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Has your spouse/dining companion appropriated your go-to favorites when making menu selections?

We have a local (S. California) thai restaurant that does a stellar job preparing pad see ew, and for many years that item was my go-to selection a good 90% of the time when dining there. My wife would order whatever suits her mood at the time, generally pleased. There would be a modest-to-moderate amount of sharing from both our respective entrees, but I am usually much more interested in my own selection than in hers. Which is to say, I tend to clean my plate, whereas the wife often brings her selection left-overs home for lunch the next day. All is well...

Then about a year ago, my wife decided that as her fondness the pad see ew blossomed, her preference for other choices on the menu diminished. To the point, that she wanted to start ordering the pad see ew for herself as her own entree selection (and is more than willing to share it with me). Of course, she still likes to reserve a good half of her entree to bring home as left-overs. Which creates one of a number of conundrums for me: knowing that she now likes to indulge in the pad see ew more (while at the restaurant - it is, after all, her own selection now) and also knowing that she likes her left-overs to come home with her, I am more than a little reticent in helping myself to 'her' pad see ew. So I don't. Or I'll only take a tablespoon full. I'll just focus on my own new entree, which brings me to the second conundrum.

I would find it ridiculous to order pad see ew as my own entree now, since my wife now orders it 90% of the time for herself. Telling the server that we'll have two orders of the same dish and then to proceed to both eat the same item (on a menu with dozens of options) is just not gonna happen. So instead, I've relinquished the pad see ew to the wife, and I order something else that will likely be tasty, but not my first choice by a long chalk. The wife realizes that she has pulled this fairly benign ordering switcheroo, and has verbalized feeling mildly bad about it, But it doesn't deter her from continuing to order it as her entree (instead, she'll earnestly insist that I have more of her entree). But I won't, for the reasons stated above.

So, has this happened to you? Is your go-to fave now in the hands of your frequent dining companion? Do you feel somewhat childishly resentful (as I sometimes do, I admit) for this turn of events, or am I the only greedy monster in monsterland? Let me state that this really ain't that big a deal - I'll survive just fine without my beloved pad see ew distending my tummy. And I love my wife more than any menu item (that I can think of ;-). Just wondered if others have had similar issues arise, seemingly from nowhere. I suppose a related question would be: is there a dish that you would still order a second entree of (under like circumstances), because you love it so much?

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  1. I'm evidently missing something here - what is wrong with 2 people ordering and eating the same dish?

    8 Replies
    1. re: Peg

      Because you can't share if you both order the same dish. I think that they should each order an individual dish and also the pad see ew to share. More left overs.

      1. re: viperlush

        And this *is* a great solution, So simple. But I am thinking that the OP might not want to order 3 dishes fro 2 people and besides seems to be an underlying power struggle going on.

        1. re: Quine

          "... besides seems to be an underlying power struggle going on.".


          Nice try, Dr. Phil. Only ongoing power struggle is between my waist and the buttons of my jeans ;-). Like I said in the OP, I loves me my wife more than broad rice noodles seared in porky goodness. Though the green papaya salad with raw crab is a dead-even heat...

        2. re: Peg

          Hi Peg (always wanted to say that - don't know why)... I think if a restaurant has a 'signature dish' that draws folks far and wide because it is so special, then certainly double ordering may be in order. Or if we are at Le Petit Chaise in Paris and we both crave their rabbit with lardon, then by all means let's get two (who knows when we'll be back)... But I vivdly recall a table of my friends dining at an old school chinese restaurant decades ago, all ordering iterations of the same basic meal: shrimp fried rice, bbq pork fried rice, pineapple fried rice, and 'vegetarian' fried rice. It (rightly) gave the restaurant staff the perception that we had all fallen off the same turnip truck and come in for a bite of 'exotic' lunch fare. Never again, since...

            1. re: Peg

              I agree, If you both like it, get it, life is too short. Since I most often eat out with my Mom, and she and I both like to experiment, we do share and ordered different. Many times there is more than pne item that interests us both, so it's easy, but it is also no problem to order the same.

              1. re: Peg

                I think it's fine, but husband does not. I often tease him and say "lets see if the waitress will say no!"

                Husband thinks it's a problem because he usually wants to eat mine AND his (mine first!), but I'll try a lot of things he wont, so he is often at a disadvantage. As for saving face, he sees no shame in ordering filet mignon WELL DONE!!!

              2. My husband and I try to order different entrees so we can each have some of the other. But the place we go most often does a great duck confit salad as a first course so we both order and enjoy our own. Marriage doesn't have to mean joined at the hip AND lip, so order another pad see ew, eat some and take the rest home for lunch for both of you.

                1 Reply
                1. re: escondido123

                  Hi... You are correct, I think that thai food is so very reasonably priced (and hugely portioned), that if I really want more of the same dish, i should order a second batch to go...

                2. I never knew there were rules such as this.

                  We are married and order what each of us wants and then we might share. But my medium rare steak is mine, he can order his own.

                  1. Yes, this has happened to me, and often. Mr. MM has a fine palate, but has trouble interpreting menus and figuring out what a restaurant is likely to do best. He often ends up co-opting my favorite dishes. We both feel ridiculous ordering the same thing, but sometimes we just do it anyway. But we also have a few other options. Oh, and like your wife, I have to pack a lunch to work, so I love to have some leftovers.

                    So here's what you could do:

                    1. Just both order the same thing. Boring, yup. But you both eat what you want.

                    2. Like Escondido suggested, order three entrees, with two being your joint fave.

                    3. Order extra starters. Mr. MM and I did this just the other night, when we both settled on the same dish. Instead of ordering two, we split one, but ordered two starters (both shared), one of which was very substantial. Downside, we ate everything. No lunch for me.

                    4. Would your wife consider another dish acceptable for her leftovers? If so, you order your fave dish and a mutually agreed upon second choice, and you split the fave and eat it all, plus half of the second choice, and she takes the other half of dish two for lunch. Personally, I'm a lot less particular about what I have for lunch at work, than what I order in a restaurant.

                    Really, if you have the financial means, and the restaurant is reasonable, just plan your meal so you both get enough of whatever you want, and leave happy, and have enough left over for lunch if you want leftovers. And if you order more than you do now, let's see - the restaurant sells more food, so good for them. You do want to support this place, right? The server gets a larger tip, because you have a larger check. Good for the server, right? You both have a satisfying meal out, tasting everything you want to taste, and a lunch or two to boot. Good for you, right? Win, win, win.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: MelMM

                      Hi there MeIMM... Thank you for the fun post and helpful suggestions, some of which I shall implement. As for the wife ordering a 'second favorite dish' to-go as left-overs, I failed to originally mention that she already does this; in addition to half of her left-over pad see-ew entree, she'll also order an entree from the specials list which nearly never changes. That, she will stretch into 3 more lunches at work. And you are right, the restaurant benefits as well, which I am glad for in this economy.... Sometimes it takes the requested perspective of others to recognize that my 'problems' are not very problematic :-). Thanks again...

                      1. re: silence9

                        Sounds like your wife is one smart lady. My suggestion is to just bow your head, and say "honey you win. The pad see ew is now your dish". And just pray that she takes pity on you and shares.

                        1. re: silence9

                          I, too, hate ordering the same thing as my wife. In fact, half the fun of actually having a wife is in being able to share each others entree. Feigning being a gentleman, I always have her order first while I cross my fingers under the table in the hope she will order one of the two selections I have mentally narrowed myself down to. That way I get to eat what I want while also getting to eat what I want. If she is also lucky my choice may have been on her short list as well. In your situation, knowing that she will take out a "special", I think it's fair for you to throw your reticence to eating more than a few tastes of her pad see-aw to the wind and go for it. Step it up a notch. Is she questions your over indulgence then add another pad see to your exponentially expanding tab. You'll show her, even if you have to go broke doing so :)

                      2. In a word, NO. We normally talk over the dishes, and then order appropriately.

                        The only issue is bi-valves, which my wife cannot tolerate in any quantity. Otherwise, we have no issues. We order, and we share (discretely), and that has worked well.

                        Often, I will go beef, and she will go fish, or pork, and then we offer the other good tastes of the dishes. This has worked for all courses, and even wines.


                        1. Oh the drama we have when it comes to ordering in a restaurant!

                          Mr. CB cannot make his selection until everyone at the table decides first. He can't explain why but he absolutely positively cannot say "I will have the fish" until everyone else has placed their order. Our closest friends (and dining companions on a regular basis) tease him that one day they will sit mute, forcing him to order first.

                          I am the wife in silence9's example. I order what I want without any thought to his choice. (in our marriage, this is out of necessity, otherwise we would be "deciding" all night) There are times we will discuss the menu and intentionally order different dishes for the joy of sharing but if we are at a restaurant where I have a favorite, I order that favorite and don't worry about his choice.

                          Mr. CB, on the other hand would never order the same entree. I don't know why he feels like this and neither does he. I think he feels like he might be missing out on something "better" if we stick to the same choice. If we have a shared favorite, he will order his favorrity meal to go and select a different entree.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: cleobeach

                            I am often the last one to order, but it is less about indecision (or so I tell it), and more about listening to my guests, and trying to pick a wine (or wines) for them, and then order something that will go with the wines. I often find myself choosing a main, based first on the wines, but am seldom disappointed. If I really want something, that will not work for the table, then I look to either B-T-G, or half-bottles, for my "odd-man-out" dish.

                            My wife and I seldom order the same mains, but then we have slightly different tastes. However, we do share tastes, so all is good there.

                            About the only time that my wife and I end up with the same dishes, will be when a chef's tasting has no latitude, and the entire table must order the same thing. Even then, where possible, we'll do different wine pairings.


                          2. I am going to do something on here that I never do put of politeness and say...

                            This is NUTS! How is this even a question that you could put this much thought into for a local restaurant?

                            When I am in a restaurant I order what I want to eat. I could care less if I am the only one at the table with the dish or if everyone orders that same whether it be with just my husband or a group of friends.

                            When we are out of town we talk about who is ordering what in case we are both looking at some of the same things and we might agree to get separate dishes and share each but for everyday local fare especially I can't understand.

                            When i am in a restaurant I am there to eat. If the servers want to analyze my/our food choices then let them as long as they don't say anything.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Allice98

                              I agree and I wonder if anyone has read Dan Ariley's excellent book Predictably Irrational
                              where he conducts an experiment on ordering out loud or in secret in a bar.
                              This is in chapter 13 Beer & Free lunches.


                            2. I generally order what I'm in the mood for. If that means I don't get to try one bite of a different meal, I can live with that.

                              The idea of wondering what the server is going to think of my choices has never crossed my mind, to be honest.

                              1. This hasn't happened to us (yet!). At our favorite Thai place, we'll usually each get a say in the 2 dishes we order. Sometimes I pick both, sometimes he picks both, or sometimes we'll each pick one and only have a bite or two of the other. Typically, we'll devour the two dishes 50/50. I have been known to order a 3rd dish, if the husband wants his own starter and main and neither sounds good to me.

                                At other restaurants, when we choose our own entree, I'll usually defer to his choice of appetizers or sides - often telling him which ones are most appealing and having him choose out of that short list. Or if there's something he MUST have, then I'll just pick my own.

                                btw, what Thai place in S. Cal has your favorite pad see ew?

                                On another separate note - the title of your post made me think you were having a similar issue of some friends of ours where the wife REGULATES the husband's order so she not only has the meal of her choosing but also sways his order so she can have some of his dish. It's happened every time we've dined for them over the course of many, many years. Now THAT, IMO, is a real problem. ;)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: The Oracle

                                  Hi... Well, since you've asked: my absolute favorite Pad See Ew in Los Angeles comes from Sapp Coffee Shop smack dab in the heart of Thai Town. The wok or whatever they use to sear the noodles/chinese brocoli/pork really imbues the dish with a smokey funk. They do a seminal version of 'boat noodles' too. But the version that I've referenced above comes from a less hardcore Thai joint in Granada Hills (The Valley) called Rincome Thai. It is less than a mile from home, and hence my fondness. Thank you for inquiring...

                                  1. re: nofunlatte

                                    I'm pretty sure that applies to 99% of the posts on this board.

                                  2. My problem is double or triple that since we also have two kids who order before I do, so I am last to order. We try to order four different dishes, and we share - up to a point. Yeah, it's a sacrifice.

                                    1. My rule tends to be if you're at a new place, don't double up - try as many new dishes as you can. However if the restaurant is a local favourite and I'm going there because I'm craving a particular dish, then it doesn't matter what everyone else is ordering. In fact, when I lived in NZ my best friend and I would go to our favourite Thai place approx once a month. We'd both get money bags and macadamia chicken. Every. Single. Time. The only thing we'd argue about is which leftovers container had more in it at lunch the next day.

                                      1. This really makes no sense to me. Is there anything in your marriage contract that says that you must order two separate dishes each time you go out to eat and that your wife automatically gets first dibs on ordering? Order what you want to eat and you won't be disappointed. Or if you miss sharing, tell your wife that you should switch off on who orders the pad see ew to be fair.

                                        1. I think you need to decide if you're ordering separately, or meals to share. If you're ordering to share, then you decide, together, the set of dishes you're ordering and then share them equally. If you're ordering separately, then each order what you want, and get the same thing if you both really like it.

                                          I suspect the issue is that both you and your wife like the signature dish enough that you want to eat more of it than you would get from sharing off the other person's plate. And those wants are equal - you don't have greater claim to ordering a dish because you liked it first.

                                          1. I'm in the order what you want camp.

                                            One reason why I love to eat out is I don't have to compromise. At home, I prepare meals and the menu is planned around my picky husband's palate...no fish, no asparagus, no broccoli, no curry, not too spicy, not too much garlic, etc.

                                            So when we go out, I am reluctant (and vocal) about not sharing because I want what I want. Non-picky eaters are often pressured to compromise and it sucks (when it comes to sharing or group meals).

                                            Lunches and eating out are my culinary joys.