Thoughts on Restaurant Service

Places put effort into their decor; however, what about their service?

During this past week in Indiana, my sister reminded me of our restaurant days; she worked the longest at our parents’ restaurant and has a lot of colorful stories to share from that experience. She got me tuned into restaurant service quality by her complaints over the service at all the restaurants we went to.

I have to admit, the first impression I got when I arrived in Indiana and went to a couple of restaurants was that service was rather sub-par. The first night, we went to Steak N’ Shake and the server didn’t bring me a glass of water even though I requested for it. Luckily I could quench my thirst with the cherry limeade.

Over and over during the past week, I was appalled by how slow service went….during non-peak hours. The worst experience we had on my visit was at an Italian restaurant: the server came and took our appetizer order….and then FORGOT ABOUT US. Oh! We were sitting there munching on the paltry portions of the bruschetta and looking around the restaurant: customers were slowly trickling in, but it wasn’t SLAMMED (i.e., it wasn’t a landslide of people walking in). At one point I turned to find our server just standing in the back of the restaurant with hands on her hips. Uh…..

What made this situation even worse was that the server FINALLY came to our table and even told us to our faces, “I TOTALLY forgot about you guys!” Wow, way to make us feel appreciated. You don’t tell customers that you forgot about them; you can definitely forget about their service then!

After that terrible meal, I told my sister she should make a list of things servers shouldn’t say to their customers. One thought she had during the week sums up the whole list for now:

“These servers don’t realize that we grew up in the restaurant industry. When they give us excuses, we can definitely see through their BS.”

Now, after reading this post, you may be more alert with your next outing at a restaurant/bar/etc.

Curbs and such in San Francisco

Seen on a Korean menu today:

“Bean curb soup.”

Mm, I never knew that curbs had different flavors.

Also, seen on a Chinese daycare center:

Dong Dong Pre-School.”

That was the school’s name; I know, “Dong” in the Chinese language does not mean anything bad, but transliterated/phonetically translating it to English makes it sound too wrong.

How dirty is your cook?

Ever since I started working at the hot dog carts, I feel my sense of health/sanitation has been heightened–not that I was not cautious of germs/being clean and sanitized before the job. Still, especially in food service, I believe the most important thing about the job(s) is to be very clean and reduce the risk of germ-contamination as much as possible. Some ways to do so is:

– Never touch the food with bare hands, even if hands are clean. Handle with a cooking utensil or with plastic gloves over hands.

– Never let food touch a public surface (countertop, etc.) or else it is contaminated.

– Never pick up trash/things off the ground with bare hands and then use hands to handle food–even if handling food is with a cooking utensil! Germs could transfer through the utensil.

There are many other ways to reduce germ contamination, but these are a few starters.

I bring up this topic mainly because of an incident my boss had at a “dive” burger joint he went to earlier in the weekend. He said he watched (with sheer horror) as the cook behind the counter took out UNREFRIGERATED, raw chicken breasts, throw the meat onto the grill with his bare hands, and then, without washing his hands, proceed to arrange the garnish setup (tomato, lettuce, etc.).

Unfortunately for my boss, he got food poisoning from such an incident; fortunately, he’s okay now.

Just goes to show–if possible, watch how the cook handles your food next time you eat out!

Favorite foods.

I notice whenever I dine out with my friends, I tend to choose Asian cuisine over the usual pasta, sandwiches, etc. I also notice that, when it comes to Asian cuisine, I tend to prefer Korean or Thai.

I wonder, why is that?

I enjoy Chinese cooking/food any day since I grew up with it; I’m perfectly fine with Japanese and Vietnamese foods. So why is it almost always Korean or Thai?

There are some things at Korean restaurants which I feel are rather unique for Asian cuisine; for example, all of the starter/”appetizer” dishes they provide, including kimchi and other pickled vegetables. The sizzling hot pots are always divine, and the spices/flavors are just one of a kind. Plus, I feel like most of the foods I probably can’t make on my own at home without the help of a Korean friend.

Thai food is probably some form of comfort food for me; I used to always go to this one Thai place back when I was in school. The flavors also strike me as being more unique than some other Asian cuisines–I like spicy foods, and I like the curries.

I probably stay away from “All-American” cuisine these days because of how much I had of it while I was growing up. I remember ordering out a lot with my siblings, and we’d gorge ourselves on pizza rolls, pizza, huge sandwiches, etc. They’re not foods that necessarily satisfy my palate these days; maybe once in awhile, I’ll consider the foods for a meal, but not every week. Plus, some of the foods I can make at home anyway, so why waste the money to go out and buy something on the pricier side when I know I have the ability to cook it myself?

Mayan food in San Francisco

While walking around Noe Valley with my walking buddy today, we stumbled upon Mi Lindo Yucatan, a restaurant specializing in Mayan fare. Mayan food? It was our first time to hear of this kind of cuisine still being in existence; so we decided we would venture in and indulge our foodie-ness at the restaurant.

From what I can recall from the menu, it had a mix of fresh vegetable offerings and seafood combined with standard fare you would find in Mexico–tacos, burritos, fajitas, etc. We ordered two specials, one with beef chunks and vegetables, and the other was lobster enchiladas.

The food was very delicious and fresh; we both left the restaurant feeling satisfied, not stuffed-to-the-brim full. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone else, and hope to go back to the restaurant to try more of the food soon.