I will just have to tell a story instead. My family and I went to Coco's Chinese Restaurant for my Dad's birthday. Irony of all ironies, my Dad's birthday is May 5, and he is not a party animal. We originally wanted to go to a Mexican restaurant - there's one close to home that's a family favorite for their endless margaritas - but we figured it would be pretty busy given the day's celebrations. ;o)
So, Dad wanted to try Coco's. When you're looking at Pho Bac, this restaurant is to the left. According to Dad, the location has gone through a few different owners. I think he wanted to try their food to see what was up - another recon trip with Dad, basically. ;o) From what I remember, we ordered soup (vague, I know, but I wasn't the one ordering!); walnut shrimp; some sort of vegetable; a pork dish; eggplant (one of my faves); and a chicken dish.
Needless to say, my parents weren't impressed and, of course, I trust their opinion. The food was pretty Americanized (read: not authentic) and the chicken was fried in used oil (according to the parentals). Frying foods in used oil means that at least two dishes have been fried in the same oil, which means that the second dish has the lingering taste of the first one. It is also a practice that smaller restaurants sometimes use because they have to (or want to) cut corners somewhere. Bigger restaurants have the scale to afford to throw away oil once it's used; small(er) restaurants do not have that luxury... at least this one doesn't. I'm sure not all small restaurants operate this way, so please don't apply this as a blanket statement. As well, I'm sure there are big(ger) restaurants that may reuse oil. It's really up to the owners/managers how the restaurant is run, so I'd pay closer attention to who owns what restaurant versus the restaurant size.
Overall, it was a learning experience. According to the parents' faces and commentary, I doubt we'll be going back. I hate to write such a blog post but there you have it.