Sunday, December 19, 2010

Feeling Foreign

Auckland is a fantastic place for eating authentic Asian food.  It's hard to get the authentic experience though, if you are with people that don't look like the right ethnicity, or if you don't speak or read the language.  I am thinking in particular about a number of Chinese restaurants that I have been to recently.  It's a rude shock to the system when, instead of being asked which kind of tea you would like, you are offered soft drinks and beer.  At a Malaysian restaurant, we even had to ask for chopsticks, which had been given to other tables by default.  Then there are the specials which appear on untranslated signs, which no doubt contain items of exceptional interest, perhaps because they are things you can't normally get, or perhaps because a discount is in effect.  Long story short, although I love eating out at the various ethnic restaurants, I almost always feel like I am somehow missing out.

Sometimes it's not even enough to look right and to speak and read the language.  Some things you just have to know.  The other night, at a large family dinner, I was offered a 15% discount at a Chinese restaurant, which as far I know, was not advertised anywhere.  Against my mother's advice, I asked if I could pay by credit card, fully expecting a negative answer.  Instead, the lady paused, nodded, and proceeded to swipe my card through.  It was not until I checked the receipt afterwards that I realised this meant I did not receive the discount, which came to nearly $20.  Not the end of the world, but it's embarrassing when you pass it over in favour of what comes out to be $1.33 in reward points.

So, what's one to do?  If you don't have a "local" in your group, is it still possible to order special items, receive those free soups and desserts?
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