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What behavior by waiters in restaurants annoys you the most?

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In Japan when you go to a restaurant as a group/family the waiters tend not to bring the group's entire order all at the same time. I have had many experiences where one diner will finish his/her meal before someone else in the party even gets their food.

This can be very frustrating when dining with hungry young children when the adults get their food first.

10 ( +14 / -5 )

Isn't the term "waiters" a bit outdated as it refers to male staff? I think the term nowadays is wait staff.

But anyway. Posh French place in Ginza a few years back. The waiter (yes, he was male) quite clearly felt he was far superior to his clientele and (literally) looked down his nose at us. I asked would he bring me a beer while we waited for the meal. As snootingly (new word, copyright pending) as you like he said, "No, perhaps later". For the first time in many years I felt like I wanted to hit someone.

0 ( +10 / -10 )

When I make some tiny little request when ordering (like 'hold the mayonaise please') but the waiter always needs to run back to the kitchen to double check with someone whether my request is acceptable. The really annoying part is when they return and say 'yes, it's OK' with a big smile as if they are doing you some huge favor. I've only ever experienced this in Japan.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Deliberate slow service.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Nine times out of ten, the service in Japan is much better than anything back home.

12 ( +16 / -6 )

Paid my way through grad school waiting tables.

For me, I hate waiting to be greeted (at the host/hostess stand) or initially at my table by my server. Solution, walk out and find another restaurant. Only had to do this a few times in Japan. In the US, it was common. That said, in terms of warm, genuine service, I prefer American servers--after all, the friendlier they are the fatter their tip.. Japanese service is indeed impeccable but I wish it were less robotic.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

In Japan: when I order off the Japanese menu in Japanese and the waiter/ waitress blinks incessantly and turns to my Japanese girlfriend and takes the order over again; or when the check comes and I put the money in the tray in front of the server and hand it to them, they return with my change and receipt and they're given directly to my Japanese girlfriend; or when me and my Japanese girlfriend are seated and given menus, the waiter/ waitress turns their back to me to face my Japanese girlfriend and explains the daily specials as if I'm allergic to daily specials.

18 ( +19 / -2 )

Japanese service is indeed impeccable but I wish it were less robotic.

I agree. This gets really annoying. When will they come up with original lines to greet their diners?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I speak fluently Japanese (to the points that persons calling me for the first time have troubles believing the person talking to them is a foreigner). This has happened to me more often that I bother to count:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLt5qSm9U80

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Picking their noses when they think you aren't watching.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@Ebisen, so you speak the language but lack in its cultural insights. Got stuff to study then, haven't you.

@M3M3: 'this only happens in Japan'... funny that, isn't it.

In Japan? I am not a great fan of being told where to sit, I always ask if it's OK to sit at the open table where I want to sit. The answer, always yes, so, no real problem.

In the States? Stop the talking, stop the smiling fawning and get on with it!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Japanese service is indeed impeccable but I wish it were less robotic.

Good point! Once, a Japanese friend of mine went west for a little R and R. I told she might be put off by the service as compared to the service I admired in Japan. I was shocked when she retorted that at least the rude service in the west comes from the heart. Whereas in Japan, she said, the service is great but cold and detached.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

ebisen:

I speak fluently Japanese

How about English?

I hate it when the waiter starts smoking in the restaurant while working. Yes, this happened in a restaurant in Tokyo. Lovely food, but it's a shame there were no non-smoking sections.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

@Ebisen, so you speak the language but lack in its cultural insights. Got stuff to study then, haven't you.

UK, how did you come to this conclusion out of my post? I's impossible to learn the language if you don't live the language, FYI... While the video is obviously exaggerated, the fact that many waiters will just turn to my Asian-faced Korean friend and confirm my order with him is highly annoying. This is one of the reasons I'll never consider taking up the citizenship: no matter how good you're speaking, reading and writing, your face will always looks different (well, I'm a white male)...

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Not sure if this is the waiters' fault, but I hate being asked to leave after the 2 hour limit at an izakaya is up, even when there are empty tables and my group is still ordering food and drinks.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I couldn't look more non-Japanese, but I never have any trouble getting the wait staff to take my order or my money, or give me my change, even when I'm with my very Japanese-looking hubby or Japanese girlfriends. Methinks the folk who think their Japanese is fluent aren't quite as fluent as they imagine themselves to be.

My pet peeve is wait staff who understandingly nod and smile while you explain you're vegetarian and don't want any animal products apart from dairy in your meal, then suggest pasta (with bits of bacon in it), salad (with ham), chicken curry or in that case perhaps Madam would prefer a fish dish? Jelly for dessert? No meat does not mean anything that isn't a steak!

-1 ( +6 / -8 )

Mr. Noidall

Try sitting next to your "Japanese girlfriend". Might solve one or two of your problems

2 ( +2 / -1 )

I couldn't look more non-Japanese, but I never have any trouble getting the wait staff to take my order or my money, or give me my change, even when I'm with my very Japanese-looking hubby or Japanese girlfriends. Methinks the folk who think their Japanese is fluent aren't quite as fluent as they imagine themselves to be.

That's probably because they take the order directly from your hubby. And what does fluency have to do with getting your change back? I'm sure Japanese mutes don't have the same problem. Common sense says you give the change back to whoever you received payment from. Methinks the Japanophelia of some folk obscures their reality of what's real.

2 ( +5 / -4 )

In Japan, no real problems because staff generally do their jobs well with a modicum sense of responsibility, but other places (Australia, US) when waiting staff become too familiar - can't they just serve?!; or other places (Britain, some places around Europe, South and SOuth East Asia) where staff are despondent, detached to the extent that service does not occur - can they serve us, in this lifetime?!.

Otherwise presumption of tipping really sucks - that makes service in Japan and a few other places around where tipping is not presumed a cut above other places.

Alternately, I wonder what answers JT would get if they asked what behaviour by customers really annoy (serving staff)?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm mostly with Cleo. I used to face this issue of the staff always turning to my wife, but in recent years, it doesn't happen so much. It does happen on rare occasion, but almost never. I think my Japanese just got to a level that speaks for itself on how much I can understand and communicate.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@MrNoidall

In Japan: when I order off the Japanese menu in Japanese and the waiter/ waitress blinks incessantly and turns to my Japanese girlfriend and takes the order over again; or when the check comes and I put the money in the tray in front of the server and hand it to them, they return with my change and receipt and they're given directly to my Japanese girlfriend; or when me and my Japanese girlfriend are seated and given menus, the waiter/ waitress turns their back to me to face my Japanese girlfriend and explains the daily specials as if I'm allergic to daily specials.

So let me get this straight... your girlfriend is Japanese?

12 ( +11 / -1 )

That's probably because they take the order directly from your hubby.

Mmm, no, they take my order from me. I tend to be pretty fussy/picky about my food, and it usually involves lengthy discussions about whether a dish is actually vegetarian or not. Mr cleo prefers not to get involved. He just wants his dinner.

And what does fluency have to do with getting your change back?

You tell me. You're the one who complained about you paying and the change being given to your Japanese girlfriend.

Methinks the Japanophelia (sic) of some folk obscures their reality of what's real.

Ditto the Japanophobia of some folk?

-6 ( +4 / -9 )

Mmm, no, they take my order from me. I tend to be pretty fussy/picky about my food, and it usually involves lengthy discussions about whether a dish is actually vegetarian or not. Mr cleo prefers not to get involved. He just wants his dinner

Wow! I can just imagine the exasperation felt by both hubby and waiter alike.

14 ( +15 / -3 )

Methinks the folk who think their Japanese is fluent aren't quite as fluent as they imagine themselves to be.

Cleo,I can't offer any proof, of course , but I'm at just as good, if not better than most of the gaijin in the video I posted. Your reply, that my Japanese is not good enough just proves my point..

1 ( +3 / -3 )

Harry: [while watching Casablanca] There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance. Sally: And Ingrid Bergman is low maintenance? Harry: An L.M. Definitely. Sally: Which one am I? Harry: You're the worst kind; you're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance. Sally: I don't see that. Harry: You don't see that? Waiter, I'll begin with a house salad, but I don't want the regular dressing. I'll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side. "On the side" is a very big thing for you. Sally: Well, I just want it the way I want it. Harry: I know; high maintenance.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I remember a staff member once offered me a spoon in Yoshinoya when I was having breakfast. I thought it was quite sweet but no doubt some gaijin I know would have flown off the handle. That said, I'm not sure how you would eat a piece of salmon with a spoon. I didn't wasn't to embarrass the very polite lad who had good intentions at heart by asking.

2 ( +2 / -1 )

no doubt some gaijin I know would have flown off the handle

Indeed! There's actually a whole website for such people. Check out www.debito.org

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I always gain immense enjoyment going to a sushi restaurant and ordering only for the waiting staff or owner to then ask my wife if I can eat sushi.

I can never figure out why they don't do that in Mcdonalds too.

6 ( +5 / -0 )

Annoys me?? I guess is when the waiters tend to look at my Japanese friends when I try to give them my order, even when I am speaking Japanese. Then again, it is not much of a big deal.

3 ( +3 / -1 )

In my time in Japan I got most annoyed when I would visit a western restaurant and order an appetizer, and it would almost always -- 80% plus -- be served along with the entree. If the menu has things listed as an appetizer, then it should be served as such, not along with everything else. I went to that restaurant to get a break from the usual Japanese fare, so don't be so lazy.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

When you obviously say "____ o hitotsu kudasai" (with more than decent accent) but they completely ignore you and continue to try and translate the menu with broken English. -sighs-

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@M3M3M3

When I make some tiny little request when ordering (like 'hold the mayonaise please') but the waiter always needs to run back to the kitchen to double check with someone whether my request is acceptable. The really annoying part is when they return and say 'yes, it's OK' with a big smile as if they are doing you some huge favor. I've only ever experienced this in Japan.

M3M3M3 nailed it. Unfortunately, this stems from an engrained cultural mindset. Decision-making powers are not given to those who are under the manager. This is a particularly painful realisation upon embarking on any form of banking here. I couldn't even get my dry cleaning a day earlier than usual (a whole week)!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I try to avoid restaurants claiming to offer French or European cuisine. All you get is pretentious ignorance, poor hygiene, bad food and amazing bills. I much prefer traditional Japanese restaurants, such as sushi, tonkatsu, unagi and noodle places. They know their business, and they know better than to treat their customers like idiots.

Another thing I don't like is restaurants where the waiter wants to take your credit card out back somewhere to charge up the bill. These days it's dangerous to let a card out of your sight.

2 ( +2 / -1 )

This robotic Japanese service is a problem? A smile, polite? Efficient?

What do you want? Someone saying if you don't like it you can go elsewhere?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Nervously watching as a waiter or waitress holds a big, hot bowl of soup or ramen (or a cup of coffee / tea) over the head of a small child or baby.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Reaching across tables for empty glasses is pretty annoying, but my biggest pet peeve is bad Japanese : "ichi-man-en kara oazukarishimasu" or "___ni narimasu." Learn to speak your own language correctly first before trying to serve people.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

jerseyboyJul. 02, 2015 - 01:06PM JST

In my time in Japan I got most annoyed when I would visit a western restaurant and order an appetizer, and it would almost always -- 80% plus -- be served along with the entree.

You mean places like Gusto or Royal Host?

biculturalJul. 02, 2015 - 06:49PM JST

my biggest pet peeve is bad Japanese : "ichi-man-en kara oazukarishimasu" or "___ni narimasu."

I think "_ni narimasu" is perfectly good Japanese.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

SHOUTING.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

my biggest pet peeve is bad Japanese : "ichi-man-en kara oazukarishimasu" or "___ni narimasu."

I think "_ni narimasu" is perfectly good Japanese.

It's actually technically not correct keigo, but it's used colloquially to the point that it's mostly accepted now. But some older Japanese folk have a real problem with it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Maybe it's just me but if the food is served to me within a reasonable time, is what I asked for, isn't crashed down in front of me with a scowl and my bill is right, I'm pretty satisfied ( I worked in a pub as a student and have played the arse-kissing panto role in my current job ). 'Robotic' service or using the correct honorific doesn't really bother me.

One thing that does bother me is staff not handing out coupons for their izakaya to me on the street ( I don't care about being ignored by hostess bar staff on the street ). I remember walking through Shimbashi and asking a young man handing out coupons who ignored me if I could have one too as I had money and was hungry and thirsty. His eyes looked in danger of exploding.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Like everyone, I don't like when they just look at our japanese friend when we order, but the service is very good anyway and much better than what I'm used to at home. Like pretty much everything here (supermarket, konbini and so on).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You mean places like Gusto or Royal Host?

CH3CHO -- no, I meant places that a week of your salary cost simply to dine there.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

The Whinny helium voice and the half running/jogging

3 ( +3 / -0 )

One thing I don't like about Japanese restaurants are the drinking glasses are tiny. I wish the glasses were bigger and/or leave the pitcher at my table so I don't have to call every 5 minutes.

As far as waiters, looking at my partner after I give my order is annoying. Sometimes they even send someone else if they are nervous enough.

2 ( +1 / -0 )

One thing I do appreciate are the Japanese Bartenders. Depending on where you like to drink. . . Some of these cats got style, grace, talent and cool a pretty attitude. (Both men/women bartenders).

I once thought I was reliving Tom Cuise's, "COCKTAILS" when a pair of very talented japanese bartenders performed (impeccably) the hippy-hippy shake routine!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I've found bartenders to be hit and miss. Some are cool, and will play you up to other customers. Others are jealous, and will talk you down to other customers.

-1 ( +1 / -1 )

True. Hit or miss, talent wise. I've been talked down to other patrons, but not a bartender.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my younger years I was a waiter, in family restaurants, mid-level fine dining places, and one very high end cottage French restaurant. There are three things I saw that irked customers the most: 1. Bothering them too much, 2. Not actually listening to them, and 3. Dealing with them cursorily, e.g., speaking too fast and running down the specials so quickly they don't have a chance to process them. A distant fourth is trying to be their "friend" - in many cases it's seen as invasive, but some people like it.

Of course, as evidenced by the comments here, there are a lot of other irksome things, but from what I experienced, the above mentioned garner the most annoyance, most frequently. And a lot of problems are variations of the same.

Poor service almost goes without saying: service is the job. I've seen plenty of wait staff who simply do not understand that. It's weird to me. I've also been a bartender - at restaurants, clubs, hotel bars, on contract for events like weddings, etc. The key skill for wait staff or bartenders is reading your customers - you must do that first, before anything else.

You have to treat customers like people - individuals. Customers visit your establishment to enjoy themselves - your job is to help them do that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For me, the worst is when parents don't control their kids and let them run around screaming, getting in someone else's way. When you go to the buffets taking way too long or too much food, sneering and sometimes testing it out by touching it.

Moderator: That's not what the question asks you.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Shouting a new arrivals and particularly shouting at me from less than a metre away when I arrive.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Making me sit in some crap seat near the door or bathroom when the place is empty.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When the waiter takes more than 10 seconds to arrive after I tilt my head.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Shouting a new arrivals and particularly shouting at me from less than a metre away when I arrive.

Ohh tell me about it! These shouting rituals are actually doubled, when new arrivals enter and the ones who have just paid the tab. Very annoying cause not one staff member, but all of them begin a frenzy of shouting. And the varying intonations of the shouts gets on my nerves.

@LostinNagoya, LoL.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'll agree with cleo that while I don't think it's right, usually the wait staff will turn to the Japanese person because you flat out aren't being understood. Sorry but your Japanese isn't as good as you think it is.

I used to get really worked up about it too. but as I got better with Japanese guess what? It stopped happening. I haven't had it happen to me in years.

Giving the change back to someone else is extremely rude but this happened to me maybe once or twice in many years.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In Japan: when I order off the Japanese menu in Japanese and the waiter/ waitress blinks incessantly and turns to my Japanese girlfriend and takes the order over again; or when the check comes and I put the money in the tray in front of the server and hand it to them, they return with my change and receipt and they're given directly to my Japanese girlfriend; or when me and my Japanese girlfriend are seated and given menus, the waiter/ waitress turns their back to me to face my Japanese girlfriend and explains the daily specials as if I'm allergic to daily specials.

This is not just 'In Japan'. I recognize this. What I do is take control and my companion knows that's what I want to do and lets me. Tell your girlfriend you deal with the situation and she should give a blank stare!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The expressionless robotic "いらっしゃいませ" that is said upon entering a shop, conbi etc.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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