Follow Me Foodie: Why Mijune Pak writes about negative experiences

Mijune Pak has no problems with pig face, octopus or ear, but in this case the terrine was very gelatinous and the octopus was chewy. Should she have not written about it in her blog, Follow Me Foodie?

By Mijune Pak , Follow Me Foodie – WE Vancouver
Published: July 31, 2013 4:00 PM
Updated: July 31, 2013 4:27 PM

I don’t consider my blogs as restaurant reviews. Instead, I describe my experiences based on how I approach them. (Restaurant reviews are a topic for another column.) If I don’t enjoy my experience, I don’t even consider it as a “negative” post, but simply honest feedback with constructive criticism. Let’s face it. Not everything is tasty and delicious, not everyone is a great chef or cook, and not every food tastes good. So why write only about positive restaurant experiences and say only good things?

People say “if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all”, but I also understand the value of a dollar and quality time. Dining out is a luxury and leisurely activity. It is not a necessity and not everyone can afford it or have the time to do it. Hard-earned dollars should be spent at good restaurants and if I can recommend how dollars could be better spent, or give readers an experience worth remembering, I will.

As much as company and ambiance makes for a dining experience, so does the food. Nobody wants to leave disappointed and everyone has an opinion and preferences on what they like. More often than not, a restaurant does not have a flawless menu anyway. Showing a discerning palate is more helpful and beneficial than saying “everything is good”. If everything is good, fair enough, but if that was always the answer then why look for a recommendation?

How many times have you asked the server for recommendations and he or she says “everything”? Does that really help? No. Most likely you are not… Read the full article.

See more Follow Me Foodie stories from Mijune in the WE Vancouver:

13 Comments

  • Roger says:

    As bloggers I think that writing about negative experiences or disappointing food is only justified when the expectation of the restaurant (given its intentions in the restaurant scene, its popular opinion or price level) doesn’t live up to reality. It’s hard for me to write bad things about a place that doesn’t strive for anything lofty food-wise because it’s not the fault of the people at the restaurant in that case, it’s their ambition or lack thereof. If a place is perfectly happy being a neighbourhood hangout that serves to please the regulars, even if an outsider like me doesn’t enjoy it, is it really necessary to dish out criticism when the restaurant simply has different goals?

    That’s why I think that the overall tone of a blog should reflect a restaurant’s purpose and how well it lives up to it which is something that you do really well Mijune! Of course writing honest and detailed thoughts on individual dishes is important too but there’s always context (authenticity, price point, audience) that should be taken into account. Reading posts where all writers do is give a like/dislike without much rationalization is hard for me because I’m forced to try and be a psychic and think about why that person disliked something in particular before evaluating whether I would feel the same way after considering all the context.

    Anyways, keep up the great work and the thoughtful critique that comes with all your disappointing reviews!

  • LotusRapper says:

    Well said, Mijune ! 😀 Keep up the great work.

    +1, Roger.

  • Sarah says:

    Well said! As a consumer, I read reviews and blogs for recommendations to find a nice place to celebrate a special occasion or just a quiet dinner out for two. It is called due diligence. We should all be responsible of our choices and keep in mind that everyone’s taste buds and preferences are different. I spent 2 days eating with Travis White of the Dubliner couple of years ago, something he said stills sticks in mind to this day. He said,’Keep in mind, people recognize me when I go out so my experience will be different than yours, even if they don’t, the chef can have an off day, the waiter had problems before coming in. All reviews are subjective, based on our experience. Some of us have a more sensitive taste and will find a dish salty, others will say its good. So take the review for what it is, at that moment, at that time, all the stars are aligned, and that is it.’

    I enjoy your reviews good and bad! Thanks for sharing!

  • Wilson Wong says:

    Some would say negative, others say constructive criticism. As someone who has been in the industry, I say refreshing Honesty. Tell us like it is. If you frequent a spot you love, Mijune won’t sway you. It’s your spot! However, If it’s my business, I would want to know! Why? Because in business, I’d want to offer my guests the best I can and grow. Not necessarily to be a big shot. But to keep my guests happy. Having a honest review can lead to improvements.
    Keep it up! Straight up

  • Bow says:

    I think if the criticism is warranted and not done with a purpose, you should write about it. Some critics can be scathing and vicious. A diner’s expectations can be tempered by the price or by the style…one can rate a dining experience against its peers(i.e. comparing simple fare, one does not have the standards expected of a high end restaurant. Not that simple fare can not dazzle you. We expect you Mijune to be objective and believe in your honest assessments(yer not getting freebies). Your ratings can alert us what you think. However, your criticism may point out simple solutions that can make a restaurant’s food better.Keep up the good work !

  • LotusRapper says:

    I think all praise, criticism, perceptions, opinions etc. are subjective. I think the only “person” who can be 100% objective is Commander Data, LOL. Barring him becoming a food reviewer, we are all influenced by our perceptions, values, expectations, experiences and so forth. I go back to Roger’s comment “Of course writing honest and detailed thoughts on individual dishes is important too but there’s always context (authenticity, price point, audience) that should be taken into account.”. IMHO that really sums it up, and to be able to articulate the obvious and the nuances with all that in mind, in a balanced approach, is what separates the good (or great) reviews from the bad. And we all know which side of that equation Mijune falls on 🙂

  • Mijune says:

    @Roger – lol thanks so much for the support and comments, Roger. You raised some really good points. I see where you’re coming from in the first paragraph, but I think if you paid for an item you’re entitled to give an opinion regardless of the restaurant’s goals. It’s just an opinion so everyone has one. A blog is simply allowing you to share it. If a restaurant cares then they can fix it, but if they don’t… then each to their own although it says something about customer appreciation. The funny thing is, is that everyone will have their own opinion about which restaurants fall into what category too.

    For example: McDonald’s isn’t aiming to please a sophisticated palate, so could their food get better? Sure, but for the crowd it aims to please it doesn’t really need to be. Some people might disagree with that too. Also, if more than one person speaks up then maybe things will change. If Super Size Me was never made maybe McDonald’s wouldn’t have taken responsibility to put out the healthier menu options like it has today.

    And bang on! lol… that’s why my posts tend to be so long because I like to put things into context.

    @Sarah – Thank you!! And “So take the review for what it is, at that moment, at that time, all the stars are aligned, and that is it.’”…. brilliant sentence! That’s exactly how I want my posts to be read.

    @Wilson Wong – Thank you for sharing your perspective from the “other side”. I love hearing that from a cook/chef… wanting to grow… that’s great!! I love hearing that from anyone in any industry actually. I’ll keep working harder too!! There is no “top”, and if there is I hope never to reach it.

    @Bow – Thanks, Bow! I really value your comments and input too! You make excellent suggestions for the chefs and you really help make this blog better. Thanks for bringing your knowledge and palate to this blog.

    @LR – As always thank you for your comments too!! I have awesome commenters!! Very honoured by your comment and I agree whole heartedly that context should always be taken into account. Hope to never let you down!

  • GTO says:

    As a chef and owner of a restaurant , I love to see blogger being happy and agree with my style and cooking ,but in the same time I am more than happy to receive suggestion , always room to improve, I read most of your restaurant experiences which was very objective, most so call food blogger or food blogger want to be, try to be finding little things to say , so most of the chefs and owner are being alert about food blogger, I had experience before the blogger want the bread serve warm all I suggest to her is bread shouldn’t serve warm, but end up we have a online fighting about bread, by all mean your review is well written and show as an example to those food blogger want to be , how food blog suppose to write , There a alot of ridiculous food blogger out there , ask bread being serve warm or chicken serve med rare,
    keep up the good work

  • Mijune says:

    @GTO – wow, thank you so kindly for sharing your thoughts, chef! And really? Chicken served medium rare? That’s a first!

    To be honest, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and I’ll continue to make them (hopefully less along the way lol), but it’s all a learning experience. There is so much to learn about food and cooking and blogging gives me an outlet to express.

    Everyone is a “food critic” nowadays so the internet can be a dangerous place when there is freedom of expression and so much access to free information. There are always bad seeds in every industry, but hopefully with more good on the internet we can weed out the bad.

    I’m honoured you like this blog and appreciate your insight.

  • Douglas L says:

    As a owner of a family Chinese restaurant I’ve dealt with restaurant review in a positive, negative, and childish ways. I’ve seen food bloggers attacking other food bloggers, and bloggers constantly writing a bad experience at a restaurant in every post. I’ve had online fights with bloggers and online strangers. I’ve called bloggers “Bullies” and don’t regret it. I’ve regret not making my own food blog and calling it RealCrazyFoodBlogAdventure! or the AmazingChowBlog! (Insert Joke)

    At end of the day we’re all just human. Reading a blog creates a good and bad emotional reaction. Personally, when I read a bad review I want to quickly fix my restaurant and train my staff better. Its good to read bad and good reviews on my restaurant. My only complaint is the bad and good reviews will never disappear. I just wish there was some way to update reviews or remove the years old reviews.

    I like reading your blog Mijune because I personally find it entertaining! I get updated on new dishes and recipe by reading your blog. I can’t wait to read what kind of crazy tasty adventure awaits you!

  • LotusRapper says:

    Chicken medium rare ?? That’ll make some of those food bloggers “disappear”. Yikes.

  • KimHo says:

    Eating raw/undercooked chicken is no different from eating beef tartare or raw oyster, not to mention cultural reasons. (For example, how many Cantonese dishes you can name where meat is eaten raw?). There are risks but people are willing to accept such risks. In the case of chicken, we all know about salmonella; however, if you go to Japan and order toriwasa you will be given the chicken version of a tataki. This is possible because there are some breeds of chicken than has been certified to be salmonella free. In a similar vein, nowadays, pork is undercooked compared to the turn of the previous century because the industry sort of cleaned itself a little bit and trichinosis is no longer the threat as it used to be. However, even then, you have to ask yourself: aside from salmonella, aren’t there other pathogens you might want to consider? So, if you are OK with that, hey, go ahead. Just don’t blame the restaurant in the event of food poisoning!

  • theresa nadler says:

    On tuesday september 3rd 2013 I ate at yd korean tofu restaraunt for lunch. I waited for about a half hour before the server took my order. I did not get water until I was just about done eating. The server was not friendly at all. And they didn’t even have what I wanted. I did not tip at all. And I will never go eat there again.

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