Day 070 : Middle Finger Service at Nabins

Had my first taste of authentic Arabian cuisine set amongst gorgeous drapes and carpets last night at Nabins. And the restaurant didn’t stop at just its food and decor when it comes to being Middle Eastern. Service was like being shoved the middle finger up my chocolate star.

The pain began the moment I arrived at Nabins. Business for Nabins must be good because it occupies quite a few units on both the ground and second floor along a stretch of shophouses at Bali Lane. Perhaps Nabins takes its popularity as a license to suck at service.

I came alone and my friends were on the second level. Not knowing my way around, I asked a waiter for directions to get to the upper floor. First thing he said was, “Show me your IC.” No “Please” and no explanation was given as to why I needed to show identification. So I asked why was there a need to see my ID card. His face immediately flashed an expression equivalent to giving me the middle finger and replied, “Because your friends are smoking Shisha.”

Being ignorant, I asked what’s a shisha. “It’s something you smoke.” Duh. More facial middle fingers was sent my way. So I showed him I’m above 18 and he just pointed to a side stairway that leads upstairs. No smile, no warmth, no courtesy. In the service line, a smile is the uniform.

When I got to level 2, I walked around the place to look for my friends. I didn’t see them and was loitering between 2 rooms while the waiters and waitresses zoomed past me. No one greeted me or offered to seat me. So I called my friend who organised the dinner but he didn’t pick up. So I went back down to the restaurant’s main entrance to ask for assistance, being conscious to avoid that nasty waiter.

My friend had placed a dinner reservation for eight under his name. When I checked with the staff on the reservation, they couldn’t locate it. That’s because they’ve spelt my friend’s name wrongly. ‘Yik Fan’ became ‘Yipson’.

Anyway, I managed to find my way to our table which was in a third room with an obscured entrance. I find the lush decor was rather exotic with rich Middle Eastern flavours and the novelty of eating on a low table was inviting. That was until I sat down and regretted not taking up yoga lessons. It’s an uncomfortable way to sit to have dinner.

Amidst fidgetting in my seat to wake up my butt cheeks which had fallen asleep, our table’s waitress informed us that we had to shift to a single table (we were occupying two tables then). All of us just turned to her with an incredulous expression. How’s eight guys going to squeeze into one table which could at most, comfortably sit six. I didn’t know Nabins catered only to Hobbits and Smurfs.

So we questioned the logic of packing eight full-grown men who each ordered a main course to one table. How were we going to eat comfortably without elbowing each other in the face? Such moronic sitting alotments goes to show that inhaling too much shisha smoke must have impaired the operator’s intelligence.

A single table would be enough if eight of us were just there to do drinks, have light snacks while lounging with hookahs but we specifically said we were there for dinner. The waitress couldn’t give us an answer because she could obsviously see our point about the space issue. All she could do was repeat the eight-to-a-table rule and apologise. But since the reservation for the two tables won’t turn up till 10pm, we had until then to eat our meal.

Which brings me to the second part of our iration. Our dinners took a long time to come. Thankfully, the meals were tasty and made up for the long wait.

I had the Chicken Mandi which costs S$24.90. It was aromaticlly baked with the skin capturing a delightful note of char while the chicken meat was tender and moist. Accompanied by a squeeze of lemon and long-grain rice that’s light and fluffy, this signature Arabic dish was yummers. Or maybe because I was famished from waiting so long for dinner to arrive.

Despite the good-tasting Chicken Mandi, it couldn’t save the ill impression Nabins created for my first visit. Other than that rude waiter, uncomfortable sitting for dinner and slow serve food, the blasting of a soccer match in the dining hall also gave us a headache. And we weren’t served any drinking water,

Will the eight of us come back again? Very unlikely.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Veron Ang
    Mar 11, 2012 @ 13:50:00

    Hey, I’ve been to this shisha place before and remember the same unsmilingness of the waitstaff. With your bad experience, why do you still say it is likely you will return again?

    Reply

  2. Scot
    Mar 11, 2012 @ 14:43:23

    LOL, your food photos don’t help my diet! But they do make me want to travel.

    Reply

  3. DC
    Mar 11, 2012 @ 14:45:26

    Nabins or Nabeh?

    Reply

  4. jassy
    Mar 11, 2012 @ 22:00:03

    maybe it’s their style–the unfriendly waiters and all …hehe 🙂

    Reply

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