Famous for arguing with customers
Treated like beggars
Some of Hanoi’s most famous street food stalls have been accused of treating their customers like beggars. Stall owners have gained reputations for rude service and swearing. One stall holder admitted, “If I go a day without swearing in front of my customers, then I’ll know that on that day I won’t do good business.”
Rudeness has become a form of PR for food stall, as while many restaurants may claim that customers are king, street food vendors make more out of their notoriety.
Regular food stall eater Huong Ly said that following a complaint about finding insects in her food, her husband had been subjected to swearing by staff, “When the owner came, she just joined in the argument. We had to leave that restaurant quickly.”
Another street food stall on Ngo Si Lien Street is also famous for disputes with customers.
This stall is famous for Vietnamese noodles and remains popular despite the owner regularly having confrontations with customers. But many others can’t bear the impolite attitude and claim they would never return.
However, customers seem to put their stomachs first. “I would rather have an argument but be served delicious food than receive good service but terrible food,” a customer said.
Increasing numbers of restaurants are using male employees to encourage passers-by to try their food, but this has been known to spill over into intimidation.
Customers seem to enjoy the retro-thrill of old style queuing up
Consumers turn their back on substandard food stalls
Most of people agree that food hygiene found at street food stalls is terrifying. Nguyen Hai Minh, a student in Hanoi Foreign Trade University, said, “News agencies should open forums, so people can join in and name substandard food stalls so they can ostracise them collectively.”
In fact, a group with just such a remit was recently established on Facebook.
Hai Minh shared, “I used to eat boiled snails on Le Duc Tho Street, the food looked delicious, but they were so filthy that I ended up vomiting”.
Cultural critic Nguyen Vinh Phuc said, “We should ostracise these substandard food stalls and inform other people about that. Through this street food stalls will have to provide safe food and better service”.
Why so popular?
Lining-up consumers in front of a noodle stall on Bat Dan Street
Customers may be screamed at, have to line up to receive food, or buy coupons then wait their turn but these odd food stalls seem to have become more famous despite their appalling customer service.
Thao, who was accused of rudeness towards her customers has served Indian taro noodles on Ngo Si Lien Street for more than 30 years, has gained a reputation as a hot-tempered woman.
She says she is unaware of people’s view of her. She explained, “My food stall has to serve large numbers of people, and if there are too many selective customers, with too many requirements, I will easily become hot-tempered and argue with them. Other stalls think that customers are kings, and they’ll try their best to please them, but for me, I’d rather not serve those people,” Thao said.
However, Hanoian culturist Nguyen Vinh Phuc said, “It is consumers who make profits for food stall owners, they should please their consumers. Arguing with customers is rude. We should ostracise these stalls to force others to provide better services.”
Many customers continue to say they don’t mind waiting to receive food or having to buy coupons and wait their turn, and hundreds of people still rush to these odd restaurants every day.
Vinh Phuc explained their continued popularity “Vietnamese seems to prefer crowded places. This custom seems to be a remainder of social attitudes from the period of the subsidised economy. The more crowded a food stall is, the more customers want to eat there. The more welcoming waiters are, the fewer customers they get. Also, there is a fact that these odd food stalls serve the best food. Their rude attitude just seems to increase their popularity.”
Thao, a noodle seller on Ngo Si Lien Street, famous for delicious food and storming her customers violently