I was once told that the mark of a great restaurant was to serve the same dish, presentation and taste, to different patrons over a long period of time with unwavering consistency. So, it’s obviously a bad business practice for a restaurant to prepare food inconsistently even for a short period of time. I have been to the Jai Thai restaurants in Fremont, Capitol Hill and Belltown on numerous occasions and have come to accept some unusually bad business practices, such as slow and somewhat rude service.
For instance, there was that one time when my girlfriend ordered phad thai and was served country style phad thai. It’s not what she asked for but she was willing to keep it a secret from the waitress and try a new dish. After a couple of bites the waitress realized her mistake when one table was short an order of country style phad thai. She took the plate from my girlfriend, with no explanation, and walked the dish over to the table that was missing their food! My girlfriend was brought over her order of phad thai. It took a moment or two for us to get over staring in disbelief at what we’d just witnessed.
I would normally find behavior such as these grounds for never visiting a restaurant again. However, the food at Jai Thai has always seemed to surpass its bizarre, and often comical, antics…until my last visit.
We started off with an order of crab delight. Crab delight is supposed to be cream cheese and crab stuffed in a wonton wrapper and deep-fried. I have accepted that there is probably no crab in the crab delight but have always welcomed the creaminess of the cheese in the fried wonton. Tonight, however, the wonton was half fried at best. The appetizer consisted of flimsy wontons sitting in a pool of their own oil. It was like biting into a greasy piece of dough filled with warm cheese.
Our main course was just as detestable. Chicken phad thai was served with two pieces of shredded chicken and little to no peanut sauce. What we were left with was essentially boiled noodles, bean sprouts, and crushed peanuts.
Now I face the dilemma of whether I should ever return to Jai Thai. When you begin to like a restaurant you form a trust. I see it as a sacred bond, since I am entrusting them with ingredients I will consume and they are in turn relying on me to come back and help sustain their livelihood. But now our trust has been damaged because Jai Thai has not held up its end of the bargain.
This puts me at a crossroads. I can either become jaded and never patronize Jai Thai again or I can be the mature one and give them one more chance. The truth is that I’m still looking for the Jai Thai I first met. I will give them another shot but I cannot forget how they have broken our trust.