Sunday, January 06, 2008

7&7 - Part 2

Having been to 7&7 on Koornang Road many times previously and always having very slow service, for once we were shocked when the food arrived quickly, well sort of. We hadn't planned on going to 7&7 for lunch but the other restaurant we wanted to go to was closed. Hence we walked a few shops down to 7&7. I like the food at 7&7, but the service is so slow that it takes a bit too long for lunch.

This time, we were the only customers in the restaurant when we walked in, so thought the food should be fast. It did turn out fairly fast but still there were some issues, especially with one work mates lunch box special. More on that later.

John and Wei decided to get the lunch box special while Jessie, Mark, Keiran and myself decided to share dishes. The banchan came out with the Gyoza. I liked all the banchan they have at this resturant, whereas at some other places, only a few may be to my liking. A disappointment this time was that their normally fantastic kimchi was way below par and was getting near the time to throw them out stage when the cabbage starts to become clear and have that smelly water flavour.

Their Seafood Pancake is the best I have tried at any Korean restaurant. It's crunchy and isn't dominated by an overly floury taste like at some other places.

The Beef Ribs here have a slightly chilli sauce and isn't really sickly sweet like at some places.

The Beef Bulgogi is the same as the Ribs, not overly sweet. The sauce on their Bulgogi is really good. Having just eaten at Kimchi Grandma down the road with Jessie the previous week, we could make an immediate comparison of the Bulgogi. This one at 7&7 was far superior.

Finally, the Spicy Octopus was delicious too. Again, comparison with Kimchi Grandma had this one winning hands down.

This is where the story gets interesting regarding the service. Firstly, the food did arrive fairly fast. However, most of the dishes arrived except one. And that one only arrived when we nearly finished eating.

Secondly, I thought the octopus tasted really fresh, much more so than at Kimchi Grandma last week. Then Wei says that her squid lunch box set tasted off. She asked the waitress if she could try it. The waitress brought the box into the kitchen and came back a while later saying that it tasted ok. She didn't offer to change to another dish or even the same dish. Wei just said that she would eat the vegetables only and there was this uncomfortable tension in the air. Wei then asked if anyone else wanted to try it. I said I would have I have a very strong sense of smell and taste and always spot bad food immediately. I tried the squid and it tasted fine to me. It had that strong smell of squid right at the end but that was normal. Calamari tends not to have that smell but this was squid. Anyway, I told Wei that I thought it was fine. She said that she didn't think it was.

Here's the problem then. Whether the food is fresh or not I guess is not the issue. The chef did bring out the squid to show Wei that it was fresh still. In this case Wei may be right or wrong, but I don't think that was the problem. She might have genuinely got a bad piece, as happens with many seafood. Even if the chef thought it was fine, I think the restaurant should have just offered to change it or redo it. I think most people in that instance would choose to go with another dish and the problem is easily solved.

The irony of it all came when we got the bill. We saw that they had missed Wei's lunch box. Wei, ever being the good samaritan, asked the waitress whether we had been charged for that dish. The waitress, misunderstanding, shrugged her shoulders and smiled. We then pointed out to her that she had forgotten to charge us. She took the bill into the kitchen to ask and then came back with it added to the bill. Once again, the service here has glitches. I think it would have been easy on their part just to not charge us and give us a much happier memory of the place.

Once again, the food cannot be faulted. Well Wei thought her squid dish was not off but I ate half of it and it tasted really good to me actually. So maybe it's just a case of different tastes. The service though is always lacking.

Overall Rating: 13/20, Food good but service needs overhaul.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

7 & 7 on Urbanspoon


  1. it's an interesting premise Thanh - whether the concept of the customer is always right is still relevant. If it is, then the restaurant should, as you said, changed the dish.

    However, sometimes it is because the customer is not familiar or did not expect what the dish is about (e.g. calamari vs squid) that they may think that something is wrong with it. In this case, is the customer still always right? Not having a go at your friend, but sometimes complaints ensue from a mismatch of expectations.

    Once I saw a Gordon Ramsey show where a customer complained that a Caesar salad he made was off. Gordon basically told him to F-off because he reckoned the customer did not know what a true Caesar salad was, and that the salad he got was perfectly fine. Again in Mostly Martha, where Martha refused to acknowledge a customer's claim that his dish was off, because she thought that she had cooked it perfectly.

    Personally, I had also sent back a dish with what I thought were uncooked prawns, because they looked transluscent. The kitchen assured me that it was cooked. Eventually I told them to remove the prawns and I would just eat the rest of the dish. However, I found out later that the prawns were indeed cooked, but because of the type of prawn, it remained transluscent even after cooking. Doh!

    That is not to say that sometimes a dish may indeed come out badly, and we shouldn't always let chefs/restaurants bully us into what we ought to put up with. I guess it's a balance between preserving one's tastes/preferences and having a correct expectation of what a dish is about.

  2. Hey Danny, firstly, how was your Japan trip? I'm been so busy I haven't even got round to reading about it yet? Are you guys back in Melbourne?

    I agree that sometimes it is what the customer expects and then gets that is the main problem. In this case, I don't know whether it was because my friend was not used to this particular type of squid. It did have a very strong taste, but it always taste like that. Or that she did get one bad piece. I know that can easily happen with seafood. Even when I buy pippies that are live, there sometimes is one bad one still.

    We have all been wrong about a dish and sometimes the chef does know best. Other times, we shouldn't let the chef boss us into what we think we should be getting.

    In this particular case, I thought it would be easier for the restauranat to ask my friend if she wanted something else or maybe recook the dish without the squid like in your case with the prawns.

    I can also see the restaurants side too and they did try to show that the squid was fresh, but that didn't change my friends dislike for the dish. So she ended up having to pay for something she couldn't eat at all. It's a tough call. But me personally, if I was running the restaurant, I would just offer an exchange or a redo minus the squid.

  3. Unfortunately, Mellie and I are well and truly back. The trip was fantastic though, we had a great time. We are slowly writing up all our food experiences. Japan is a quirky but amazing place. The picture next to my posts is me holding a 2 litre Asahi tankard that we found in a 7-11. AS you can see, I was well pleased.

  4. Japan is one of the places that is definitely on my list of places to visit. I nearly went last year and was planning it but the more I looked into it, the more expensive it turned out. In the end, I went to Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

    So they can sell alcohol in 7-11? They must have very relaxed alcohol laws. As for a 2 litre bottle, that's crazy. How much do they expect one person to drink. You do look very pleased in that photo. What was the equivalent cost of the 2 litres of beer in AUD.

  5. about AUD$14 from memory. they sell alcohol everywhere, in convenience stores and vending machines, even Buddhist temples! a can costs around AUD$2.20. at baseball games, they have "beer girls" who go around with keg backpacks strapped to their backs, dispensing beers for customers into cardboard cups. I love a country that loves beer.

  6. Two litres for $14 is cheap. Alcohol from vending machines sounds a bit wrong. Doesn't that mean little kids can buy it, or is there some clever ID scanning thing that checks you are of correct age.

    The "beer girls" are usually dressed rather skimpily as well, added bonus.