Archive for November 1st, 2021

Service of First Impressions Redux

Monday, November 1st, 2021

Over the years–this month marks the 13th anniversary of my blog–I’ve written a few times about first impressions. The other week I was fooled by a restaurant a few blocks from my apartment, Wagamama, that I’ve passed hundreds of times. It never appealed to me because it looked sterile–like a chain. With the exception of Maison Kayser, the bakery restaurant that was killed by the pandemic, Le Pain Quotidien, headquartered in Belgium, and Danish-based Ole & Steen, with three NYC branches, I’m usually not a fan of restaurant chains or of fast food.

You’d think a huge sparkling clean space would attract me during the Covid catastrophe. It gave me the impression that the dishes had previously been frozen and heated in a microwave.


My intuition was wrong.

I met two friends there for lunch the other day and enjoyed one of the best dishes of pad Thai that I can remember. The British chain has three branches in NYC and two in Boston. Here’s how they describe themselves, cut and pasted from their website–the punctuation and lack of uppercase letters is theirs: “we’ve been practising kaizen since 1992, when we opened our first doors in london’s bloomsbury. inspired by fast-paced, japanese ramen bars and a celebration of asian food, wagamama burst into life. we set out to create a unique way of eating. bringing the fresh, nourishing, flavors of asia to all.”

Are there chains you like? Is there something about the quality and standards of foreign food chains that makes their food tastier? What first impressions –good or bad–have fooled you lately?

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