So, if any of you are familiar with Pittsburgh, I work at an ad agency in the Strip District. To anyone NOT familiar with Pittsburgh, the "Strip District" sounds a little suspect. It's kind of like a giant farmer's market every weekend, plus lots of great little restaurants and cafes up and down the streets. I've gained like 15 lbs during the year I've worked here from stuffing my face full of yummy Strip District food for lunch.
This is about one of those restaurants: a Vietnamese joint called My Ngoc. The pho is pretty good and green curry is AWESOME and both are the only reasons we kept returning, if anyone wonders why we just kept going back like a bunch of fools.
When we first started going, there was one waitress and she was surly as all hell. But she was great, in that surly, no-nonsense kind of way. She'd just wave at the tables when you came in (seat yourself!), saunter over to our booth and just lean on the wall staring at us (what would you like to order?) and always made our curry burn-your-face-off hot. It was like eating Napalm. We loved it. (My coworker once wanted a Tums sandwich the next day because his stomach was still on fire.) We never once had any issues with her, and we went like twice a week and had a regular booth where we sat.
BUT THEN! DUN DUN! We showed up and there was a new waiter, with no sign of surly lady. He nodded and said "Yeah..." and waved at the tables. We knew something was up when we went over to our booth, I sat my purse and jacket down on the seat and started to sit down, and the guy put menus on the table next to us and filled up the water glasses. Josh and I looked at each other and went "....ok" and sat down at the table instead. And thus it begins.
[To preface this, the guy spoke little English. I think his vocabulary consisted of "ok," "yeah," "this," "water," "very good" and "check." He called limes "lemon." He did seem to understand more than he spoke, though.]
- He did the table switcheroo every time we attempted to sit at our booth. We eventually gave up.
- Every time we ordered pho, he would demonstrate how we were to add the bean sprouts, "lemon" and Sriracha and hoisin. Every. Time. Remember, we went in at least twice a week, and the place was never anywhere near busy. (Plus, I'm a 6'1 tall girl with jet black hair [my icon is a couple years old when it was a lighter dark brown], people remember me even when I went into their establishment only once and that was months before.)
These two things, though, we thought were kind of cute and funny for a while. Until it got worse.
- During one of his pho accoutrement demonstrations, dude actually picked up the hoisin bottle and SQUIRTED IT INTO MY COWORKER'S BOWL WHAT. This particular coworker was not a fan of hoisin sauce to begin with.
- Another time, another coworker ordered pho, but dude didn't bring out his plate of sprouts-n-lime. We flagged him over, and attempted to explain that it was missing. We said "bean sprouts", I even said "lemon" since that's what he called the lime, and we made several motions of putting things into the soup. My coworker eventually said "vegetables" since he might get that. Dude said "Ok, yeah..." and wandered into the kitchen. I looked at my coworker and said, "You're totally getting a plate of steamed broccoli, I know it." Sure enough, dude brought out a plate of steamed broccoli and bell peppers. We looked at the plate and were all "wait...no." He finally went back into the kitchen and brought out the English-speaking cook, and we got it sorted out.
- Once, he decided to go through and tell us about every item in the menu. Every item. If you remember his vocab from above, this consisted of him pointing at each item and saying, "This... yeah." OVER AND OVER AGAIN. FOR EVERY ITEM. SIX PAGE MENU.
- We would tell him "hot" or "7/8" for our curry spiciness, but the heat in the dish would barely register. We quickly figured out that it didn't matter what we said, it always came the same. (Surly waitress would ask for and comply to our spicy requests.)
What finally made us stop going: When we went to pay our check and head out, apparently the credit card machine stopped working. It would just beep at the guy every time he swiped the card, but he insisted on swiping it over and over again, making my coworker worried about multiple charges showing up on his card. Dude finally looks at my coworker, slams his card down and angrily yells "NO MONEY!" while tapping on the card. Coworker is like "no, no, look, it says 'CARD READ ERROR. CALL SUPPORT.', you need to call them." Dude picks up his cellphone and dials tech support, THEN HANDS THE PHONE TO COWORKER. Tech support starts trying to troubleshoot the machine, my coworker says "I don't work here, I'm just here for lunch, I have no idea what I'm doing." Tech support asks for an employee, so my coworker hands him back the phone, tosses cash at him, and leaves. We were LIVID. We swore the place off after that.
Extra bonus suck!: Last week, a friend wants to meet my boyfriend and I there for dinner before we all go out, and My Ngoc is like a block away from the bar we're going to. I am like OK WHAT NO, but after a bit of convincing, we all head over. I figure, well, it's dinner time? Maybe there'll be a different waiter? But, no. Same dude. And he even pulls the booth/table switcheroo on us once more for old time's sake.
I go to order, and ask for the green curry with shrimp (this is important, I don't eat red meat or poultry. I HATE the texture of most meats.) He looks at me like I've ordered a Big Mac with extra large fries. I repeat, Green Curry With Shrimp. He continues to look at me like I'm asking for roasted paper bags with a light motor oil sauce, like I've not ordered this same thing twice a week for the three months prior. He finally comes back with a menu, and I point at the green curry, and say "with shrimp" about nine times. No exaggeration. Several times. The light bulb goes on over his head and he goes "Ok ok ok" and heads to the kitchen.
Everything seems to be going okay while we munch on our summer rolls, and then our food comes out. Green curry with chicken is placed in front of me. Wuh oh.
I look up and say "Oh no! I ordered shrimp!"
Dude looks at me and says "No, chicken."
I say, "No no, I ordered shrimp, *sad face*."
He taps the table next to my plate and says "Chicken" and nods rather forcefully at me.
I say, more sternly, "No. I ordered shrimp." He stares at me. Finally, he huffs and grabs my plate. A few minutes later I get my shrimp curry.
I look at my friend and boyfriend, and they both say "Yeah, we heard you say 'shrimp' several times when you ordered." They laugh and I try not to headdesk into my curry.
So yeah, lol, not going back there.
tl;dr: I give a lot of allowances for the language barrier, but this guy is just a douche.