Awana. A-don’t-really-wana blog about Awana. Mainly because I don’t usually like blogging about negative experiences and well, last time I blogged about bad service, the place closed down! Granted, it wasn’t because of me that they closed down – it was because of the bad service, clearly!

Anyway, in my don’t-want-to-blog-about-Awana-ness, I’ll summarise my experience in three dot points:

  • The food is actually pretty good ~ yay!
  • But it cost a ridiculous £50 per person ~ boo.
  • And the service is atrocious ~ double boo.

That’s my review and now I can talk about other stuff!

Throughout high school and university, I worked in various establishments and did a myriad of jobs to enable myself to be independent as much as I could be. My jobs ranged from sales assistant at Cue to a medical receptionist and my very most favourite, I worked at Baskin Robbins making ice cream cakes! *happy memories*

The job I spent the most time at though was managing the floor at Han’s Cafe, a chain of Asian restaurants selling pretty darn average food. Average as it may be, Han’s Cafe, especially the huge branch at Carousel Shopping Centre attracted thousands, if not tens of thousands, of customers each week. And dealing with all of these customers day in day out for years taught me one very important secret to the success of customer service:

The customer is always right.

Sometimes this can be called:

Don’t argue with the customer.

Either way, it means the same thing.

Believe me when I say we had some ridiculous cases of customer complaints. The most common would be people who’d eat their entire meal and then complain it was terrible and wanted a refund. Or another free dish. We had loads of people who ordered stuff and when they saw what it actually was, claimed that’s not what they ordered.

We had complaints about food, drinks, service, timing, ambience, pricing, menus ~ you name it, we had it. But we were trained to never argue because trust me, in the greater scheme of things, we are still making a nice penny from them, refund included.

So. The staff at Awana apparently had no such training. We had not one, not two but three incidents with them in the one sitting, which is three more than there should have been.

1. Panu ordered a gin & tonic, but was brought a gin martini. He said he didn’t order a gin martini, but the staff insisted that he did. They didn’t put up a huge argument here though, and made him a gin & tonic.

2. I ordered a roti canai as one of our starters and what came out was a chicken murtabak. When I said I ordered the roti, the manager (!!) insisted I ordered the murtabak. Now I know – I guarantee you – that I didn’t order a murtabak because I don’t even like murtabaks normally and honestly? “Murtabak” sounds nothing like “roti”. He insisted and insisted that yes this is what I ordered and even when he seemed to have accepted that maybe I didn’t order it, he still insisted we ate it, saying that the murtabak is delicious and probably better than the roti. We ate it. It wasn’t as nice as roti.

3. When we received our bill, Panu had been charged for some ridiculous 10-year aged gin which he didn’t order. Again, we pointed this out, again we were told this is what we ordered. By this time I was exhausted from trying to argue with these guys that we just gave in, but they did correct the bill albeit a little sourly.

I want to find something nice to say about Awana, and the most I can say is that the food tasted pretty good. I really enjoyed the fish curry with okra and aubergine and the sambal kangkung was just delicious.

As for dessert, the dadar was lovely and I was crazy looking forward to my durian roti canai only to be disappointed by the absolute lack of durian. And I’m not even being harsh – my Canadian friends who’ve never had durian tried it and they couldn’t taste it. I mean really. If there was any inkling of durian in there, they would have tasted it. And gagged, probably.

After all of this hoohaa, we were slapped with the bill for over £50 per person. I mean, for Malaysian food which – yes comments on my last post on Plum Valley argued fine dining vs good food vs how much you’d pay etc – but for this food? The standard of this food isn’t above what’s served at Kiasu or Sedap and the fact that they add a tiny piece of lobster to the kuay teow doesn’t mean anything. I’d rather not have it.

So there you go. I kinda sorta blogged about Awana anyway.

85 Sloane Avenue
Chelsea, Sw3 3DX
0207 584 8880

Awana on Urbanspoon

21 Thoughts on “I wanna vent about Awana: a hefty bill, terrible service and where’s my durian?!

  1. Did you go nuclear and ask for the service to be taken off? I might have considered doing that although I’ve only done it a couple of times as it is the absolute last resort.

    Bit shocking about the gin, a place with class would’ve comped Panu’s G&T for ballsing up the order in the 1st place. Instead it seems like they’re trying to recoup their losses on the martini by charging for some 10 year old gin. Poor.

  2. Oh no! Sounded like a real unpleasant experience there!

    Sounds similar to where I went with a friend to a Vietnamese restaurant in North London (UK). Our orders didn’t even arrive after 40 minutes! We only ordered a couple of straightforward cold starters, and soup noodles as mains! This will normally only take 20 mins max! And it was quiet as well! That should’ve given us some warning bells!

    The funniest thing was my friend knew they were amateurs who openened the restaurant, but we went anyway telling me they always make at least one mistake everytime he went! We kind of got a discount after an laughable mistake of giving us coffee instead of Espresso! Then because of communication problems (the guy didn’t really speak English!) my friend went up the counter and showed him what it is! Haha.. A funny experience.

  3. We actually live not 100 yards away from there and have never been in there, partially because it was recommended by that queen of bitchy Gwyneth Paltrow (and we all know how much she loves food if it’s not white and fattening), but mostly because it has never looked like the food was extraordinary in there or anywhere close to worth the prices they’re charging for it. So glad to know we didn’t waste our time or money.

  4. Mr Noodles: You know what, we did pay the service which is a bit sucky. Good point there regarding the fact that they should have just comp’d the G&T. Anyway, whatever, lousy service.

    Kerry: Ah at least yours ended up good 🙂 Ours was crap and we were £100 poorer by the end of the night!

    Hilda: I have to say I’d never really been interested in Awana and never wanted to go. My friends and I wanted to try restaurants we hadn’t been to though and it came up on the shortlist so we thought what the heck! Well what the heck indeed. I’m glad I’m saving you the trip so our experience wasn’t in vain 🙂

  5. Now, I know what a difficult and thankless job serving can be, but actually it’s in their interest to be as nice and as accomodating as poss (the name of the game being getting the fattest tip as humanly possible). I therefore just don’t understand bad service.


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  7. I have two comments, which I will also bullet point for you:

    ● Jee
    ● Zuss!

    (That is so unacceptable).



  8. Becci: Yeah I agree with you, it should be in their interest to also make the customer happy but hey, it beats me. No idea why these guys kept telling us what WE ordered!

    Laissez Fare: Probably the best two comments I’ve ever had 🙂 and bulleted!

  9. Gemma Ardle on May 14, 2010 at 4:19 pm said:

    Woah what a nasty experience and for the meal to have cost that much! Sometimes when it’s a cheap place you kinda expect that but for an expensive meal the most they could do is give you the drink for free or the roti or something. That sucks, Catty.

  10. I’ve only been to Awana once, and vowed never to return again. Poor food at extortionate prices.

    Didn’t notice any service issues when I went, but someone else was paying so I was having fun just being myself (ie. irritating my friends).

  11. Gemma: yeh exactly. When we go to Four Seasons (cheap Chinese restaurant here) the service is so bad they give you your bill when they bring out the food so you eat and go quickly LOL but like you said, for cheap we expect that and the food is awesome!

    Wild Boar: LOL, I want to be you. I can be irritating already, just need to find someone to pay for my meal 😀

    Greedy Diva: Indeed. 🙁

  12. How dreadful, I was plannint to go there soon but not anymore! I think “negative reviews” have their uses, thanks for the warning. If the quality of the food is comparable to Sedap or Kiasu, why bother paying extra for rubbish service?

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

    • Glad I could save you the trip! Exactly, just go to Kiasu, Sedap or even Satay House for Malaysian food at less than half the price 🙂

  13. anon. on May 17, 2010 at 1:01 pm said:

    I don’t understand you people who complain about prices in restaurants. i mean, the bad service ok i give you that, but dont you go into a restaurant sorta knowing what you’re gonna pay? dont you look at the menu and if a dish is over £20 you know it’s going to cost a lot? especially for a food blogger I figured you would have scoured the website before you went.

  14. Charmaine on May 17, 2010 at 3:20 pm said:

    It’s so easy to comment anonymously isn’t it?
    Anon. totally missed the point that Awana is poor value for money – the quality of the food doesn’t justify the price. Cat’s not complaining simply about expensive dishes point blank; it’s the fact that they charge a ridiculous amount for sub-par food, better versions of which can be found elsewhere for less money. So you’re saying she should have known better? You can’t taste a dish from a website, can you?

  15. anon.: Wow, firstly I’m quite happy you feel this strongly about my blog post and secondly, I actually understand what you’ve said and you got me, I totally scoured their online menu before we went for dinner. Thing is, I would be happy to pay a high(er) price if the whole experience was good ie the food was tasty, the service was great, ambience etc. Again, see my post on Plum Valley where people discussed what would constitute an expensive Chinese meal and why someone would pay for it. Actually don’t read it unless you say something nice 🙂 But the fact is, while Awana’s dishes were ok (some were good, some were average) the service to me was appalling and the ambience was nothing overly special so I really didn’t see how they can justify charging more than twice of other good Malaysian restaurants.

    Charz: *BIG HUG*

  16. Hey Catty, I agree with you, Awana is much too expensive for what they offer. They are however on toptable with 50% off, which gets you down to the price the food should have been in the first place…
    Considering the service it should maybe be 80% off…?

    • Ahhh yes it’s 50% off a la carte now? That’s a more appropriate pricing hehe… when we went they had a Toptable special too, but it was something like £25 for a set menu, and the set menu didn’t have any of the dishes we wanted. Shame!

  17. I went to Awana once, to take advantage of their ‘deal’ of 10 courses for £50 (ish, this was 3 years ago?) expecting a super spread – ha, it was 10 little bits combined into 3 courses, so I remember eating the oddest things put together on a single plate (the kind of things you’d eat on its own but not together!). Then me AND hubby had food poisoning after our meal! Tempting but never again. Tuk Din: miles better without the pretense. Glad to see your post about it.

    • I agree, Tukdin is MUCH better without the pretense. You’d think Awana would be better food and service-wise, considering what they charge but it’s terrible, isn’t it?

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