Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Here's a bright idea for you

Taoyuan Airport to Institute Food Review System

Text:

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport authorities will organize a food review to help improve its unenviable image as a place for “awful and expensive food,” the airport’s office director announced yesterday.

Beginning in October, a public review of the food sold at the airport will be held on a regular basis to encourage caterers at the airport’s two terminals to present more appealing food, Taoyuan Aviation Office Director Wei Sheng-chih (魏勝之) said.

Complaints from passengers using Taiwan’s main gateway are all too common, with the food generally criticized as being of dreadful quality, overpriced and with little variety.

Responding to the criticisms, Wei said the airport has made some improvements, including introducing popular restaurants to cater to passengers.

He said it would also invite passengers, food critics and travel tour organizers to review the food at the airport to encourage caterers to offer more local gourmet foods and make dining at the terminals more attractive.

Wei’s office will also take measures to encourage the businesses there to drop their prices to more reasonable levels and to provide consumers with a wider variety of dining options, he said.

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OK. That's nice. It's true that most of the food in the airport is overpriced and atrocious. There's only one place I find acceptable - overpriced but at least the food is edible - and that's the one with the lanterns and the fake hedgerows that has a Western side and an Asian side. The Asian side food is overpriced, but at least it's basically OK. (The Western side provides soggy sandwiches and subpar coffee).

Otherwise there's that painfully horrendous bakery thing where two small danishes that taste like they're made of plaster and kids' glue sticks and charred, bitter coffee could cost you NT $300.

Terminal 2 is slightly better, but astronomically overpriced for what you get - more so than other airports (pretty much every airport has overpriced food, but Taoyuan manages to go beyond).

So.

Here's my idea, guys. Tell me if I'm crazy.

Instead of a food review system to review food we already know is bad, why not encourage more restaurants to open?

I know, it's just nuts to think about, isn't it? /sarcasm

I realize that having sixteen duty free shops that all sell the same stuff somehow brings in more revenue and that most airports have overpriced, unsatisfactory food because the entire point is to keep you shopping, not eating, while you wait for your flight, but you'd get happier customers snapping up manicure kits, stale Godiva and souvenir mugs if they're well fed and haven't spent all their money on baked goods that put the "paste" in "pastry".

It is true, by the way, that there are far more storefronts to shop in than eat in because they bring in more money, though I have to wonder why. I mean, how many bottles of Bulgari Omnia (for the ladies) and Chivas (for the men) can Japanese tourists buy? Do we really need all those shops that sell the same stuff?

And the Hello Kitty waiting area for kids? Really? I don't like Starbucks, but if there were one I'd go because their lattes are vaguely drinkable if you're desperate. So why isn't there a Starbucks? (If there is, I haven't found it, and I fly out of Taoyuan fairly frequently, as many expats do). Why is a Hello Kitty waiting area somehow higher on the Places of Importance scale than a coffee shop?

I don't need a review system to tell me that the coffee at TPE is made of spent jet fuel and costs half my monthly salary.

What we need are more restaurants. So why not spend the time and money you're wasting on the review system and open more restaurants?!

I mean, is this really so inconceivable?



3 comments:

catherine_sr. said...

I find Taoyuan Airport aggravating, too. You have to walk forever to get to a store that sells useful things you'd actually want to take onto an airplane with you, like a magazine or ear plugs -- and yet every three yards there is a gift shop flogging something like liquor in a ceramic pineapple-shaped bottle. Also, every other store is a Hsin Tung Yang. Or Rose Music, despite the fact that very few people haul CD players around with them anymore.
I have to admit that I like the Hello Kitty waiting area. The wacky mirrors provided me with half an hour of amusement one time.

Anonymous said...

I made a point to visit Burger King at Taoyuan after I checked in at China Air for my flight to Tokyo. Burger King is upstairs and quite crowded. I ordered a Whopper, fries and a Coke, the standard fare. It arrived in a brown paper bag. The service was quick. I couldn’t find a table in the restaurant and ended up eating downstairs in the waiting room. The burger was hot, the lettuce and tomato were crisp and cool. I believe the price was the same as I paid at the Burger King down the street from SYS Memorial Park in Taipei. It was good; I was tempted to get another sandwich... The only drawback to enjoying a Burger King at Taoyuan is, you have to eat before you enter the customs/passport control area, they don't serve Burger King Sandwiches in the International Departure area. Too bad, probably the best sandwich in the airport. When I flew back from Beijing a couple of months ago, I had a Burger King in Terminal 2 at the new Beijing International airport. It was OK, but nothing close to the quality of the Taoyuan sandwich. Hope better eating is on the way to Taoyuan. Such a shame huh?

Jenna said...

Hah.

It's too bad the pre-international departure area is such a bore - not that the departure area is much better. We prefer to get to the airport fairly early and get through all the check-ins rather than wait outside the check-in area to eat.

Not that it matters - I hate Burger King. I hate all fast food. It's sad that it probably IS the best sandwich in Taoyuan Airport, because as far as I'm concerned, fast food is a tragedy in burger form.

What I'd like to see at Taoyuan are restaurants, maybe a bar, a deli, maybe a convenience store (is there even one 7-11 in the airport?), a sandwich shop...there used to be an Au Bon Pain that was overpriced but good enough, but I haven't seen it in years. NOT a Burger King, a tragic bakery, and an overpriced-but-the-food-is-edible restaurant. I think there are more choices in Terminal 2, but not many: It's mostly shopping, not eating.

San Francisco, Singapore, Jet Blue's JFK terminal (the rest of JFK is horrible for food), even BWI have better choices. Hong Kong - some areas are OK, some are not. There's one international transfer area that has quite a few options, and one international departure area that has almost none (four restaurants, all of them a little sad).