The recent article about dinuguan reminded me of my first encounter with zhū zá tāng, a Cantonese noodle soup.
Many, many years ago in Philadelphia's Chinatown, there was a beloved restaurant called Nice Noodle House, where I was accustomed to eat lunch every Wednesday, because I hate deciding where to eat. I also hate deciding what to eat, so to save myself trouble, I just started working my way through the menu from upper left to lower right.
Early on in this project, I ordered the “Cantonese-style noodle soup”. The waitress frowned at me. “You eat this before? This is pig soup.”
“Okay,” I said. “I like pig.”
She was still doubtful. “It made with all parts of pig. You sure you like?”
This situation comes up more in certain types of restaurants than in others. I was a bit surprised this time, because usually in Chinese restaurants, the attitude seems to be that they will bring you what you ordered and if you don't like it that is your problem. Koreans, on the other hand, are more sensitive, and they often seem to be concerned that when the dish arrives you are going to disparage Korean food and insult Korean culture. Koreans often take it very personally if you don't like their cooking; the Cantonese, in my experience, will usually just write you off as an idiot.
Anyway, this time it turned out well enough for everyone. I said “I might not like it, but I promise I will pay for it.” That satisifed the waitress and I got my soup. I did not love it, but was okay, and I ate it and paid for it.
Nice Noodle House closed before I could get all the way through the menu, and was replaced with a less superb noodle restaurant, and later still with an outstandingly mediocre Asian fusion restaurant.