I want “Hebckoe”, NO “Kronenbourg” and NO “Paulaner”

I had a bad time ordering the Russian beer “Hebckoe” (pronounced Nevskoe)  in the hotel in Russia.

The problem is they don’t want to serve it to me (Chinese) but happily serve it to my colleagues (English & Czech)

So I complained to the General Manager of the Hotel via email who is German I believed.

Our Emails are attached below. (I have disguise  the name of the hotel and chain but there is only one westernised hotel in Novgorod!)

From me to him

Hi Benjamin,

I recently stayed at the Veliky Novgorod Hotel for my business trip

I was very surprised at a number of occasion that the staff at the lobby bar has refused to serve me the Russian beer “Hebckoe” instead I was offered the other beer Kronenbourg.

I was made aware that they don’t have Hebckoe and Kronenbourg is the only one they have.

But I was more surprise when my two European colleagues who had no problem of ordering the Hebckoe beer from the lobby bar and sometime even at the table when I was present.

I feel very disappointed and somewhat discriminated against.

I wouldn’t have even mind if they charge me a higher price for the Hebckoe beer because we prefer the taste compared with Kronenbourg.

Overall I was happy with my stay but certainly leave me with a bad memory of this negative experience.

I hope you can respond and clarify this is not a common practice at your hotel.

Many Thanks


His respond – I am disappointed that I didn’t get a free room, but he joins in and try to sell me another German Beer! Did he get the message – I want Hebckoe!!!

Dear Simon,

First of all thank you very much for sharing your experiences with me.

Please accept my personal and deepest apologies for the behavior of my staff and be ensured that I take the situation very serious.

Be ensured that your experience is not the regular standard that the PI Veliky Novgorod nor any other PI Hotel usually delivers.

We are in process to convert and rebrand the Hotel into an international standard delivering property.

Not only the hard ware like rooms and public areas are going to be changed step by step. The focus is also to train, teach and educate the employees.

The philosophy of PI is to hire attitude and to train skills. The Yes, I can attitude must be an essential characteristic for all personal that wants to work with us.

Dear  Simon, we have had development dialogues with our employees and have identified those that are capable to be part of the PI team in the future and will stay with us after 20 years of local management.

The process has started and will continue.

Could you please let me know when you plan to visit the PI Veliky Novgorod in the future.

I would like to meet you personally and show you the improvements we have done so far.

As of Monday we are also serving original Paulaner beer. (Simon: Paulaner is German!!! I want Hebckoe!) It would be a great pleasure for me to invite you also into the beerstube and show you that we are hosts as we can be expected to be.

Best regards


SOGS Dinner at Sweet Mandarin

This year SOGS dinner took place on the 31-1-2010 at Sweet Mandarin in the Northern Quarter of Manchester.

History of S.O.G.S = Salford Office Gambling Syndicate. It is not as serious as the word Gambling actually mean.

During a time in the Salford Quays office, I started to run regular sweepstakes amongst my colleagues. It was an important talking point, was not about the money, but about togetherness and a bit of fun.

The topic can vary, anything from New Born Baby Weights, IT’s respond time, Football and other sporting events etc

In fact the syndicate is dead now, we have not had a sweepstake for years. People had somehow stop bothering and also some people has left us too.

What remain is the Annual Dinner? Our normal office Christmas party is often Chinese Food. I always complain that the food at these Christmas dinner is poor wherever we go. So every year, I organise an alternative Christmas dinner in Chinatown with me ordering from the “Chinese Menu”. This year the dinner was delayed to January because of the takeover in that we end up having two Christmas parties. Another one would just be too much colleagues bonding!

I chose Sweet Mandarin (Twitter @sweetmandarin) because they won the Gordon Ramsey F word Best local Chinese Restaurant award. I was hoping to attract more people to come. But for several reasons that it turned out to be the opposite.

Nevertheless the spirit should be there, which is very very very important to me. There was people who don’t really know what SOGS is and the importance of this gathering. The atomsphere was not as high as I wanted to be. But let the food do the talking!

A pre-dinner drink at the Printworks, before we slowly progressed to our table at Sweet Mandarin. I have not been there before and with my trusted guide (Google Map), we have find the vibrant restaurant in Northern Quarters. When I walked in, Helen (one of three sisters who own the restaurant) greeted me (and already  knew I am Simon). Then I said hello to Lisa too. I have been talking to them via Twitter, was nice to met them.

The restaurant was buzzing, so busy on that Friday night. The restaurant is decorated to a very high standard, very warm and the atmosphere was excellent.

I did the food ordering of course. Every time I try a new restaurant, I always try their signature dishes, and this time no different.

1) Mabel’s Claypot Chicken
2) Lily Kwok’s Curry Chicken
3) Buddha Golden Basket

The food was good but it is not as authentic as the food I had trained my colleagues to eat all these years. It was tasty don’t get me wrong, and I would probably go back but it is different from the true authentic Chinese (Cantonese more specifically) food you can order from the “Chinese Menu”. But this really deserves another blog to discuss.

Next year I am banning any partners, sorry but they dampen the atmosphere. It was only Andrew who were keeping to the spirit of SOGS.

Anyway after more food and drinks, it was the big event of the evening. The “Sweepstake” on the bill. In this, each person would bet £1 on the final value of the bills. Just two simply rules.

1) If you are over you are out
2) Everything including VAT (ie the biggest number on the bill)

SAME RULES every time, is it because of luck that I always  win? Although I am the one who ordered and everyone else thinks I have insider knowledge, sorry but I don’t. The reason must be I am just pretty good at guessing!

The bill was above 200, roughly £25 per head. Everyone had gone for below £20 per head, I am the only one on £20 per head. So I win once again! £7 pound better off woo hoo. I was hoping if I didn’t Andrew would, because he made great effort all night.

I have to say it was not as fun as last year, or the year before, or the year before before, or the year bbb bbbb …….. etc…

We rumbled over for more drinks around Northern Quarters and slowly lost everyone.

I think next year’s dinner, chicken feet, roast pig’s head, ginger & spring onion tripe, Beef entrails, Pig tongue, Duck gizzard, all have to return to satisfy my not so “gweilo” colleagues…