Ten Ho Chi Minh City restaurant habits that get under our skin. Please disappear this year
words & photo: MATTHEW COWAN
Handing out khan lanh
They not only get tacked onto our bill but khan lanh are also an example of how wasteful the F&B industry can be. They are one-use wet wipes with plastic wrappers that end up God knows where — usually in the ocean. Just don’t provide them.
Doing nothing about it when the food is crap
If restauranteurs train their staff to ask customers how the food was, bloody well teach them how to respond to negative feedback. A feeble, “So sorry to hear that” isn’t good enough. Offer something in return so they don’t bitch about it on Facebook or Tripadvisor. They might even come back.
Reaching across diners at the table
It’s the height of rudeness to reach across in front of customers, especially when they’re conversing with each other. Go around to their right and wait. After all you’re a waiter, so do it. You’re on notice.
Charging for water
About 60% of us is water. We need it to live. If we can’t live, we can’t eat your food. If we don’t eat your food, your restaurant fails.
Soiling the good name of Dalat
Just because it’s from Dalat (supposedly), doesn’t mean it’s organic. If it is indeed organic, prove it. Otherwise just call it salad.
Scrimping on the basil on pizza
Come on, seriously? In a country where basil is grown in bucketloads and handed out for free at pho joints, put at least more than six pissy little leaves of basil on our Margherita pizzas.
Waitstaff who have never tried the food & drink
Give us one other industry where it’s acceptable for people to promote something they’ve never tried before. As we expected, none. So train up your staff and provide them with tastings of the menu regularly. Waiter: “Sir, you can try the lamb.” Customer: “What’s it like?” Waiter: “Hehehe, I don’t know.”
Taking orders without writing it down
Perhaps nothing gets diners’ anxiety levels up more than when a table of six places an order and the waiter doesn’t write it down. At least doodle on a notepad if you think you can remember it all. Let us relax.
Asking if we’re finished
If the plate’s empty and the knife and fork are placed together in the middle of the plate, take it away. Of course we’re finished.
The war on plastic is just about here. The people’s army is mobilising and soon customers will be asking if you use plastic or not to help in their decision making. Don’t lose them before they’ve even walked in the door. Go stainless or bamboo, even.
Let us know of any gripes you have by commenting below.