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Sunnin Lebanese - I won't be going back

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I used to go to this place all the time and always have had the same server... a very friendly chubby man.
However tonight, I had THE WORST experience ever and promise that I will never be going back.
On my last trip there, I saw a Lebanese man order the spicy kefta kebab entree. I read the menu description and it sounded pretty good. However, the catch was that although the menu specifically states that the kebab is grilled, it is actually just sauteed. The Lebanese man who ordered the plate asked that the kebab be grilled. He seemed like he knew what he was doing and I wanted to try what he had but already had my plate full of food.
So, onto my trip tonight...
I had a different waiter. A younger, tall male who was very fit looking. He took my order for the spicy kefta kebab and I asked him, "Can you please make sure that they grill the kebab?" He responded with an, "Of course."
Since I was sitting at the counter, I could see everything happening in the kitchen. I saw a man prepare a spicy kefta kebab dish but, didn't think that it was for me since there were several other kefta kebabs on the grill. However, after awhile, I realized that the spicy kefta kebab dish was for me since there weren't any other ones cooking. To prevent a further delay in getting the correct order, I alerted my waiter this evening and told him that the kebabs were not grilled. The waiter then proceeds to argue with me that, "they usually make it like that," and "it tastes the same." I promptly told him that grilled kebabs do not taste the same as sauteed kebabs (which is totally obvious). THEN, instead of fixing his mistake OR apologizing about it, he then tells me that they're "too busy" to grill the kebab like I had asked.
At that point, I was about to boil and just leave. However, my need for food at that moment kept me there. What angered me was that
1) If they were "too busy" to grill the kebabs, then as why were there SEVERAL OTHER kefta kebabs on the grill (Which I thought was for MY order).
2) If they couldn't do it the way I had asked them to then don't tell me you can and then bring me the food prepared incorrectly and proceed to tell me that they couldn't do it after the fact. If he had told me that was going to be the case, I probably would've ordered something else.

Another thing I saw the last time (from the same guy that was waiting on me tonight) was that he was about to charge this poor old homeless guy *extra* money for his order of fries. I was right there next to the cash register when he ordered the fries. He didn't ask for any extra. He just wanted what was on the menu. However, the total for the fries came out to be about $2.7-something. I know because I asked that his fries be added to my tab as he was about to pay $3.00 for it. How screwed up is that? And no, he wasn't about to give him change either. In fact, the words he uttered to him were, "I'll just take $3 for that..." AS IF he were cutting him a deal! I would not have found out that the fries were less than $3 had I not offered to add his order to my tab. I really thought that the guy was giving the homeless guy a break! UNBELIEVABLE.
I can't believe I went back tonight after witnessing that. I guess it served me right when the service was so screwed up!
NEVER AGAIN.

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  1. While not doubting the veracity of your story, I need to stand up for a really fantastic place. I have never experienced any real problems at Sunnin. On the contrary, everyone there is friendly and the food is excellent. REALLY excellent. Yes, sometimes they are a bit overrun with customers, but it's a mom and pop place. Your story sounds like a misunderstanding of some sort.

    As for the homeless fellow, I have to sympathize with the owners. It must be very awkward and difficult when a homeless person comes into your business. One has to walk a fine line.
    They often smell, they may talk to themselves, and they certainly scare off customers. Rolling out the red carpet is probably not what restaurant owners want to do, and who can blame them? As for the extra 30 cents, who knows what was going on, but again it sounds like some kind of misunderstanding.

    As for your paying for the homeless person, that is a nice gesture on your part. However, giving to homeless people - whether on the street or in a restaurant - only encourages them to continue panhandling. Give to a charity or shelter. These organizations exist to provide emergency shelter and help homeless people get help with their addictions, personal problems, or just learn how to get a job and get on one's feet.

    Cheers

    1 Reply
    1. re: scoot

      Homeless guy problem... ok. Understand.
      However,I'm not sure where the misunderstanding came in tonight. I asked him, "Could you please make sure they GRILL the kebabs," and he said, "Sure." Then after I brought up the fact that I saw the man NOT grill the kebabs he just FLAT OUT LIED to me and said that he did... then proceed to argue with me about how it tastes the same, etc?

    2. it would be hard to top such an awful experience.

      i'd just like to add that the one food item i tried there, certainly was sub-par and on that basis, i never planned to return.
      they made the falafal for their falafal sandwiches in batches, and then reheated them in a MICROWAVEW before assembling the sandwiches (the microwave is conviently located right next to the fryer). then, as if this wasn't bad enough, they assemble the sandwich with the soggy falafal balls and cold pita bread and tahini, and wrap the whole thing up in foil, and warm it on the grill. this means that the big pillow of white pita bread turns into a completely saturated soggy mess wrapped around the soggy falafal balls. truly yuck.

      1. The problem with having homeless enter the restaurant is troubling to a retaurant. However, overcharging or cheating the homeless person is not an acceptable solution.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Bruin2

          I think I might have watered down my main point of how aweful the service was. That is the MAIN reason why I won't be going back.
          However, on the homeless person point...
          If you don't want homeless people to come in, don't encourage it by making it seem like they're getting a better deal than everyone else. The way the guy said, "I'll just take $3 for that" seemed like he was being extra nice to him.
          I agree about the homeless people being inside restaurants. I don't enjoy it either but the point is, charging extra to people who need more money the most is not right, especially with the attitude of "I'm being a nice guy and doing you a favor."

          1. re: Bruin2

            Two-tiered pricing is totally unacceptable and frankly, theft.

            1. re: Bruin2

              Totally agree.

            2. Are you talking about the one in Westwood or the one in Long Beach?

              2 Replies
              1. re: ltsao01

                Westwood

                1. re: banquisha

                  I think the older gentleman who used to wait on you in the past now is at the Long Beach location- my understanding is the Westwood locale is owned by his mother in law, and the one on 2nd in Belmont Shores/Long Beach is his...

              2. i went once and won't go back because in a city with such great lebanese food (valley, glendale) i see no reason to waste my time and caloric investment on Sunnin.

                i wish someone in west LA served the refined cuisine instead.

                1 Reply
                1. re: epop

                  Which Lebanese places in the Valley and Glendale do you recommend?

                2. I have only had the falafel, baba ganouj, tabouli, hummus, and spicy potatoes, but I've never been *that* impressed with Sunnin. It's pretty good, and close to work, but definitely not the best I've had. And I don't personally like their style of tabouli, even though a lot of people rave about it.

                  However, re: the comment above about microwaving falafel, my falafels have always been made fresh to order, even when I've been there during busy lunch hours.

                  That's one thing that bugs me about Zankou - they pre-make the falafels and then they sit under heat lamps for god knows how long... Zankou falafel is pretty good if it's fresh, but otherwise it's mediocre at best.

                  1. Without question the WORST thing that has EVER happened in a business of ANY kind. And let me add that the decor has not changed in that place in YEARS!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: poot

                      I went there after my middle eastern friend raved about how great the food there is. Not true at all. Many other places are by far better. Marouch is fantastic. And the one time I went, I watched them microwave the falafels.

                      1. re: GHF

                        some middle eastern people go to mcdonald's too--- sadly people just don't know better

                    2. I'm sorry, but I don't understand your post. First you put:

                      "I realized that the kebab dish was for me since there weren't any other ones cooking"

                      and then "why were there SEVERAL OTHER kefta kebabs on the grill (Which I thought was for MY order)."

                      So were there other orders or not? And while I commiserate with the homeless I do feel that he should be charged like any other customer. Could the few extra cents account for sales tax?

                      I'm not defending Sunnin at all, I'm Middle-eastern and don't find their food any good at all. I'm just curious about your experience.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: hrhboo

                        I knew that the kefta dish they were cooking was for me because of the sauce. There were no other spicy kefta dishes cooking. However, there were kefta kabobs on the grill for another customer that had orded a kefta sandwhich (which isn't cooked in sauce).
                        There were no other orders of the spicy kefta dish but, the point is, I had asked that my kabobs be grilled and, he told me that it would be. However, when my dish came, the kabob wasn't grilled and, when confronted with this 1) he lied and said that they were and then, when i proved him wrong 2) he said they were too busy and thus didn't grill it like he had previously promised to do.
                        An analogy would be something like you walking into a restaurant that grilled and sauteed chicken. You want your chicken in the dish grilled (just like it says on the menu). However, you know that they get lazy and just sautee the chicken most of the time because its much easier that way. So, you ASK that it be grilled, and they tell you yes. Then after finding out that it wasn't grilled, you confront the person who took your order. They lie to you, thinking that you're stupid. Then you prove their lie wrong and they just kinda tell you, "Well, we were too busy to grill it anyway. Just eat it. It tastes the same." I think that anyone would be outraged by this. That is just TERRIBLE customer service.
                        The homeless guy was charged more than what we would have been charged for an order PLUS tax. He kinda just rounded it up to the nearest dollar for the dude. I don't think anyone who realized what he was doing would have appreciate that being done to any of us.

                        1. re: banquisha

                          With respect to charging more for the homeless man, I looked at Sunnin's menu. The only mention of fries is $2 as a side with a sandwich. There is no price for fries alone, but plenty of places charge more for an item as a side than as an ala carte item. None of the appetizers on their menu are less than $3.50, and the diced potatoes are $4.50. So I am not sure where you came up with the price being "$2.7-something"? Was that simply the number that appeared on the register? hrhboo mentioned the possibility of the $3 including sales tax. That is very possible. If the price after tax is $3, the price before sales tax would be $2.77. Some places program their computers with the pre-tax price so that the after-tax amount comes to a round number. Perhaps you misunderstood the charge.

                          1. re: Jwsel

                            Not sure exactly what happened there. Perhaps I did misunderstand the charge. I don't remember where I saw the 2.7 something for the fries. I believe he charged me a total of 2.7 something. Perhaps he should have charged me the full 3? I don't know. Since I won't be going back there, perhaps you could go and investigate. Either way, whether or not the price was right, my service there was horrendously rude.

                      2. The only things I like at Sunnin are the hummus and the cabbage salad. The kabobs are horrible IMHO. I can't believe they are using either quality ingredients or quality cooking techniques.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: omotosando

                          Just had Sunnin tonight thanks to this thread and the two large orders of hummus we had were impeccable as always.

                          1. re: adevejian

                            some of us find them highly peccable (jk)

                        2. Last week, I had a sawdust-dry schwarma plate with soggy salad from Sunin, but I figured that was an anomaly. Maybe it's part of a trend...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mungus

                            maybe they ran your food through their microwave. . . .