Show Up for Your Reservation at This Hong Kong Hot Spot, or You Will Pay — a Lot
Lots of diners do it: make an advance reservation to eat at a well-regarded restaurant and then, when the date rolls around, opt not to go. Maybe they decide to eat somewhere else. Maybe they have multiple reservations, figuring they’ll go where they feel when the moment hits. Maybe something unavoidable comes up. Sometimes, they don’t even bother to cancel.
But if you make a reservation at the Hong Kong restaurant Sushi Shikon, a three-Michelin-star establishment, you’ll probably want to show up to eat there. If you cancel on the day of your reservation, try to change the date, don’t show up, show up with someone missing from your party or arrive more than an hour late, the restaurant will charge you 3,500 Hong Kong dollars ($452). Even if you give the restaurant a little notice, but cancel less than 72 hours of your seating time, Sushi Shikon will charge you HK $1,250 ($161). In fact, even if you wait just 24 hours from the time you confirm your reservation to cancel, but do so more than 72 hours before your seating time, you’ll still owe a fee of HK $500 ($65), although, according to the South China Morning Post, you are allowed to change the date of your reservation without penalty within that time frame.
The restaurant has explained that its strict (some might say draconian) policy exists due to limited seating and “because the fresh ingredients for each guest's meal are flown in from Japan.” Still!
Apparently Sushi Shikon is just one extreme example of a growing trend of restaurants trying to discourage no-shows by charging fees — or charging diners in advance for their meal when they book the tasting menu. The Clove Club in London is set to do this, the South China Morning Post reports, as are Thomas Keller’s Per Se and The French Laundry.
Blithe multiple online reservation makers, be warned.