A barrage of photos on Instagram had already prepared me for the grandeur of the ambiance, and I am glad to say that my expectations were met when I stepped in for a lunch meal at Gong. Unfortunately, this was the only highpoint worth celebrating, something I wish I did not have to say.
Don’t get me wrong, don’t be too disappointed yet, I think I have evolved to be an extremely picky customer, and I notice things that people tend to pass off as normal. Allow me to explain.
The atmosphere is special: the Japanese influence on the décor and lighting are predominant throughout, and the fine-dine aura is well maintained with soft, ambient music. Gong comes off as sincere and authentic, coupled with a little wit and charm. Gong does have your heart as soon as you walk in.
Now that the ambiance has set the expectations this high, one also expects service of international standards (we’ll get to the food later, let’s take baby steps now) So you can imagine our disappointment when the world-class service ended with our amuse bouche being served to us.
Allow me to point out a few things –
- I had to call for water to be served at our table.
- Isn’t it a mandate to ask for food preferences when a customer places an order? I had to point out my food allergies when I checked my soup for mushrooms and tofu.
- The waiter did not know the ingredients of the dishes that were being served to us: we had simple doubts like “is this made of rice flour?” “does this have tofu?” and he was clueless.
- Why was there no one offering the drink menu to the tables? We usually avoid booze (or settle in for a glass of red wine if we have to) so this point really didn’t bother us. It’s just something I noticed seeing how alcohol is a part of this menu too.
- There was chaos in the management, a fact I noticed with the flurry of activity around me.
- The noodles were served to us 10minutes before the chicken hot pot.
- The order was taken in a casual manner that probably suits an Udupi establishment. I casually remarked “the food might be good, but the service is going to ruin things for us today” I was met with a “stop being so critical about things “ look, but guess who won in the end when we walked off impatiently without finishing the dessert? :) If you’re a fine-dine eatery, your service needs to be top class too.
I also let the management and PR team know about this slip in service. I really hope this was one of those bad days, because it hurts my heart to see a place this beautiful, serving good food, being affected due to bad service. Just a little bit of prior planning and educating the staff about the dishes being served (and how to take an order and how to fill up the water glasses) would have done the job. It’s unfortunate that I have to cut marks for the service. I believe in a 360 experience when it comes to dining, just serving great looking good food will not work for me.
Let’s once again hop on to the good part. We were invited to experience the Limitless Lunch. Details of which are as follows:
Monday to Saturday for Rs. 475 (plus taxes) you can get your value for money with a Limitless Lunch that consists of
- A soup
- 2 Dimsums
- 1 appetizer
- 1 dessert
As the name suggests, you can enjoy unlimited quantities of the dishes (the menu change every week)
We enjoyed the food, I would not say it was phenomenal, but it does make for a good team lunch to break the monotony of a hectic worklife.
The chicken tom yum soup was the star of the entire meal though. The meat in the dimsums was a bit too hard. We also tasted the cottage cheese and crab meat ravioli which was served to us in a red sauce in a cocktail glass. The flavours were too overpowering for me, I opted for the freshness of the soup instead. The chicken baos were fun to eat, though they tend to be filling so you should probably not OD on these. The mains failed to impress us (chicken noodles and chicken hot pot) and the dessert was a basic vanilla with honey noodles that you really can’t go wrong with.
This average experience could have been a little better had the service not been this casual. Many establishments underestimate the power of some good service, and I hope this is a point of learning for Gong.