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The all white and imposing front of Mali Waterfront

Mali Waterfront, Karon Beach

Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Best Restaurant of 2008 contender

Telephone: 076 396082-3

Open: 11am-1am October-April, otherwise 11am-11pm.

Address: 681, 681/1-7 Patak Road, Karon Beach, Karon

Style: Modern International/Thai dining and party venue. Lounge bar for 150 people. Dining for about 240. Full moon parties held.

Price range: Tourist prices. Caesar salad (180 baht) sandwiches of your choice (180 baht) cheese burger (200 baht) fillet of salmon (420 baht) king prawns (410 baht) grilled rock lobster tails (390 baht) tenderloin steak (480 baht) surf and turf (420 baht) meatballs with pasta (200 baht) smoked salmon pizza (250 baht) pancetta (250 baht) chicken satay (180 baht) larb gai (200 baht) tom yum gung (250 baht) stir fried prawns and asparagus and oyster sauce (220 baht) whole fish steamed or fried (380 baht) mee sapham (200 baht) mali fish ball (160 baht) singha beer (90/180 baht) fruit juice (90 baht) fruit shake (120 baht) cocktails (180-200 baht)

What Phuketwan says: The 30-million baht Mali Waterfront, opened in 2008, takes out a prime spot beside the Karon lake, right where motorists swing down to the beach or up towards Patong. It's long, large and white. The food is good. But, and it's a big but, improvements are needed. The Phuketwan team tends to act like tourists, not using what Thai language we possess, so that each assignment is a true test of the capacity of a restaurant to deal with customers fresh off the aircraft. Let's just pretend for a minute that we are a honeymoon couple. We book into a Karon hotel, go for a stroll, spy the Waterfront and decide to eat lunch there. A young coconut arrives, looking very appealing, with a cherry and a slice of lime added for effect. The table is neatly set with two knives and two forks, but no spoon for the coconut meat. We have some difficulty alerting the waitress to this. We order one appetiser to share, followed by two main courses, spaghetti and meatballs and a roast duck curry. The spaghetti and meatballs arrives first, closely followed by the duck curry. Having been successfully given two plates, we share the beef salad appetiser, but after the main course. A dozen other empty tables, meanwhile, are being laid, with salt and pepper shakers added to each. But on our table, one of two with real customers, there is no salt and pepper. We ask for salt and pepper. The waitress smiles and heads off. She brings parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, a black pepper grinder and oregano crush. No salt and pepper. We finish the appetiser, perhaps a little confused. We ask for the dessert menu. The waitress nods, smiles, and picks up our plates and napkins. We do not see her again. We decide to grab a banana pancake down at the beach. The first meal of our honeymoon is certainly memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. At tourist prices, it's only fair that the restaurant provides attentive staff who keep an eye on your needs. They have to be trained properly, to speak English adequately, and to ask the right questions. Apart from a Basil Fawlty tendency, there were other significant failings at the Waterfront. The food, let us repeat, was good. Except for the spaghetti and meatballs it was also spicy. Now, we happen to like spicy food. Many others do not. As a matter of course, the wait staff at any Phuket restaurant should ask whether the customers want their meal ped or mai ped. If the customers are not given a choice, disasters become inevitable. As honeymooners fresh off the plane from Moscow, we may never have tried Thai food. If the first meal is too spicy, we may never try it again, and that would be a loss for us and for the restaurant. If this kind of difficulty is experienced regularly, it is hard to imagine how the Waterfront will cope with a large holiday crowd in high season. Add to that the tipping dilemma. The restaurant does not specify on the menu whether the 10 percent service charge is included in the prices. Customers, left in the dark, are unable to determine whether they should tip or not. Do you leave some extra baht, just in case, perhaps in effect doubling the tip? Or do you assume that the 10 percent has been added, and risk leaving the wait and kitchen staff untipped? We did not know what to do. And we dare not ask the waitress. That said, the Waterfront is new, the food tastes fine, and there is time to improve the service.

How to find it: At the northern end of the Karon beachfront road, where the main road swings inland.

Parking: Car space out the front or along the road

Phuketwan restaurant reviewers pay for their meals. If someone else does, we tell you so

Comments

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Sounds as though you were the victim of on the job training, which sometimes amounts to letting a new waitress work alone until she has made enough mistakes to know what to do. But then, if full prices are charged, you are entitled to expect full service, too. And I agree with everything you said about tipping. How can you possibly know what to do if you are not told whether the service charge is in the price?

Posted by angelfire on August 20, 2008 08:01


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