My Gripe on Service in KoreaThursday, August 20, 2009
Service is a concept that is quite different in Korea from other parts of the world. This has been one of my constant gripes. "Service" in Korea doesn't mean the polite, respectful, courteous, invisible presence that I would expect in a fine dining restaurant in France, America, Japan, or other parts of the world. "Service" in Korea means an extra plate of food, a refill of side dishes, or a discount. Also, the servers often never seem to know about the food they are serving or even their customers. I don't believe this is a language barrier; it's cultural. Don't misunderstand me, the food is good here-sometimes even exceptional; but "service" in Korea is lacking.
Well, what should be done? Servers should offer recommendations, they should announce their specials for the day, and they should ask customers what sort of food they prefer. After the customers take their first couple of bites, they should ask them how their meal is. Finally, tables should be cleared between and after courses. If we eat at a "fine dining" establishment, this is what we should all expect. Service shouldn't require a button to push, nor should service just be on the plate. Service should be the entire experience. Now, until Korea's idea of "service" changes, restaurants in Korea won't be accepted by serious gourmands.