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Letter: Reporting on Saigon Sunset Health Inspection Unfair, One-Sided

Restaurant owner Quyen Phan, who runs Vietnamese restaurant and deli Saigon Sunset on NE Sunset Boulevard, writes in a letter to the editor that one health inspection does not tell the whole story.

Editor,

My name is Quyen Phan and I am the owner of Saigon Sunset.  I just wanted to clarify a few things.  

Our name is Saigon Sunset: not Sunset Saigon Yes we were shut down, and we reopen under saigon sunset, which we had plans and made the name change two months ago with the state (Ed. Note: This error has since been corrected. Renton Patch regrets the error.)

We RE-OPEN w/ a PERFECT SCORE, REASONS WE WERE CLOSE:

  • EGGROLLS: NO TIME LOG (TIME AS CONTROL) 25  POINTS
  • SPRING ROLLS: ROOM TEMPERATURE, NEEDED TIME CONTROL (25 POINTS)
  • BEAN SPROUTS 46F, TOO HOT, CAN'T SIT ON ICE 10 POINTS
  • EGGS ON MIDDLE SHELVES IN BASKET (10) THIS IS CROSS CONTAMINATION WHEN AND IF EGGS BREAKS
  • NOODLES: NOT COLD ENEUGH, 25 POINTS,
  • BROTH, NEEDED TO FOLLOW  PROPER METHOD OF COOLING, TOGETHER WITH NOODLES NO COLD THERMOTER

Now while I totally agree that all is is BAD and it is something that needed to be address immediatly, it is something that can be fix easily and i thought it was a little harsh to shut us down. It could have fix all this problems within 30 mins and that would help a small business   Stay in business and continue to pay taxes, create jobs, renew health permits, and provide great food for a town that desperately needs it.

While I understand that you are doing your job, I feel that you should give us a chance to regain the people trust and not hurt us further and try to kill a small business. Renton is tough enough to stay in business without the added pressure of the media. 

I think you take a look for yourself how clean we are, semi open kitchen, and note that the health inspection only notes temperature violations and not one thing about us not being clean.   

We take great pride in what we do and we've taken every step necessarily to make it right. I just hope that you could look further into the whole situation and help a small business stay in business by giving us a fair shot. 

Thank you for taking the time to read.

(Signed)

Quyen

Lonnie G. King April 18, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Improper temperatures can be more dangerous then dirt on the floor. That is the reason the point deductions for those violations are so high. You cant underestimate the danger of food stored too long at the wrong temperatures or the potential for cross contamination. I would not eat at this restaurant based on those violations alone, not because the Patch ran a story about the facts.
rentonben April 18, 2013 at 05:29 PM
This rules can especially difficult for some of the more novel cuisines from our immigrant friends - I know that Vietnamese spring rolls (the ones with the noodles, mint and cooked strip) can be just fine left out for a few hours. It's how it's done in Vietnam, and they're quite heathy over there. There's just different standards - here in America, our eggs have to be refrigerated and given a bath before storage. In Europe, that's illegal. Eggs can't be washed to protect their natural coating, and you don't refrigerate them ever. You can leave them out on the counter for weeks. If you grew up in the American system, that sounds disgusting. For me, I'll be back to Saigon Sunset and I'll eat well knowing that the owner is adapting to our American standards.
ira sacharoff April 18, 2013 at 08:56 PM
I'll also be back to Saigon Sunset. The food is good, the prices are low, the people are friendly. I've eaten their sandwiches many times and never got sick there. Hopefully with them now in compliance with all the health codes I won't get sick either. If you've been there but got scared off by the closure, give them another chance. And if you haven't been there, it's a great place for a good tasting, low cost meal.
Kendall Watson April 18, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Thanks everyone for the comments. It is important to note that the restaurant was re-opened only after it had passed a health inspection, and restaurants that are closed like this will receive more frequent inspections to ensure compliance.
Kendall Watson April 18, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Very interesting, Rentonben. They sell food in a similar way in the Philippines at roadside places called "carinderias". But those places that are keeping food out with no control over temperature appeared to be very much "at your own risk" sorts of places (things tend to be very much less "regulated" in the PI). If we didn't see them bringing out the food from the kitchen to the table or tray at these places, we avoided them, as we had no idea how long the food had sat out in the afternoon shade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) actually urges avoiding these establishments altogether. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/philippines.htm
rentonben April 19, 2013 at 06:19 PM
The one regulation that stood out to me as being particularly "American" is the one about noodles "not being cold enough." I've been all over Asia and Europe, and leaving noodles out in room temperature is generally considered the right way to protect their texture and flavor. I almost don't want to comment on this story, as I don't want to bring a spotlight on these good people minor problems. I'm more that willing to give them a second chance.
Kendall Watson April 19, 2013 at 07:46 PM
@rentonben it may be pleasing to the sense of aesthetics, but maintaining food at room temperature for too long (2 hours) is potentially dangerous, according to the CDC. The CDC also reports that each year, about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases — which it characterizes as a "preventable health problem" http://www.cdc.gov/features/befoodsafe/

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