Hotpot Culture re-opens: Crowds return as restaurant holds open house, offering free food

The crowds have returned to Chinese restaurant Hotpot Culture, which was suspended last month after a dead rat was found in a salted vegetable dish. The restaurant held an open house on Friday, giving out free food to customers. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSU
The crowds have returned to Chinese restaurant Hotpot Culture, which was suspended last month after a dead rat was found in a salted vegetable dish. The restaurant held an open house on Friday, giving out free food to customers. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
The restaurant was allowed to operate again on Tuesday after the latest inspection by the National Environment Agency (NEA) found it to be clean, with no signs of rodent activity. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
The restaurant was allowed to operate again on Tuesday after the latest inspection by the National Environment Agency (NEA) found it to be clean, with no signs of rodent activity. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
A long queue of about 40 customers waiting to eat at the restaurant. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
A long queue of about 40 customers waiting to eat at the restaurant. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
All 33 tables were taken up by customers in the restaurant at lunchtime on Friday. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
All 33 tables were taken up by customers in the restaurant at lunchtime on Friday. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Chinese restaurant Hotpot Culture held an open house on Friday, giving out free food to customers. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Chinese restaurant Hotpot Culture held an open house on Friday, giving out free food to customers. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - The crowds have returned to Chinese restaurant Hotpot Culture, which was suspended last month after a dead rat was found in a salted vegetable dish. The restaurant held an open house on Friday, giving out free food to customers.

When The Straits Times visited the restaurant at Marina Square during lunchtime on Friday, all 33 tables were taken up by customers. A long queue of about 40 customers were also waiting to eat at the restaurant.

"I am surprised that there's a good crowd," said owner Lim Choon Kok, 58. "I feel that the public has given us a chance to move on."

The restaurant, located on the fourth floor of the Marina Square Shopping Mall, had its licence suspended by the authorities on Jan 9. It was allowed to operate again on Tuesday after the latest inspection by the National Environment Agency (NEA) found it to be clean, with no signs of rodent activity.

The restaurant re-opened on Wednesday and Thursday, and saw an average 50 customers each on both days.

NEA has conducted three rounds of inspections at Marina Square since Jan 9, and detected rodent activities in the false ceilings of 14 food outlets and at one of the mall's bin centres. They have taken action against five eateries.

calyang@sph.com.sg