CCTV footage has captured the moment a group of Sydney influencers their $364 lobster meal at a Chinese restaurant.
Jennifer Do, Belinda Nguyen and Julie Nguyen initiated defamation proceedings against western Sydney seafood establishment Silver Pearl Restaurant after the venue claimed they faked food poisoning to avoid paying their $364 dinner bill.
The trio is suing the Cabramatta restaurant for an Instagram post titled “Beware fraudulent diners,” which referred to a “family of four” who dined with them on Christmas Day, 2020.
According to court documents, the post read they ordered “a bottle of red wine and one live lobster” but complained to staff halfway through their meal of feeling sick because they had been served frozen — not fresh — lobster.
“Note the CCTV footage of them continuing to eat WHILST complaining about the food too,” it read.
“Our staff tried to explain to them that this was definitely not the case. The staff brought the head of the lobster back out and even tried to explain to them how the head juices change colour based on the amount of time passed, and since their order was only recently cut, they could see that the head juices were still vibrant”.
It is alleged the influencers “completely finished” their meal before refusing to pay. The restaurant claimed management messaged the women on Instagram “asking them to settle the matter in private and pay for the balance of their bill of $364” and were blocked in response.
CCTV aired by Nine’s A Current Affair showed a worker at the restaurant selecting a lobster from a tank out the back of the restaurant.
The footage shows Do and a male companion sitting at a table in the restaurant and placing an order for the Christmas seafood feast, before a worker can be seen out the back catching their dinner from a tank.
The lobster was then presented to the pair.
While all this is going on Belinda and Julie Nguyen are having an impromptu photo shoot near a Christmas display at the restaurant.
After showing the lobster to the customers, the staff member takes the critter out the back to be weighed, then to the kitchen to be prepared as requested.
Ten minutes later, a plate of food arrives at the table and the male customer begins to eat.
Another plate is then wheeled over to the table, before the women returned from their photo shoot, and Do starts poking at the meal.
The girls return to the table and snap a few photos of the dish as Do continues to prod the food.
Before long, a waiter and manager is called to the table and a dispute seems to erupt over the food that has been served. Shortly after, the group stands and walks out the door, leaving an unpaid bill worth $364.
Following the incident, and according to court documents, Silver Pearl management took to Facebook the next day, warning its followers about the group and describing their behaviour as “dishonest … fraudulent … entitled … classless”.
The post said that staff attempted to explain “that this was definitely not the case”, even bringing out the lobster’s head and explaining how the colour of the juices proved it was fresh.
It is alleged the influencers “completely finished” their meal before refusing to pay.
“What makes this matter worse, is that after they left us, they went to another seafood restaurant across the road and ordered lobster and wine again!! How could anyone eat more of what made them ‘feel sick’? let alone another meal,” the post read.
The accusations sparked defamation action from the influencers, who claim their reputation is ruined from what they say are false claims.
At the time, Belinda took to her Instagram, stating the family’s lives were in grave danger following the dispute.
“Do consumers deserve to be killed over inedible lobster?” she posted, according to A Current Affair.
She described the incident as a “crime we did not commit”.
A Current Affair approached Do at a shopping centre to ask what happened that night, but Do ignored her questions and instead called one of her daughters to come over to the centre for backup.
The daughter then started filming the ACA crew on her phone as they walked out to the car.
They refused to say what was wrong with the meal, saying “the matter was in court and we have no comment”.
ACA also approached the restaurant for comment on the incident, and were told that although it was “not appropriate” to comment on the matter, the restaurant “take this matter very seriously and will vigorously defend their position in court”.
It is estimated the combined legal costs of the Federal Court dispute will be at least $500,000, or perhaps as much as $1 million.
The influencers have declined to attempt mediation and the matter is listed for trial in October next year.
news.com.au has reached out to all parties for comment.