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As it turns out, Vietnamese Food Sucks; Or: A Moral Dilemma

This post is so frivolous and self-indulgent. I mean, Israel is in the middle of a war. And yet, inane things keep happening to me regardless of the Apocalypse's timetable, and being inane myself, I must share.

As it turns out, Vietnamese food and me myself & I do not get along. I feel kind of bad about this story, but I want to know if others would agree with my reasoning here. Please forgive the frivolity of this story.

I was out running some errands yesterday, and I ended up driving around this one neighborhood where I drove past four Vietnamese restaurants.


I was pretty hungry. In fact, I had left the house in order to eat, and while I was out, I remembered all these things I had to do, and I did them. I thought, "hmm, maybe I should try this out". I've had Vietnamese food, but it was just some Americanized Vietnamese barbecue. I have never had authentic Vietnamese food. After I'd passed the 4th Vietnamese restaurant, I decided that this was some kind of heavenly message, so I parked (far away, since parking was scarce). I parked in this creepy, weedy little parking lot with a bunch of young Asians in it, smoking and loitering and malingering with their slitty eyes. I did not quite believe that my car would still be there when I got back, but I was hungry, goddamnit!

I parked and wrote off my car. I walked around and found a Chinese ethnic grocery store. I went in and bought an ashtray that I don't need, in order to butter the Chinaman up, and I asked him which of the four vietnamese restaurants I had spotted was the best. He said Restaurant X was the best. He was a very friendly guy and shook my hand enthusiastically. I get the impression that he is desperate for business. Anyway. I went to Restaurant X (I'm not trying to be mysterious! I just can't remember the damn name. It was very forgettable, something like Nguyen Thoi or something).

I went to Restaurant X, as instructed by my Chinese grocer-ashtray-vendor-informant. It was packed, and they didn't have the air conditioning on.

It was FUCKING HOT in there. People, it was like 95 degrees out. And it was packed with people.

It took 30 minutes for the solitary waiter to acknowledge my existence. Here's what he said when he finally showed up at my table: "Can I get you anything to drink?"

I've been sitting here turning into a giant puddle of sweat for thirty minutes. You know it's hot just as well as I do. Why do you come to me, empty-handed, asking me if I want a drink? Why? Why? Why?

I was polite. I said "I'd like a glass of water and a menu, please". Yes, he actually came to my table 30 minutes after I sat down in the sweltering heat of his restaurant, without water and without a menu. I guess you need to be fucking psychic and a camel to eat at this restaurant.

I lied to my friendly waiter that I'd never had Vietnamese food, since I in fact had not had anything other than grilled meat on a stick, and I asked him what I should have. With gusto, he recommended I get some Vietnamese Egg Rolls and some Sour Fish Soup. Sounds good, right? Authentic and shit. I'll go with that. I told the waiter to go for it.

Well, guess what. The Vietnamese Egg Rolls had this weird stringy brown thing in them that looked like Eel but did not taste good at all, and it had a disgusting texture besides. I could only eat half of an egg roll before giving up on the whole thing. Vietnamese Egg Rolls are not the food for me. Guess what else isn't the food for me? Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup.

It was not sour. No sir. It was not soup! It was not soup! It had nothing to do with soup. It was this thin disgusting gruel that tasted like crappy water, and it had fuckin' sprouts and pieces of raw tomato and some kind of gross Vietnamese celery in it. It tasted like nothing! Nothing at all, goddamnit. This "Sour Fish Soup" wasn't even sour! It was watery! But that's not the worst of it.

The worst of it is that the "Fish" part of the "Sour Fish Soup" was a tail. A fucking tail. A tail, man! A TAIL! And it wasn't scaled very well, so I could see the scales on some of it. And it had that terrifying silvery look which very bad, "You Will Spend The Next Week Shitting Blood" fish has. And it wasn't boned, so there were BONES in my sonofabitching FISH TAIL. And little bits of GELATINOUS FISH FAT were floating around. It was so goddamn GROSS! It was basically "weed broth", man. Sprouts, water...that was 95% of the ingredients. Sprouts, water, and fish fat.

Basically, I ate five bites total. Two bites of one of the Vietnamese eggrolls, and three bites of the terrible fish soup. For these five bites, I had to suffer an entire hour in 95 degrees indoor weather without air conditioning, the first half hour of which was spent sitting there waiting for a goddamn glass of water.

At one point during this ordeal, I realized that I needed something to read. I wandered around the neighborhood looking for a newspaper for sale, something! Nothing to be found. Inside the restaurant itself, nothing avsilable to read except Vietnamese-language newspapers and some Spanish-language thing that was really excited about how Bush didn't want to deport illegals. Since I speak neither Vietnamish nor Spanish this was useless to me. I was in such bad shape that I would willingly read the Chicago Tribune, OK? By the way everyone in that packed restaurant was a white American, so you'd think the Chicago Reader would deliver there or something since it was popular with the fucking yuppies. No such luck.

When I came back they had turned CNN on the bigscreen TV. My waiter stopped by and wanted to know if I needed anything. I wanted the closed-caption turned on so I could see what was happening in the War, since Dan Gillerman was on CNN. He went to the cashier lady and they negotiated for about ten minutes, then they both approached me, the lady holding out the remote. They had no idea how to turn the closed caption on and they were offering me the opportunity to turn it on myself. I did this.

After the Five Bites Of Horror, I was fed up and I went up to the cash register to pay the lady.

She asked me how I liked my food. Big mistake. I said it was totally terrible and I'm never coming back here. It took half an hour to get a cup of water and the waiter didn't even bring me a menu. The food was terrible. Did this disturb her? This did not disturb her. 95% of my food was still sitting there on my table, quivering gelatinously. She was not perturbed by these terrible revelations. Not one bit, no sir. Do you know what horrified her? I'll tell you what horrified her.

I pulled out my credit card.

She looked like I had just shot her baby.

"Oh No Cash Only."

CASH ONLY! Goddamn. Was there a sign that said this? No. Was there a notice in the menu? No. You're just supposed to know that this is one of the three restaurants in North America that does not accept fucking credit cards. Bitch, I'm a whup yo' monkey ass. I wasn't carrying any cash yesterday, because I'd used it all up in the course of my errands.

She ordered me to go to the grocery store and buy something so I can get cash back. I swear to God! Worse, I intended to do it! I walked back to my car, drove to the grocery story, and walked around trying to find something to buy that I needed. It was a pretty crappy store and I didn't need anything anyway, and at some point, I realized that I don't want to buy anything just for the privilege of paying this horrible restaurant for their food, one-twentieth of which I actually ate, and none of which I enjoyed in the least.

Fuck them, man. They treated me with disrespect. They were totally incompetent. They ruined my day. Their food was terrible. Their service was terrible. They were unrepentant about this. I mean, I am not a complainer, but when I've complained in a restaurant they've always been apologetic, and they've always tried to make it right. This woman made it my job to go to this seedy weird grocery store and buy something so I can get cash back and pay them. What the hell, man? It's not my fault that they don't have a credit card machine, and it's not my fault that they have terrible service and terrible food. In any other circumstance, I would not only have an apology, I would have some free food on top of that. All I got was ordered to go fetch cash for them from the grocery store, further inconveniencing myself! And not being compensated for the horrible experience.

Here is what I did, my friends.

I left the grocery store. I got in my car. I drove home, and I cackled while driving on the interstate.

I felt a little bit guilty but not very.

Here is my question: should I go back and pay for the food I didn't eat? Am I stealing? I feel very righteous about my actions, but my conscience does not allow me to pretend to possess total righteousness. I know I intended to pay, and I know the woman was waiting for me to come back and pay. I feel bad about this because it's as if I did it deliberately, as if I just ran out on my bill. But honestly, no reputable restaurant would have charged me, seeing that I left 19 20ths of my food untouched and had a terrible experience and was angry and dissatisfied. Should I take the law into my own hands and just "get away with it", or should I go back and pay for my meal that I didn't eat or enjoy?

Posted by evariste on Jul 20, 2006 7:00 am

24 comments, latest by Cannabis Essential Oil at 12:03 am 2/1

#1 nina at 3:22 pm on Jun 10, 2013

I was laughing my head off the whole time.
I think you did the right thing. Why should you have to pay for bad service AND bad food? They were rude to you and should have expected worse.

#2 Helen at 1:03 pm on Nov 11, 2013

The cost of the food to them is probably nothing. No need to feel guilty. I think it is even better than you pay them although you got nothing back in return.

#3 John Doe at 1:25 am on Jun 01, 2014

I would give them a dollar or two. I live in Vietnam and I can tell you the food sucks here too... horribly, there is no real meat other than chicken, which has just went up over 30% because of all this B.S. with China, the "beef" is actually water buffalo, and the fish they get come out of the same river that they dump their sewers (shit, piss, and biomedical waste) into. The Pho here is not in-edible though, I can down a bowl of Pho without gagging in most places. You will not find any good cheeseburgers/cheesecake/pizza/steak/ or milk here that is safe and edible. The scariest part is that the reason I would give them a dollar or two is that you only ate a few bites, don't worry, your meal will not get thrown away, it will simply get passed onto the next customer, could be days later, no big deal to the restaurant. The word "common" is an understatement when describing how often people get food poisoning here, which usually occurs about twice a month for the average person. The shrimp are never peeled, and always get cooked with the head on and vein in them, chickens cooked whole after they pull the feathers off, meaning the feet and head are still there when they cook it, the feet being a "delicacy" here (absolutely disgusting). The meat markets are outside, yes they are outside with 95 degree temps during the day, giant slabs of "beef" (water buffalo) are hung up by hooks in direct sunlight with flies buzzing around everywhere, while people buy parts of them. Fish market?? no need, lets just lay them out on the sidewalk and have un-suspecting victims buy them... /end rant

#4 Duc at 6:09 pm on Aug 29, 2014

Next time just go and grab a menu instead of waiting. And if it takes long, you need to remind the waiter. Btw, you eat eggroll with fish source.

#5 Nick at 1:05 am on Feb 13, 2015

I refer to Pho as "Sweat Sock Soup."

#6 madman at 1:50 pm on Sep 02, 2015

vietnamese food is watery and bland in taste.
they also have these weird vegetables which taste like you're eating poisonous plastic.

#7 Gabriel at 6:47 pm on Apr 04, 2016

Great job. You gave them what they deserved, which was nothing. I'm also in Vietnam and can verify the truth of everything said. The food here sucks. I've been to 20 something countries and have never encountered anything like it before, plain and simple, the food here sucks, in the restaurants. I will say I did have somewhat good food that was home made for a special occasion, but really, it's a lot of just really weird stuff. Chicken feet, meat without flavoring, meat with horrible flavoring, soup with only vegetables thrown in and no other flavoring, just weird. It's like the Vietnamese won the war but lost their taste buds. I don't know what the hell happened here to make the food so terrible.

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#13 Angelica Mordant at 1:04 am on Oct 26, 2017

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