6 Things Horrible Restaurants (in the Philippines) Have in CommonAugust 26, 2018
- Adee de LeonWords
Running a restaurant in the Philippines is not easy. Competition is tight, good waiters are hard to find, and the Filipino bias towards price and convenience makes marketing high-quality food challenging.
However, there is never a good excuse for giving customers a crappy dining experience, especially if you’re paying north of 300 bucks per head. At that price range, I would expect the food and service to better what I can get at any random fishball cart.
Sadly, certain restaurants have made me wish I’d eaten at a damn fishball cart instead.
So, what does it take to make someone prefer fishballs at a street corner to a gourmet meal at your restaurant? The obvious include inedible food, tacky decors, and dirty utensils. But those are not the only things that can ruin a dining experience. The following traits are other factors I’ve observed to be common among all horrible restaurants I’ve been to.
1. The place is usually empty.
If a certain restaurant looks as deserted as a haunted house during the lunch/dinner rush, it could be because unpredictable forms of culinary terror lurk inside. Take a hint from the diners who choose to line up at the fast food place next to it instead. A restaurant must be really bad if its “authentic Italian fare” makes diners prefer to eat sugary, hotdog-laden spaghetti.
Speaking of which, the label of “authentic ___________” restaurant is an insult to the real thing. How do you spot a “poser” restaurant? Look around and see if there are any expats or foreigners eating there. After all, Chinoys don’t eat at Chowking.
2. The music selection is atrocious.
Have you ever tried to eat a proper meal inside a cheap videoke bar?
If so, did you enjoy having your meals served with a generous helping of cheesy 80’s love songs at full blast?
You would say, “of course not!!!” Yet some restaurants even up the ante and employ horrible sound systems that make Cyndi Lauper sound like Batman, if he were gay. If the place is particularly tacky, their sounds will be supplied by those “Kami ang No.1!” radio stations. You better eat quickly before that station’s annoying plugs get stuck in your head. “Jowk, jowk, joooowk!”
3. The place is a mess.
Nothing hurts a restaurant’s first impressions like a busted-up joint. If they can’t keep the dining area looking sharp, just imagine how bad the kitchen must be. Don’t even get me started with the bathrooms. God, the horror!
So, if you ever wind up in a place where it looks like stray dogs have given birth on the floor and the waiters look as scruffy as the finalists on Survivor, I would advise you to run away.
4. The service is horrible.
Speaking of waiters, almost all bad restaurants have the worst of them. I realize waiting on people is not anyone’s dream job but you don’t need a college degree to be good at it either.
One memorable experience of mine involved a waitress bringing me the wrong order. That would have been understandable, except that she tried to convince me it was what I ordered. She actually thought she could do a Jedi mind trick on me! If she looked like Marian Rivera, I might have gone along.
I make it a point to be extra nice to waiters, as I don’t want to find their bodily waste in my food. But it’s a different story if they treat me like their boss who doesn’t pay their wages on time. If I follow up my order repeatedly and the guy still gets it wrong, I would think he is screwing up on purpose.
Oh, well, I can always “forget” to leave him a tip.
5. The quality control is practically nonexistent.
Consistency is a trait often lacked by many restaurants.
Nothing is more frustrating than going to a place that once served you the best shawarma you’ve ever had, only to get overly spiced dog meat carelessly stuffed into a nearly expired pita the next time you come around.
Maintaining quality is difficult and restaurants can have “off” days but if I get overly spiced dog meat more often than meltingly tender beef, it’s not hard to believe that I was served good food by accident.
6. The prices are suspiciously cheap.
Like most Filipinos, I can’t afford gourmet food every day, so value-for-money is a major factor in my dining choices. I love trying budget steak places that promise more bang for your buck. I keep my expectations low when I eat at such places but I was surprised by how a particular restaurant still managed to disappoint.
I ordered a medium rare steak, and got an over-seasoned slab so raw I could still hear the cow protesting. Because I’m not a caveman, I politely requested that they cook it just a little more. When it was returned to me, it was so overdone it was practically beef jerky. It’s a true story, I swear (except for the mooing cow part).
The sad fact is that low prices often translate into a poor dining experience.
So, remember, restaurant owners: if there’s something Filipinos hate more than lousy food, it’s paying for lousy food. Your restaurant can be guilty of some of these sins, but great food will always keep people coming back regardless.
At least I will, if you just keep your toilets clean and your music tolerable.
[thumbnail via Janne In Osaka]