Sorry for the lack of posting. I’ve been working a lot doing manager stuff and hadn’t had much interaction with customers in a while… But I’m back.
A couple days ago I was working as a server with my Japanese coworker when I noticed she was standing by the counter, frantically looking over the menu. When I got close enough, she asked for my help; apparently the customer asked for something called “See cow” and she didn’t know what she was talking about.
I told her in my language (Thai) that means white…or it’s also the name of an island…or it’s another term for Manatee. That’s all I could come up with. So my coworker finally went back and asked the lady what she meant by “see cow.”
The lady, white American middle-aged, then rolled her eyes and said matter-of-factly, “Oh, it’s Japanese for Sapporo.”
Because apparently Sapporo is an American word.
It was all my coworker could to to not tell her matter-of-factly that she was an idiot. Shame ahaha. Though now we call Sapporo “see cow” to each other just to make fun.
So back about 10 years when the restaurant first opened and the American economy didn’t suck and business was booming, if we had the time and resources, we would do special sushi or roll orders for people, or if we had an excess or something, we would give customers a little bit extra.
All that has led to clientele spoiling. It’s gotten so bad that now some customers complain and throw a fit if they don’t get something extra, or if they get exactly what’s on the menu and don’t get a discount of some sort. It’s especially bad when we’re busy and don’t have time to cater to special complicated requests, like asking us to hard-boil and then slice the quail eggs. Some people even claim that the raw fish tastes different depending on who is the chef that puts it on top of the rice and will refuse to pay for it, even if they ate the whole thing, unless their favorite chef makes it.
Ridiculous, right? So my bosses have decided there will be no more customer spoiling. We just have to refuse outrageous requests, or let customers know that special extras and complimentary gifts are not a right and should not be expected every time. Especially since business isn’t what it used to be and we can’t be so generous with everything anymore.
So far it’s been going pretty well and we haven’t had a customer outburst since about two months ago when some lady shouted to the whole restaurant that her to-go order should come before everyone else eating in. Until last night.
An older white couple sat up at the bar and ordered a couple orders of Hamachi toro (yellowtail belly), along with some other things. When time came for their bill, they threw a fit that we had charged them for the yellowtail belly, claiming for as long as they’ve been coming here, they’ve gotten hamachi toro for the price of regular hamachi (yellowtail) and demanded we change it.
Now, the price between regular yellowtail and the belly is only about 50 cents per two pieces. Yet this couple adamantly insisted they should get a discount or they wouldn’t come back.
The sushi chef in charge told us to change the bill, the couple was happy, and paid without another complaint.
After they left, the chef told us he had expected that and had given them regular hamachi (Yellowtail). They obviously couldn’t tell the difference, as they never said anything about it.
American parenting!!! I’m really at a loss, I just can’t stand it, I have no idea how parents at least in my town can raise their kids this way, I don’t understand.
As I’ve said before, my boss is very Japanese and is offended by some American versions of Japanese foods, like the American miso soup. In Japan, miso soups are served at the end of meals and always have vegetables or meats in them, never would you get just plain broth with two or three mini tofu squares. So he refuses to serve it at his restaurant.
Most people understand when I explain it to them, but this lady came in yesterday with her kid who looked about 10 or 11 and her husband, sat up at the bar, and started rattling off all this order for her son who apparently wouldn’t touch fish.
Number one, if most of the people in your party don’t eat sushi, why sit up at the sushi bar? Number two, I don’t know what sort of menu these people are looking at, but we keep getting people coming in asking for dinner or sushi platter/combos. Everything we serve is ala-cart. Always has been. Do they think all sushi restaurants are the same that they can just order things and not have to look at a menu?
Anyway, so she orders the usual for her kid; edamame, chicken teriyaki, rice, barbecued beef, yakitori, etc., and one of the things she ordered was miso soup. I explained to her that the simplest miso soup we offered had vegetables in it, and she had the nerve to ask if we could strain them out for her, because, and I quote, “My son doesn’t eat vegetables.”
WHAT. My mind was blown. I wanted to tell her well, maybe you should teach your kid to start eating healthy. I hope you’re forcing him to take daily vitamins at least if his diet consists purely of meats and I assume rice and bread only, or she’s going to have one ridiculously nutritionally-deprived kid. Why are parents so cushy with their kids here?! Why do they allow them to eat diets of only chicken, red meat, and processed/fast foods? It’s one thing of the kid just can’t pallet the taste of a certain vegetable like brusselsprouts or broccoli or something, but ANY and ALL vegetables? Be a parent and put a foot down.
When I was a kid, my parents forced me to eat vegetables until I learned to like them. No dessert till I cleaned my plate. When my mom would pack my lunch for grade school, she’d always pack me a well-balanced meal, and if I ever didn’t eat a part of it, I heard about it when I got home. That’s how it’s done, none of this ridiculous catering to unhealthy diets.
Luckily my boss at the sushi bar heard her say it and refused to have it strained, so she got what she got and the kid threw a fit whining about how vegetables “made it taste gross,” and she wasn’t happy with me the rest of the night either. But oh well, sitting up at the bar, my boss took the liberty of lecturing the kid on the importance of eating vegetables and lecturing the mom on how she should encourage it and force it if she had to ahaha.
So we have a sushi roll called Kamikaze, meaning literally “divine wind” in Japanese, pronounced “kah-mee-kah-zay.”
It’s pretty popular and we get orders for it a lot, but for some reason Americans have decided its pronunciation is “Kah-muh-kah-zee.” Every time anyone pronounces it like that when they ask for it, it’s like nails on a chalk board to my ears, but I just grin and bear it.
But I hate it, ABSOLUTELY HATE it when I go deliver the finished rolls to the tables and say “Here’s your Kamikaze (kah-mee-kah-zay),” and 9/10 times they’ll look at it with a confused look on their face for a few seconds or ask me to repeat it, ponder it over…Then their expression lights up as they realize, chuckle a little bit, and CORRECT ME and say “Ohh, you mean kah-muh-kah-zee haha, gotcha.”
No, actually, that’s not what I mean.
As stated before, my boss and owner of the restaurant is very Japanese and takes a lot of pride in his food. We get all of our fish for the sushi bar fresh locally, either from the harbor or local fish farmers, and never ever ever use frozen fish. But because of this, if a fish is scarcely caught one day or there’s a shortage, we might run out of a type of fish. We’d rather go a day or two without being able to serve something than serve frozen or older fish. Which I think is perfectly acceptable, I mean, raw fish or raw meats of any kind are something you’d have to be careful with, I’d much rather have a fresh local selection than wonder how old this food is, how long this fish has been frozen for, where it came from, and how clean it was kept on the way over, etc.
Some crotchety old white guy who came in with his snooty wife the other day apparently felt otherwise. We had run out of spanish mackerel for the day. Bluefin tuna, since it’s endangered and we can only legally get it farmed, which is expensive, we only get in maybe once per week or two, and it goes fast, so we didn’t have any either. I guess the guy REALLY wanted spanish mackerel and bluefin tuna, because when he tried to order it and we gave him the bad news that we didn’t have any for the day, he was PISSED.
We also serve our nigiri by the single piece, as opposed by the pair. This is just because we have had SOOO many people want odd numbers of pieces, and there was no way to put them in the computer, so we had to do all the calculations by hand, so this way was just easier. And when people say they want “an order of ___,” we just clarify if they mean one or two pieces.
Well, I guess this was unacceptable for the man as well. You’d think just doubling your order wouldn’t be too hard, right? Maybe he was just really bad at math, but that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“WHAT?! You sell sushi pieces SINGLY?! That’s the most RIDICULOUS thing I’ve ever heard! First you tell me you run out of not one, but TWO fish that I ordered, and now this?! What sort of establishment is this?! I don’t know how you guys stay in business. This is the last time I’m coming here. This is absolutely unacceptable.” blah blah blah.
All of their orders came out quickly, and my coworker and I were always polite and forced a smile as we served everything to their table, but every single time we went near them, the guy launched into bitter rants about how things weren’t up to standards here, how we don’t have any fish selection, and how much better this other sushi restaurant in town was and how they were going to tell their friends to boycott this place and go there.
The other sushi restaurant is known for using ONLY cheap, frozen, imported fish, but I guess the “quantity over quality” rule applied here for him. Oh how badly I wanted to tell him that if the other sushi bar was so much better, NO ONE was forcing him to stay here. In fact, no one WANTED them to stay here.
Finally they finished up and paid. Left a 78 cent tip ahaha. More than I expected. That’s okay, we were getting to the point that we would have paid them a lot more than that to just get out.
You know how there’s a legal age limit for drinking alcohol?
I think there should be one for eating edamame too.
I’m sure every sort of ethnic restaurant in America has some sort of food that’s the go-to for parents with kids who won’t eat anything but McDonald’s to give to them to shut them up during dinner. At Japanese restaurants, it’s edamame.
I’m sick and tired of parents coming in for sushi with two or three kids in tow who do nothing but whine the whole time about how they want a hamburger or a grilled cheese or milk, so the parents just order edamame (steamed soy beans) for them to play with. Yes, that’s right, not eat, to play with. I can’t count the amount of edamame that’s wasted as a babysitter for little kids, and I hate it when parents get mad at us for not having “more child-friendly options.” It’s a sushi bar, what do you expect us to have? Kids nowadays won’t even eat things like chicken teriyaki or tempura anymore?
A typical white American family came in the other day with three kids, and the mom just kept ordering bowl after bowl of edamame and LITERALLY told the kids to play with it. And play with it they did. I think they ate a total of 5 beans, and the rest were all over the floor, all over the table, all over the chairs, the kids were throwing them at each other. And did the parents ever once tell them to settle down? Did they ever once tell them to behave? Did they ever once tell them that food is not a toy? Did they even bother to remotely clean up the mess their kids caused or even acknowledge it and apologize for it? Absolutely not.
And edamame is annoying because the beans are just big enough that the vacuum pushes them around rather than suck them up, so we have to either try and sweep it or pick them up by hand.
And American parenting…I don’t know what to say. When I was little, we ate what the family was having for dinner, and if you didn’t like it, you didn’t eat. There wasn’t any sympathy for picky eaters. Parents are too cushy with their kids here, I think.
Last Saturday was the day of to-go orders from hell.
I was working at the sushi bar again. Normally we get about three or four to-go orders a night. Saturday we got 11 in two hours. I think I just stayed by the phone taking orders.
The first one I picked up, some college-aged-sounding guy asked “Hey, you guys deliver, right?” Nope. We’re just a small local restaurant with just enough staff to make it through in-house dining. Never have delivered, probably never will. So I told him we didn’t, and he got mad and claimed, “Well, on your website it says you do!!” …I am in charge of this website, and I know for a fact that NOWHERE on it does it say anything about delivery. Now, the name of the sushi bar is pretty common, and there’s another one in the big city about 3 hours away that people mistake us for all the time. So I politely ask if he may have the wrong sushi bar, and again, he got mad, “No, it’s the one for [this town]! I’m looking at it right now.” So I ask which website he’s on, because it’s obviously not ours. All he tells me is, “It is yours! You should update it if it’s incorrect!” So I gave him our website address and ask if that’s the one he’s on. There’s silence, then “Oh, all right.” And he hung up.
The second to-go order from hell was from one of our spoiled, self-entitled regulars. Apparently she views the owner as her own personal chef and only likes it when he makes her sushi, so she asked if he was here. He gets the weekends off, so when I told her he wasn’t, she asked who was. I gave her the names of the two sushi chefs on duty, and since she didn’t know either of them, asked “which one is most like the owner?” I didn’t know quite how to answer that, so I told her one was a manager, so she requested he make her sushi. In her order were two sides of sashimi carpaccio with a rainbow variety of fish, instead of just using one kind like on the menu. Normally we would have to charge a little more for that, but since she was a regular, I let it slide. Eventually she came, picked it up, and took it home, easy, right? Next thing I know we get a call and it’s her complaining that she had only been given ONE carpaccio. I tried to politely tell her that she was mistaken, they were just in the same box, but she refused to believe it.
“The pieces are too small and thin!!” - Carpaccio IS thinly sliced, flattened meat. If you don’t want thin meat, don’t order carpaccio.
“There’s only like four pieces of each fish!” - She’s the one who ordered four different kinds of fish. It says on the menu there are 8 pieces in each order. 2 pieces of 4 kinds of fish per carpaccio, double that for double the order. It’s simple math.
“This is why I only like [the owner] making my sushi!! He gives me thicker pieces, and more!” - Now, I know if we have an excess of fish or if we have tiny chunks of end pieces that are too small to be used as nigiri, we’ll add them in as a little extra, but that’s IT, and it’s nothing to throw a fit over. This lady was just another customer with a sense of entitlement who came in expecting more than the portion size when she was already getting a discount for not getting charged extra for wanting different kinds of fish. She demanded we refund her the money and only charge her for one carpaccio. After trying to reason with her, we finally gave up and the manager just said to go ahead and give it to her. You win this time, but not next time, lady.
The last nightmare to-go order was from some lady who ordered a few things, including an ala-cart order of chicken teriyaki. I remember SPECIFICALLY asking her if there was anything else she wanted, including any rice, and she said no. So everything was made, packaged, she picked it up, it was done. Then, just as I had finished dealing with carpaccio lady, this lady calls back demanding to know why there wasn’t any miso soup or rice with her chicken teriyaki.
“I ordered the dinner!! Shouldn’t it come with that?” - I’m not sure what menu she was looking at, but everything we serve is izakaya-style small plate ala-cart, which I tried to explain to her.
“Who the hell would eat chicken teriyaki without rice? Why would you not include it? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” - If all of our small-plate items each came with rice, people who ordered five, six small-plates would get five, six bowls of rice with it. Necessary? No. That’s why it’s separate.
“Well then, [very snidely] you should ask people if they want a side of rice.” - I DID. You ignored it because you assumed it came with it.
“Then get a miso soup and rice ready for me, I’m coming back for it.”
Now, my boss and the owner of the place is very Japanese, and he gets offended by American versions of Japanese things sometimes. One of those things is the American miso soup. Nowhere in Japan would you get plain miso broth to drink. It always has vegetables and tofu or some sort of meat in it. So the only miso soups we offer have more things in them than just two or three little tofu squares. No matter how much I tried to explain this to the lady and asked which kind she would like, she just kept saying she “wanted the regular miso soup.” So I just went with a vegetable one haha. I got off work before she came to pick it up, so I don’t know how she reacted, but I at least told my coworkers to give her the side of rice for free, since it was just a misunderstanding and even though she was rude, came all the way back for it. I wonder how it went haha. But man, I was happy to get off for the night and enjoy my next two days off.
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a chance to vent… Been busy with housework and paper work since we turned the old Japanese restaurant into a market/ramen house. Also had to detox from a plethora of ridiculous customers. I’ll make multiple posts to make up for it.
So, last Friday I was working as a server at our sushi bar. Everyone was fine except for one particular table that just ruined everyone’s entire day. They were a party of five who showed up one by one during our peak busy hours, the ring leader some middle-aged woman with dyed blonde hair with her whipped husband in tow, followed by the husband’s probably perpetually single middle-aged friend who seemed to only interested in getting drunk here, and lastly a couple, the wife very much pregnant with a husband who seemed to treat her as a nuisance since he apparently wanted sushi and she couldn’t have any since raw foods are a no-no to eat when you’ve got a bun in the oven.
So, it took them about 15-20 minutes to all get there and sit down, and just when they do, they each leave one at a time to use the restroom. So I bring them all waters and figure I can get their drink order once they’re all back and situated, giving them time to look over the drink menu. Well, miss bad-blonde-dye-job decided to get offended that I hadn’t taken drink orders yet and pulls me over and starts rattling off a list of drinks and appetizers to start with. They wanted several bottles of beer, glasses of draft beer, and the blonde wanted a bottle of unfiltered sake to share with her husband. So I returned with the drinks and two shot glasses for the sake. The husband then claims he doesn’t want the sake and passes it off to his eager alcoholic friend, which pissed off Blondie who proceeded to insist that EVERYONE had to have some of the sake (minus the pregnant one) and asked I bring more glasses. So I grabbed two more and the husband proceeded to get MAD at ME for bringing more glasses, like I was the one forcing him to have sake when he can’t refuse his wife.
With a table full of alcohol and hoping that would sedate them, I was happy to get out of there for a while and put the drink orders into the computer and tend to my other tables. I swear, they never opened the menu, just sat talking to each other, and I stopped by twice to ask if they were ready and deliver their appetizers and they said they weren’t ready yet. A minute later I guess they made up their mind because the next thing I know, Blondie had pulled aside one of the other waitresses (who for the sake of anonymity I will call X) and started rattling off their order. Now X was born in Asia, and though she speaks English just fine, she does have a heavy accent. After giving her order to X, Blondie apparently believed none of us could speak English and started talking to all three of us servers in slow, loud condescending simpleton babytalk every time we would bring rolls to the table.
Now, the way our sushi bar works since we only have two chefs is that if a table orders a whole bunch of sushi and rolls to share, they’ll make two or three at a time, wait for them to finish, and make more. That way there isn’t piles of plates on the table (especially when the whole thing was cluttered with alcohol) and the chefs can be fair and split up big orders to work on other tables’ orders at the same time.
Well, I don’t know if Blondie wanted everything at once or what, but even though the sushi chefs were great at timing things and we were bringing new rolls just as they were emptying old plates, EVERY SINGLE TIME we brought something to the table, Blondie made some snide remark about how “it took long enough” or ask “When is this coming?” or “I want this, is it ready yet?”, while her whipped husband quickly backed her up with cued “yeah!”s.
Meanwhile, the poor great-with-child one was stuck in the corner, never included in the conversation, her husband shoving tempura and vegetable rolls down her throat to keep her happy.
All they did was loudly complain at the speed at which the food came out and how incompetent us servers must be (and I remind that this is our dinner rush and they had ordered around 12 rolls plus platters of nigiri). Finally, when they were all done and asked for the check, Blondie had the nerve to ask if they could get a discount because, and I quote, “I don’t mean to be a b*tch, but…it just took WAY too long. We’ve been waiting for an hour and a half. I mean, come on, it’s just raw fish on rice, it shouldn’t take that long to make. Anyone could do it, bam, done.”
I knew there was NO way it could have taken that long, but I politely apologized and said I wasn’t sure but I could talk to the manager, one of the sushi chefs. So I told him the situation an he looked at the order tickets for the rolls he had made. According to the computer, the first order had been put in at 8:07pm, and looking at the clock it was now 8:32pm. Meaning they had gotten and eaten their entire order of 12 rolls and nigiri platters in less than 30 minutes. The ONLY way it could have taken anywhere remotely as much as an hour and a half was if Blondie started counting from the moment she walked in, waiting for her friends, taking turns at the bathroom, and taking their time looking over the menu. I tried to explain to Blondie as best as I could without blatantly calling her a lying b*tch that it hadn’t been that long, but if they liked we would treat them to five green tea ice creams on the house. Blondie then got OFFENDED that I offered free desserts and loudly and rudely claimed “Why the hell would I want ice cream?” (with an echo of “Yeah!” from the husband). So I apologized and said that was the best we could do. Blondie was pissed. Then Pregnant Lady finally spoke up, bless her heart, and apologized to me, saying “Sorry, my friend is rude…” Whipped Husband then got angry at HER and started adamantly claiming “No she’s not!!! It took so long!!” blah blah blah.
Regardless, I brought their check as it was and they begrudgingly paid it, though Blondie took the signed credit card receipt that the merchant is supposed to keep. We all took a deep sigh of relief once they left. Then MULTIPLE CUSTOMERS AROUND US started apologizing to us for having to deal with that table, one of them said they made her embarrassed to be human. The support was nice to know we weren’t the only ones who thought they were being completely unreasonable. <3
Last night we had a couple of customers worth mentioning.
First of all, at the sushi bar, we have some pretty steady regulars who always come by, have made friends with all the employees, we recognize by their first name and always get them their usual drinks and appetizers, and who we’ve come to know so well we don’t mind giving them little treats and free extras for being such great customers. So you’d think after years of pleasant experiences and being on a more personal level with the staff and getting free-bees pretty regularly, one tiny error wouldn’t be the end of the world and easily forgivable, right?
Yesterday had gotten kind of busy, we had a full bar and many tables, as well as a bunch of to-go orders at the same time. So one of our regulars called in a to-go order, ordering some of her usual things and some new things she wanted to try. Well, in the flurry of all the to-go orders and only two of us servers working…one of her items wouldn’t fit in the first bag and had to be put in a second one that she forgot to grab when she picked it up and we forgot to double-check since she usually only has one bag of things. We realized it shortly after and called her to tell her, apologizing profusely, but wow, was she pissed. We kept trying to apologize and explain what happened, but she wasn’t having it and kept replying with snide, sarcastic, passive-aggressive remarks. We said if she wanted to come back, we would make her a whole new item, but she said she’d already gotten home and didn’t want to drive back. So we told her we could void it on her credit card right now, but she got angry and said how would she know we would actually do it? (Like, umm…check your statement?) So we said if she’d rather we’d keep a note until the next time she came back and refund her the money in front of her. She still wasn’t satisfied with that. So we said we’d refund her the money the next time she stopped in and make her the item again for free. She was still rude and sarcastic, but begrudgingly agreed. So. At least that was settled.
Then one of the customers at the bar, some white guy in his early twenties who had spent some time in Thailand, kept bragging about his stay in the country and claiming he could speak the language. So the sushi chefs told him I could speak Thai and he immediately took a liking to me and tried impressing me with his “Thai…” which consisted of “hello,” “thank you,” numbers, and various food dishes. Let me tell you, it’s really hard to take a guy seriously when he’s trying to hit on you by smugly repeating random numbers in a foreign language. Especially when he kept mixing up 4 and 7. He kept buying me shots of sake and wanting me to drink them with him and then he asked for my number cause he wanted to take me out for Thai food tomorrow. I was like LOL What? do you think I’m some bar girl in Patpong or something?! My boyfriend is one of the sushi chefs! Careful or he’ll spit in your food! His “oh shit” face was priceless.
So he stayed at the bar and kept drinking until he got his beer goggles on and this older lady in her later middle-aged years came in and sat down a couple seats away from him. And I guess he decided if he couldn’t have me, this lady would be the second best thing, so he turned his suave, exotic “Thai talk” to her. It was the funniest thing to see him try relentlessly to make a date with this poor lady, buying her rounds of drinks and pleading her to let him “show her around” tomorrow despite her declinations of “I have a son who’s older than you,” “I moved here the year you were born” and “I’m going to tell you straight…you’re kind of a little guy. I don’t know if you could handle me.” And this guy was with his friend, who I assume was the designated driver since he stopped drinking early and seemed sober. Yet this friend did absolutely nothing to intervene and keep his buddy from making an absolute ass of himself. Or perhaps he was just as amused as my coworker and myself were.
Absolutely hysterical. I wonder how much of yesterday he remembers today.
I’ve been considering starting a blog like this so the humor I face in the workplace can be shared with more people than just my coworkers.
I work for a company that owns a couple Japanese restaurants and a Japanese market in America. I’m a flexible employee who does everything from acting as assistant manager, serving, cashier, restocking, inventory, office work, translation work, advertisement designing and website upkeep, etc. etc… So I get to experience some pretty interesting customers in a variety of situations.
In general, one of my favorite things about my job is getting to watch white people try and use chopsticks. I’ve seen everything you could possibly imagine and have had to clean up the aftermaths of such trials.
Also amusing is the average American who spent a week in Japan for business come back and try and speak Japanese with the staff. Half the staff is Chinese or some other ethnicity and so it’s lost on most of them anyway, and the rest of the Japanese staff have to try and keep a straight face. If you have studied Japanese and can speak it, great, I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about the people who walk into a Japanese place and say “Irasshaimase!,” which is a phrase that can be translated to the same meaning as “Welcome, please come in,” as in what the store clerks would say to customers, not the other way around.
So yes. I won’t use any names or details that may give away my company or location or anything, I just want to share the humor and frustration I face every day with humorous and frustrating customers. :)