I will be home in less than a month, and I am panicking about some things. One of which is American restaurants.
I go to restaurants, not because they will have better food (I'm actually a really good cook, due to a lifetime of being spoiled by my dad's cooking). I go to restaurants because, I don't have to do any work, which means I can just enjoy the evening. Unfortunatly American restaurants have destroyed the second part of that. When I go to a restaurant with Ben, I want to enjoy my dinner with Ben, make googly eyes at him, share tasty food, but when some gopher of a waiter keeps popping up saying "Is everything alright?" "Can I get you anything?" "Can I interest you in any of our..."... It detracts from my ability to enjoy my meal. In Japan (in fact most of the world) when you want something from the server, you call them over, it's not rude to wave them down.
I don't want to have to plan before eating at a restaurant. I've lost 60 lbs. and it was really hard work. I'm still working hard, but it is a slow, tedious, and unrewarding process. If I go out to Pei Wei , I have to look up how many calories the different dishes are so that I can order something that won't set me back a week of dieting (over half of their dishes are over 1000 calories), or I have to store half of it before I start eating, which will leave me hungry, and I know I'll never eat it because it wont reheat well, so I've wasted a ton of food. Restaurant food in America is so immensly unhealthy that you either have to accept weight gain, or sacrifice eating out, which is lame. In Japan, at restaurants, you can get unhealthy food, but it is usually on small dish of several all of which balance to leave you feeling healthy. Restaurants with notoriously unhealthy foods, declare the calories on the menu so that you can plan accordingly.
Tipping is stupid. In Japan waiters are paid reasonable wages, and fired if they are not polite and compitant, this seems perfectly reasonable to me. It feels like a constant guilt trip that you have to value to service you received at the end of the meal, compare it to the other people at your table, and then consider that your waiter does this for a living, and if you don't tip they get paid next to nothing.
When I am at a Japanese restaurant the only time I have to wait is for my food to be prepared. Their is no tipping, so nobody is out for themselves, when an order is up somebody takes it to the table, sometimes this means Ben gets his food before me, but it's always hot, and I don't mind him starting without me. Food always comes out when it's ready, which means it is hot. Their are often buttons on the table for you to press to get the server to come to your table, or you flag them down when you're ready to order, you never have to pressure yourself to decided on the spot for fear that if you don't you'll have to wait forever for the server to come back. Water can be an issue, but it is perfecly reasonable to just ask for a water pitcher, and then serve yourself. At the end of the meal, if you didn't pay at a vending machine on the way in, you just get up and pay at the register. It is so annoying to finish your meal, wait for the check, wait for the server to run your card and return it, and then sit there calculating the tip, and leaving it on the table.