Beyond the Rhetoric


The Disgracefully Epic Failure of Victory Seafood Restaurant, Burnaby

January 24th, 2012 by
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Do Not Enter - Victory Seafood Restaurant

For most intents and purposes, you could say that Vancouver has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to restaurants. As such, we simply cannot and will not tolerate sub-par food, nor will we put up with sub-par service. But that is exactly what I experienced over the weekend at a relatively new Chinese restaurant in the Crystal Mall complex.

I’ve written about terrible customer service in the past, but I also understand that “customer service” usually isn’t the top selling point for most Chinese restaurants in this city. That said, what I had to endure at Victory Seafood Restaurant in Burnaby was simply beyond reproach.

Stepping Up to the Plate

Allow me to establish the situation. My family went out on Sunday evening for Chinese New Year dinner. This is a celebratory time when we can get together with extended family and enjoy a good meal. We had about 15 or 16 people at our table. The standard “set menu” at a seafood restaurant like this is designed for a table of ten.

So, when my aunt made the reservation, she told the manager that she would like to pay 50% more to get 50% larger portions, while maintaining the same set menu. The manager agreed and it seemed like everything was going to be in order. Unfortunately, nearly nothing went according to plan.

Strike #1: The Pop Lie

Since there were several children at our table, my aunt inquired ahead of time about the cost for pitchers of pop. She was told that our table of 15 could have unlimited soda for $15 per flavor. That sounded reasonable, so we order a pitcher each of 7-Up and Coke.

After the two jugs arrived and we divided it amongst us, we were informed that the pop wasn’t unlimited. Instead, it was $15 per jug. That’s entirely different than what we were told and the management refused to honor the previous agreement. Strike one.

Strike #2: The Insufficient Soup

As mentioned above, we had agreed to pay a 50% premium on the set menu price in order to get 50% larger portions for every dish. When the soup arrived, we were barely able to get a dozen half-filled small bowls. Remember that the standard 10-person menu would have called for ten full bowls of soup, usually with a couple of bowls to spare. With a 50% premium, we should have received at least 15 full bowls.

When we asked the server whether he was sure this was the larger portion, he said he would ask the kitchen. Returning, he said that it was indeed the larger portion. We told him that he could quite clearly see that there was not enough soup for 15 patrons and he agreed, only to shrug his shoulders and to say that there is nothing he could do. Strike two.

Strike #3: The Two Hour Wait

The real nail in the coffin had to do with the timing. If you were following along on Twitter and Facebook that night, then you’ll know what happened. A typical ten course Chinese menu usually takes about two hours to complete. We were nowhere near that timetable.

In fact, after sitting at our table for two hours, we had received only three dishes in total, the third of which was completely out of the standard order. Yes, I understand that Chinese New Year’s Eve is a busy time, but the restaurant would have fully known about this in advance. It is up to the management to prepare for it. They didn’t come around to refill our tea. The staff avoided us when we inquired about the timeline.

Our reservation was at 6pm and we were seated at that time. It was now 8pm and we weren’t even one-third of the way through our meal. Worse yet, the table next to us was seated at 6:30pm and they had not received a single dish in those 90 minutes. Nothing. This is positively disgraceful.

You’re Out: The Utter Indifference

After over two hours, we went to the manager and told him about the situation. We also told him that if we did not receive our next dish in the next 10 minutes that we’d be walking. He nodded and “rushed” to the kitchen to check on the situation.

We let those ten minutes pass and no one came to visit our table. We were fed up and we stood by our word, getting up and walking out of the restaurant. We walked right past the two or three employees who were fully aware of our situation. The waitress turned to her manager and told him that we had not paid. The manager’s response? A simple shrug, stepping aside to let us walk out. That utter indifference really demonstrates how the staff treat this business.

I’ve lived in Vancouver all my life and I’ve seen how the Chinese culture has changed during that time. I don’t expect world class service at most of these kinds of restaurants, but this is well beyond what can be tolerated. In a “foodie” city like Vancouver, utterly disgraceful service with a blatant disregard for your customer cannot and should not survive.

And the irony of their name–“Victory” Seafood Restaurant–really is the icing on the cake (that I never received). Do not, under any circumstances, eat at this restaurant. With an experience like this, I will not be giving “Victory” a second chance.

Victory Seafood Restaurant ????? on Urbanspoon

Aside: It’s times like these that I am so happy about the power of the Internet. My Facebook update on the situation received nearly 30 comments in the first 24 hours. Word of mouth is increasingly powerful and I am grateful for it.

  Category: Food and Drink   Tags: , ,

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Michael Kwan Freelance Writer

12 Responses to “The Disgracefully Epic Failure of Victory Seafood Restaurant, Burnaby”

  1. Ed Lau says:

    Wow, I’d be pissed if this happened to me at a Chinese restaurant. What a gong show.

  2. Ray Ebersole says:

    Michael, watching your progress that night was painful for me. I worked for McDonalds for 14 years, I also ran a full service steak restaurant for over 2 years and I could not believe how you were treated and how the service went.

    You did stay a lot longer than I would have and I know you were in this situation A LOT more patient than I would have been. I will and have walked out while using my more than booming voice to let the manager and every other patron in the establishment how I feel about their service. I can take okay food with very good service, but I will not stand for poor service even when the food is exceptional.

    As I posted on your feed, I am sorry that you had to go through that with your family on a night that is supposed to be a celebration.

  3. betshopboy says:

    I’m sorry your family reunion dinner went down the drain, and hope to hear a happy ending to your celebration after walking out of that restaurant.

  4. Melissa says:

    Ha, we went to this restaurant for dim sum this morning for the first time and we had no service. The restaurant was packed but there was about 3 waiters serving the whole restaurant. Definitely will not go there again. I was just curious about the rating of this restaurant tonight and saw your story.

  5. used tires says:

    It’s really disheartening to read how your family reunion dinner was ruined by these incompetent folk running the Victory restaurant. I bet they won’t be around too long if they keep up this sort of service.


  6. Its good as your other blog posts : D, thankyou for putting up. “There’s no Walter Cronkite to give you the final word each evening.” by William Weld.

  7. Oui Oui says:

    We just had a big banquet of 30 tables, so altogether 300 people. Another 8 tables on the other side of the divider for a wedding. Although they did screwed up on the A/V systems as they have no clue of how to separate the A/V to be used by two parties, I thought we had pretty good service and the food was reasonable. We customized our menu and all the food arrived to exactly as described. The manager was accommodating and repeatedly apologized with the screw up of the A/V. The place was a bit tight for 30 tables and 8 tables, eventhough they say they can seat 40 tables. All in all, it was a acceptable service, food and price.

  8. issac says:

    See this article, I have a doubt: 15 or 16 people eat how points ten people component meal?

    • Michael Kwan says:

      As I said in the post, “When my aunt made the reservation, she told the manager that she would like to pay 50% more to get 50% larger portions, while maintaining the same set menu.”

  9. Sun C. says:

    Funny reading this twice now. Julie and I went there for dim sum once. Terrible service, just terrible. The food wasn’t great either. I do not understand how they are still in service.

  10. cissy says:

    We have been forced to pay 20% tips after having dinner. Terrible place!!!

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