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Anyone ever owned/run/worked at a Chinese take out resturant?

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Posts

  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited August 2010
    BEAST! wrote: »
    bowen wrote: »
    Someone did do a double blind and did indeed find it was bullshit. I think Wikipedia has info on it.
    To the OP, re the MSG thing: assuming you get this kind of input, have your friend check all the other local Chinese places and see if they advertise that they don't use MSG. If nobody says "NO MSG", then the locals probably don't care and you don't have to either. However, in that case not using it might make your friend stand out to customers, and in the case that NOBODY uses MSG you might not want to be the place that does.

    Or he could end up being the best tasting Chinese food place in the area. But locale plays a huge part in that. He wouldn't want to do it if they were in SanFran or NYC, but, Texas would be fine for instance.
    It really does depend on the area.

    I used to live on the Upper West Side in NYC and the chinese was terrible, sooooo terrible. Recently moved to Brooklyn and the neighborhood is mostly Puerto Ricans, the chinese in this area is so awesome.

    Why? MSG. Puerto Ricans use a lot of sazon in their cooking, sazon is msg plus some spices. This neighborhood they could get away with MSG whereas the upper west side is not a fan of the stuff.

    I completely agree that the "no-msg on request" thing would be the best way to go.

    Or, just maybe, there's better foreign foods where immigrants actually live.

    One thing with MSG is that it has a distinctive aftertaste commonly described as "gritty." This means that a lot of people are going to hate places with MSG and that it's very hard to test the effects of MSG without tipping people off, using homeopathic concentrations, or using delivery methods of questionable accuracy.

    For letting people know what they're ordering, try putting out wax models of the dishes and using paragraph-long descriptions in the take out menu. For eating in the restaurant, put out menus with spartan descriptions for each person, then a detailed book listing each dish's detailed description, list of ingredients, and napkin-calculated dietary values. The cover should be a map of China with the dish names of codes organized by province (for example, General Gao is probably most linked to America and Taiwan). This would also be a good way to make sure the menu has a good variety, as the chef would want to represent each province with at least one dish.

    For actual dishes, make sure to have a good selection of affordable fish. Whatever the cheapest fish eaten in China is, serve the fuck out of it. Also, does anyone in China eat anything like kasha? A lot of people like to avoid gluten, so you might as well serve some sort of brown rice substitute.

    Edit: Oh yeah, there are pretty much no good kosher Chinese restaurants out there, so you might want to consider that.

  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    For letting people know what they're ordering, try putting out wax models of the dishes and using paragraph-long descriptions in the take out menu. For eating in the restaurant, put out menus with spartan descriptions for each person, then a detailed book listing each dish's detailed description, list of ingredients, and napkin-calculated dietary values. The cover should be a map of China with the dish names of codes organized by province (for example, General Gao is probably most linked to America and Taiwan). This would also be a good way to make sure the menu has a good variety, as the chef would want to represent each province with at least one dish.

    You're kidding, right?

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited August 2010
    Esh wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    For letting people know what they're ordering, try putting out wax models of the dishes and using paragraph-long descriptions in the take out menu. For eating in the restaurant, put out menus with spartan descriptions for each person, then a detailed book listing each dish's detailed description, list of ingredients, and napkin-calculated dietary values. The cover should be a map of China with the dish names of codes organized by province (for example, General Gao is probably most linked to America and Taiwan). This would also be a good way to make sure the menu has a good variety, as the chef would want to represent each province with at least one dish.

    You're kidding, right?

    A selection of wax models is common in some countries, and more and more people are demanding dietary info (to say nothing of state regulations).

  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    For letting people know what they're ordering, try putting out wax models of the dishes and using paragraph-long descriptions in the take out menu. For eating in the restaurant, put out menus with spartan descriptions for each person, then a detailed book listing each dish's detailed description, list of ingredients, and napkin-calculated dietary values. The cover should be a map of China with the dish names of codes organized by province (for example, General Gao is probably most linked to America and Taiwan). This would also be a good way to make sure the menu has a good variety, as the chef would want to represent each province with at least one dish.

    You're kidding, right?

    A selection of wax models is common in some countries, and more and more people are demanding dietary info (to say nothing of state regulations).

    Yes, because I'm sure what he wants to spend his start-up money on is wax models of all the dishes and ridiculously huge and overly informative menus.

    You've never opened or worked in a new restaurant have you?

    EDIT: Also, the FDA regulations that might go into effect are only for chain restaurants and vending machines.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • MolybdenumMolybdenum Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    re: picture menus

    average white american:
    "Broccoli beef? I bet that comes with broccoli and beef! let's get that. Hunan Beef? What's a Hunan? Sounds like some kind of pig parts, eww."

    So in summary, either a short explanation or pictures for things people don't recognize. (Egg Foo Young. Moo Goo Gai Pan, etc.) You might also need to explain to people that a curry is not necessarily an Indian or Middle-Eastern dish and does not necessarily taste like Curry Powder.

    Also make sure you mark things that are spicy. a lot of the Viet / Thai / Indian takeout places I've been to have some siding scale of spiciness and it is always some crazy scale of like 1-6 or 0-7 or some shit. i don't care if that directly corresponds to how many spoonfuls of chilis you add, no one wants to think about how spicy their food should be on a 0-7 scale. I'm cool with the sliding scale but at least make it 1-5 or 1-10 or something, and have a standard comparison to let me know what you think of as a 6 or whatever. "How spicy, 1-10? Our 5 is roughly equal to plain Tabasco sauce or normal buffalo wings"
    If we're talking a seriously americanized white area then you should probably mark anything remotely hot or with a strong spice flavor as "spicy", and even the spicy food should be fairly tame. No sliding scale, it is either "spicy" or not. Not my personal preference, but you gotta do what the market demands.

    Ummm. If you are in an area that does combo meals, do full-blown combo meals. entree, rice, eggroll, drink. Plain entrees and rice available in quart sizes. If you are not in an area that does combos, just go for rice+entree meals rather than the full deal.

    people are used to a certain set of guidelines for americanized chinese. If you want to stand out, break those rules- do a very modern asian-inspired interior rather than the usual linoleum and fake bamboo wallpaper with "authentic traditional scroll paintings" and calligraphy everywhere. Name your place something other than a combination of the words Golden, China, Palace, Dragon, Phoenix, and Super.
    If you don't want to stand out, well the recipe for cut+paste chinese takeout is pretty obvious.

  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited August 2010
    Molybdenum wrote: »
    re: picture menus

    average white american:
    "Broccoli beef? I bet that comes with broccoli and beef! let's get that. Hunan Beef? What's a Hunan? Sounds like some kind of pig parts, eww."

    So in summary, either a short explanation or pictures for things people don't recognize. (Egg Foo Young. Moo Goo Gai Pan, etc.) You might also need to explain to people that a curry is not necessarily an Indian or Middle-Eastern dish and does not necessarily taste like Curry Powder.

    Also make sure you mark things that are spicy. a lot of the Viet / Thai / Indian takeout places I've been to have some siding scale of spiciness and it is always some crazy scale of like 1-6 or 0-7 or some shit. i don't care if that directly corresponds to how many spoonfuls of chilis you add, no one wants to think about how spicy their food should be on a 0-7 scale. I'm cool with the sliding scale but at least make it 1-5 or 1-10 or something, and have a standard comparison to let me know what you think of as a 6 or whatever. "How spicy, 1-10? Our 5 is roughly equal to plain Tabasco sauce or normal buffalo wings"
    If we're talking a seriously americanized white area then you should probably mark anything remotely hot or with a strong spice flavor as "spicy", and even the spicy food should be fairly tame. No sliding scale, it is either "spicy" or not. Not my personal preference, but you gotta do what the market demands.

    Ummm. If you are in an area that does combo meals, do full-blown combo meals. entree, rice, eggroll, drink. Plain entrees and rice available in quart sizes. If you are not in an area that does combos, just go for rice+entree meals rather than the full deal.

    people are used to a certain set of guidelines for americanized chinese. If you want to stand out, break those rules- do a very modern asian-inspired interior rather than the usual linoleum and fake bamboo wallpaper with "authentic traditional scroll paintings" and calligraphy everywhere. Name your place something other than a combination of the words Golden, China, Palace, Dragon, Phoenix, and Super.
    If you don't want to stand out, well the recipe for cut+paste chinese takeout is pretty obvious.

    Don't forget "Wok."

  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I don't know what his menu size is, but I do know pictures would not work at all, just from the number of items any standard place has. You either have silly small pictures, or it's going to be ridiculously long. And it's just that much more expensive to produce and replace.

    Another local restaurant has the numbered menu with a one line description under the name telling what's in it, 'meat, vegetable, vegetable, sauce.' Spicy is rated by no, one or two peppers. I think he's going to be doing something similar. If I have any input in the matter, I think 'MSG upon request' might be a good way to go.

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  • MolybdenumMolybdenum Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    that all sounds good.

    when are chinese takeout places / taco bell going to start using matrices as menus?

    Meat on the y axis, seasoning/style on the x. It would look like multiplication tables or pokemon weakness/strength charts but with red grid squares for spicy.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I don't know what his menu size is, but I do know pictures would not work at all, just from the number of items any standard place has. You either have silly small pictures, or it's going to be ridiculously long. And it's just that much more expensive to produce and replace.

    Another local restaurant has the numbered menu with a one line description under the name telling what's in it, 'meat, vegetable, vegetable, sauce.' Spicy is rated by no, one or two peppers. I think he's going to be doing something similar. If I have any input in the matter, I think 'MSG upon request' might be a good way to go.

    Well I wasn't implying you should have photos on all of your takeout menus, but a small selection of specials on cards to set on the tables or on a large menu at the counter/hosting podium is still a good idea. Just take some pictures of food and cycle through them daily. "That looks good" is something you should be selling, especially if it gets people to try different things. If you were to offer a special on a side portion of something you'd probably get some folks to check out things they may not have ordered in addition to their standard fare.

    Edit: When I worked Sushi/Japanese Cuisine we had the wax models in the window and a glass top table in the waiting area with a hand drawn menu beneath the glass, we'd put a couple of photos of various rolls or different things under the glass and when someone is just waiting around sitting down in your seating area, you want them thinking about food, not reading a magazine or talking on their cell phones.

    A lot of people don't seem to know that Tempura style shrimp/vegetables actually look appetizing, or that Yakisoba is a delicious dish that actually looks tasty.

  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure you can get msg ( which is harmless to most, and the allergies of a few do not justify its exclusion from asian food any more than peanuts should be left out of thai cooking) in a table shaker. Or cook without it by default, but have it on premises. That pretty much solves the problem. What wins you the customers is having a clearly stated policy about nuts, gluten, msg, wether the chickens were given pillows, etc. People don't like to ask these questions, particularly of waitstaff that don't speak english well.

    i have a number one fucking pet peeve: leaving combo shit out of orders. For some reason, EVERY restaurant in this area does great lunch specials where they have an egg roll, a spring roll, two wontons, rice and an entree.

    NONE of them constaintly put everything in your takeout. it pisses me off to no end.

    Shitty takeout containers - people that put chinese in lowboy takeout foamies, for example. Those are for sandwiches, not things with sloppy, greasy, smelly sauces nobody wants on their car seats. find a takeout containter that is deeper than your orders by a good margin and pretty stable.

    skimping on rice - rice is almost fucking free. put a carton of rice in for each order. just do it. carby sides are the illusion of value.

  • SilverEternitySilverEternity Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Apropos of nothing(I swear) has anyone had experience with the behind the counter side of Chinese take out? What kind of problems did you experience in relation to getting people in, getting them to come back? Are there any big does or do nots that experience makes you want to pass on? Suggestions for how to prevent possible problems from popping up?

    I worked in a Chinese (actually it made a more general Asian cuisine, but was cooked by Chinese cooks) in college from the time it opened for about a year. We went through a couple phases. The owner wanted the restaurant to be a more authentic cuisine and sit-down atmosphere and advertised as such for the opening. However, he was located 0.5 miles from a college campus and about 1 mile from the dorms. Thus throughout the year, the restaurant really shifted into more of a cheap-combination take-out/delivery place. I think the restaurant would have down better in the first 6 months (they almost had to close down) if they would have recognized what customers they should have been advertising/catering too.

    A second problem I saw is that early on (in the first month) the owner was able to procure a big food feature on the front page of the local section in the newspaper. That Saturday we got slammed and only had one cook and one server (me) in a restaurant with about 22 tables. It ended poorly (really long waits for food and service) and I think that one night really hurt the business immensely, because people who have a bad experience spread the word. Make sure that if the he/she does a big advertising campaign to be prepared for the business, even if the owner needs to cut people/hours later on, it's better to have too many people to start with than not enough; at least until there is a clearer picture of how busy the business will be.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Pheezer wrote: »
    Esh is right about that. It costs way more than black and white printing to include photos. Simple, classy menus are best. Basic, easy to read font. Nothing too over the top.

    On that note, avoid Comic Sans. Please.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Only two people mentioned desserts? Oh my fucking god, have desserts. I love desserts and can make/buy most "American" desserts, but special Asian fare?
    omg <3 dessert

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I would love to try Asian deserts. That's a great idea.

  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    So, chilled monkey brains is a 'yes?'

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  • ceresceres Just your problem OooModerator mod
    edited August 2010
    I thought that was tofu! D:

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  • stawkstawk Registered User
    edited August 2010
    I vote if hes going to have an dining area inside please offer fountain drinks. With Chinese food the one can of pop is never enough IMO.

  • tinyfisttinyfist Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I'm chinese, and a personal pet peeve of mine is when the menus/signage have terrible spelling and grammar. Seriously people, it doesn't take that much work to get it right.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    stawk wrote: »
    I vote if hes going to have an dining area inside please offer fountain drinks. With Chinese food the one can of pop is never enough IMO.

    On that, make sure to have a good selection of both American/European and Chinese beverages, alcoholic and non. While it's not Chinese, my dad is very, very fond of Singha, and orders it wherever offered.

  • edited September 2010
    The local Chinese place I've been giving most of my patronage to gets my business for two reasons:
    1. Monstrous Lunch Combo. Entree, Fried Rice or Chow Mein, Drink, Eggroll, (Soup if you eat there). Under 5 dollars and its extremely difficult to eat it all in one sitting.
    2. Each ingredient on the menu marked for spicyness can be adjusted upon request. For me, this means extra spicy, for some people, no peppers at all.

    Also no orange peels in the orange chicken

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    agentk13 wrote: »
    stawk wrote: »
    I vote if hes going to have an dining area inside please offer fountain drinks. With Chinese food the one can of pop is never enough IMO.

    On that, make sure to have a good selection of both American/European and Chinese beverages, alcoholic and non. While it's not Chinese, my dad is very, very fond of Singha, and orders it wherever offered.

    Is BYOB an option?

    While alcohol is the money maker, it can be a deal-maker.

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  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    MichaelLC wrote: »
    agentk13 wrote: »
    stawk wrote: »
    I vote if hes going to have an dining area inside please offer fountain drinks. With Chinese food the one can of pop is never enough IMO.

    On that, make sure to have a good selection of both American/European and Chinese beverages, alcoholic and non. While it's not Chinese, my dad is very, very fond of Singha, and orders it wherever offered.

    Is BYOB an option?

    While alcohol is the money maker, it can be a deal-maker.

    Do not do BYOB.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Unless it is in California I foresee liquer licenses not happening

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  • <3&lt;3 Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Not really a suggestion, but just to point something out:

    I used to work in the restaurant biz throughout high school, and I know most restaurants probably do this as well--when a customer ask if veggie broth is used for vegetarian dishes or not, the restaurant will say yes even if they don't because you won't be able to tell the difference anyways. It saves a lot of costs, but it's probably not ethically sounded.

    So this is just a grey area/ethical issue that your friend could ponder over.

  • agentk13agentk13 __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2010
    Not really a suggestion, but just to point something out:

    I used to work in the restaurant biz throughout high school, and I know most restaurants probably do this as well--when a customer ask if veggie broth is used for vegetarian dishes or not, the restaurant will say yes even if they don't because you won't be able to tell the difference anyways. It saves a lot of costs, but it's probably not ethically sounded.

    So this is just a grey area/ethical issue that your friend could ponder over.

    Until, of course, you get arrested for manslaughter when it turns out somebody ordered a veggie dish to avoid shellfish.

  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Not really a suggestion, but just to point something out:

    I used to work in the restaurant biz throughout high school, and I know most restaurants probably do this as well--when a customer ask if veggie broth is used for vegetarian dishes or not, the restaurant will say yes even if they don't because you won't be able to tell the difference anyways. It saves a lot of costs, but it's probably not ethically sounded.

    So this is just a grey area/ethical issue that your friend could ponder over.

    Yeah, no. Most restaurants do not do this.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • CowSharkCowShark Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Molybdenum wrote: »
    ... Name your place something other than a combination of the words Golden, China, Palace, Dragon, Phoenix, and Super.

    Depending on where I was starting up, I might embrace the stereotype and name my business with a-few-too-many generic Chinese take-out place names. Like: Super Jade Phoenix Golden Wok Palace--we had a burger place open up a while back called "Burger Extreme!" which I thought was hilarious. They later changed their name to "Burger Extra!!!!!" which was just a weird move (why so many exclamation marks?)

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  • dlinfinitidlinfiniti Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    if you can, make your own noodles
    i makes a world of difference

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  • DeathPrawnDeathPrawn Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Another local restaurant has the numbered menu with a one line description under the name telling what's in it, 'meat, vegetable, vegetable, sauce.' Spicy is rated by no, one or two peppers. I think he's going to be doing something similar. If I have any input in the matter, I think 'MSG upon request' might be a good way to go.

    A few well-chosen words about each menu item and a simple "not spicy/spicy/very spicy" rating is just the right amount of information.

    I don't want to wade through ten different identical listings of "beef with vegetables in sauce" that don't tell me anything about the dish, but grainy 1" pictures are just as useless. And a 5- or 10-point spiciness scale like some of you are championing is pretty close to meaningless - how do you define a dish that's 8/10 spicy as opposed to 7/10? Is that a meaningful difference for a customer?

    [edit] Oh, you're the OP. Perfect.

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