Subway Malaysia

I was pondering what kind of title should I put for this blog? So many came to mind. But, I can tell you this. I was one disappointed customer of Subway Bandar Seri Damansara today. And, they just lost a customer.

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George and I were in Bandar Seri Damansara today and decided to pop in at the Subway Ativo Plaza. We have been there several times before. Whenever we stop at Subway, I dont usually deviate from my usual order – either tuna, tuna or tuna sandwich.

Ok, some deviation might be tuna wrap. Or, Italian meat balls. Sometimes the steak and cheese. Sometimes…but often goes back to tuna as I love my fish. I LOVE the Macadamia white chocolate cookies too.

My Story Today

I wanted the steak and cheese wrap. The guy behind the counter did the usual stuff – heated up the wrap, steak and cheese. I wanted my favourite onion sauce and some vegetable.

The minute I sunk my teeth into my wrap, I was so surprised it did not taste anything that resembles any kind of meat. Tasteless and rubbery. Did I say TASTELESS? I give some of the meat to George. And I told the counter staff that I did not like the wrap and that the meat was tasteless. I could not bring myself to eat it.

This was a personal insult!

If this were a conversation about a rubber and cheese wrap with my husband, the conversation will be like this, “Dear, have some of my rubber and cheese wrap. Guess what? It does indeed tastes like rubber and cheese! Totally tasteless! It is how it should be!” Well done boys and girls.

But noooo…we are not talking about rubber and cheese wrap here. It should be steak and cheese wrap!!

The Service Recovery That Wasn’t

Instead of doing what a proud establishment should do, the staff behind the counter tried to explain to me that they have nothing to do with the meat. That it came from wherever twilight zone they came from. They didnt touch the meat. Nope! Nope! Not their fault!

One of staff, donned a foodservice glove and had a taste of the meat. Then, she looked at me. She said, “Akak (sister), you are right! It is tasteless!” So instead of doing a service recovery, she smiled at me…and so was the rest of the crew.

I was errr….too speechless…I asked for the Manager. At the same time, a young gentleman who looked like a senior came out to the floor and asked me what was wrong.

Wow! I thought…a silver lining of hope! I thought! They actually wanted to do service recovery! I thought…

He asked me whether I wanted to change to another wrap. By that time, my mood to eat was totally hopeless. I was crushed and insulted to no end. To those who knew me, food is a serious business to me. George was trying to coax me to eat something (since no real heavy food since breakfast). Ok, I said, I will have the tuna wrap instead.

Guess what young dude said to me? “Ok, we will give you a tuna wrap but you have the pay some additional Ringgit”. What a half-assed service recovery was that? For the trauma I had to go through eating tasteless food, I was expecting they would:

  • reimburse my wrap, or
  • offer a replacement at no cost

By that time, my heart was totally shattered, mood was as heavy as a 5-tonne concrete and..I wanted to cry. I was hungry, angry and frustrated at the lack of empathy by the crew.

I walked out.

How could someone bungled at their own food? How could you be working at a place and not know how it should taste? How could an establishment not empowered the crew enough to serve the customers properly? How could you not train your crew for service recovery? How could you not train your crew the meaning of taking pride in their work? How could you not take pride in your work? How could you only listen to customer’s complaint but with the intention of only to respond and not to understand?

How could you?

How could you?

How could you?

So, to those in Subway Malaysia who is responsible for training the crew, you may want to look at this aspect. Haul up the entire crew before they do more damage to your reputation by having a blogger like me writing about it

The Service Industry

Basic requirement to work in the service industry (according to the Service Book of Hanie):

You must enjoy interacting with people. No point working in the service industry if most of the time you prefer to interact with your mobile phones, or feeling defiant each time someone comes to your counter to ask for something. I can understand that sometimes you are feeling under the weather, but then, try your best to put on your best face for the day. Otherwise, take a leave, go home and sleep. Or go to the mall for some shopping therapy. Trust me, it works even with simple purchase of a pen.

For many years I have been involved in the manpower industry especially in the outsourcing of manpower in the hospitality and service industry. The first question that I would ask are these:

Do you like interaction with people?

 

Followed by a few other questions such as:

  • How do you feel about working with a lot of people around you?
  • How do you feel about working on holidays, weekends and evenings?
  • What does your spouse/partner feel about you working on holidays, weekends and evenings?
  • If you have any children, who looks after them if you had to work on holidays, weekends and evenings?
  • If you have any pets, who would look after them if you have to work long hours?
  • What do you enjoy most in this industry?
  • Is there anything that you don’t enjoy being in this industry?

As you can see, I like my crew to be inclusive and to think beyond their daily work. I do not enjoy seeing someone being sulky when the truth is that she is worried about her daughter’s rising temperature due to fever. And the babysitter is texting her constantly asking whether she could pick her child up as babysitter needs to go back to her kampung the same evening.

The first job I landed myself was as a Telex Operator/Receptionist. I was 18 then. I was eager to start working at a grand salary of RM280.00/month although there were 3 exchange student programs and a study sponsorship to Japan waiting for me. My mom wanted to kill me for this but, that’s another story to tell.

I spent the first Hari Raya Aidilfitri of that year managing the switch boards and telex machine. I cried as it was my very first Aidil Fitri away from the family. The shift started at 7.00 am and I was already feeling miserable on the night before. Or how about working on a graveyard shift? They don’t call it graveyard shift for nothing…Or how about split shift?

Then, there was the job at the travel agency. I’d like to think that it takes a lot of guts and with the right attitude working in a travel agency. You deal with all kinds of people, with all kinds of attitude. I used to go home with some sick feeling deep in my stomach worrying that I might have missed some poor traveler’s pick up at the airport. Or worse still, his pick up from the hotel to the airport.

I started driving when I was 16. It was a manual Proton Saga, Chini green, that’s what they call it. I have never driven any other car until I joined this particular travel and car rental company. The interview with the company supervisor went quite painlessly until he told me to drive this……gigantic sized Volkswagen van.

Errrrk!

Throughout the years, I have traveled a bit, stayed at a few hotels, eaten at some good places and meet people. I am fortunate enough as George shares similar perspective on how service should be rendered in all these establishments.

 

Makan places

SouledOut still holds a sweet place in my heart as I think the crew are just awesome and food is great. Service at Kelantan Delights is great too. The food is yummylicious. Head to their place for good Kelantan food and you wont be disappointed. Porto Romano wont disappoint me in terms of service and great down-to-earth comfort food. Sri Nirwana, the banana leaf rice restaurant in Bangsar renders straight to the point, no-nonsense service. Food is great though. I am not discounting other small businesses who have perfected the meaning of service. I frequent this mobile van run by a certain daughter of a woman named Kak Nab every so often. She sells the world’s best laksam Kelantan and nasi kerabu. I kid you not. Her mobile van is parked by the roadside in Taman Tun Dr Ismail from 7 am to about 10 am, every day. I love buying from her not only because of her delicious food but she knows me by name, and knows what I like.

 

Hotels

YTL properties including Vistana, a few other boutique resorts such as Amanrimba, Suria Hotel properties are all great with their services.

 

The flipside

From my observation:

  • Pay is low. Some goes as low as RM3.00/hour with working hours can go as long as 12 straight hours.
  • A lot of places do not provide career advancement or training for self development. Sometimes employers do not even provide proper training.
  • No career support such as insurance or EPF.

This is the Catch 22 situation to some employers as training is cost. I have experienced this situation with my Chini Restaurant. The crew had a 3 month pre opening experience, salary scale higher than the average market standard coupled with service points, meals and uniform. And Sundays are off.

Still, they left for a mere RM10 difference at another place simply because we at Chini Restaurant do things a bit differently than other local restaurants that they are used to work. For instance, they asked me why should they clean the washroom when it “doesn’t look very dirty”. Or why I insist on separating the chopping boards between dry and wet goods. Or how come I do roll calls in the morning complete with checking of nail fingers. (Yes I carry nail clippers during roll calls…)

My rant on service continues in the next blog……

Hospitality Schmotality Not! Hospitality 101: How Not To Earn Your Tips

I left the manpower outsourcing industry close to 3 years back. Thats what happened when you have a major life shifting event. A real bummer really but life must move on.

One of the core businesses we did (and we did extremely well) was total outsourcing to the hospitality, service and leisure indutries. 60% of the revenue came from the hospitality services so it spoke a lot of where we did extremely well, and right too.

The service crew were spiffy clean, well trained, well behaved, drug-free, medically certified, bilingual and went through all the necessary shots. And most of all, they had passion and the willingness to work and learn.

And so, clients had no qualms in paying my crew premium fees. And that does not include my fees.

Anyways, why am I ranting about the level of service in eateries today? For one, I have low tolerance for shitty service in an upmarket establishments. This happens a lot nowadays, at least in my observations. You pay a good RM12 for a cup of soup, RM45 for a plate of shrimp aglio olio and wash it down with an RM18 fruit juice. All these minus the Government tax. So, what do you get in exchange for this?

  1. You need to constantly remind the server to refil your glass of water
  2. I could see finger smudges on the cutleries
  3. The server need to be educated on personal hygene. Body odour does not work well when you have quite a close proximity to customers when serving food especially those customers whose olfactories like mine will be so offended to these kind of sensory overload.
  4. Try bantering with your customers? Choiced sentences such as “Please understand that we are busy today” will NOT earn you brownie points with customers. Forget the tips if you do this. This was exactly what I get today at this locally conceptualized Italian restaurant at The Curve.
  5. I needed to walk to the sauce station and make myself at home with the ketchup, shakers and parmesan cheese as my three attempts to call the server failed. Eye contact! Eye contact! Where the heck was your eye contact!!
  6. Restaurant lingo should be next to breathing and that includes understanding the local nuances of asking for the bill by waving a hand and gesturing as of writing something on a piece of paper. Unfortunately this chap who had braved enough to be my second server didnt understand this. Not even when I said, “May I have my bill?”. He blinked at me and so I repeated in another way, “May I have my check? Please?”

              Blinked again. This time he mouthed something inaudible.

              I stood up, pointed to another server who was busy doing nothing by another station and gave her the whole buffet of signals and hoped she should be smarter than this guy who stood next to me. Hands making the sign and lips mouthing “BILL”.

She got the message. I almost wanted to send a smoke signal.

What Are The Things That Make My Diet Go Busted, Part 2

Have you ever tasted the pizza in Souled-Out,  Hartamas? Pick one pizza, any pizza for that matter and you will not be let down. Washed down with their mean Long Island Tea, I could not have asked for a better dinner. Peter the bartender will be there to take care of whatever your bar needs, be it to have that extra lime, extra shot or to shoo away unwanted guy trying to sit next to you.

Look for Zack the outlet Manager when you are there. His team are a fantastic bunch of young and vibrant people.

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Talking about having a bout of sweet tooth, I really dont mind sinking my teeth on J.Co doughnutsmmmm. My favourites are the Hazel Dazzle, Alcapone, Coco Loco, ….err…ok…the whole entire collection of their doughnuts are, unashamedly, favourite of mine…

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Another favourite  is the Theobroma Chocolate Lounge in One Utama. This Aussie-originated everything-chocolate lounge makes its debut in Malaysia not too long ago.  Theobroma Chocolate Lounge has three outlets in Malaysia – One Utama (I frequent this one), Pavillion Kuala Lumpur and Bangsar Village Shopping Centre.

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Sakae Sushi has always been a favourite franchised Japanese outlet I frequent to. Price wise, they are not too bad. Food quality is good and consistent from one outlet to another, although a favourite haunt is their outlet in The Curve as it is so much easier to find parking there and closer to home.

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Glorious, glorious every imaginable seafood. The family has been going to Bangsar Seafood Restaurant ever since I was unmarried and followed through till today. The original outlet was a simple big hut al-fresco style right smack in the middle of then up-and-coming-to-be-hip Bangsar. It has since moved to a posh-er area of Bangsar, upgraded its facilities but still maintaining its quality of food. And, oh..obviously the price has reflected the change of time but still, looking at the regular customers who keep on coming back again and again shows that they have done something right.

Look for Meng Lee, GM Operations if you are not satisfied with the food, service etc etc though when I see her there it is more of some catching up with old stories more than anything else.

Bangsar seafood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling a little bit peckish for Lebanese food? MM…….when this hits me, I’d be ever so willing to drive out from my comfort zone and head out to Changkat Bukit Bintang for Al Bait. This unobstrusive litte Lebanese restaurant is comfortable at its best, serves great food and the service never fails me. Oftentime, I get the staff to keep on sending new items which are still not on the menu to my table.

(Read Al Bait’s food review here)

Steak! Steak! Where else can I go to satiate my canivourous appetite BUT to head to Jake’s Charbroil Steakhouse in Medan Damansara. A stone’s throw away from another favourite Thai restaurant, Ayuttaya, Jake’s is the epitome of a place that serves real meat!

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Kuala Lumpur At Midnight – Part 1

I havent gone to the city for quite sometime now. The traffic is a pain especially during this rainy season. They say, ‘It takes a drop of rain to make a hell of traffic jam in KL”. I suppose this is true. Some of these idiots KL-lites tend to lose their sense of direction (and humor) when this happens.

All the time.

Last nite was an exception. I drove to the city with Lyn to have a simple dinner. We went to Etoile, my all-time French bistro in Equatorial Hotel. Service still remains the same – good and unobstrusive. Food is great as always although I noticed a significant upped prices in most of the items.

Driving back home was surprisingly ……..peaceful. The City Council has put up fairy lights all along the main roads and they looked breathtakingly beautiful that I could not resist but to make a few stops and grabbed my digital cam.

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Lyn and Alif goofing about in Etoile.

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My favourite cup of coffee costs RM12.00 now.

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Lyn’s burger. Notice the star-shaped bun. Unique.

 

The drive home.

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Jalan Ampang just right after Zouk Club.

  

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Entering Jalan Parlimen. The buildings along this road looks like Christmas trees!

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DBKL building lighted up!

 However, the traffic changed again the minute I entered into Taman Tun Dr Ismail area….sigh..bubble busted…

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For those who are interested to see more of KL traffic , click here

Welcome Back, Cousin!

I had the opportunity to lunch with my cousin who had just arrived a few days back from UK. It was so wonderful meeting him again after such a long time.

Lunch was at KLCC and we decided to tuck into the Nasi Kandar Hameed. As usual, I like my nasi kandar “banjir” (plenty of those yummmmmmmy thick curry gravy).

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Nasi Kandar Hameed – this was what my lunch looked like today. White rice, deep fried squids in batter, beef cooked in spices and thick soya sauce (daging masak hitam), pickled cucumber, papaddom and lotsa curry gravy.

For each spoon of rice, I could almost feel it slides down straight to my thighs and arse…..;-((

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Yeap, a bunch of happy people now. Overdosed on nasi kandar.

 

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Faris and Hanie

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 Faris and his buddy, Haseeb. Haseeb tucked into this gigantic prawns/tiger prawns (udang galah) to go with his nasi kandar and was mighty pleased with the result. The prawn itself cost RM18.00 (USD4.50) each.

Check out his Faris’s website at  http://www.myspace.com/farismusicnet  

Welcome back, Cousin! 😉

Nostalgic Sunday

I miss my restaurant that I left back in KK.

And, knowing the fact that I will not return there anymore pains me. Greatly.

I will not be able to admire the far away sea from its balcony, nor able to cook in its stainless kitchen which was designed primarily by me with pride and love.

I miss cooking up a storm at the satellite kitchen at the front while some die-hard, repeat customers-now buddies sat across me, drinking their teh tarik and enjoying the after office hours. Just chatting about stuff.

From this junk when I bought it……

 

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renovated…..

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lovingly…

and transformed it……….

 into this…..

 

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