I used to like this place. Simple food. Nothing fancy. But Hotpot Culture found itself embroiled in a disgusting situation when it a netizen reported discovering a rat in a vegetable dish served on their buffet. Sure, some people thought it funny, making references to delicacies and Ratatouille. If you had dined in there, perhaps with some frequency, it’s downright disgusting.
I’m glad NEA didn’t drag their feet on this matter. They swiftly got into action, and gave us an update that the original complaint was indeed legit. They found rat droppings, a sure sign that rats were indeed romping around the premises.
Then, I was shocked to learn of the very light penalty that could potentially be levied on Hotpot Culture. Just a $2,000 fine and six demerit points. What exactly is the impact of six demerit points? I looked up NEA’s website. A F&B establishment that accumulates 12 demerit points within 12 months will be suspended for two weeks. Four weeks if this was a repeat suspension, and their license will be revoked for the 3rd suspension.
Six demerit points is only just half of that 12 needed for the first suspension. This seems grossly incommensurate with the disgusting nature of this offence. I thought, maybe, Hotpot Culture should have been fined $50,000 and be suspended for 6 months!
You’ve got to consider the circumstances of the offence.
- First of all, after the rat discovery was brought to the attention of the restaurant, the dish was merely replaced and it was back to business as usual. It’s like nothing had happened at all. What about all the other customers in the restaurant that had already consumed the food?
- Then, we hear that a restaurant supervisor denied the incident. Surely, this is such an outstanding event that every staff in the restaurant will know about it? Unless, of course, this is such a usual occurrence at Hotpot Culture that it doesn’t attract any attention anymore.
- Owner blames chef, chef apologises, owner gives him a warning letter. Just a warning letter?
- If a rat did make its way into a dish on the buffet table, you’d think there must be a much better rat problem in the restaurant. No one noticed the problem earlier? Or no one saw it fit to do something about the problem?
The whole episode is just completely disgusting.
I’m not sure how much Hotpot Culture’s business will be affected. I’ve often noticed tour operators bringing tour groups to dine at the restaurant. While local folks will probably avoid this restaurant for at least some time, I don’t think the tourists are going to stop going there. The tour operators probably don’t care, and the tourists don’t know.
Now, I’m thinking about how bad the rat problem is at Marina Square. How do we know it is confined to Hotpot Culture? I suspect we need to be wary of their neighbours too. Maybe that entire section of Marina Square too.