Good addition to previous post, sorry if I’ve blogged any of this before …
Background – I left HK in 99, moved to SF, was working for a start-up and had to travel to Denver on a monthly basis. I had one staff member in that office. So the first time I went out there, of course he wanted to impress his new boss and he knew I’d lived in HK, so he took me to PF Chang’s for lunch. “You’re from Hong Kong so I figure you like Chinese food,” he said. I didn’t know at the time that this was some kind of national franchise chain.
So we go there, sit down, and our waitress comes over. Some white girl with red and green hair and multiple facial piercings. “Welcome to PF Changs. Is this your first time here?” she nasally intoned from the franchise employee handbook. Well, yes. “This is soy sauce. You can dip your food in it. These are chopsticks. You can try to pick your food up with them.” “Get the fuck away from me!!!!!” Would you be surprised if I told you that the only Asian face I spotted in there was the woman mopping the floors?
I got taken out for Chinese food once in Mumbai, too. A dozen people sitting around the table, all waiting for me to taste the food, and then asking me if it was authentic. Um, er, no.
And one time in Manila – taken out for dinner, asked where I want to go, and I said, “why don’t you take me to your favorite place,” thinking it might be some hidden away Filipino gem. They took me to California Pizza Kitchen. Once the food was served, one person asked, “Is this like the California Pizza Kitchens in California?” And the whole table got silent. Everyone stared at me, leaned in to hear my response. “Yes, it’s EXACTLY like this,” I grumbled. A cheer went up from the table and everyone dug into their food.
Again, I don’t think CPK is that bad and I don’t want to downplay the terrific hospitality of my various hosts but most of the time when I’m traveling I want to go to places I’ve never been and have local dishes I’ve never tried and learn something new.