Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Brooklyn Nibbles: Allegedly Almost Poisoned at Slope’s Song Thai

December 22nd, 2008 · 14 Comments

Ever eat at Song Thai on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope (one of the Slope’s astounding collection of utterly mediocre Thai places)? Read this, which we found on Brooklynian, and you may never want to set foot in there again. It involves what sounds like an allegedly tainted egg roll and the restaurant’s utter denial of any problem. Do not read this after eat Thai food:

Today I’m in utter shock after having a conversation with a man who said he was owner of the restaurant. although I’d really rather drop this, what happened today was beyond the pale and I’d like to you to consider this next time you’re thinking of eating there. To recap, this week I ordered delivery and bit into a spring roll and encountered upon biting into it a massive chemical taste and smell, like ammonia or bleach. That night and the next day I vomited some, and ended up having the most painful sore throat I’ve ever had.

On that night I called to say that something might be wrong with their deep fryer, I was return called at no prompting by a manager who was kind and wanted to let me know that yes, there was something specifically wrong with the stuffing in the spring rolls, that they were thrown out, and she had tested all the other deep fried foods which were ok ( i remember her specifically saying “the spare ribs, the prawns”). Here’s where it gets unbelievable.

According to this owner I spoke to today, who insists that the chemical smell / taste i experienced in the spring rolls was due to oil being changed in the fryer, her story differs from his because – i swear i’m not making this up – thai people are passive and get nervous on the phone. This elicited some surprise from me since I am Asian American and have travelled through SE Asia. I then made that clear to him. Which seemed to make him more belligerent.

He also stated no chemicals ever go near where the spring rolls are made, which I think is an unusual claim, because it would mean that it’s never cleaned with at the very least, soap. He accused me of lying about the condition of my throat, which is extremely inflamed and has tested negative for strep, and for which my dr put me on a course of antibiotics, when he made me so angry and kept cutting me off that I had to yell to get a word in. He was incredibly belligerent, cut me off when I tried asking him simple questions, and continually vaguely accused me of “plotting”, even suggesting I was recording the phone call. There was no courtesy or attempt made to figure this out together.

There’s another neighborhood restaurant that my girlfriend was once eating a salad at and we discovered fur in her salad. to this day we still don’t know where or what the fur was from. but the owner of the restaurant was so kind, and dilligent, and understanding about things that we STILL EAT THERE and I never filed a complaint with DHMS because obviously it was some mistake that was beyond their control. And no, I’m never going to say who it was because in my opinion – having worked in food and knowing that mistakes happen – they deserve your money and addressed it properly. she even asked us at the time if we had health insurance in case we were going to get ill.

My experience today tells me the self identified owner of Song does not deserve your business. His customer service in my exeperience is accusation, belligerence, and belittling of his own staff’s nationality and culture. Talk about getting sick from food.

Guess where we’re going for dinner tonight?

(Photo courtesy of Amy S./Yelp)

Tags: Brooklyn Nibbles · Park Slope

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kevin // Dec 22, 2008 at 11:37 am

    I was eating at Song’s sister restaurant Joya a couple of weeks ago, and we discovered insects (bigger than fruit flies, smaller than house flies) in our mango salad. We alerted the waitress who quickly cleared it, and we nervously, unhappily continued our meal.

    At the end of the meal, the waitress had removed the charge for the salad from our check. I went up to speak to the manager to suggest that perhaps an apology would have been appreciated. The manager informed me that he was the owner, he got irate that I would suggest an apology, and he told me that he can’t take care of flies, suggesting that I have the same problem in my own kitchen.

    I won’t be back to either Joya or Song.

  • 2 Anthony // Dec 22, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    The chemical smell was the rancid crabmeat or seafood within the spring roll, not from chemicals used to clean a deep fryer. When seafood starts to turn, ammonia or a bleach like smell is emmitted. This is why every chef worth his salt smells raw fish, shellfish, or just about anything before it is cooked. Even cooking in deep fat will not kill the smell and sometimes heightens it. I would not eat from there again if I were you.

  • 3 Brooklyn Salt // Dec 22, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Someone call Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares

  • 4 Jack // Dec 22, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Anthony is right on the money. There is no way that simply ammonia was put into deep-fry oil and it would survive and get absorbed by the item deep fried. Frying keeps flavor inside things by quickly sealing the outside. The only way an ammonia-like taste would be present would be from expired food becoming ammoniated by going bad. Heck, the heat of the oil would have evaporated any ammonia in the oil within seconds. Learn basic high school chemistry.

    So I’d complain about that. But honestly, the Brooklynian folks can really make mountains out of molehills. The main reason I personally avoid them for any news now.

    Food going bad? That’s bad. But wild accusations of deep fryers being a witches brew of chemicals is nuts and uninformed.

  • 5 customer service in restaurant | Digg hot tags // Dec 22, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    […] Vote Brooklyn Nibbles: Allegedly Almost Poisoned at Slope’s Song Thai […]

  • 6 pitu // Dec 22, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    dang, I missed the part on Brooklynian about witches brew fryer hysteria.
    (maybe because it weren’t there. don’t be a hater Jack!)

    Anything that hot (fryer) will have a wonderous sterilizing effect, on the outside, on what it touches.

    Smart to think of the possible rancid crab/ammonia thing, Anthony. That makes perfect sense.

  • 7 Jack // Dec 22, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    pitu, folks on Brooklynian get panicky about practically everything. I still remember the series of “Do you hear that helicopter out there?” posts from maybe 3 years ago. You live in Brooklyn. There’s still crime. And Prospect Heights is still not 100% safe.

    Brooklynian is a fascinating place to see how people who did not grow up here react to the basic realities of city life. Laughable at best, and disturbing at worst.

    The idea that anyone with any brain could think ammonia would be still active, present and toxic after being in a deep fryer is just panicky.

    And the reality is this: The worst problem you’ll ever have with food is it going bad. So if you order something and it goes south, don’t keep on eating.

    I don’t believe I had to type that out.

  • 8 originalposter // Dec 23, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Jack, I have no idea what was in the spring roll. I can only explain what happened to the best of my experience. I don’t know if it was ammonia. I can say that as far as I know it wasn’t seafood, as it was a chicken spring roll. All I know is that the interior, not the exterior of the food, emitted a horribly inorganic chemical smell, and that the manager supposedly agreed with me – specifically stating that something was wrong with the interior of the food item – enough to have the rest thrown out for the evening. It was the “owner” who claimed the smell was from the oil change. Whatever chemical was present, maybe you could, say, take a bottle of Fantastik, dump it inside a spring roll, deep fry it, and eat it. Have fun with that chemistry experiment. And no, I’m not scared of helicopters, not even black ones. I turned to Brooklynian in the hopes of finding out if someone else had the same problem that night, but also felt the owner’s behavior deserved sharing. Beyond a bad incident with food, his attitude about his staff and how he communicates with customers is just sickening – my entire point. “Thai people are passive”. Imagine the owner of a Mexican restaurant telling a customer “Mexican people are passive”.

  • 9 mh // Dec 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    I agree that there tends to be a little bit of hysteria out there, but at the same time don’t think its fair to dismiss ammonia in oil as impossible and ridiculous. Is it possible the the spring roll filling was made in a bowl that previously held ammonia and was not properly cleaned out? Yes. Lots of things happen in commercial kitchens, and let’s face it, LOTS of “unthinkable” things are possible.

  • 10 sicknessandinhealth // Dec 23, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    dear original poster-

    I had this same thing happen to me once. I purchased a royal food taster to confirm that I was not eating poison and now my life is better. I feel better about not slandering restaurants on public blogs or making semi racist/generalizations about people from Asia. The great news is that my royal food taster has really blossomed as a critic. Look for us on Yelp in the New Year!

  • 11 Sommelier // Dec 23, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Any “Thai” restaurant that uses regular American white rice instead of Jasmine Rice and that sets their tables with chopsticks is about as authentically Thai as New York New York in Vegas is authentically New York. Probably less so, actually. The food at Song is pseudo Thai, at best.

  • 12 Jack // Dec 23, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    originalposter, my issue with the hysteria around this is you’re reacting as if this is something that doesn’t happen in food preparation. Let me explain it as clearly as possible: The meat and possibly more in your roll went bad. End of story. And as “mh” says “Lots of things happen in commercial kitchens…” True, but anyone who has even prepared even the most basic meal in their own kitchens know that food preparation can go wrong for any reason without any intentional malice.

    “Imagine the owner of a Mexican restaurant telling a customer “Mexican people are passive”.”

    Imagine a grown adult actually eating something that tastes and smells bad and then complains after consuming it. Sorry for your suffering with this meal, but nobody told you to eat it if it’s bad. Does a grown adult need to be explained that basic fact? Really sorry the meal went south, but your post was an overreaction.

    Seriously, whenever I read panicky posts on Brooklynian I wonder how sheltered people are. I mean, that’s the same site last week where someone had bite & puncture wounds from an animal, their boddy ached, they had swelling yet the first thing they did was post pictures and ask “What do I do?” on a message board? You go to the hospital my friend!

  • 13 originalposter // Dec 25, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Jack, man, I see the error of my ways. Next time I’m in a car I’ll think of your toughness and ability to spite upon park slopers who use a message board, and in an effort to be tougher I’m gonna not put on my seatbelt. I’m also gonna not floss, and screw storing meats properly in refirgeration. I’ve been sheltered for far too long and it’s time to embrace life.

    BTW before I become Denis Leary in the 90s, I do want to say the reason most people ask for medical advice online is simply because they don’t have insurance and are terrified of the medical bill. But I’ll bet doctors and insurance are too wussy and borgeouis for yourself. Down some Tussin and smoke a cigarette, right?

    And once again, I’m not really concerned that they messed up the food. I’ve worked in restaurants, mistakes happen. Ultimately, as long as my health turns out ok, and the restaurant is aware something is wrong, I’m generally fine with things. The reason I originally posted on Brooklynian was in the hopes of hearing that what happened to me was isolated. What I do give a crap about is that restaurant having a ridiculous attitude to customer service, one that I feel is denigrating to its employees. My friends don’t wish to eat at Song any longer because of my experience of dealing with them. They have tasty food at a great price, and the original manager had a good attitude, but the owner’s was just reprehensible. And yeah, that’s my opinion, experience, and I’m entitled to state it. I don’t understand either what generalizations I made about race.

  • 14 scrathcandsniff // Dec 29, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Some of you may have read ‘Kitchen confidetial’ by Anthony Bourdain. The rule is this; Never order seafood on Sundays and Mondays. Never go for brunch, since they’re usually leftovers from regular menu items… Same goes for Asian Restaurants and their fried appetizers! They tend to be made cheaply with trimming that are of questionable quality. Once prepared, they’re most likely placed in the freezer, in which no odor would be detected by the cook. Unfortunately in this case, nobody knew that the springroll was bad until the customer bit into them….

    No worries, Restaurant business is a ‘service industry’; That said, places like Song Thai will not last forever.