It’s not every day that you have your worst restaurant experience ever. Mine happened a few weeks ago, upon my return from Seattle and Cape Cod. Literally: it was my first meal back and the food gods rightly punished me for making a waste of it.
Park Slope has two sushi joints I frequent: one is Taro which, as I’ve said in the past, serves the best sushi in town. The other, ____, is far inferior; the salad a soupy mess, the sushi poorly executed and rarely ever fresh. Why, on my first day back, did I go to ____ over Taro for lunch? Because, I am embarrassed to admit, I was lazy. I was nearer to ____ at lunchtime than I was to Taro; so I went to _____. And, rightly, I was punished: but did the punishment fit the crime?
The picture might give it away, but let me set the scene.
I didn’t have a magazine, so I was reading an Us Weekly they had in a stack at the front. (Was I punished for that too?)
I had the soupy salad which I grudgingly slurped down, splashing a little on to Hanna Montana’s face. Or was that Miley Cyrus’s face? Wait, is that the same person?
And then the bento box arrived: comfortingly compartmentalized, there was the edamame, the fried ball thingies (what are those thingies?), the three pieces of sushi with the cuts of fish resting on top of the rice, and then a California roll.
I started with the edamame, biting into the skin and dragging my teeth down to shoot the salty green beans into my mouth. I moved over to one of the fried ball thingies and ate one, two, three right up so I could get them over and done with.
Now it was time to try the California roll. I lifted the first piece, dunked it into a mixture of wasabi and soy sauce, and shoved it into my mouth. I did the same with the second piece.
Then I moved to the three pieces of sushi with the fish on top of the rice (is there a name for that? When it’s not a roll?) I ate the white one–the one that wasn’t salmon or tuna–because that’s my least favorite and I wanted to save my favorites for last.
I ate another piece of edamame. And then another.
And then it happened.
I went for another piece of Califorania roll. My chopsticks descended, they clasped onto a piece, and lifted.
Squiggling there, wedged between that piece and another, was the grossest vision I’ve ever seen on a plate in a restaurant or, for that matter, anywhere else.
It was a roach. A black, slimy roach.
Literally: I made an embarrassing noise. I shot out of my seat and made the noise; there was a physical leap out of my booth and then a yelp and heads turned.
Of course, no one working there noticed. I stared down and the roach was still squiggling. I wanted to barf.
Finally, I got a waitress’s attention. She came to me and I pointed to the bug on the plate and said “bug”: she looked and, startled, she lifted the plate up and carried it to the kitchen.
I took a deep breath and stared deeply into Hannah Montana’s eyes. I wanted nothing more than to get up and leave that restaurant, to never return, ever ever ever again.
So I stood up and walked to the kitchen, where the waitress was showing the plate to the men working there.
“Excuse me,” I said. “No more food.”
(The waitress didn’t speak good English.)
“No more?” she asked, a bit confused.
“Just a check, please,” I said, stupidly, since the roach in the sushi should’ve given me a free pass to go. “I’ll pay for the salad and leave.”
She went to the printer, printed out the bill for the salad ($3), I laid $4 down–she still deserved some kind of tip, right?–and I rushed out into the street.
I walked briskly, I didn’t look back. And I vowed never, ever, ever to return to ___ again. Ever.
As for eating sushi again, it took a few days but then, a week later (I think–or less?), I returned to the loving arms of my preferred Park Slope sushi joint, Taro. Oh Taro, why did I ever shirk your love? You’d never traumatize me with squirming roaches on the plate, you’re so much better than that!
Thus concludes my worst restaurant experience ever. You may have noticed that I removed the name of the restaurant from the post; I thought it over, and as much as I’d like to punish the place for serving me a roach, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt this time around and not make it so when people Google the restaurant, this story comes up. Those who are savvy and who’ve been reading my blog for a long time will figure it out.
In the meantime, what’s your worst restaurant experience ever?