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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Off bEAT 

Due to certain developments in my life over the past few days I've been a little more generous than what I can ideally afford to be - something that translated to two consecutive dinner treats - each more ex$$pensive than any treat I've ever given till date. So what did I realize when I wore a suit and dined in San Diego's best - the food is pretty much the same - the only thing that differs is the waiters (servers) and the variety of sauces and options you're offered.

"Would you like it mildly fried, Sir? We have our day's special of the avocado sauce and the Italian herbs sauce. The latter comes with freshly plucked tomatoes ... would you like the lobsters spirally or would you prefer them blah blah ..."

That's what you hear in a restaurant whose name begins with Ala followed by some component that sounds fancy and you can't pronounce. Seriously, you can have a dining place called Ala Crap Delite and people will prefer it over Mama's House - just coz they have no freakin idea what the former will serve.

Just take these two examples. My favorite dinner spot is this mid-range Chinese restaurant where the waitresses hate their jobs, the customers and everything else. They all look like dormant ninja experts waiting to burst out. As a result, they make minimum conversation with you and let you enjoy nice, inexpensive food without giving you any option.

"Howat do yuuu vant?" she will shout.
"Do you vant yor standard Hu Nan chicken?" she'll scream.

I'll just have to nod and she'll be back in a jiffy with my food and shout back, "Eaaaat ... and here is yor hot saas, mustard, saalt, peppaar, enjoy." That's it! The next time I'll see her is when she shows her disgust at the small tip she gets. Good food, solitude and a wallet that feels almost as heavy as it was - translates to a Happy me.

Compare it to a high end dining zone. For starters, you can't wear your khakis there. You can't enjoy the quiet. You look at the menu from right to left. Finally you find a right that looks right, only to realize that you were just looking at some fancy cup of tea - so you're left with nothing. That's when your server comes and spends fifteen minutes with you just exchanging pleasantries.

"Have you been here before ... lovely evening, right? So are you guys from out of town?" ... "Would you like something for starters ... would the lady love some wine ..." ... "Is everything fine?" ... "Would you like a cup of our minty tea after dinner? It really helps you digest the food." Seriously! You talk a lot more with the server than the people you are with ... and then the cheque comes and your heart skips a beat ... you feel your left arm stiffening ... you remember that epsiode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S where Phoebe had a heart attack. BUT but but ... before you can recover from the shock, you see a tiny line at the bottom of the bill saying, "We help our customers by adding a gratuity of 18% automatically!!!!" What? "Help" me? How? My wallet cries out.

GOD bless the Chinese restaurant and it's cold food and matching cold waitresses.

Comments:
Your post reminds me of this bar called 'Dick's Last Resort - the shame of San Diego' in downtown San Diego (5th Ave). They pride themselves for their lack of courtesy and is the only place I have been to where you can complain if the waiters/tresses aren't rude enough ! Its a riot on weekend nights.
The beer and chicken wings are good though - served appropriately in metal buckets - and moderately priced.
 
ok - who's the second date?
 
@anon - i've been to Tom and Harry's :) so Dick is still is untouched.

@chitra - none of them were dates - they were all treats that were due :) the second was for my apt mates
 
Bechey thakuk Kolkata!!! Long live Peipings! Long Live Rahmania and Shiraz!!!

he he...

Love, laughter n keep the faith

Sagnik
 
I love the line, dormant ninjas waiting to burst out !! I used to buy my Thai 'cuisine' from one such ice maiden, and the only time she ever smiled at me was when I told her that this would be my last meal and that I was leaving to India. She said she would miss me and gave me a pair of chopsticks with her name on them.

She didn't remember me when I went back to Pittsburgh 4 months later ;)
 
@namesake - visit whichever place you want but you wont get a more cost effective Chinese eatout than Peiping

@Vignesh - oh in my Chinese diner they even gave me consolation after I broke up with my girl friend :))
 
Just take these two examples. My favorite dinner spot is this mid-range Chinese restaurant where the waitresses hate their jobs, the customers and everything else. They all look like dormant ninja experts waiting to burst out. As a result, they make minimum conversation with you and let you enjoy nice, inexpensive food without giving you any option.

"Howat do yuuu vant?" she will shout.
"Do you vant yor standard Hu Nan chicken?" she'll scream.

I'll just have to nod and she'll be back in a jiffy with my food and shout back, "Eaaaat ... and here is yor hot saas, mustard, saalt, peppaar, enjoy." That's it! The next time I'll see her is when she shows her disgust at the small tip she gets. Good food, solitude and a wallet that feels almost as heavy as it was - translates to a Happy me.


Dinn know u liked u r chinese restaurant so much that not once but twice u took me there for dinner. Now, I can be happy for the rest of my life!
 
@Arijit - an in return you can now treat m ein the fancy restaurant once and we will call it even :)
 
as u say, but i shall treat u pretty badly (again, as u used to say).
 
@Ari - cheeh! cracking my bad joke to me only - uuuuuf :)
 
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