Serving Water in Restaurants

Last night, we were at a Japanese place and there were wet tissues on our table. Uncle used one as it was there. The waitress counted the wet tissues we used and added it to our bill! We were so shocked, I told them they were sneaky and cheating people because it is not indicated that it is chargeable. Why keep it on the table if it not for free?! She told us we were the first people to complain about this and that every restaurant does this ha. I hate the sneaky ways restaurants here charge for everything from water to tissues and add it to your bill.

Another pet peeve of mine is (east) Asian restaurants don’t serve tap water to patrons and always charge you for it which I find ridiculous. I haven’t been charged for drinking plain water in restaurants in India/USA/Europe unless I specifically wished to buy bottled water. If tap water of a country is drinkable and affordable, why not serve for free? As if it’s not enough that they charge for it, they serve it in tiny glasses which have to be constantly refilled and the servers keep making you wait for it. God help you, if you badly need water.

Once, we went to a restaurant as a part of an office meeting. When I asked for water, they said they do not serve tap water. I asked them if they could take a glass and just fill from the sink tap, they plain refused because ‘it is not part of their policy’ and if you want you can only buy San Pellergrino water. Nothing else. I thought that was extremely snobbish and bloody wasteful to have water shipped all the way from Europe. Same with another Thai food chain. They used to serve free water. Then they started charging for it. Then, they stopped serving tap water. If one wants, they need to buy bottled water or nothing else.

It is such a snobbish and so environment unfriendly and I am always surprised when people defend this bullshit practice, much less support it.

The only saving grace is that Indian and western (if they are not run by east Asians) serve free water.

Does complaining about being charged 50 cents for water make you a cheap skate? Does drinking/serving only bottled water from Europe make you posh? Do people just accept this because it is a norm in these societies? Do they keep quiet to avoid confrontation? Do most people give a shit about the environment? (No, they don’t give a shit).

10 thoughts on “Serving Water in Restaurants

  1. On second thoughts food in asia is way cheaper than food cost in europe even in it is possible that they dont make much profit to even out their water is known most restaurans make more profit from the drinks than it is possible people might prefer getting a drink than pay for water hence the restaurant makes some profit out of it.
    We should carry a bottle of water with us i guess.

    1. As far as I know here, when we look at profit margins, the mark up of the cost of the dishes is quite high compared to what it costs. So, it is not about profit. Another things is, most restaurants will say “outside food and dirnks not allowed” just like movie theatres. The overall concept is to milk the money to the max by leaving people with no choice but to buy drinks.

  2. It depends a lot on the city you are in too.its not true that water from the tap is served in all european countries for france though water is provided by the restaurant from the tap or if u ask for water from the tap for free.some restaurants mention the water from the tap is also charged.some restaurants charge for the bread that they serve which a lot of the times you realize when you get the bill. In Germany again depending on the city you have to buy water and sparkling water is more popular than still water. During my travels for conferences in europe couple of places charged for a glass of water they served with their coffee.and it was not mentioned.The wet tissue thing is there in europe too again it depends on the time i was charged for the cutlery too which was in the pack with the tissue:(. Its the same story in all the countries may be your experiences were different. A quick google gives you discussions about charging for even tap water in US UK europe too and not something only in asia.iam sure similar is the case in most cities. this was good comparison.

    1. Hmm.. interesting. i have not traveled extensively through Europe but my experience so far has been that I am usually not charged for water. I find it unacceptable that restaurants that charge so much and add service charge + GST/VAT do not even provide tap water. It is quite a wasteful and snobbish stand to take.

      For bread and Chips, I generally ask if it is chargeable or usually do not eat. If I am charged, I will make it a point to tell them when I pay that they are sneaky by doing that ha ha.

      1. Actually confronting the restaurant hosts in france atleast would not have much of a response.some might even comment if you cant afford it you shouldnt eat out.france is well know for snobby snide customer service.i agree that more people voice their opinion things would change.for eg in the US in a few places i have noted if you are not happy with your meal they replace it or they dont charge you for it.would never happen in france. As for being a cheapskate who what is right by you. Asians dont have doggy bag concept while most of the west takes left overs and about 15 percent feed it to the dogs rest eat it themselves.theres no shame in saving food and ppl who r judgy let them judge away.

  3. Here, they keep a bottle on the table. We can use it if we want and they charge for it (not just the MRP of course). But yea, we do have a choice. My friend says, if they are keeping a bottle on the table then the ‘normal’ water must be ‘bad’. And its just 20 bucks apparently. I have always found it weird – clean water being sold. Then I go like what is next – will they start selling air too? Yesterday I read about this place in China where they sell clean air. Really. I am still astounded.

  4. This my pet peeve too. It’s routine among so-called upscale restaurants in Hong Kong and it gets my goat because the tap water is usually safe (though in older buildings the pipes may transmit metal content, but that’s my problem). Restaurants claim that they don’t want to risk our safety, but basically, it’s a rip off. It’s become one of my things to insist. As a restaurant, they should be able to provide safe water for free. If we still want to buy, then fine.

    I’m going to use the environmental thing next time.

    1. The reply you would most likely get from the server would most likely be (at least what I have experienced) “It is management decision” ha ha.

      Funnily on the other hand, cafes have free water supply though with self service, while restaurants where we pay more don’t!

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