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Nov 19, 2010 05:15 PM

A small rant...

I need to know if I am unreasonable or justified. We decided to try a new Thai restaurant on East 77 and 1st ave. It is not brand new because I understand about getting settled in. It has been open about 5 months. The appetizers came out at different times, but we were sharing so that was fine. Then my dining partner was served his entree and I was served nothing! I waited...and waited...and after about 5 minutes I said to start eating because it was getting cold. After 15 minutes of watching my partner eat, I quietly told the waiter to cancel my entree. The waiter was polite but very shocked. I will never go back there. To me that is one of my top no-nos regarding service at a restaurant. You always serve everyone at the table together. Any thoughts? Am I unreasonable about never returning because of this practice, or do you all feel the same way about this?

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  1. Seems that the waiter screwed up.
    Probably forgot to put in your order.
    Did you ask for the manager / owner?

    1. I believe it's a Western practice to serve everyone together. Then again, it's definitely a Western practice to have individual entrees. I'm in Hong Kong right now and it's not uncommon to have a table full of dishes, some of which get cold and arriving in no particularly sensible order. Since you were at a Thai restaurant, it's not something that surprises me in this regard.

      By the way you acted (at the restaurant, not this thread), you have had absolutely no experience with this not uncommon practice elsewhere in the world. Usually if you've been waiting longer than expected (10 minutes perhaps) you should check up with the waiter (maybe they forgot your order), instead of waiting 15 minutes then cancelling your entree.

      As far as service in general, I believe people do not set their expectations correctly with the place they are going as often as they should.

      6 Replies
      1. re: fooder

        I agree. It would have been expected for you to share every dish, or most of them, anyway.

        1. re: Pan

          that's not necessarily the case in many restaurants. if the waiter first asked HiM what she wanted and then asked her partner what he wanted, it should be assumed that they're each ordering separate entrees. it should then be expected that they'd want their entrees served at the same time.

          1. re: coasts

            I haven't noticed similar assumptions in Chinese restaurants, regardless of who ordered what. For the most part, it's the norm in Chinese, Thai, Malaysian (etc.) restaurants to share most of what is ordered in restaurants. One exception would be plates on rice or small bowls of soup or congee, sometimes. Do you disagree?

            1. re: Pan

              i'll say this as an American that eats in a lot of asian restaurants...when ordering, if I say "I'll have the...and she'll have the..." the waiter should understand that we're each ordering our separate meals. if I say "we'll have the...and the...", the waiter should understand that we're sharing. unfortunately, Ms. Coasts and I struggle to share many dishes, as she prefers seafood and i won't eat it.

              some places, Fatty Crab for one, will say that they serve family style and that entrees will be served when ready.

              1. re: coasts

                we'll versus I'll & she'll? bah! I think that is estimating someone's understanding of both etiquette and english highly. I come for the food, not the english. ymmv.

            2. re: coasts

              That is the way it has been in every restaurant I've ever eaten in.

              They do sometime have a "family style" option, but you ask for it - and most of the time that I have seen that used (such as for office outings) they STILL bring all the dishes out pretty much at the same time (in waves as fast as the waiter can carry them out, usually with the help of other waiters they come out pretty much all together).

        2. yawn. you do what you like. but it was poor service because the waiter did not tell you/your partner to eat. that should have been noticed within five minutes.
          I agree that many place expect you to eat when food is done. A very nice place in Vermont puts that on the menu -- food is served when food comes off the wok, not "all together."

          1. I think in that situation I'd assume that it's the practice of the place to serve everything as it comes out, as will often happen at restaurants serving small plates, also, since it's assumed that things are being shared. In fact, at restaurants where things are shared, I've seen people complain about too many things coming out together.

            I think you had a learning experience and would know to communicate that you are ordering separate entrees and would like them to come out together in the future, but, apologies, if you want my honest opinion I think you were entirely out of line in cancelling your entree, and I think it speaks awfully well of the place that they apparently didn't give you any trouble about it. I hope you didn't let your feelings reflect the tip you left....

            I am, however, assuming that you had utensils and a plate and so could have shared your dining partner's entree. If not, totally different story.

            1. you're being unreasonable.

              thai food is served to be eaten family style no matter who orders what. in thailand, most restaurants only have 1 or 2 woks and food comes out as it is cooked. also, the starters and mains are not necessarily served in that order. if you don't want to eat family style or separately, i would recommend not going to thai restaurants. alternatively, you could find an americanized version of a thai restaurant that serve food western style.