Of course the tomatoes weren't ripe - damn near impossible to find beautiful, red, ripe tomatoes. Then, there was the chicken. In typical fashion, it was sliced up, but there was no care taken to remove the skin - no care is taken in Southeast Asia to remove skin or bones from meat; you have to do that yourself. I did add my own dressing though, which was a crucial step taken to ensure my salad wasn't drowned in dressing. The final disappointment was the fork. It was one of those cheap ones where the prongs bend, and the fork itself bends at the neck if you exert any pressure whatsoever with it.
I couldn't help but feel - in far too typical fashion - that the whole experience had been a waste of money. I should have gone with the Thai food.
This happens a lot to me here; every so often, I get excited about splurging (at 2-4 times the price of local food) for some simple Western dish: a burger, fish n chips, a salad, a pizza, some Mexican food . . . In the end, the result is often what I've just described: disappointment bordering on depression. If the burger is actually decent, there isn't any mustard. The battered fish is soggy. There isn't any vinegar or tartar sauce. The pizza is under-cooked without any toppings to speak of. And don't get me started about trying to find passable Mexican food - it's next to impossible. There are of course exceptions: establishments run by foreigners who have trained their cooks well and are physically present in the restaurant often enough to ensure their cooks remain vigilant and standards do not slip. Whenever I eat in one of those places, I marvel afterward at the amount of money I've just spent on a meal, compared to what it would have cost me to have just eaten a local rice or noodle specialty.