Looking for a reasonably priced, no frill western restaurant in a shopping mall? Hot Tomato Cafe & Grill is a good choice.
I won’t proclaim the food as fantastic, but they are as good as it get for the prices they offered. Rachel and I seldom spend more than $30+ for a two pax dinner, inclusive of GST and service charge.
We would usually order a steak main and top up to a set meal that comes with bread, soup and a soft drink.
The service at Hot Tomato is pretty excellent. On our last visit there a few weeks ago, Rachel, Asher and I witnessed how the manager at the Nex outlet dealt with a particularly unreasonable customer.
The lady (let’s call her Beach) had came into the restaurant together with her two teenage daughters a few minutes earlier than us. When their orders arrived, the daughters did not want the salad sides and Beach requested to change it to spaghetti. When the waitress politely told her this was not possible as these are standard items, she kicked up a big fuss and started complaining that the salad and all the food were cold. She loudly asked to speak to the manager and went on a long, loud tirade which all in the restaurant can hear.
A very memorable quote came out of Beach: “We are not cheapskate. I came here instead of going KFC because we wanted better service and a good meal. I am very vocal you know. I am a US university graduate you know, not any uneducated auntie. Just so you know, I am a graduate and have stayed in the US for many years.”
In my head I was thinking – so? What has being a graduate or having stayed overseas got to do with anything? To Rachel and I, it just reflects snobbery to the highest extent.
The manager was surprisingly patient and slowly pacified Beach, offering her free sides and to change the salad for her at no cost. All in the name of good service.
Beach’s two daughters hung their heads in shame, seeing that all eyes were now focused on them, thanks to their mother’s crazy antics.
Their mother went on to tell the manager all sort of irreverent cock-and-bull story about her superior upbringing and how the restaurant has caused her embarrassment and distress; now that everyone was staring at her table (as if it was not her own fault). Beach particularly singled out an Indian couple seated near to her table for mention, repeatedly saying to the manager that they kept staring at her, making her uncomfortable.
When the Indian couple walked out of the restaurant, the male turned around and cheekily said to Beach with a big smile on his face: “Madam, thank you for the free entertainment tonight.You made my day. Your children are much better behaved than you”.
I find it pretty hilarious and wanted to show the guy a double thumbs-up. Before I could do that, Beach started shouting off the top of her lungs: “You better watch out, you will have karma! I curse your children! I curse the two of you! Stay here I call police!”
That agitated theIndian lady who walked back to confront Beach. Luckily, the very professional manager intervened and got both parties to calm down.
It was really great entertainment that night. It made me learn to respect those in the service line more, having personally witnessed the kind of shit customers they have to deal with at times.
Beach is a total disgrace as a mother and as a fellow Singaporean. By bringing up her “US graduate” upbringing, it reflects the kind of crap elitist mindset that I detest the most, but I fear may be very prevalent in Singapore society.
Anyway, if you are interested to visit Hot Tomato, here’s the details for their Nex outlet:
Address: 23 Serangoon Central, #B1-47 NEX Mall
Tel: +65 6753 4300
Opening Hours: Daily, 11am – 10pm
They have many other outlets spread around Singapore. Visit Hot Tomato’s website for more details.