Prawn wontons with chilli oil and soy sauce.
Want soy sauce with your dumplings? Some Sydney restaurants add this on as an extra charge. Photo: WILLIAM MEPPEM

Scott Bolles

Has it really come to this - charging for soy sauce in a Chinese restaurant?

Apparently the practice is more common than you might think at Sydney's Chinese yum cha restaurants, but is usually hidden away behind a charge for tea.

When some non-tea-drinking Good Food readers, who recently ate at the sprawling Kam Fook restaurant in Chatswood, asked for the tea to be taken off their bill, they were slugged $1.30 per person instead for condiments.

The restaurant says if you have tea it is included.

A quick call around other yum cha restaurants showed the charges to be widespread. At Marigold, in Chinatown, the price is $1.50 a person.

Yet Chinta Ria's Malaysian-Chinese restaurateur, Simon Goh, says he's never heard of the charge, and condiments are free at his restaurants. At China Doll, if you want chilli with your meal they bring four types, all free.

A spokeswoman at Golden Century restaurant says they don't charge for soy or chilli "because we're not a yum cha restaurant". What's the difference? Are their condiments any less expensive?

Meanwhile, if you want mustard with your meal, The Bridgeview Hotel in Willoughby has been charging an extra $2 for the privilege.