A man and a woman were arrested at a Japanese-style barbecue restaurant in Mong Kok, where they apparently had a physical clash due to a dispute over the bill.
The case triggered heated online discussion about the practice of going Dutch, more commonly known as “AA” by the city’s Cantonese-speaking population.
The man, 37, and woman, 38, were recent acquaintances who went for yakiniku at the eatery in King Wah Centre on Nathan Road on Sunday night.
Earlier reports stated that at about 11.25pm, an argument broke out after the man suggested splitting the HK$2,200 bill, but the woman refused. The restaurant later gave a different account of how the dispute began.
The quarrel escalated into a physical fight, leading to police being called in. The man was arrested for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, while the woman was arrested for common assault.
The man sustained injuries to the nose while the woman had limb injuries. Both were taken to the nearby Kwong Wah Hospital.
Internet users were keen to discuss the incident.
On one news website, a reader said going Dutch on a date was normal, asking why the two had fought. Another guessed that man had asked to split the bill because he was not interested in the woman.
One Facebook user said the man should not have taken the woman to that restaurant if he could not afford it, while another responded that the woman should have just paid and forgotten about the man.
An internet user jokingly suggested the duo had pretended to fight just to avoid paying the bill.
The billing fracas caught the attention of Simon Wong Kit-lung, executive director of restaurant management firm LH Group.
Wong, who heads the restaurant in question, was in Tokyo at the time of the incident. After seeking eyewitness accounts of the brawl, he posted the details on his Facebook page.
According to Wong, the two customers sat down at 7.54pm, and the meal lasted more than three hours.
In addition to their food, the pair ordered three bottles of sake, three glasses of beer and soft drinks. The beverages cost close to HK$1,200 in total, compared to HK$700 for the food. The bill came to HK$2,135.10.
The male patron paid in cash, but the woman wanted to contribute because of the high cost. Though the man continued to insist on paying, she handed him a HK$500 note.
The man responded by tearing the note, sparking the argument which ultimately lead to a physical altercation. The female diner later reported the fight to police.
Her dining companion ended up forking out HK$2,200, including some HK$60 in tips.
Wong said he thought the pair was adorable and hoped they would become good friends.
“I hope this does not become a criminal matter,” he added.