SF chowhounder's visit to SoCal: the good, the bad, and the UGLY
Just got back last week to SF from zipping through a few short days down in the Southland, and felt like posting on my brutally short chow adventure -- if only I'd had more time, I could really get into the good Vietnamese in Westminister, or Japanese in Torrance... *sigh* -- this must wait till next visit.
But for this trip, my chowish family ended up @ the Hilton by Universal Studios about 2 Sundays ago, for the upscale buffet dinner. Our last visit from a few years ago to this spot did not really have anything unique or interesting, but this time around they had Alaskan Wild Snails -- which were interesting, but very much like conch. Lamb was pretty good, and lobster was definitely of much better quality than mushy-frozen crap from Moonstar in SF. Had a few bowls of the sharks fin... of course it can't compare to stuff we've had in HK/Macao/Guangzhou, but pretty good for CA.
I decided on my trip to persuade a friend to score us some... what was it called again... filipino egg w/ the chick half formed -- been thinking of trying since forever but never got the nerve to until now. I thought it would have a lot of natural flavor, but nope. Got a bit put off due to the little feathers; I think I'll stick with the langonisa and palabok for now.
We also went for dinner @ the Lighthouse in LB... which was one of the WORST experiences in terms of SERVICE that I have ever had. The food was alright, but the service was another thing. First off, we were not served water upon being seated -- we were practically done w/ appetizer before any water was brought to us; and the drinks we ordered were not served until after the entrees had been brought out. It took a really long time before our orders were taken. Our server never checked on us during the meal to see if everything was alright. My companion had ordered lobster, but our server cleared our bread plates and did not bring any type of receptacle for discarded shells. We had to flag our server down to let him know we were ready for the check. There were leftovers, so our server decided to box our stuff away from the table -- my companion's lobster tail shell (which is of course only the shell and considered trash) was unceremoniously plucked from the table surface and plunked right back into the plate of leftover food to be boxed! As if that was not bad enough, our server returned with the boxes and a bag -- he proceeded to open the bag on the floor and place one box after another in! I don't know how they train staff there, but to me, discarded bones/shells/garnishes ARE NOT to be plunked right back into the plate of food, especially if it has been extracted and placed directly on the table! And boxes of food, even with a plastic bag barrier, ARE NEVER placed on the ground!
Lighthouse in LB is a typical "touristy-theme" restaurant and you get what you see there. Food is marginal.
Obviously your server was out of synch. Ask for "it" rather than complain later about not getting what you want on time. I always ask to pack my own left-overs...never can tell what they're doing with it. Because of conservation I think water is a 50/50 proposition whether or not their going to serve it automatically(I'm sure San Francisco is no different).
Next visit to LA do some research on the LA Chowhound Boards and I'm sure you'll have a better culinary experience. Before I go to the bay area I'm doing some research.
Seriously, put the related part of this post in the form of a formal letter and mail it to the restaurant's management. You'd be surprised at what a rationally phrased complaint can do, and you're absolutely right to be disgusted with the service.