experience from the moment they stepped in until they paid the bill and left.

Thankfully, this was the only hiccup in our very pleasant outing together!