DH and I tried a new restaurant tonight - a fabulous buffet restaurant serving a fusion of Chinese and Japanese cuisine. I wasn't sure how good it was going to be because I usually think Asian cuisine is best if served immediately...but this was really fantastic.
They also had a "noodle" station where a chef would prepare a noodle or chirashi dish made to order. Another station offered hibachi steak, chicken, shrimp, lobster....again, made to order by a hibachi chef.
Both stations had tip jars.
I really, really wanted to try some hibachi steak. But I decided not to, because DH and I rarely carry cash, but rather pay for everything with a debit card. I thought it would be terribly rude to go to the special food stations and have the chef go through the trouble of making a special made-to-order dish for me and then walk off without leaving a tip.
Since it was our first time at this restaurant, we did not come prepared with extra cash. (We made a mental note to do so in the future - this is the second restaurant we've been to where they have special food offered with tips - the other being a delicious (but very expensive, according to our budget) Mexican place where waiters would circulate with a cart and make fresh guacamole from scratch. Again, we weren't prepared with cash, so we declined.
I don't know if I would ever feel truly comfortable availing myself of the special food station without leaving a tip, but I'm curious what the etiquette of the situation is: is tipping in that case mandatory? Will they curse me out if I don't leave a tip? And if I do leave a tip, but want to come back for another dish (or a third time, or more....) do you leave a tip each and every time? Or do you tip that first time only?
Has anyone else noticed this happening a lot at restaurants now? Or am I just imagining things? The thing is, these restaurants are kind of expensive to start with. We already tip the maitre 'de (in the really expensive ones), the server and the bartender...and now chefs, too?
Anyway, if someone could please enlighten me on the question of tipping at specialty stations I would be grateful.