Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Abalone Groupon at "Award winning" Tonny Restaurant

I'm always very wary of buying any dining deals off Groupon (or any of the hundred other competing deals/coupon sites). After all, if a restaurant is worth its' salt, why would it need to slash 75% off its' menu prices to try and get customers? And, more importantly, at those 75% discounted prices, can the restaurant even put out a quality meal?

Putting aside all the other problems plaguing Groupon as a company, the darling and I try our luck with "award winning celebrity chef Tonny Chan's" Tonny Restaurant's Five Course Abalone Set Meal Groupon ($24 per person, $48 value).

We start off with the Crispy Yam with Truffle Oil, $12 if ordered off the Ala Carte menu. We thought that the slight hint of truffle oil was nowhere near strong enough, and that overall the yam shavings suffered from a lack of moisture. It's not fun having to wash down the yam towards the end with liberal gulps of Chinese Tea.

The Double boiled soup with Hong Kong Wonton was actually quite good. Had a very nice and strong chicken flavor to it, although perhaps the Chef could have served more than one wonton?

Butter Sauced Escargot and Fish Fillet was somewhat lacklustre. The fish fillet was well battered & crispy, but the butter-based sauce was mediocre at best.

For the highlight of the night, we're served the Braised Fresh Abalone (Ten Heads with Brocolli and Fried Rice). Ten head abalone means each is about 60gm (very small), which is perhaps to be expected given the price of the meal. What we didn't expect was just how horrible the fried rice was - soggy and tasteless with zero hint of wok hei.

The dessert - Chilled Lemon Grass with Snow Fungus - nothing noteworthy.

The food we had wasn't close to being a fulfilling meal, so we also add on a Roasted Spring Chicken for $20, which was sort of nice, crispy, and well-seasoned.

Which again, brings me back to the main problems I think restaurants (and probably other business as well) have when using Groupon as a marketing tool. The huge 75% "loss" you have to take means that you probably end up putting out a sub-standard and/or cheap meal with cheap ingredients.

The peril of this route, is that customers try, end up unimpressed, and never come back. Some of these customers (like yours truly) might even end up blogging about it! I think that Chef Tonny should have really put more effort into this menu - even if it means taking a (potentially sizeable) loss, as good food should mean return business at the full menu price.

Tonny Restaurant is at 325 Joo Chiat Road. One major drawback is the lack of parking around the area, so it might make more sense to take a cab if you live nearby. Non halal.


  1. Shame the Butter Sauced Escargot and Fish Fillet was not so good. It sounds great and would be something I'd surely order it I saw it on the menu.

  2. i haven't managed to try any of the group-buying deals in KL, but after all these months and hearing usually-less-than-glowing feedback from purchasers, i guess it makes more sense for us to pay the full price for (hopefully) full satisfaction, instead of a slashed price for slashed satisfaction =)