It was a Friday night like any other Friday night at Lau Cua 245, a crowded seafood hot pot restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City.
But suddenly everybody stopped eating. A group of diners had just asked the manager to come over and take a look at something strange in their soup: a dead rat.
Hoa Tranh, one of the customers, wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday that her family was having a party.
"When we almost finished eating, we saw a dead rat at the bottom of the hot pot and were completely frightened," Tranh said, also posting a photo as evidence.
Tranh said the manager Tran Ba Loc first apologized and offered to charge the group of 18 nothing for their meal.
But her brother said when the family asked Loc to write a report about the incident and promise to take full responsibility in case any of them became sick, the manager changed his mind and accused them of putting the rat into their own food.
The manager later agreed to write a report, saying that “there was a rat inside our hot pot due to our lack of food hygiene,” and the group of patrons left the place after paying half the bill.
'We're not responsible'
The restaurant owner Ly Trieu Van on Tuesday told Thanh Nien that his staff would never let anything like that happen.
“We cook our broth for twelve hours, and no rat, if there were one, could have stayed intact in that shape," he said.
"It’s also strange when the customers, after seeing a rat in their hot pot, took pictures and laughed about it.”
Van said security camera footage also showed that one of the diners in the group had walked out and returned soon before they made the complaint.
“Our motto is to satisfy our customers, and that's why the manager wrote the report,” said Van’s wife, “But it does not mean we are responsible for this.”
Health inspectors on Tuesday made a surprise visit at the restaurant in Phu Nhuan District.
Even though they have not drawn any conclusion on the rat incident, they say they will fine the restaurant for multiple violations, including a lack of food hygiene training and proper working clothes for its staff.