NickinNam NickinNam posted October 12th, 2011 at 6:10 pm to Etiquette. Viewed 523 times. Answered 59 times.

I went to meet a friend for lunch today. As I arrived, he was at the cash register paying, looking a bit green.

He saw something seriously unsanitary going on in this medium priced venue, in full public view (plates being scraped, the garnished being preserved, and new food going on the same unwashed plate to a new table).

The manager arrived at the cash register. He explained what he saw.

Here's the question:

She had this look on her face like "yeah, I know exactly what you're talking about" and she immediately got his bill, and gave him back his money for the time he had spent there before my arrival (some VND 145,000). But she didn't give any indication it would never happen again. It kind of just felt like "yeah, we do that here, sorry if you're grossed out, but here's your money, don't come back".

To review or not review? That is the question. It was gross. People should know. But she immediately did the "right thing". AND she didn't give any indication it would never happen again.

To review? Or not?

Last answered by jimmy1967 about 44 months ago.

Answers (jump to newest answer)

Newman wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 6:13 pm
Newman (elite user)

Hearsay. You can't review. Your friend can.

NickinNam wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Agreed. But should he review?

Karmak wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 6:41 pm

That review will

A) save people the experience of eating from a dirty plate filled with half the left overs from the previous customers

B) warn the venue that such things are not tolerated and will be reviewed so hopefully they can make the necessary changes to the service they are offering

C) not leave all of us with the doubt of which which place this is and refrain from eating out ever again ))

so yeah, he should review the place. (please?!)

NickinNam wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 6:51 pm

But she did the right thing.

This is the "etiquette" part of the question.

Does the place deserve to get slammed?

Grant wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 7:03 pm
Grant (elite user)


Then you would say she did the right thing. Wouldn't you?


NickinNam wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Yeah, but it didn't get the impression she WASN'T going to let it happen again.

Hence, my moral incertitude.

mimilikestea wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 7:31 pm
mimilikestea (elite user)

That's just uncivilized. Burn the place down, it'll save you the trouble of reviewing.

JuanBTong wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 7:32 pm
Good Answer NickinNam marked this as a good answer


I don't understand the "she immediately did the "right thing" thing. She gave him his money back. So he didn't have to ask for it? Like a $7.00 bribe? Where is the right in that?

Nick, you got to review or loose your street cred.

You know it's not going to change anything. Heaps of places do it daily.

What is the innocent Hanoi newbee going to do? Call the health inspector? LOL.

NickinNam wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 7:57 pm

He did not ask for it. It was offered immediately upon his explaining what he saw, and the obvious shaky, upset look of him.

There was no discussion. No further unpleasantness.

It was very un-Vietnamese. It was almost, like you said, a $7 bribe to not say anything. But the manager offered, nothing was asked.

It was weird.

JuanBTong wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

So are you saying that she had enough contact with foreigners to know that he just might ask for his money back and preempted him?

I do like the bit about "the garnished being preserved".

Recycling at it's best.

SEANINHANOI wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Your friend should review it in his own words even though you are so eloquent. Then the review will have more weight as it will be more honest.

fuuko wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Maybe she just tried to " save" the restaurant's image, acted like * If you ain't satisfied with our service, we would return your money!* , but in rough way.

jfseeker wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Put yourself in the readers shoes.... You would want to know what restaurant would do this... Would you want your family or close friends eating at this place... Please at least identify the establishment so that other people reading this can make up their own mind.

giayluathom wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Name and Shame (not a veggie place)?

QUYDA wrote on October 12th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Have your friend returned the money and review!
But part of me think if the left over is not touched, we shouldnt waste it! Think of the African!

Devo13 wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 12:02 am
Devo13 (elite user)

Every time I've been in Laos, I've seen the waiters eating the leftover food from plates. This was mildly gross, but didn't bother me too much. However, If I was served the leftover food, I would be very upset. Please ask your friend to review.

paddyk87 wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 12:13 am
paddyk87 (elite user)

Good man nick, the watchdog will have a field day with you. Now every mid-range restaurant with a kitchen in view of customers and a female manager will be under suspicion. Or did your friend go for a wander into the kitchen area? Was there even a friend at all?

I think you/he shouldn't review, leave us all guessing and wondering forever. Or burn it, maybe Mimi's right. Or go back and give the woman the back of your hand; she's bang out of order. What kind of a bribe is $7?

Is your conscience making you a coward?

Karmak wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 12:22 am
Good Answer NickinNam marked this as a good answer

Just a few reminders here guys:

A. That doesn't happen at my local 15.000 dong pho place... I don't see why it should happen somewhere 10 times more expensive.

B. If your friend has seen this happening I'm sure the manager has as well >> if she's seen it and it's still there it means the she hasn't said anything >> if she hasn't said anything it means she finds this acceptable/doesn't care >> if the manager doesn't care...why should she mind the thing being noted in a review?

C. The guy finishes his lunch and discovers he could have eaten left overs from a dirty plate... I'd probably stick two fingers down my throat and vomit in the manager's face, see how she likes a third version of the meal she has been recycling.
Seriously, giving your friend his money back is not fixing anything; it's not even slightly close to a half decent compensation.

So yeah, review the damn thing!

Grant wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 8:01 am
Grant (elite user)


Then you would WRITE that she did the right thing. Wouldn't you?

Clarity fail.

It's the diners story of what actually happened. Review.


Newman wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 8:06 am
Newman (elite user)

Of course your friend should (has?) review. Honest reviews will always be welcome. The business owner has the opportunity to respond to the review on TNH is they wish to and further explain the situation.

There is no moral issue here.

suddenpaws wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 8:07 am
suddenpaws (elite user)
Good Answer NickinNam marked this as a good answer

I recently had a very unpleasant experience with a well known high end restaurant, and was all ready to give them a slamming review. However, before I did I emailed the management of the restaurant (ie, the western owners) directly and gave a page long complaint about exactly what happened, and how disgusted I was with their service and treatment of me. I also put in the mild threat that I was all ready to post my letter as a review on TNH. Magically I got a phone call from the manager less than an hour later in HCMC, apologising profusely, explaining the problem, and offering me a free meal next time. The next evening I also got a bottle of wine delivered to my house with an apology letter from the Hanoi management. Neither free meal or bottle of wine were expected, I simply wanted to raise some disturbing issues with management whom I knew would be concerned. Incidentally, both freebies were far more costly than the original item that created the problem.

This to me was a good example of how old fashioned direct communication works. I am not saying this is the solution for your friend, but if he is concerned about the practice and doesn't want to slam the place, perhaps it would be better to go higher in the business and talk to the owners, especially if they are western or western trained? In this way he could also commend the manager on duty for doing what she thought was 'the right thing', but which was not enough to actually solve the problem. It may not do anything, but if it doesn't, then at that point I would say he is well within his rights to post a review, and include the fact that his communication with management about the issue was ignored or treated with contempt.

NickinNam wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 9:39 am

My friend has evidently put his review in:

Everybody had good points.

I really asked because:

1. I've been shot down before for reviewing places that I hadn't even sat down and eaten in. Point taken. It was up to my friend to do it.

2. This place has been boring lately. I wanted to find a valuable discussion question, and this presented itself blatantly.

Brian22 wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Yes, your friend should review.

If it's an honest review and sincere, then absolutely.

There's no excuse for the kind of thing in a restaurant.

SEANINHANOI wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Even I am becoming more and more reluctant to review a place. I think a mediocre review is not worth it. An excellent place should be shared with everyone as should a really bad place. Anything else is just a sign of boredom.

Newman wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 5:28 pm
Newman (elite user)

Doing a review when unsavoury practices are witnessed is entirely appropriate. I agree with suddenpaws that where possible a chat with owners/managers is important. However, in this case it seems the chat was had in person and a refund offered.

Where I come from, food businesses are publicly listed if they are issued with penalty notices or prosecuted for poor hygiene or food practices:

n8wcpo wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Just last weekend my wife and I walked by a mighty nice looking restaurant. I put it on my list of places to try. Needless to say, I 'll be enjoying my pilsner somewhere else...thanks for the review!

virezo wrote on October 13th, 2011 at 9:40 pm
virezo (elite user)
Good Answer NickinNam marked this as a good answer

Nick, are you asking a question or making a topic here?
I think you had got the answer before you asked.

Brian22 wrote on October 14th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

One important point to add is that,

the manage partially did the right thing: refund his money.

But was this employee admonished or suspended or perhaps fired?


That means that this practice is likely still continuing.

NickinNam wrote on October 14th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

@Virezo: Yes, you are correct, and I admitted as much in my last post.

Yes, it is a topic. But an appropriate topic for the etiquette section.

I also wasn't sure if Tsc was going to write a review, and I wondered what the community thought before I wrote one myself. As it has been pointed out, I didn't even sit down in the place. Some people said "write it". Some people said "it didn't happen to you, so it is second hand hearsay evidence". I agree with both of those sentiments, and was looking for a communal judgement call. As it turned out, Tsc wrote the review, and I didn't have to.

I have been trashed before for writing reviews when something happened to make me leave a place before ordering food, like no smoking section, menu in dollars etc...things I don't personally tolerate.

Yes, it was a discussion topic, and even now that the place has been named and shamed, the discussion seems to be continuing.

More amusing than yet another question on "which grocery store sells bizarre ingredient X", isn't it?

tctaft wrote on October 14th, 2011 at 3:55 pm
tctaft (elite user)

And last but not least - Could we have the envelope please? The name of the place is~~~~~~~~~?

Newman wrote on October 14th, 2011 at 4:02 pm
Newman (elite user)

Was Brian22 there? Did Brian22 witness the events or subsequent action taken by management? To be fair, everything outside of Tsc's review (it's there tc) is pure hearsay. Nobody knows whether the employee was admonished or sacked, or not. Only another visit/s would see whether or not the practice continues.

Reviewing what was seen and actually experienced is one thing. Pasting hearsay all over the place is quite another.

JuanBTong wrote on October 14th, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Dear Brian 22: Of course this practice is likely still continuing. All over the country. Street food anyone.

Dear Newman: Posting hearsay as hearsay seems reasonable.

Dear NickinNam: I think you got what you were after, now where can I get Flubber?

NickinNam wrote on October 14th, 2011 at 7:06 pm

@JuanBTong: I saw some Flubber at Fivimart (branches in chic neighborhoods only!), Veggy's, Dan's, Unimart, L's Place, Western Canned Food (BS Mart), Big C, Metro, and all the Mini Marts in the swank neighborhoods.

You'll find it right next to the fake Nordic ice cream brands (Bogus Daiz), under the Canadian "cold shots" beer, above the dried lavender, cranberry supplements and almond butter, in the vitamin isle just past the creatine and protein supplement section. Don't trip over the pumpkins on your way--they're all over the damned place now, particularly since they are FOOD here.

They have diet, low fat, vegetarian, hypo-allergenic, glutine-free, new and improved, extra crispy, vegan, low-sodium and extra salty varieties at all locations.

At all of these locations, you will find"

"Quality. Values. Style. Service. Selection. Convenience. Economy. Savings. Performance. Experience. Hospitality. Low rates. Friendly service. Namebrands. Easy terms. Affordable prices. Money back guarantee. Free installation. Free admission. Free appraisal. Free delivery. Free alterations. Free home trial. And free parking.

No cash? No problem! No kidding. No fuss, no muss. No risk. No obligation. No red tape. No down payment. No entry fee. No hidden charges. No purchase necessary. No one will call on you. No payments with interests until September.

But, limited time only. Those who act now. Order today. Send no money. Offer good while supply lasts. Two to a customer. Each item sold separately. Batteries not included. Mileage may vary. All sales are final. Allow six weeks for delivery. Some items not available. Some assembly may be required. Some restrictions may apply.

So come on in ... for a free demonstration and a free consultation with our friendly professional staff. Our experienced and knowledgeable sales representatives will help you make a selection that's just right for you and just right for your budget. And say, don't forget to pick up your free gift: A classic delux custom designer luxury prestige high quality premium select gourmet pocket pencil-sharpner. Yours for the asking, no purchase necessary. It's our way of saying thank you.

And if you act now, we'll include an extra added free complimentary bonus gift: A classic delux custom designer luxury prestige high quality premium select gourmet combination key ring magnifying glass and garden hose, in a geniune immitation leather style carrying case with authentic vinal trim. Yours for the asking, no purchase necessary, it's our way of saying thank you.

Actually, it's our way of saying: bend over just a little bit farther, so we can stick this big advertising d#*k up your a&& a little bit deeper, a little bit deeper! you miserable no good %uc#ing consumer a$$hole! " (*)

(*) OK, that last part is courtesy of the late, great George Carlin. But he has a point. Do we really expect every variation of every consumer product available in Europe and America and Australia to be available in this little spithole of a rising 3rd world country?

JuanBTong wrote on October 14th, 2011 at 7:16 pm
Good Answer NickinNam marked this as a good answer

No No No..I want organic Flubber.

budtime wrote on October 14th, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Admin how can I give Nick 10 Accurates, As the Tin man said to Dorothy in wiz of oz "This ain't Kansas"

TscTempest wrote on October 15th, 2011 at 10:19 am
TscTempest (elite user)

I didn't know you could get some, " vinal trim" here!?!

Isn't that supposed to be with a "Y?"

Interesting Etiquette topic. Seriously. I labored long and hard on the great white telephone to God, before making that review.

For the record, having paid the bill before the manager arrived, I only asked her for my change, so that I could get out of there as fast as possible. She returned the money and took the ticket. Fair enough, her initiative. Bravo.

I guess the waitress told here there was a patron leaving without finishing their beer or touching their plate, that caused her to come over and see what the problem was - astute waitress.

I don't know if the, 'angry' waiter, was serving a new customer, or re-serving an existing, and possibly being difficult, customer, the point is, that kind of plate handling should not be done customer side of the Pass. It should have been sorted out in the kitchen.

I'm aware that cleaning plates with paper towel, is not uncommon here in VN either in restaurant or at home, however, in a mid-range establishment that is featuring imported beers and showcasing foreign cuisine, if they choose to use such practices, ought to keep that out of the customer's view so as not to be seen as acting incongruent with the image they are portraying.

Let's face it, the place looks brilliant. The service is good. The food that was served to me, did look appetizing.

But, angry waiters re-handling and/or recycling platters indicate a dark side/underbelly to an establishment that suggests food, no matter how nicely presented, may not be respected. Certainly, the customer receiving such a plate isn't, and that is something the manager SHOULD be handling, not some dick-headed, self-important, and pissed off waiter.

Brian22 wrote on October 15th, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Yes, the practice goes on "everywhere."

But this does not make it right.

I have to teach kids how to cover their mouths when they cough and spew spit.

Why can't the parents do this?

TscTempest wrote on October 16th, 2011 at 10:24 pm
TscTempest (elite user)

...because the parents haven't been taught.

a legacy of being the victor, you don't have to apologize for your own behaviors.

Brian22 wrote on October 16th, 2011 at 10:37 pm


Who is the victor? What are you talking about?

mimilikestea wrote on October 16th, 2011 at 11:09 pm
mimilikestea (elite user)
Good Answer NickinNam marked this as a good answer

Ironically this thread is making me hungry..

paddyk87 wrote on October 16th, 2011 at 11:30 pm
paddyk87 (elite user)

@brian22, he's talking about victory in 75 possibly.

chalisa wrote on October 17th, 2011 at 12:47 am

what about the garnish? he doesn't talk about that. i never eat that anyway, it always looks second hand wherever you go... unless the person before you eats it. and no one talks about how everyone picks their nose and puts their boggies in the food too. why not just be honest about everything so we know what we are getting.

chalisa wrote on October 17th, 2011 at 12:56 am

or the toe jam. sorry forgot to mention that. does anyone remember the moon cake story about the cooks stiring the moon cake dough with their feet? oh wait now someone is going to say that they wash them first. of course they do... in the toilet. maybe they also put the garnish on the plate with their toes your friend didn't see that but i did and i didn't write a review, sorry. i got a big long hair in my food recently in an indian restaurant most people love, that's my review. the food was good but the hair was long. too long.

mimilikestea wrote on October 17th, 2011 at 1:27 am
mimilikestea (elite user)

Long hair in Indian food, AUTHENTICITY.

Onedog wrote on October 17th, 2011 at 8:26 am

What is the name of that eatery?
So I won't go there!

Another local thing, is putting tea back in the tea pot at the local cha stations. Sometimes it goes into a bucket...but what happens to that tea?
Maybe that is the stronger brew.

TscTempest wrote on October 17th, 2011 at 11:36 am
TscTempest (elite user)

To the victor goes the spoils, and when you've had more than enough spoils then you end up being spoilt. And as we all know spoilt brats show little grace and fewer manners.

TscTempest wrote on October 17th, 2011 at 11:36 am
TscTempest (elite user)

It wasn't a garnish, but half a plate of salad greens - or something like that.

crash wrote on October 17th, 2011 at 11:53 am

a strangely odd thread. such gnashing of teeth and hand wringing over practices that would be crass at the local pound.

on the other hand - now that i think about it - this little pearl of discussion is going to prove difficult to forget. d'oh!

ah well, all the more reason to increase the ratio of beer to solid foods...

ElemenoPea wrote on October 19th, 2011 at 10:27 am

Feels like the review was always going to be written but this thread was just a means of making it well noticed by the people on here.
Why is Nick asking a question on behalf of Tsc..? Both are prolific posters.

NickinNam wrote on October 19th, 2011 at 11:14 am

@ElemenoPea: Good question. We actually went to eat at Goldmalt on Tran Phu after this incident and were talking about whether he should "out" the place, since he got his money back so easily. Upon leaving lunch, I got the feeling he had decided not to.

I guess you could say I was just goading him on, and trying to bring the community into a discussion on what the right thing to do would be, so it wasn't just me insisting he do it.

He eventually decided to do it (I don't know what his motivation was, we see each other rarely).

Voila. I wasn't really asking a question on behalf of Tsc. I was asking you collectively to weigh in, in the interest of fairness.

ElemenoPea wrote on October 19th, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Fair enough then.. I don't review but that situation warranted one. Getting money back quickly for bad hygiene doesn't improve my dining experience.

TscTempest wrote on October 19th, 2011 at 5:20 pm
TscTempest (elite user)

@ELMNOPA.... what can I say? I thought about it. I discussed it. It shocked me. In the end I reviewed. Was that wrong, to post, given they'd given me my money back? It was unsolicited, I didn't ask for my money back, only for my change. We all have experiences that tick us off. i guess this was one of those. As for nick asking the etiquette question, my thought's are fair call. However,I posted my review prior to being aware that this thread even existed, so pre-emptive? No, not really.

SEANINHANOI wrote on October 19th, 2011 at 7:31 pm
Good Answer NickinNam marked this as a good answer

I thought all not specifically related comments were being removed. Meh. So should I comment on a place I ate in today. Lots of staff standing around yet I was told to wait to be served. I waited and waited. I had time to count the cracks in the ceiling etc. Should I write a bad review even though I enjoyed my food and drinks?

NickinNam wrote on October 19th, 2011 at 7:49 pm

There ya go. Some karma for ya. Now you can get a bowl of pha AND some free drinks at the next meet-up. The Good Answer, Well-written, funny and accretes are all my gift to you.

Newman wrote on October 19th, 2011 at 9:35 pm
Newman (elite user)

Dunno why Tsc worried about the green stuff. Not like he eats it anyway.

Newman wrote on October 19th, 2011 at 9:42 pm
Newman (elite user)

Some of the Review Guidelines as found in the TNH User Guide:

TNH is fundamentally driven by user contributions. Accordingly, we do not in any way want to to stifle opinion or limit your sense of expression. However, there are some basic considerations we all have to take into account. This is a community with a wide variety of perspectives and attitudes. It is important to be respectful to all who are active in that community. Your posts should show respect to other community members. Unnecessarily profane or confrontational content is not appropriate here. Culturally insensitive comments will not be tolerated as well. Living abroad can be a frustrating experience at times, but this is not the place to come and vent. Make your opinions known in a well-informed and responsible manner, and you'll always be welcome. Come here looking for payback for that bad week you've had, and you may be asked to leave. While there's no one way to write a great review, we do offer some basic guidelines for how to approach it.

Be as clear and personal as possible in your reviews. Remember that saying a certain spot is "great" or "terrible" is of little value if other users have no way of gauging why you feel that way. Give personal, anecdotal information so that other people can decide if it's something they might like to pursue further. Give people some context for your rating.

Do not post hearsay or second hand experience as your own review. We understand that you may not want to patronize a business due to the experience that one of your friends has had, but it's important that you keep your own reviews based on what you've seen and done. Encourage a friend to sign up and write a review of their experiences if it's something important for the community to know. Once people start adding hearsay and and second hand info, things spin out of control quite quickly.

Offer both the good and the bad you know about Hanoi. This isn't a Hanoi PR site. A great many of us enjoy our lives here (or we wouldn't be here any longer), but that certainly isn't to say that the experience is flawless. In fact, documenting the rough experiences we've gone through can help others avoid similar mistakes. We can also steer people in the right direction, allowing businesses and organizations that operate effectively to enjoy greater success.

suefeathers wrote on October 25th, 2011 at 12:35 am

I am really missing the arguments on TNH, there's nothing like them here in Istanbul. So thank you Nick! This place sounds terrible, I will never go there, I guarantee it.

clock iconThen Some Time Passed...
Breathing Robot wrote on May 18th, 2015 at 11:23 am
Breathing Robot

Forget the shop but its a clearly indicate that is a just portion of the iceberg on the water so insdpite of i love this country because of the values they still hold but nothing comes for free such as treatment to customers provided by leftovers in a used plates ..makes me think if this happens in most biggest city in Vietnam then how about other places ...? Remembering Chilean aircraft crash and people who ate the the dead passengers inorder to survive at andes ....i agree that but i dont where there is well established looking shop to do this ... really someone can you please advise if this is a common in Vietnam ? very pity very . . .another question is why the not publishing clearly name of places and may be it will help to everyone by identfy and even speak with workers after job time and dig the more and may be so many places also practices same who knows ? scary because self respect is seems ..? someone said above that there is no moral here .... is it true ? so what is the dignity and loyalty and so pridefull values that i thought holds ? Thats why Vietnam is special . But this message was some kind of eye opener which unable to imagine ever very sad very .

jimmy1967 wrote on May 18th, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Reusing a plate someone just are off? Are you kidding me the health dept should shut them down until they learn to wash dishes.

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