Recently my girlfriend and I went to her friend's family's Chinese restaurant for dinner and I encountered something a bit odd. I knew full well they had a "secret menu" typically not offered to most American patrons and had discussed it with her friend previously. Once we got there and were seated, she gave us our menus and said what we had discussed previously was on the back under the Taiwanese section. I looked it over and was pretty bummed about how pedestrian the fare was. I asked, "Is this it?" She said yes. A few minutes later while looking around the restaurant, I noticed another table of Asian guests and they had a different menu! We discussed it amongst ourselves for a sec and a friend we had with us had the gull to go over to that table and ask for one. He came back and, lo and behold, it was the coveted "secret menu" filled with all the authentic dishes we had been excited about trying. When my girlfriend's friend came back to the table to take our orders, I held up the menu with somewhat of a sly grin on my face and asked, "Annie, what's this?" Embarrassed, she replied, "uh... fuck. ha" She let us go ahead and place our orders, consisting of Husband and Wife (a cold spicy beef dish, listed online as being ox lung), beef stomach in sesame oil (another cold dish) , and a warm tripe dish. Soon after, her mother comes out from the kitchen asking us repeatedly if we were absolutely certain we wanted those menu items and asking if we knew what they were, we assured her yes, but she still seemed reticent to let us have them. Finally she conceded and left us with the parting words, "you're my customer, I just want to make sure you're satisfied." The food came. We were beyond satisfied. Just confused about all the fuss over that damned menu. So my question is, why all the secrecy and hesitance to allow us to order? I just don't understand. Did we commit some cultural miscue? A buddy of mine explained it as an "immigrant thing," but couldn't really elaborate on why.
post #1 of 86
2/2/11 at 1:31am