Hotpot Culture re-opens with long queue for free buffet

SINGAPORE - A long line was spotted outside Chinese restaurant Hotpot Culture on Friday, after it re-opened following a nearly month long suspension due to hygiene issues.

According to The Straits Times, all 33 tables in the restaurant on the fourth floor of Marina Square Shopping Mall were occupied at lunchtime, with a line of about 40 people waiting to go in.

The owner, Mr Lim Choon Kok, 58, had earlier announced that they would offer free food to the public on its re-opening.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) had suspended its licence on Jan 9 following reports that a customer found a rat carcass in a salted vegetable dish. The NEA lifted the suspension after a recent check showed no signs of rodent activity. But it downgraded the food hygiene rating of the restaurant to a "C", and will review the restaurant again in 12 months.

Mr Lim told The Straits Times: "I am surprised that there's a good crowd, I feel that the public has given us a chance to move on."

So far, NEA has taken five food outlets at Marina Square to task, three for rodent droppings found on the premises and two for unsanitary conditions.

It is unclear if the mall has been declared rodent-free after the recent inspections.

However, in an email to citizen journalism site Stomp on Thursday (Feb 5), a mall patron wrote that he witnessed a baby rat drop from the false ceiling of a cafe there.

The man wrote: "My wife and I were having a coffee at a Marina Square cafe, but were shocked when a baby rat fell from the false ceiling. Seems like the rat issue is not resolved yet.