Monday, August 14, 2006

A MOVEABLE FEAST AT ONE BANGSAR

So many outlets, so little time...

While food reviews keep me constantly satiated and on-the-go, there are some outlets that merit repeat visits. Stan's Assam & Garam at One Bangsar is one of them, thanks in no small measure to Stephanie Saw. Her inherent passion at churning out excellent Malay dishes, albeit with slight twists has caught the imagination of many discerning foodies and their support have probably keep her going.

Nevertheless, these are challenging times for those in the food business. With everyone feeling the pinch, it is good to know all the owners whose outlets form the One Bangsar food haven have collectively came up with a unique promotion that is akin to a mini gourmet safari. At the unbelievable deal of RM28 nett per person, diners can meander along the whole row of fine restaurants in One Bangsar and eat to their hearts' content each Saturday in August.

It's a clever concept that quickly caught local food lovers' imagination. Despite the afternoon heat, more than 150 diners gamely showed up to savour the spread laid out by the ten outlets. We had a great time wandering around and sampling the eclectic mix of Vietnamese, Mediterranean, Italian, Indian, Malay, French, Japanese, Chinese and Thai specialities with refreshing drinks thrown in. While it is a good way of creating much awareness amongst new customers who have yet to discover One Bangsar, remember that it is not totally fair to judge each outlet based on the limited menu they serve up on these occasions. It merely acts as a sneak preview of each outlet's promising, delicious secrets that hopefully will induce return visits.

Of course, hiccups are not unusual for outdoor events of this kind. Firstly, there are too few seats compared to the large number of people - it would have been better if the organisers dispense with formal table seating entirely and just provide adequate seats instead by using portable stools. And for the price of RM28 nett, there are bound to attract quite a few ugly Malaysians who are all out to get their money's worth. That's right, these people never even blink an eye by grabbing and piling up all the food on their own plates the minute it's dished out. Never mind if they can't put it all away and others have yet to get a tiny helping.

Outlet managers and owners too must be conscientious enough to speed up their food replenishment and ensure the interest of paying customers are well looked after, especially when the food is in the process of being prepared or had finished. It's unthinkable of asking diners to return again and again or plead with them to move on to other outlets first. For one, we did move to other outlets and after returning twice just to be disappointed with a rather curt brush-off, we just gave up and walked off. What are the chances of that outlet getting our patronage in the near future? Well, don't hold your breath for this.

Undoubtedly the idea of this moveable feast is filled with superb potential so it'd be a shame if more shortcomings overwhelm the benefits. But each event is a learning experience and I do hope the One Bangsar team will gain invaluable experience and lessons from it.

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