Monday, January 24, 2011

Shakahari, great food BUT.....

Toby and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary at Shakahari yesterday. We have been sticking to our eating out only once a fortnight rule, and had planned that this meal wouldn't count because my mother recently gave me a $100 voucher for Shakahari. We often get restaurant vouchers which means we can treat ourselves without worrying about picking up the bill.  So we didn't count on what would happen at the end of the night, but more on that later, first the food.

Please excuse our phone pics!

We ordered the Gohon Nori rolls for entree because we were intrigued by the idea of cooked sushi. Instead of the usual rice, it was filled with a mixture of vegies, seaweed and roasted black sesame seeds and was served with a miso wasabi sauce and salad on the side. The salad wasn't particularly special but the sushi and sauce were awesome, I think I'm a cooked sushi convert!

I ordered Tokyo awaken, don't you love their corny names? This consisted of a mount of red rice, mashed tofu salad and braised pumpkin and daikon. This dish reminded me a lot of the dishes we used to eat at cheap buddhist places in HK and while I enjoyed it, Toby enjoyed it more than me. He particularly loved the seaweed mixed in with the rice and the tender daikon. 

He ordered the GF spaghetti which I ended up enjoying more which worked out well, so we swapped dishes. This included loads of mushrooms which he ate, soy cheese, beautiful pesto, and really lovely g/f pasta. I think it is hard to tell that the pasta is g/f which is always a good sign and I really applaud them for using some sort of superior g/f pasta from Italy.

We had planned on eating dessert, because I love dessert but was too full by this stage.

Here comes the BUT part...

So we went to pay for our meal and handed over the voucher. The man said that since our meal didn't cost $100 and he couldn't give us change, maybe we should order dessert and a bottle of wine.  We explained that we were full and asked if we can get another voucher with the remaining amount. He suggested us to  pay cash and use the voucher next time, and maybe pay for friends.

He then looked in a cupboard and said that he didn't have any vouchers anyway. We suggested that maybe he write it out on something else since the original voucher was handwritten.  He refused. We asked to speak to the manager and he said that he was in charge for the night. We complained that it didn't say anything on the voucher about having to use the full amount and he continued to say that he couldn't do it. I explained that I have had plenty of vouchers for nice restaurants and have never had this issue. We stood there dumbfounded and angry. He said to pay cash and come back another time. I lied and said that we didn't live in Melbourne, not sure why I was just so frustrated at this point. I explained that if my mother was told when she purchased the voucher that perhaps she would have got two $50 vouchers but she wasn't advised.

The bill came to $54 and Toby offered to pay the $4 cash so we could get a $50 voucher back to make it easier.  He eventually agreed to go look in the office and returned stating that we were really lucky he was able to find another voucher. We gave him the $4 and the whole time he was filling it out, he continued to complain that we should have just paid cash. Toby said 'that's ok, it's all sorted out now' to try to get him to stop arguing but he just had to have the last word. Our whole argument went on for at least 10- 15 minutes, it wasn't just what he said but they way he treated us like we were idiots. Also it would be different if we had spent $95 or something and were asking for a $5 voucher, but we only spent half of the voucher.

So I went home fuming. I've been to Shakahari more times than I can count and given it good reviews here and here and here.  Also I rarely get annoyed at restaurants, I'm the type of person who doesn't even complain when I find hair in my dish.(It's just hair, right?) So I googled consumer affairs policy on gifts cards and vouchers and discovered that it clearly states that gift cards (and vouchers) can be used more than once.

It left me feeling so frustrated that I'm thinking about donating the $50 voucher to someone else.  It's such a shame too because I was planning on celebrating my birthday there in a couple of months but I really don't want to go back. 

I actually had another issue with their customer service when I tried to make a large booking for my birthday a few years ago and they gave me a hard time about it. For example, the woman continued to state that perhaps my friends would cancel or not show up at the last minute before insisting that we all arrive 5.45pm (15 minutes before they open) and that we pre-order our meals because there was too many of us.  We followed her instructions, arrived at 5.45 and was told quite rudely that the restaurant was shut and then they messed up my pre-order and we ended up sitting on two different tables. I really had thought that there customer service has improved since then, but maybe not.
201-203 Faraday St


  1. omg, what a yuk experience. last time i went to shakahari about 2 weeks ago and we had the nicest server...guess some people are hits and others misses. :(

  2. That's lame - what a shame that it happened at all, let along when you were celebrating your anniversary.

  3. Oh no! That's bloody awful. I remember your birthday issues too, and it stopped me booking my birthday there - and when I went with a party of 6 we waited almost 15 minutes to be seated (we'd booked!) because no one bothered to come near us. Your experience just backs up the shocking perception of service that Shakahari continually brings on itself. I wonder how much business they lose for their consistently shoddy service. Good for you guys for sticking to your guns!

  4. Wow, that really is rude!!! I wouldnt want to go back there after being treated like that, or maybe would write a letter to the owner of the place.


  5. Well done on sticking to your principles!

  6. Good on you guys for not backing down! It's sad that it just takes one person to ruin a good night. And what a stupid thing to make a big deal out of! We have a special dinner coming up soon and we normally go to shakahari, I'm not interested in arrogant service ruining the night though :-(

  7. that really sucks. xx

  8. That is so ridiculous & really disappointing, I would have been fuming!

  9. I agree with the other commenters here - well done for standing your ground. This is appalling behaviour, and while I do like the look of the cooked sushi, I really don't think Shakahari will make it onto the list next time I visit Melbourne. Service absolutely makes or breaks restaurant experiences, 95% of the time... ugh!

  10. I am never going there again!

  11. I would definitely complain to the owner, and to anyone else who will listen. It's rubbish that they think they can treat you that way just because they are "established" and think they don't have to worry about their reputation or getting people through the door. Complain complain complain!!!!

  12. Just chiming in to say we had a great waitress last time I went, but both times we've gone, we've arrived prior to the 6 pm opening time and were told we couldn't be seated yet (which was fine). We have then waited out the front for at least ten minutes past the open time, to realise we could now go in. Nobody came out and told us they were now open!

  13. Thanks for all the supportive comments, it's great to know I'm not the only to find the situation unfair.

  14. what a shame to be let down by a place you love - it is worse than a place you don't know. and I think you were right to stand your ground - sometimes when customer service is that bad it just doesn't make sense - don't people realise that it will take hundreds of dollars of good meals to erase one cheap bad one!

    my last visit there - a few years back - was memorable for being on a 45 C day when it was just unbearable but I don't think the service was that great - though we were so hot that that is what stands out