I spent this past weekend in San Francisco, my favorite city in the world. If you haven’t ever been there, you must go. If for nothing else, go for the exercise you get from walking up those freaking hills. It really is a beautiful city and I’m assuming that’s because there is such a large gay community, because the gays just make everything a little prettier :).
I actually became the annoying tourist that I complain about everyday on Hollywood Boulevard…you know, standing in the middle of wherever taking pictures and looking at a map, completely oblivious to the people around me. Tough crap, my turn.
Throughout the entire weekend, I only had one negative experience and it wasn’t watching the drunken couple fighting in Golden Gate Park, or the meth addict they were hanging out with. Does meth make you itch all over? Because this guy took his shirt off and was frantically scratching his entire torso. So either he was on some type of drug that makes you itchy, or he had body lice…and judging from his looks, body lice was definitely possible. If only I had my video camera, I would have filmed YouTube gold.
Anyway, my friend and I decided to have dinner in the wildly popular tourist attraction “Chinatown.” Call me crazy, but this is an overrated area. My thoughts are, “if you’ve been to one Chinese restaurant, you’ve been to them all.” And the culture? Sure it’s cool I guess. Little shops with kimonos, Buddha statues and flip flops, but it’s not like I’ve never seen a kimono in my life. It was alright, but maybe it was just tainted by the bad restaurant experience I had.
Let’s face it, Chinese people don’t share the same attitude when it comes to waiting tables or the restaurant business in general. Did you ever ask to substitute noodles for rice at a Chinese restaurant? Well forget it, because it’s never gonna happen. The truth is, they don’t give a shit if you’re a happy customer and this isn’t the first time I experienced this. And having been a waitress many times, I am highly critical of restaurant service because I know what good service is, not that I always gave it, but I know what it is.
First, my friend and I went to a place called “The Empress of China” that was at the top of possibly the tallest building in the middle of Chinatown. We took the elevator up to the top and sat down at a squeaky table, looked at the over-priced menu and decided to leave. Twenty-five bucks for a Chinese entrée? I don’t think so. We moo-goo gai panned our ass out of there.
We left and were walking around looking for another place, but they all seemed so dodgy. And I’m a little leery of Chinese joints anyway because I’ve watched shows about China on the National Geographic channel, and I can tell you that the Chinese will eat almost anything. No offense, but it’s true. A billion people is a lot to feed, so I guess they will eat whatever they can get their hands on.
We stopped at a hotel and asked the bell hop where the “tourists” (i.e. white people) like to eat in Chinatown. He said in a Chinese accent, “House of Nanking.” We walked a few blocks up and were seated right away in the small, dark, dingy restaurant, where the waitress greeted us by saying “Whatchu want?” I admit, I was taken aback. Where was the “Hi, welcome to our restaurant, can I get you a frosty beverage or perhaps some hot Chinese tea?” Oh no, “Whatcu want?” was their idea of service. We ordered some egg rolls and 2 beers, and the beer wasn’t very cold which irritated me on top of the “whatchu want” shitty greeting.
When we asked for water, they slammed down two plastic cups of tap water with no ice. But when we wanted to order our entrées is when things got ugly. Our waitress was literally three feet away at another table talking with her Chinese friends and completely ignoring us. We kept trying to get her attention but she continued to ignore, so we moved on to trying to get the attention of any waiter, but all of them had that way of avoiding eye contact, therefore trying to make it seem like they don’t see you. Yeah, I know that trick. You’re not fooling me. This went on for a good 15 minutes and we were just trying to get someone’s attention so we could order more food. Finally, my friend practically grabbed one of the waiters and said, “Can we order something?”
The waiter’s response was, “Whatchu want?” with a major tone of irritation, which I did not appreciate. First, I smiled at the brazen rudeness, looked at the menu for a second, and then I looked at him and said, “You know what? I don’t want anything, this place stinks!”
I was so annoyed by that point and figured that they don’t have a problem being rude so why should I? I take pride in the fact that I can so easily stoop to someone else’s level. My friend and I got up, walked towards the door and on the way out, I was shoulder to shoulder with our first waitress, who was still chatting with her Chinese friends, and who I also think was the owner or manager, and I said, “Your place stinks!” and I said it loud enough for the whole place to hear. Do you think she cared? I don’t…or do you think they are out of business already? We ended up going to a place that I went to my first time in San Francisco about 15 years ago named “Brandy Ho’s.” I couldn’t believe it was still there. That actually sounds like a lounge where hookers drink brandy, doesn’t it? But at least they were relatively nice and the food was good, but overall, if you go to San Francisco, don’t bother eating in Chinatown. All of the sudden this turned into a restaurant review blog.
I had another experience at a Chinese restaurat where I ordered something, took a couple of bites and it was just nasty, so I told the waitress I wasn’t going to eat it. She took it away but when the check came, she had charged me for it. Now, keep in mind, when I waited tables, if a customer only took a bite or two and decided they didn’t like it, we took it back and took it off the check. But not the Chinese. So I told her I wasn’t paying and she said “You orda, you pay!” (orda is order). I said, “I didn’t eat it, so I’m not paying for it, and she just kept on saying “You orda, you pay!” So I had to explain to her how it works in American restaurants. We are spoiled little piggies who get what we want, and if we don’t eat something, we don’t pay for it, which I didn’t…so sayonara! (yeah, I know that’s Japanese, but I don’t know “goodbye” in Chinese).
Nothing is worse than bad restaurant service. After all that’s what you’re going out for isn’t it, to have someone bring you food and kiss your ass at the same time? Damn right. I had to do it, so the Chinese people working in restaurants should have to too.
But aside from that, San Francisco was great. Everything about that city is cool (minus Chinatown and their shitty restaurant service.)
I’m amazed how those cable cars get up those hills, because it always feel like it might roll back as you’re hanging off the side like a douchey tourist. The Haight/Asbury area is really great with plenty of remnants from the glorious hippie days and the music scene of the 60’s.
I just wanted to tell you where I was because that’s why I haven’t responded to my comments in a timely manner. Did you have a good weekend? Did you eat at a Chinese restaurant and get bad service?
Maybe I should just stick to Chinese takeout.
By the way, this is nothing against Chinese people in general, just their restaurant service. Have a great day!