Wontons Served With An Attitude

So yesterday my friend took me to her favorite Chinese restaurant near the office.

She got me prepared as she pulled up to the strip mall that looked like it had been dipped in Chinatown on what to expect when we got to the restaurant.

She told me the food was amazing and that Chinese people ate here. It’s always a good sign to see Chinese people eating at a Chinese restaurant. It makes me nervous to walk into one that doesn’t.

 

She said that on weekends the line to get a table was out the door. Another good sign.

But then she also gave me a warning. People who work here are rude. They don’t pretend to be nice, they don’t care about you or your damn feelings.

 

We walked into the very large but relatively empty restaurant less than half filled at noon on a Monday.

I reminded myself that Monday was always the day the least people went out to lunch.

I tried to imagine how many people it took to fill that large restaurant on weekends and still manage to have a line of people trying to get in.

We walked in and were greeted by a man who seemed like the manager. He gave off a “manager vibe.” And by “greeted” I mean he looked at us with utter disdain and said nothing.

Finally since no one had asked us, we had to ask if we could sit.

He showed us to the table. And by that I mean, he grunted and begrudgingly pointed in the general direction of the right side of the room.

We walked over to an empty table ourselves unsure if this is where he wanted us to sit. I was almost scared he would yell at us for picking the wrong table.

It must have been right because he then walked over and held the menus in his hands, looked at each of us and let them drop on to the table with a loud thud. Then he grunted again and walked away.

A somewhat nicer lady came by who I assumed was our waitress and brought us green tea. When by “nicer” I  mean she didn’t give us the death stare the manager did.

Her look was more of a “I don’t care if you’re here or not” type of glare.

We went over the menus, and picked out what we wanted. The waitress came over and took our orders.

When I asked for brown rice instead of steamed rice she said they don’t have it. I was trying to be healthy in asking for the brown rice. So naturally I went with the very healthy option of pork fried rice (yeah I don’t see my logic either).

I have to admit, the food was amazing. The egg roll was crispy and just right. When the manager came by to take our appetizer plates away I told him so.

For the first time he spoke to me. He grumbled with a frown, “yeah but some people think it’s too crispy so..” and he walked away. It was hardly a love declaration but at least it was more than a glare and a grunt.

The duck sauce was real duck sauce with no food dyes, even the spicy mustard was different. The rice and my szechuan chicken was perfection. We were both happy with the food.

That’s when I realized why they are so rude here. Because they can be.

The food speaks for itself. When the food is really good you can be a jackass if you want to.

I understood their arrogance, their disdain and their need not to please the customer. The food does all of that. We don’t need their sweetness, kindness or smiles. The food does all that.

I’d rather have good food and mean waiter than a nice waiter and bad food-but that’s just me.

After we got the check we walked over to the cashier to pay. And by “cashier” I mean they guy who was sitting behind the counter eating a huge bowl of noodle soup.

He glanced over, said nothing, took a couple more bites, then begrudgingly walked over and took our money.

No one told us goodbye or hello for that matter. No one even bothered to wish us a nice day or thank us for coming.

But somehow it didn’t matter. I wasn’t even upset about it.

If this restaurant could have a motto it would be “Fuck you, and just..fuck you and then.. fuck you. But try our wonton soup it’s amazing!”

Caroline

(pardon all the cursing ;)   )

 

 

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I have a running joke with a friend of mine that restaurants simply do not want our money whenever she and I are there. This summer every time we have gone out to eat or drink something has happened that we have not had to pay. We also always get the best parking spaces in otherwise ”tough to find parking” areas.  

One time it was the cockroach on the wall of a upscale restaurant that made our meal free. Another time it was a man who paid for our drinks at a lounge because he felt bad for monopolizing our waitress with his flirtations. The list goes on and on.

Tonight it was at Cafe Deluxe. We were starving and saw a man eating Barbeque baby back ribs. It looked scrumptious. (The word “barbeque” is in bold for a reason) We both ordered it. We also ordered an appetizer and drinks.

A waitress brought our plates and set them down. The first thing I thought was, “wow, this BBQ sauce is red!”. It was red because it was ketchup. Yes, our Barbeque baby back ribs were completely slathered in ketchup. It looked like someone took a Heinz bottle and dumped it on the ribs until their arm got tired.

I scraped as much of the offensive ketchup as I could off of the meat but the damage was done. The cornbread and the cole slaw were now also slathered in ketchup. The above picture is of my friend’s plate without the scraping.

It was disgusting. It looked like someone in the kitchen said, “Damn, we are all out of BBQ sauce…I know! Ketchup! They will never know the difference!!”  

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind ketchup on a burger, on a hot dog, or on french fries. I am even one of those people who likes it on the side of eggs, with a little hot sauce. Let’s face it, most things are better with hot sauce.  However, on steak or ribs, ketchup is  just offensive. It’s like taking Japanese Kobe beef and pouring ketchup all over it. It is a crime against food. I feel like any minute Chef Gordon Ramsey should come out of nowhere and yell at you until you cry. 

We called the nearest employee over (who turned out to be the manager) and told her what happened. She actually tried to convince me that it may not be ketchup. To that we laughed. I told her, “trust me, it’s Heinz”. I know Heinz when I see it and taste it. By the way have you ever had curry ketchup? A friend of mine years ago brought it back from Amsterdam. It…is..incredible…It is by Heinz too. See? I know Heinz. No one can question my ketchup knowledge. I can even taste the difference between the organic ketchup without the food additives and the ketchup with the food additives. I buy organic. Once you go organic you can actually taste all the “extra ingredients” in the regular ketchup..But now I’ve gone off on a ketchup tangent.

Anyways, the manager went back to the kitchen and came back with barbeque sauce. She apologized but hilariously tried to cover it up by telling us that the kitchen got the “ratio wrong”. I told her there was no ratio, only ketchup. She told me they put “herbs in the ketchup”. I looked hard at the ketchup looking for the alleged “herbs”. I looked and I looked, I even tasted it again to make sure my taste buds hadn’t made a terrible error. No, alas, it was only ketchup. We felt our ketchup knowledge was insulted.

Anyways, the point is, we never asked for our meal to be free. We just wanted someone to acknowledge that it was ketchup. We needed a “it’s ketchup” validation. When what seemed like another manager came by and saw our food, he had the correct response. He was upset and told us there was no excuse for what happened.

We left the restaurant paying for our drinks and appetizers. We wondered why this keeps happening to us. It never happens to me when I am out with other friends and it never happens to her either. Only when we are together do these strange occurrences happen.

I look forward to our next outing with both a mixture of fear and excitement as to what will happen. I will have my camera ready.

What did I learn from this? There are many errors in life that can be covered up. However, a ketchup error is not one of them. I will also take this friend with me wherever I go from now on. Life is more interesting with her by my side. The food and service may not be great but the experience is rich and hilarious.

I can’t look at a ketchup bottle for a long long long long time.

Caroline

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