Dirty tricks left us in the dark
D’Ark restaurant is in the Em Quartier shopping mall in Bangkok. This is Sukhumvit Road’s ‘high so’ shopping centre – expect brand name shops like Prada and Coach here.
This should give you some idea of the clientele that D’ark is targeted at – young, trendy Thais with plenty of disposable income, who like to be as ‘western’ as possible. No surprise then, that the menu here is all in English.
The setting of Em Quartier, should also give an idea of the prices to expect at this snack shop. They are overpriced. But more on that later.
Visitors can reach D’Ark at BTS Phrom Phong then head straight to the Em Quartier mall and go to the Helix section.
I first read about D’Ark on Coconuts Bangkok. I’m guessing this site was either paid to plug the new gunge outlet or they had a free lunch in return for a few words on their site. Either way, it’s hard to see how anybody eating their objectively or critically could fail to mention D’Ark’s dirty tricks.
The name itself is unnecessarily pretentious. Is it D’Ark, with a French sound, or simply ‘dark’ with a continental apostrophe for show? We’re in the dark.
The place is busy at lunchtime on weekends. Bangkok’s hip young generation are out shopping and need a taste of the West.
The menu is actually very well laid out – nice big pictures, and clear titles and descriptions.
But the real shocker is hidden away at the bottom of each page in small print. There’s a 10% service charge (not totally abnormal) but then they also mention 7% tax.
Now being from UK we like to play Cricket with a straight bat. You list the price, it includes the cost of the food, business expenses and tax. What’s left is the owner’s profit.
What’s decidedly sneaky is listing the price then adding tax on. I’ve never seen this at a restaurant in Europe or Asia before, and frankly it stinks. It’s clearly a dirty trick to ramp up the price once somebody has sat down, ordered a drink and started looking at the menu. If they see the 7% tax it’s too late to go through the embarrassment of leaving, and if they get hit with it after eating, they are simply forced to pay.
What’s next? Adding a 5% utilities charge to cover the gas, electricity and water bill? Or how about a 5% marketing charge for chucking adverts around the place.
The service charge trick is bad enough in restaurants.
And in D’Ark even the service charge is overpriced. For never once did any member of staff smile or engage in friendly service. They all looked unhappy and not at all interested in the customers.
For the same price in central London at least you’d get a chirpy Eastern European. Not so at D’Ark.
But in case all this overshadows the food, we better make a quick mention of the belly fillers.
I had an Eggs Benedict with Salmon. Yes, it was tasty if a little on the small side. It was 269THB + 17% service charge and tax.
The other dish was D’Ark’s version of a full English breakfast – cumberland sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms and weird shaped beans chucked together in a pan. 360THB + 17% service charge and tax.
Cleary D’Ark restaurant is the kind of place people go to look cool rather than find a good hearty breakfast or lunch – and those that do may only go once every few months, or not go back at all.