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Returning food in ethnic restaurants...

I went to a Chinese restaurant that I've been to a few times and I do like the food served there.

Today, I decided to try their noodles. Not knowing if they were made to my liking, I decided to have DAN DAN noodle, which is a common dish in many Chinese restaurants and I am very familiar with it. I figured there's no way it could taste bad.

I got something that had absolutely no resemblance to others I've had. First off, it's supposed to be spicy, which was mentioned in the menu, it was not. And it's supposed to have a peanut taste, which it also did not.

I told the waitress that this doesn't taste like dandan noodle and she told me that's how they make it and slipped away before I could say another word. This went on for the next few attempts, with me asking for the boss (she wasn't there) and them telling me no one else complained. So I finally got another girl and I was angry and told her this doesn't taste right, I don't care if another customer ordered it and didn't complain, and I wanted it off my order.

The final angry statements were made in English (I think they weren't good at it) so she snatched it away. I was not charged for it.

Was I wrong to complain? Did it have to go to the point where I was pissed off? Do ethnic restaurants not abide by the same idea of customer satisfaction?

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  1. Dan Dan Mien should not taste of peanuts. Sesame paste is traditional. Just because you didn't like it doesn't give you the right to not have to pay for the item. Caveat Emptor.

    3 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        You're right. I've seen another Dunlop recipe that does include the sesame paste but I realize it's not always the case.

        1. re: KTinNYC

          In Dunlop's book, there are two recipes for dan dan noodles. One contains sesame paste, the other does not. I've had dan dan noodles in different places, and they're all different. There's no uniform version. I think the OP should realize that there are variations of a certain dish. Just because this version was not to his or her liking doesn't mean that it exempts him/her from paying.

    1. Authentic Dan Dan does not contain peanuts at all. Look it up on Wikipedia. The version you described as having known is the Americanized, bastardized version of this dish. It should, however, taste spicy, which I'm sure could have been remedied by the kitchen had you allowed that option. I would have paid for the dish and just not ordered that dish again, considering that you had other dishes there that you did enjoy.

      1 Reply
      1. re: diablo

        I normally would have just done that. I was hoping they would give ME the option of returning with more spices.

        I realize that it might not taste exactly the way I expected it to, but I did expect more flavor.
        I forgot to mention that it had mushrooms (which was not stated in the menu).
        I also meant sesame, not peanut. But either way, I did not realize some were not made without those.

        Ultimately, I was upset at their services more than anything. I feel that no matter what happens, you shouldn't just disregard your customers and the things they want to say.

      2. I would venture to say that MOST non-Anglo-European cultures (and thus their ethnic restaurants) DO NOT have the "send it back" customer satisfaction syndrome that seems to be an overwhelming part of the Euro-centric culinary milieu.

        Did you *have* to escalate things to the shouting stage? No. You could simply have paid up and left; with or without a negative comment. Were you "wrong" to complain? Maybe...maybe not. Who are you, foreigner, to rate Chinese or Thai or whatever cuisine? You can't even do it in the appropriate language! You don't have their cultural background, how can you have any means of comparing their food?

        5 Replies
        1. re: KiltedCook

          I am chinese, I was first complaining in Chinese and they pretty much just ignored what I had to say, so I felt the need to express my frustration in English. I never went to a shouting match, but rather me turning very stern in English.

          So ultimately, I've had a LOT of chinese food. This is why I was upset, it didn't taste like other chinese food I ALWAYS eat. I've eaten there often because it's an authentic spicy restaurant that I actually really love.

          1. re: jadeyaya

            I have several questions.

            Is this a restaurant the caters to predominately to a Chinese clientele? If so is it a Sichuanese restaurant or does it make "Pan Chinese" food.

            1. re: jadeyaya

              Fascinating! Why did you switch to English? Was the server fluent in both languages? How did the conversation go in English? How is it that you a Chinese person who speaks Chinese asks a bunch of lo fan about ethnic rather than Chinese restaurants? Is it that the Chinese staff treat other Chinese different (better or worse) than they do others?

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I'm afraid you'll never get your answers. jadeyaya has not posted on this (or any other thread) thread in 3 days. S/he has gone the way of the dodo.

                1. re: KTinNYC

                  Hilarious! Now I'm starting to understand you!

          2. I think you are right to return it. Anytime I have bought a prepared food and it did not meet my expectations I have returned it. Here in Florida I go to a chinese restaurant often that is called JinJin and all of them made the Hot and Sour soup I love until a new JinJin came to my town and I got it thinking that if all the rest were alike and made to how I like it then this place should be prepared and taste the same, but I was really disappointed and returned it and asked if they were associated with all the other JinJins and they said yes, but make the food here in their own way. Bottom line is that I don't want to pay for what is not enjoyable to me. That's why I like mall restaurants that give out samples or Sam's club at end of isles so I know what it tastes like before I buy.

            1. I am thinking you are *really* asking a different question than the topic/subject you stated.

              It sounds like you are asking should you have been treat like this at this restaurant but instead you asked if ALL ethinic restaurants abide ( or not) by some treatment standard you seem to think non-ethnic restaurants somehow do abide by in customer satisfaction. And since this is an international site, we will not even attempt to have you define what you meant by ethnic.

              It did not taste as you expected it to taste, was it bad, wrong or wrongly prepared?
              I think since you stated quite clearly "Not knowing if they were made to my liking, I decided to have DAN DAN noodle, " You tried, they didn't, not your fault, not theirs. Don't order again. Simple. That is what a foodie does, they try; they explore they get some hits, they get some misses.
              Escalating the issue of the dish being different than what you expected in your limited experience to a angry statement debacle was something only you can take credit for. I think you behaved badly.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Quine

                it does cater predominately to Chinese clients. It is a sichuan restaurant. It mostly prepares spicy food.

                The issue has changed now. What I was sort of getting at in the beginning was that in the US, most restaurants will be fine with a client asking for replacement food when it's not prepared to taste, ie. too salty, too well done, etc. QUESTION: is it not customary to ask for the same in an ethnic restaurant IN the US?

                But I am now more interested in the question of - if you don't like something, should you just take it as it is and not complain, make a fuss, and go with the flow?

                1. re: jadeyaya

                  You can't return food just because you don't like it, in my opinion.

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/385576

                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    Agreed. There's a difference between "they screwed this up" and "i don't like how they make it", IMO.The former is their fault, the latter is my fault.