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Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

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Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

Hi all,

I'm visiting Hong Kong from the US in January. I'm taking my father and my aunt (who lives in Hong Kong) to lunch at Caprice at the Four Seasons Hotel. It is a 3 Michelin-star rated restaurant. I know the custom in Hong Kong is not to tip (or just to round up), but when you're eating at a fancy French restaurant run out of an Canadian-based hotel chain… do you tip? How much?

In the US I generally tip 15% for decent service, 20% for good service, and 25%+ for exceptional service.

Dublin, California
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1. Re: Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

For Caprice I'd tip at least 15%. If the restaurant adds 10% service charge, I'd add at least 5%, and up depending on the level of service (probably going to be excellent).

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2. Re: Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

H.K. is more European when it comes to tipping. Generally, a service charge will be added to the bill and you are not expected to additionally tip for other than the loose change. If exceptional service is provided, maybe an additional HK$20~30. The service charge is usually 10% but I have seen 12%. You may want to enquire the dress code at the Caprice.

At restaurants where no service charge is added to the bill and you are waited and pay at the table, 10% is the norm. At places where you are given the bill to pay at the cashier on the way out, you do not need to tip.

You also do not tip at fast food places.

You also do not tip taxi drivers as you would in the U.S. Rounding up to the nearest dollar is fine or an extra HK$1 or $2 on top of the nearest dollar is generous. Some would round up to the nearest HK$10 and there is extremely generous and is something that local would not do.

I was "shocked" when I saw a tipping jar at a MacDonald's and Au Bon Pain during a recent visit to the northeast U.S. At some Florida restaurants, I actually saw a tent card telling patrons (i.e., tourists) to tip at least 20% or don't eat there on a different earlier trip.

Microsoft's Bill Gates have significant ownership in the hotel chain together with Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and the Sharp family who originally started the 4 Seasons.

Edited: 19 November 2013, 22:05
Hong Kong, China
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3. Re: Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

Tipping will be expected at Caprice @ Four Seasons as it generally is at 'western' restaurants, especially on Hong Kong Island. I would go with 10-15%. Service is impeccable at Caprice, the tip is deserved.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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4. Re: Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

There is a 10% service charge automatically added.

Toronto
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5. Re: Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

10% service charge is included in the bill. I tipped 12HKD on top (lunch for 2) as advised by my guest who is a regular.

Some people travel and respect local customs and cultures. Others like to impose their own ways.

Edited: 20 November 2013, 02:27
Dublin, California
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6. Re: Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

I think the service staff does not get that 10% service charge. It's paid to the restaurant.

bibimbob, did you add $12 HKD as a tip? On how much total bill? It is HK custom to tip, esp at high end restaurants.

Hong Kong, China
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7. Re: Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

There is no need to go crazy when tipping in HK. 10% is included in most places. Even if it's not, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to tip 15 to 20% per the American norm.

For a place like Caprice, tipping around HK$100 or max $150 (round up to an even amount that makes sense) is really enough. Nobody expects another 10 to 15% on top of a $3,000 restaurant bill. That would be insane. While I probably won't ever tip $12 (which I would do at a local Chinese restaurant) for a Carprice bill as bibimbob did, there is actually nothing wrong with what he did.

Whether the restaurant staff gets the tip or the 10% is subject to restaurant management policy. There is no set rule per my friend who works as a waitress. Remember that unlike the USA, HK wait staff are paid proper wages to start. One's excessive generosity drives up prices and expectations in the long run for all future visitors.

Edited: 20 November 2013, 03:16
8. Re: Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong, China
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9. Re: Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

By the way, if you like the service of one waiter/waitress, you can always hand cash to him/her directly and discreetly. For Caprice, go with $50 or $100. It's a good way to reward the person who has actually served you well. This is how it's done locally, especially if we are repeat customers. In return, you might get some benefits on your future visits. At one restaurant, for example, when we order a certain fish dish, we note the manager write on the order "for owner's use", and we get much better ingredients in the dish vs the normal version.

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10. Re: Tipping at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Hong Kong

It is an exercise of better etiquette to tip in cash at restaurants here to ensure wait staff are able to pocket their tips. Sammy, we practice the same!