I had always been curious to try this restaurant and the opportunity came when a group of friends wanted to try the AYCE there. I was excited to try AYCE Thai, which is rare in Vancouver.
We had made reservations but we had extra people. The manager told us to wait in the corner without providing a reason. It was not a problem at first for us to wait as our entire party had not arrived. About 10 minutes later, I talked to another waitress to ask to be seated since most of us were there. She finally seated us and told us that they do not normally provide seats unless the entire party had arrived. This did not seem reasonable as the restaurant was mostly empty.
Next, we ordered our food from the menu. There is a list of rules that you must abide to in order to participate in the AYCE. Some of them include: 1) everyone at the table must be doing AYCE; 2) if you don't complete your dish, you will be charged $4; 3) 15% service charge is added to your bill; 4) maximum 1.5 hr for the buffet; 5) maximum 5 items per round of order. The unwritten rule is that you cannot order prior to every one in your party being there. This is something that the waitress mentioned. Why could we not have been seated earlier? We would have just not ordered until everyone got there.
The waitress was friendly and allowed us to order more than the maximum 5 items listed in the rules. The manager, however, is the one who made the meal unpleasant. You can feel the manager staring at you/your party while you eat. I am guessing that he is assessing how much each party is ordering in order to gauge his net profit/loss. On some occasions, I saw him talking to the waitresses and looking at our party. He is possibly talking to them about his strategy on how much and when to serve the food.
Closer to the end of the meal, the dishes that we ordered arrived at a slower pace. We thought that it could be because they were trying to keep us waiting so that we would order less. One girl in the party noted that they were enthusiastic to clear our plates away. Furthermore, the bill arrived without any of us calling for the bill. This seemed like a gesture to get us to leave. Again, the restaurant was not busy at the time!
The food was basic Thai food. Do not expect anything special. The restaurant is in a nice location because it is near the water.
I think that Chilli House Thai Bistro has a lot of potential to engage a lot of customers with the AYCE because AYCE Thai in Vancouver is rare. However, with the scowling of the manager as you eat and his attitude towards his staff, the potential is lost. The waitresses were very nice but the manager was micromanaging them the entire time.
I would advise that there be a management change of some sort in order to maintain/engage more customers.