Saturday, March 5, 2011

Customer disservice week

Monday, February 28, 2011

At lunchtime, I was still enjoying the large amount of Indian food I had had at dinner last night, in the company of Diane and Irwin, so I had only a bowl of chicken rice soup ($3.75) at Wo Hop downstairs. It was quite satisfactory.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

This headline tells the story: "My Unhealthy Diet? It Got Me This Far." It appears over this article: Note that the New York Times usually releases content on-line one day before physical printing. Just reading about Larry Garfield, 95, of Key Biscayne, FL, eating rare calf’s liver with mashed potatoes has the same effect on me as several Lipitors and some blood pressure pills. Of course, Mother Ruth (Have Some More) Gotthelf is still rolling at 101 years old.

H.K. Wonton Garden, 79 Mulberry Street, replaces Chanoodle Express, which I visited on March 11, 2010. It opened only last week, while I was traveling. The place was redone, although it appeared relatively new even on my prior visit. The menu focussed on soups, noodles, soup with noodles and noodles with soup, with a dozen or more dim sum items as well. I had beef Chow Fun ($7.50), which is becoming my signature dish. It was good, not great. The portion was no more than medium-sized, but it had a generous amount of beef. Service was quick and friendly.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What a miserable day. I stayed home to wait for the cable guy for what promised to be a three to four hour installation of new equipment by a new provider (named Verizon for illustrative purposes)– fiber optics, wireless router, digital video recorder. The cable guy arrived at 4:20 PM and we sat down and had a little chat about corporate responsibility. I told him that I would consider allowing him to return after I stopped steaming and had exacted appropriate concessions from his corporate masters. Late in the afternoon, before the cable guy showed up, I called my existing provider (RCN for the sake of argument) to reopen negotiations on price, the real reason I was making the change (the Verizon goodies were attractive, but I was willing to forgo them at the right price to avoid disruption to our happy household). At the end of a one-hour conversation, RCN and I agreed to continue negotiations at or after month-end when their new rate charts would be published; they insisted that they could not quote rates to be in effect after March 31 and I am contractually bound to have their current service at least until March 31. However, I was not entirely surprised when, minutes after 10 PM, the cable television and internet services ceased, because RCN ignored the import of our lengthy afternoon discussion and pulled the plug. Tomorrow, I face the prospect of dealing with two sets of idiots, Verizon and RCN, in order to first restore cable and internet service to status quo ante while getting an installation appointment which Verizon can honor without being as much as 8 hours and 20 minutes late.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hok Zhou Restaurant, 95 East Broadway is the 138th discrete Asian restaurant I’ve eaten lunch in (Manhattan’s) Chinatown since the start of January 2010. By now, it’s hard finding new places. Tuesday, I went to a place that had changed name, decor slightly and ownership possibly since a prior visit. Today, I noticed a hole in the wall that I had missed on previous jaunts down East Broadway. Hok Zhou is very narrow with seven tables so crammed together that no more than 2 people could be comfortable at each, in spite of their theoretic capacity for more. A woman chef stands at the front, just inside the door and you tell her your order. Actually, I essentially pointed out my order, four mixed Mei Fun ($5) as it appeared on the menu, since she only said "Good" to any item I pointed to. The four ingredients were of my choosing from the 10 raw materials in pans before her. Only clams were recognizable to me and I was unable to recognize raw or cooked any of the other ingredients I chose. I can only say that they looked a little less mysterious than those I rejected. The broth was hot, gaining flavor from the items thrown in, as in a hot pot. When I received the bill for $6 instead of $5, I figured that I had mistakenly been given the ESL menu.

Friday, March 4, 2011

As I walked up Mulberry Street, past Columbus Park, I heard drumming and cymbals. After a few more steps, as a result of my height, I saw the heads of dragons popping up over the crowd ahead. I wasn’t surprised then to see the festivities in front of H.K. Wonton Garden, the new restaurant where I had eaten on Tuesday. However, my visit preceded the dragons who of course drive off the evil spirits lurking on the premises, so now I’m concerned for my well-being. What is the gestation period for the bad things that might befall me from the lurking evil spirits that were not dispelled until 72 hours after I went into H.K. Wonton Garden?

At the least, I needed to find another new (to me) restaurant to try to immunize myself from the evil spirits. New Chiu Chow Restaurant, 111 Mott Street, has a lot of Vietnamese written on its sign outside, but the menu was pretty conventional Chinese. Possibly, if I knew the secret handshake, I would have been offered a Vietnamese menu. On the other hand, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times several years ago, "Chiu Chow (Chaozhou) cooking is filled with exquisitely light yet assertively flavored dishes and is punctuated with the occasional peppery punch. These are qualities esteemed in modern China — and for that matter, by cosmopolitan diners around the world." Vietnam is not in the picture.

Still, I chose something that sounded a bit different, beef with spicy black bean sauce on rice stick ($8.25), which turned out to be another name for beef Chow Fun, my signature dish. This version was better than Tuesday’s, because it was more generous and tastier. It wasn’t perfect, however, because the black beans were only seen but not heard. The waiters were attentive to the near-full complement at 3 round and five rectangular tables and understood me both in Chinese and Vietnamese.

By the way, RCN is scheduled to restore service tomorrow afternoon; Verizon promises to make a happy customer of me on March 29th. We'll see.

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