Finally, Thai with a side of compassion

Finally, Thai with a side of compassion

As if our encounter with Restaurant #1’s amnesia wasn’t enough, we were made to feel like ants and subsequently left Restaurant #2, ravenously hungry and upset. The only thing left to do was to drive down the road to another Thai food joint we knew of.

This is a small restaurant where we’d eaten twice before. It could’ve been sheer coincidence but both times, the spiciness level of their food proved a little too much for our Americanized stomachs unaccustomed to that kind of heat.

Still, we decided to give Restaurant #3 a second chance. Boy, are we glad we did! The food tastes as good, if not better, than Restaurant #2 especially their pad thai and red curry. And that little egg roll is so good we fight for it and hate to share ๐Ÿ˜‹.

Finally, Thai with a side of compassion

I asked our server (SIL of the owners/chefs) about their Thai coffee, thinking it’d nice to have a cup of hot coffee on a blistery winter’s day. But she said the coffee is served cold. So I joked that I’m too cold right now to be drinking iced coffee ๐Ÿ˜ข. And guess what? She came back with this pot of hot tea, smiled and said, it’s on the house!

Finally, Thai with a side of compassion

Halleluia, doesn’t this kind of customer service just bowl you over?! like whoooosh?! In fact, this is more than customer service, it’s compassion as well. You’re cold and this nice lady brings you a pot of hot tea to warm you up. Was she Mother Teresa in her previous life or what?!

Compare this to another Thai restaurant across the globe that we used to patronize – again because of their convenient location. Their food is not cheap, neither is it the most tasty but it’s where we used to go for a quick fix of Thai food. Here, you can’t specify your preferred heat level. You just have to settle for whatever they serve you, and their super spiciness sets your tongue and throat on fire.

But here’s the thing, they do not serve water!! Their staff can clearly see you sweating and tearing but no one is going to offer you a drink of water. They expect you to order their ripoff drinks which are teeny tiny servings at sky-high prices. That is something I absolutely refused to do!

Instead, I would grab the kids and dash down to the McD’s at the other end of the mall to douse the fire with our fill of soda. So yeah, you can’t make a customer order your drinks if they don’t want to. And yes, we stopped eating there years ago. Now I will go back to Restaurant #3 any time for Thai food that comes with amazing service and a welcome side of compassion. That’s how much I value good service.

Look, we shrunk the customers!

Look, we shrunk the customers!

Resuming our quest for decent Thai food after encountering servers with amnesia at this place and booting it off our Picky Eater List, we found a new place that serves food that’s a little too sweet but decent. We started eating there whenever we craved hot, spicy Thai food.

Look, we shrunk the customers!

One day, we got there for a late (for us) lunch. The place was packed and we were starving. The server seated us, gave us the menu and never got back to us. Oh, the servers were there, buzzing around the tables nearby but no one looked in our direction in spite of our waving.

Imagine us in the movie Honey, I shrunk the kids. Yup, we might as well have been those ant-sized kids jumping up and down, waving our hands frantically. To no avail. We were completely ignored. So we did the only thing left to do. We got up and walked out … and haven’t returned since.

For a while, this place was on our Picky Eater List. But only for a little while. Oops, there goes another one! Staying on the list is definitely wa-ay harder than getting booted off, eh! No regrets, we can always take our business elsewhere. There’s bound to be a good restaurant somewhere who values their business and repeat customers.

And we did find one. Coming to a post near you!

Of loyalty and amnesia

Of loyalty and amnesia

It’s no secret that any spicy food will get the go-go-go from me and my tastebuds. Recently, we were on the lookout for a great Thai restaurant to add to our Picker Eater List. When we found this place, we were rearing to go try it out. It’s a pretty popular place, the food is good but on the pricey side.

Of loyalty and amnesia

We liked it and ate there twice. That’s when I noticed one of the servers (aka the owner) looked familiar. Indeed I used to patronize his old restaurant every other weekend during my college days. As we waited for our food, I was half expecting some sign of recognition on his part. Maybe a hi, fancy seeing you again after all these years, or something like that. Nothing! despite the fact that I caught him casting side glances in our direction a few times. Clearly he recognized me but was trying to avoid eye contact.

No surprise though. There’s a Vietnamese restaurant we used to patronize very often for over 10 years while the kids were growing up. Yet each time we walked in, the same few servers would treat us like they were seeing us for the first time. They didn’t recognize us (really?), they kept messing up our orders, they couldn’t remember our preferences, and we had to keep repeating every single time. Yup, servers with amnesia!

Hmm, come to think of it, I only recall learning in business school that you should value your repeat customers like gold. I don’t recall ever learning that you should treat your repeat customers like crap and your new customers like kings. Someone should definitely rewrite those business books ‘cos here comes a weird new way of doing business!!!

Needless to say, we kicked that Vietnamese restaurant out of our Picky Eater List a long time ago. All those years, I only patronized it because it was conveniently nearby. And this Thai restaurant didn’t make it into our list either. If you “can’t recognize” a loyal customer, then it’s only fair for them to take their business somewhere else, don’tย  ya think?โœŒ

The making of the homebody

There was a time when the kids’ hectic school life revolved around weekdays and we looked forward to weekends when we would crawl the malls endlessly in search of good food and good finds. These days, we’re prone to staying home on the weekends except for the occasional trip out to shop for necessities like groceries.

The malls seem to have lost their luster. Somehow the crowds seem different – more rude, more impatient, prices and traffic crazier than before, and language seems to be becoming more of a problem. I seem to be repeating myself more, grading my language more, and having to switch to languages other than English in order to be understood.

Then too, the malls used to be a welcoming refuge from the heat outside. Now it’s more like from the frying pan into the fire. The air-conditioning in the malls is barely there and strange as it may sound, I’m thankful for the flyers they give out (I used to loath them) that I now use to fan myself with. Looks like progress is all around.

This weekend, we’re staying home – again! There’s nowhere to go and nothing to eat, chorus the homebodies.


Not about the noodles

Not about the noodles

This may sound strange to you but I’ve never had ramen before, the restaurant version, that is. I don’t believe in ordering something that can easily be made at home, you know, like bacon and eggs, or fried rice, or ramen. But this post isn’t about the noodles. Far from it. Read on…

So it was a cool winter’s afternoon earlier this year that our search for takoyaki led us to a little restaurant in Japantown, San Francisco with glass walls that overlook the street outside. Cute, cozy and lots of natural light.


Our server, a young woman with short hair and checkered shirt, took our order of takoyaki and a bowl of ramen. The takoyaki was pretty good, loved the shavings but didn’t quite care for the mayo… that’s just me ๐Ÿ˜!


As promised, our ramen came steaming hot with a thick home-brewed pork soup base which tasted much too strong for me though I have to say, thick soup is definitely better than watered down. The serving left us still hungry but we didn’t order more. To be fair, three of us were sharing 2 orders so ya, we deserved to go hungry ๐Ÿ˜.

Anyhoo, enough about the noodles. It’s our server that I mean to talk about today. Well, since we were done eating in a snap and sat around for a bit afterwards, I had a chance to observe her. What struck me most about this place was the complete lack of staff. In fact, this young lady was the only person working the 10 to 12 tables. As customers walked in, she would show them to their table, take their orders (without even writing them down or punching into a machine), relay their orders to the kitchen, serve each table, take phone calls, bill the customers, clear tables and even found the time to look in on each table with the usual “how’s everything?” Yup, that sure is enough to overwhelm anyone!!

True, I’ve seen a few others like her,ย incredibly organized and cool as a cat, but I’ve also eaten at places where ten people can’t do half what she was doing. Remember, this is just one person working! You would imagine her rushing around like a headless chicken, confusing orders, forgetting stuff, keeping people waiting… But no, nothing like that at all. She was such a joy to watch – almost like a well-oiled piece of machinery waltzing to classical music playing in the background. Imagine her in any number of places where you’ve ever torn out your hair and hurled flowery language inside your head while being served. For that alone, I think she’s amazing. I’m not someone who is easily impressed but here, I definitely am. Very impressed.

The best in a long time

The best in a long time

Yesterday I was throwing up my arms in frustration over getting nowhere with clueless and incompetent staffers. I did mention, however, there was one (and sadly only one) shining example of great customer service that I’ve encountered here in a long time. Good customer service is hard to come by so this is worth raving about.


I called the company’s hotline and was put through to Person #1, then Person #2, then Person #3 and I had to repeat my story 3 times. Sound familiar?

Turned out 3 was the magic number. Quite honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. The number of times I’ve been given the runaround, I’ve learned not to expect too much. But I was in for a surprise this time. For a start, Person #3 was asking the right questions and making sense. That’s got to be a good sign, right?

At first, he said it couldn’t be done. They’d never had anyone ask for this before. But I told him technically it can be done and that he should go ask Department X. Well, basically I explained to him how it would work. Oftentimes, I find it speeds up the process if I suggest possible solutions and get them to check it out rather than to wait for them to figure it out. It kinda reminds me of the days when my staff would come to me and say, okay, I’ve done this and that but it doesn’t work, and I tell them, but have you tried this, this and this, now go and don’t come back till you figure it out. Sometimes staff just need their butts kicked, gently, of course.

He said he wasn’t sure (it takes a great person to admit they don’t know) but he promised to look into my problem (and an even greater person to go look for answers instead of making up a whole load of bs which is quite the trend these days). He said he would call back. I half-believed him. I’ve been lied to too many times. I asked for his name in anticipation of having to track him down like I’ve done with all those people who promised to call back but never did.

My phone rang within an hour. That was quick. I had 3 missed calls. I was in a basement parking lot where the reception was poor. Point is when he couldn’t get me the first time, he kept trying. Most people give up after the first try as if they expect me to drop everything and sit there all day waiting for their call.

He had checked with Department X and it would take a couple of days for them to do what I suggested. Wow, I’m impressed! He promised to call me back and I believed him. He did call a few days later to get me to test the fix. He said he would give me some time to test it and he would call me back in the evening.

And he did! And the fix worked like a charm! And my problem was solved!

See, THIS is what I call customer service. He did everything right. I never met the guy but he’s one darned good customer service rep, the best I’ve seen in a long time. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. So I’m writing an email to his company to commend him on a job well done. How’s that for a happy ending?

Getting nowhere

Getting nowhere

Man, where has the week gone? These non-stop days show no signs of easing up. I drag myself out of bed at the unearthly hour of 6:00am. This is wa-ay too early to be up on cool mornings like we’re having now. But get up, I must.

Sometimes I feel like I’m running a marathon. Time to put on my running shoes and I’m off with Tonto HipebDaughter1 by my side attacking that endless to-do list with a vengeance. Errands, errands, errands. There’s never a shortage of clowns to deal with wherever we go. Good thing there’s always something to laugh about, not right there but later. Case in point, true story:

Me: My daughter wants to open a savings account please.

Staff hands me a change of address form.

Me (puzzled): This is not the right form.

Staff (looks at form): Oh. (hands me a housing loan form).

Me (puzzled and p*ssed): Er, wrong form.

Staff (impatient): You want to apply for a credit card?

Me (losing patience): No!!

Staff (completely clueless by now): Oh, internet banking, right?

Me (totally losing patience): No!!! I just want to open a savings account (for crying out loud!!)



Really? Which part of savings account do you not understand??!! At this point, I’m ready to yank her out of her seat and take over her spot as bank officer at a major bank!

It’s people like her that make my day so much more fun ๐Ÿ™„ . There’s lots more everyday scenarios like this and I’m sure everyone’s had their fair share of dealing with clueless and/or incompetent staffers, just that they’re probably too wimpy nice to talk about it. To be fair, not everyone is clueless and/or incompetent. In these past few months of running around like a crazy woman, I’ve met one customer service staffer who actually knew his job, followed up as promised and went out of his way to help.

So yeah, I look at my watch and an errand that should take no more than a half hour can sometimes take triple the time to accomplish. Is it a wonder I’m getting nowhere with my to-do list? *sigh*

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