There is a popular saying in the restaurant industry: “Great service can more than make up for mediocre food, but great food can rarely rescue bad service.” I recently dined at the Crystal Jade at the Quail Hill Shopping Center and received a real life lesson in this saying. Bad Customer Service is not an accident. I hate doing bad reviews and will usually send a letter to the Manager instead. Although with this experience, my readers deserve to be warned so that they do not experience the same disappointments.
Our dining experience started poorly when we made reservations. Here is an excerpt of our phone conversation. We had the phone on speaker, so my wife and I both got to experience the magic:
Daniele: “Hello, I would like to make a reservation”
Crystal Jade Employee: “What’s your name?” <grumpily>
Daniele: “Daniele.” <Sheepishly>
Crystal Jade Employee: “Mmmm . . . You don’t need! We already have you, waste time.” <sharply>
Daniele: “No, sorry, I have not called yet.” <conciliatory>
Crystal Jade Employee: “Fine, fine then! What time?” <annoyed>
This telephone conversation was an omen for an awkward dining experience and a case study in bad customer service. When we arrived, we stood around for about five minutes before one of the waiters came out and said, “How many?” My wife recognized the voice and whispered, “That’s the guy from the phone!”
Table Service Failure
After being seated, the server just dropped two menus on the table. There were no hellos or thank you, instead we were greeted with the back of the waiter’s head as he walked away. After sitting there unacknowledged for almost 30 minutes I stood up to leave and the waiter appeared. The dining room was less than half-full. There were two waiters scrambling around and an under-utilized busboy looked a little sheepish. Management was nowhere to be seen. The ordering process was as odd as the reservation process. When the waiter finally showed up he took orders one course at a time, first drinks, then appetizers and then finally dinner. As a result, we were in the restaurant for about an hour and a half before he took our dinner orders. If you are interested, our entire dining experience took close to 3 hours. Another issue was the waiter’s complete disregard for proper customer service. When drinks and dishes arrived, he would quickly drop them off at the table and explain what he dropped off as he walked away. In one of the more impressive feats I have seen from a waiter, he was able drop off the egg rolls and explain the sauces, all without stopping. He literally said the last words of his sentence while he was three feet away. Let’s forget the fact that we ordered two appetizers and only one showed up. He didn’t bother to explain that they would be out soon or sorry for the delay instead I received this interaction.
Me: “Excuse me! We ordered another appetizer and we haven’t ordered dinner yet. Can you help us?
Waiter: “Appetizer is coming.” As he walks past our table, without stopping, eye contact or even turning his head to face us.
My favorite example of the night came curing the sizzling seafood plate presentation. As he poured the dish onto the red hot sizzling plate, he started arguing with the hostess. The whole time that he made the sizzling plate, his head was turned around to argue with the hostess .While his hands precariously lifted the sizzling plate over my lap and onto the table, he head was turned around! I closed my eyes to say a prayer that the plate would not drop and burn my manhood. When I opened my eyes, he was gone. Bad Customer service.
When I was eating my appetizer, I noticed that they were using disposable plastic spoons for the sauces! Sorry, but if you use the term “Asian Fine Dining” in the name of your restaurant, I’ve better not see a single plastic utensil. I would expect plastic spoons if I am ordering take-out, but never as part of a standard service. I have some serious issues and concerns with this practice; cutting corners at this level is not only wasteful, but it gives an insight into the level of care they put into their restaurant’s image. I only hope they don’t clean and reuse the plastic spoons?
Golden Noodle Shrimp Sticks
Finally the golden noodle-wrapped shrimp arrived and I’ll admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the nice presentation. Skewered shrimps were heavily wrapped in ramen noodle and then flash fried so that the noodles puffed out and the shrimp stayed juicy. It tasted pretty darn good. The only think I would have changed would be to use about 20% less noodle e so that the shrimp flavor would stand out.
Sizzling Seafood Platter
After recovering from my near death experience with a sizzling plate, I was ready to eat! Overall, this dish had some really nice flavors and textures. There was a pleasant balance of sweet, savory and bitter flavors. It was made with scallops, shrimps, white fish (tilapia), bok chow, shitake, broccoli and onion. I really enjoyed this dish, but the portion was a tad too small for my taste. For example, there were only two scallops, four medium shrimp, and a small two ounce portion of tilapia.
Overall, this was a good dish and a decent preparation of crispy chicken pieces that have been leathered in a sweet and spicy sauce over a hot wok. Flavor wise, the dish was spot on, although, I found that the ratio of crispy batter to chicken meat to be a little out of balance. The dish would have been better if they’d cut the chicken into larger portions before breading.
My Final Thoughts
This restaurant struck out with me before I could even enjoy the food because of the exceptionally bad customer service. Although Crystal Jade made some decent food, there was no making up for the complete disregard for service. My recommendation is to not dine here until serious improvements are made. It is possible that the restaurant was under-staffed and the wait staff tried their hardest. Although sadly, it appears that the restaurant is structurally broken from a Management perspective. A Manager was not present to voice my concerns or support the staff. . I never use Yelp or Urban spoon as a guide, but in this situation it was a good gauge to validate my experience; service is consistently poor for most customers who left reviews. The owners will need to do some soul searching as to how they can turn-around their business; I really do wish them luck.
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