29 Jul

So Shanghai Expat had their annual BBQ over the weekend… and at first Chris and I were debating whether or not to go, since we didn’t know anyone else that was going. But then they posted this AMAZING menu of food, which was an all-you-can-eat deal, so we couldn’t resist and forked out our 150元 to go.

Sadly, it was a massive, massive FAIL. In retrospect, now I can be amused by the trainwreck that it was, but at the time, I was certainly not a happy camper! We were one of the first to arrive, and saw there was a small amount (think 1 handful) of food in each of the tin trays. So immediately we (and others that arrived first) got a plate. We got a small amount of each (no choice ‘cos if we’d taken more we’d have cleared out the entire tray!) then ate.

A few moments later, others arrived and…… there was no more food. The caterers were, unbelievably, cooking on a teeny tiny portable grill!! The sort you take out to cook for 4 people! That also meant it coudln’t get very hot, and thus the food took even longer to cook. Basically, they were cooking SIX(!) sausages each time, taking about 15 mins for each batch. Guess how many people there were? ~100 people. HUNGRY people.

It was completely insane, and people realised very quickly that they’d just paid $$$$ for an all-you-can-eat BBQ… with no food. To say people weren’t pleased is an understatement. I think I was the unhappiest of the lot, though. I was hungry, and when I get hungry, I get very very mad. Even more so when I’ve PAID for something and got cheated.

OH, and it didn’t end there.

In the invite, we were proposed “1 free bottle of beer”. Turns out it was the cheap local beer, and not even a bottle (oh no, that you had to pay for, I was told), it was a glass of it. And it was WARM!!!!! Why? Because they didn’t want to turn on the mini fridge the beers were in. There was also soft drinks, but they kept running out of ice, so people had to drink lukewarm Coke.

And then… then ran out of plates!! So not only did people have to wait for the food that never came out, but also for plates – which were washed hurriedly in the bathrooms (GROSS). It was just so shocking we were in disbelief. The Shanghai Expat staff knew they had a massive problem on their hands, and did try hard to try and placate everyone.. but there was little they could do considering the major lack of food. They ended up bringing a 2nd grill out and more food arrived, but people were still waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. And desserts? Not enough to go round either. You basically need to cater 100 pieces of each dessert item if you have 100 guests – it’s not THAT hard to figure out! But it was maybe 10-20 pieces of each, so most were left wanting.

The caterers obviously tried VERY hard to cut corners and save as much money as possible, coupled with the fact they didn’t use their brains and think through the fact that a mini portable grill cannot cater for 100 hungry people. Regardless though, we were pretty appalled that NO REFUND WAS OFFERED, not even a partial refund.. considering how much annoyance the whole event caused. They came out to admit the event didn’t exactly go spectacularly well (which was really good of them), but actions speak louder than words.

So, this is what was promised, with my note on the actuality of it:

* Smoked Salmon Blini Topped with Caviar and Dill – yes there was smoked salmon, but it was on bits of toast, not even French baguette. No sign of caviar. Perhaps 15 slices served in total.
* Deep Fried Onion Rings Served with two dips – this was seriously amazing, the best dish of the few they had. Only 1 dip though, not 2. Perhaps 15 rings served in total.
* Toasted Wheat Bread, Cheese, Bacon, Egg, Lettuce & tomato – nothing too amazing, but we had to eat it since there was no other food. There were maybe 12 of these small quarters of sandwiches and that was it.
* Johnsonville Brats Original, Smoked, Beddar with Cheddar Cheese – the cheese sausage was awesome!!! There might have been 1 sausage per person, but still not enough as we eat 3 at least.
* Players Beef Burger – I spotted a sorrowful beef patty (around 10 were cooked when I looked), but no burger in sight
* T-bone steak, rib eyes & sirloin steak – a few slices, but sliced so INSANELY thin (like paper) it was hilarious how desperate they were to save money.
* Roasted Beef Tendeloin – didn’t see this
* Grill Chicken Breast with Garlic – didn’t see this
* Steak with Bacon Roll Kebab – didn’t see this
* Bacon with Vegetable Roll – not bad at all, and cooked enough of these so I saw them sitting in the silver trays (shock!)
* Roasted Lamb Chop – some were good, some were so tough/awful they were inedible
* Mixed Kebab – good, but very little meat on them. Decent amount served.
* Pork Chop with BBQ Sauce – terrible. So tough and stringy. Perhaps 20-30 small slices (half the size of your palm) cooked.
* BBQ Scallop – so small they were kinda hilarious. Around 25-30 cooked.
* Garlic Shrimp Link with Cheese – good, but around 20 cooked.
* New Orleans Spicy Wings – excellent. Perhaps 15 cooked at the start and that was it.
* Vegetables (tinfoil packed) – didn’t see this
* New York Cheese Cake – good, but only around 10-15 slices
* Chocolate Mousse – didn’t see this
* Fruit Tart – didn’t look very enticing, perhaps 30 of these
* Apple Strudel – terrible and soggy
* Rum Balls – outstanding, we loved these but there were about 10 and that was it.
* Seasonal Fruit Plate – uneventful, just watermelon and melon, the cheapest of fruits.

If you just look at the menu, you’d be impressed too, right?!?! It’s exactly why we went!! But if we’d known we’d be asked to pay $$$ and eat a small plate of food and drink warm beer, there is no way in hell we would’ve gone. It was so disappointing and even more so that no mention of a full or partial refund was offered. I think it’s only in China an event could get away with this! Definitely not in Australia, there’d be a complete riot until everyone got refunds.

The annual Shanghai Expat BBQ

A very random kids pool, where they were provided water squirters,
even though people were sitting all around. HUH?!

COMPLETELY EMPTY trays at the all-you-can-eat BBQ.
This was basically the case the entire time. FAIL.

We were one of the first to get there, so we got this small plate of food and that was it.
150元 for all-you-can-eat, and we get this small plate of food. REFUND PLEASE!!!

People sitting around, not eating. Most looking towards the
food area wondering where the hell the food was ;)

The one saving grace – free manicures! Though you had to wait ages for one…

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Posted by on 29 July 2009 (Wed) in Food, Living in... Shanghai, Uncategorized



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