I don’t know if you’ve realized it yet, but service in a Chinese restaurant is often, well …. how should I say this … non-existent at times. Chinese restaurants haven’t been totally big on the idea of service. Of course, there are nicer Chinese restaurants and more run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurants. Typically, the service does get better the higher up you go.
I appreciate good service just as much as the next person. However, Chinese restaurants can be sort of slow in getting you your special requests and in providing clean dishes and cutlery/chopsticks.
What’s my solution? Some people can create a stink in Chinese restaurant. However, I think most Chinese are wary of burning bridges and wrecking harmony with a highly-frequented restaurant. They talk a lot about “extra ingredients” making their way into the next dish. So don’t complain until all the food has arrived is a common rule of thumb. If the food is good, I can see myself just keeping my mouth shut and letting a few things slide. Obviously, if there is a major issue, then you have to complain with your feet then.
I also typically tip less in a Chinese restaurant than in a Western restaurant. 15% gratuity is the standard in Vancouver for most restaurants, but my rule of thumb is a 10% tip at a Chinese restaurant. If I think the service has been better than usual, then I’ll give a little more. I rarely give a full 15% in a Chinese restaurant, though. The service would have to be exceptional.
I have my own little list of black-listed restaurants to which I never go after a couple of bad experiences. We’ll see how long they last. The restaurant biz in Vancouver has such a high turn-over rate, those bad restaurants should disappear sooner than later.
In short, don’t have expectations going into a Chinese restaurant, especially a smaller one. For a fancy one, you can have higher standards.