5642 E. La Palma Ave. #108
Anaheim, CA 92807
I went to this Thai restaurant, decorated as if it were stuck in a tree on a tropical island, with three Asian friends of mine one hot night in June. We landed pretty early, and managed to avoid the large queues that had formed by the time we were leaving. The food was fantastic. Of all the restaurants we’ve reviewed so far, this place had the best food. If this was a food blog, I could go into detail about how wonderful everything was, but I don’t care about any of that.
Towards the end of the night, I had to go to the bathroom, which turned out to be another one of this single-celled organisms which unaccountably had the urinal and the normal toilet in the one unit, with no wall, no separator, not even a chiefly metaphorical erection of cubicle cardboard between them to protect the dignity of mankind. Maybe these people come from a part of the world where you have to squat over holes in the ground. I wouldn’t know, but there is something very uncomfortable with the setup.
While I was in there, I heard two girls outside, who I assumed were waiting to use the bathroom. Knowing there are people outside pushing to get in is not conducive to relaxed toilet activities, but it’s understandable. They were not talking particularly loudly, but I could hear everything. It was one of those conversations between girls that makes you think you’ve wandered into a soap opera, or a boring episode of a trashy talk show. They were talking about this guy, about that guy, she likes him, he doesn’t like her, and so on. When I eventually came out, they turned out to be two employees, one of whom was holding a mop, waiting to clean the restroom. They almost knocked me down in their rush to get past me, as though I left something exciting in there.
1953 India St
San Diego, CA 92101
We decided to go to San Diego the same weekend as Comic Con, not to go to the convention, which we’ve been talking about for years. No, this time we just wanted to visit a friend. And so it was we found ourselves wandering around downtown San Diego for hours. and there were badly-dressed people wandering around. I wasn’t sure if they were comic con delegates or just people with a terrible sense of fashion. And then we saw some people dressed as zombies. Or maybe they were homeless. Again, it was hard to tell.
While the food was average, the bathroom was amazing. The floor was that black sparkly stuff, everything was clean, and everything worked. Even the hand soap dispenser gave a sufficient amount of hand soap with one button press; I’ve never seen that before. It was huge, and I felt like I was in the middle of the climactic party scene in a 1970s thriller. I don’t know how they keep that place so shiny and new-looking, but it must take almost constant attention from the staff. Maybe that explains why they were less than attentive about our food.
5600 Van Buren Blvd #A
I have been reliably informed that Chinese food is not, in fact, Chinese food. What we have in America is “Westernized Chinese food”. Actual Chinese people stare down their Oriental noses at our imperfect Occidental ways. I know how they feel, having experienced what they consider Irish cuisine in the colonies. However, there is also a substantial difference between Europeanised Chinese food and Americanized Chinese food. For one thing, I suspect they liberally heap spoons of MSG onto Chinese food in Ireland, something they seem unwilling to do (or maybe they stopped it) in America, with a concomitant sacrifice in depth of flavour. But when you’re going to an All-You-Can-Eat place like Happy Buffet on Van Buren, you can’t go wrong, right?
I am not here to assess the quality of the food, which was in no way bad, but also failed to register under any other adjective. These places follow an alternative business model to the usual “serve good food” model that works for other restaurants. These restaurants thrive on a volume-per-dollar basis, and when we were there, they were quite busy, so it must be working. The clientele are mostly white people and Hispanics (presumably all the Asians were at home eating actual Asian food; I wouldn’t know) and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
After a few plates of food, I went to the bathroom. The first thing I noticed was the weird smell. A combination of acid and something else. The second thing I noticed was that the entire wall was covered in ceramic tiles with a wood print. If you’re going to put tiles in your bathroom, why bother with a wood print? I don’t get it. Am I supposed to be fooled into thinking I’m in a log cabin? We may never know.
The third thing I noticed was exceedingly unpleasant, and the source of the acid smell. Someone had thrown up in one of the urinals. People have different reactions to seeing this sort of thing, but I’m very sensitive to bodily effluvia, and I know I’m not alone. Whenever I see someone throwing up, I have a sympathetic reaction, and even seeing the evidence of the crime long after the departure of the criminal made me feel the sort of thing that is incompatible with being in a restaurant. However, as this is surely an isolated incident, I refuse to allow this form part of my general impression of the establishment.
I fought the urge to sprint outside and pour acid into my eyes and found a cubicle away from the bad thing. The cubicles in the gents bathroom in Happy Buffet are either worn out or badly engineered because there is just a little bit too much space between the wall and the door. This means that the latch doesn’t really work. A hard tap (for instance the sort of tae that you might employ if you wanted to see if a cubicle was occupied) would dislodge the bolt, revealing my shame to everyone. As an added bonus, when the door has been “locked” this slightly-too-wide gap also affords passers-by perhaps more of a view than they would like.
After I came out, I wasn’t in the mood for ice cream, so we went straight home.
6461 Brockton Ave.
We like Thai food. We heard good things about Bann Thai, so we tried it out. After the magic of some coconut curry, I had to go to the bathroom. It’s one of those ones that looks like it’s in another building. Where the rest of the restaurant had pleasant, warmly-lit, wooden floors, the restroom had cold rust-coloured tiles and harsh lighting. This isn’t really a problem because it’s not like I’m settling in for the night. Maybe it’s a good idea to promote an uncomfortable atmosphere in a restroom. There’s nothing worse than needing to go to the restroom and knowing that someone else is in there. Your head is filled with garish scenarios about what could possibly be keeping them that long.
However, I did have a problem with the window, which was plain glass. Now, I have certain minimum criteria when it comes to restrooms: a lock on the door; some paper; and either no window, or a window that is so heavily frosted that it has no function. This was just plain glass. I looked out, and saw sparse traffic idling along, past some palm trees, with the red strip of twilight in the background. Granted, the window was placed such that someone would have to make a real effort to see anything I was doing. Even as a remote possiblity, it made me feel uneasy: the one place I don’t want to feel uneasy is a restroom.
1298 Riverside Avenue
Riverside, CA 92503
It was near 7 o’clock when, after a hard afternoon spent walking through the entire mall, we decided to reward our devotion to the temple of consumerism with some fries. I wanted to wash my hands before eating, so I went straight to the restroom, conveniently in an small alcove next to the register. The door opened easily, but there was suddenly a panicked shout, a glimpse of a man doing some bathroom thing, and the door slammed into my face. This was embarrassing. I waited for a while, expecting some sort of violent reckoning, and after a few minutes a man came out. I immediately apologised, but he wasn’t annoyed - he was embarrassed also. He just said that the lock on the door didn’t work very well.
Now, I realise that modern restroom management entails many difficult decisions: paper towels or blow dryers; push button soap or motion activated sensors; etc. However, I would expect, at the very least, the lock on the door to work, especially when your restroom is one of the single cell things, with a urinal and a toilet in the one cramped space. I’m not sure why they have both in one room. I can’t imagine any man being happy using a urinal while another man is sitting on the toilet. There’s something very wrong about that image.