The devil is in the de­tails, as they say. While ex­pec­ta­tions of a great restau­rant can vary some­what, some finer points of a restau­rant’s hard­ware do not es­cape an ex­act­ing eye. Here are a few items on Dr Wong’s ex­act­ing check­list.


The use of creative light­ing sets the stage and mood for an en­joy­able evening, such as at 665° at An­daz Sin­ga­pore. Bright, jar­ring, cold light gives one the feel of din­ing in a mor­tu­ary and makes the food look un­ap­pe­tiz­ing.


Mu­sic also sets the mood for din­ing. Stark si­lence, with ta­bles in close prox­im­ity on the other hand are per­fect for eaves­drop­ping on con­ver­sa­tions.


Com­fort is para­mount. Un­com­fort­able chairs en­sure that din­ers are not likely to stay or re­turn. The creative ar­range­ment of ta­bles and seat­ing adds to the am­bi­ence.

Pri­vate rooms

Restau­rants with pri­vate din­ing rooms should pay at­ten­tion to dé­cor, so they do not make one feel like one is din­ing in a claus­tro­pho­bic card­board box.


It seems ob­vi­ous that clean­li­ness is a given, but at­ten­tion to de­tail is en­tirely de­pen­dent on the staff.


A com­pre­hen­sive wine list and staff with a knowl­edge of pair­ing the wines with of­fer­ings on the menu are a stand­out in any restau­rant, fine din­ing or oth­er­wise. If the restau­rant does not have a good wine list, let alone an ex­ten­sive one, they should con­sider waiv­ing cork­age to en­cour­age din­ers to bring their own. This will cer­tainly cut costs for the restau­rants in not hav­ing to keep an in­ven­tory of wines which ei­ther don’t sell or turn into ex­pen­sive vine­gar.


Toi­lets are im­por­tant. The most in­spir­ing wash­rooms are the ones with panoramic views and elegant set­tings. Café Gray in Hong Kong is one such ex­am­ple. Apart from views, they have to be reg­u­larly ser­viced to en­sure that they are tidy and clean. The bath­room at Kayauputi at The St Regis Re­sort in Bali is an­other. The el­e­gance of light­ing and flower ar­range­ments trans­form the claus­tro­pho­bia of a con­fined space into an invit­ing wash­room.

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