A White Restaurateur Advertised ‘Clean’ Chinese Food. Chinese-Americans Had Something to Say About It.

The Munchies article on this topic is a good read, too:

https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/art...-clean-and-healthy-chinese-food-is-not-needed

Gotta love the part where Haspel claims that Chinese food is full of “globs of processed butter.” Cause, you know, one thing Chinese cuisine is famous for is for its prodigious use of dairy...

Often it isn't so much "tailor this to the Western palette" but "how can we recreate this dish with ingredients we don't have?"
I’d say it’s a bit of both; there are definitely a number of dishes that were created or altered to cater to an American audience. There are some autobiographical accounts of early Chinese diaspora restaurateurs changing up their menus because they couldn’t stay afloat without offering food more familiar to the tastes of white customers. With that said, you’re right that other dishes were created out of adaptive necessity.
 
Nov 17, 2017
5,431
"Wok in, take out" god damn, she really has no chill. That's so racist it's hard to even be mad, just shook.
Reminds me of this Mexican food restaurant that was opened in Philly called Illegal Tacos. Not at all surprising that it’s owned by a white guy. He actually ended up changing the name after enough people called him out on the obvious issue but not before being real stubborn about it for a long time and making the typical excuses.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ph...ce-trump-protest-20180926.html?outputType=amp

On Tuesday evening, the protesters jeered customers who entered the restaurant and cheered a man who approached and then turned away.

"I'm surprised people are still going in when they are protesting right in front," said Madeline Dahlin, 22, of West Philadelphia.

The restaurant visitors were mostly white.”
 
Nov 3, 2017
1,845
This is dumb. When you go to really good Chinese places that are not trying to appease white Americans the food is usually less greasy and less salty with more emphasis on spice and the flavor of the ingredients. It’s really down to what region of Chinese food it is too.

Her whole concept is ignorant as fuck.
The whole endeavour is just very much a ‘by white people, for white people’ deal
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,661
Damn, that owner is tone deaf. Clean Chinese food? Love the part where they mention brown sauces. You mean Soy Sauce? Wok In, Take Out. LOL.
"“all about finding a healthier alternative to your favorite indulgent food.”
Should have made her restaurant taking other dishes from other cultures and just have it be Organic instead clean. At least you won't have the negative connotation.
They are several restaurants that already offer Gluten-free, organic and non-GMO ingredients in New York. She comes off as insensitive.
 

erlim

Banned
Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,745
Los Angeles
I didn’t find it offensive at all as an ethnically Chinese person born in America. 3rd generation. ‘Clean’ seems like it is a buzz word for health food, like ‘clean fuel.’ I didn’t associate it with insinuating Chinese Cuisine was inherently ‘dirty.’ Swelling and icky could just refer to use of gluten.

I dunno. I actually feel like this person should be lauded for trying to innovate Chinese cuisine and brand it as health conscious. I didn’t realize ‘lucky’ was supposed to be an offensive term as an Asian-American.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,698
I didn’t find it offensive at all as an ethnically Chinese person born in America. 3rd generation. ‘Clean’ seems like it is a buzz word for health food, like ‘clean fuel.’ I didn’t associate it with insinuating Chinese Cuisine was inherently ‘dirty.’ Swelling and icky could just refer to use of gluten.

I dunno. I actually feel like this person should be lauded for trying to innovate Chinese cuisine and brand it as health conscious. I didn’t realize ‘lucky’ was supposed to be an offensive term as an Asian-American.
I'm a second gen Chinese and we should ALL be telling this racist asshole to get fucked instead of chan-ing it up.

I think you need to learn more about our history, my brother.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
1,698
What sort of meals are those?
Stir fried Napa cabbage with dried shrimp, our version of meatloaf, baby bak choy, braised pork belly with pickled veggies, bbq meats, congee, Chinese broccoli, salted fish, egg noodles in broth...lots of different stuff.

You could get that stuff at a traditional Chinese restaurant though.


Good point, it is amazing how things go from too alien and unwanted to this is our thing now we going to do it better
That lo mein looks like shit with no flavor...kinda like potato salad.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,698
My father has made the best food I've ever eaten and he learned how to cook in Hong Kong while working in restaurants at the age of 14 by watching what the cooks were doing.

That trash tier menu is a fucking insult and that place needs to be wiped from existence along with Gordon Ramsay's place. I can't put in words how deeply insulting that travesty is and how angry it makes me. Fuck those motherfuckers.
 
Oct 22, 2018
3,605
The Munchies article on this topic is a good read, too:

https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/art...-clean-and-healthy-chinese-food-is-not-needed

Gotta love the part where Haspel claims that Chinese food is full of “globs of processed butter.” Cause, you know, one thing Chinese cuisine is famous for is for its prodigious use of dairy...
God, there's stuff in here I haven't seen in these other reports that are both completely obviously true and yet completely harrowing to actually see. Such as this appositive clause that stuck out at me:
Arielle Haspel, a health coach, parenting blogger, and designer of the iloveme jeWELLry collection.
It's like. Of course. Yep. Of fucking course. Fuck me. Obviously that's fucking true. Fuck's sake.

It is always appropriate for discourse on white privilege to have the exact same tone as Jeff Gerstmann at any given moment of a Mario Party Party stream
 
Nov 20, 2017
1,837
I mean the whole thing is totally racist and condescending all the way down.

But "Wok in, take out" I'm not seeing the issue. It's not making fun of a language or accent, it's just a pun based on a cooking tool.
No one is missing the pun. Historically people make fun of first generation Chinese immigrants (and other Asians) for how they say English words. Especially how they struggle with the letter "L," which walk->wok definitely incorporates. So it's incredibly tone deaf at the very least, and I would say pretty offensive given the current political climate.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,698
Does it even have miso in it lol
Nope. It's chicken stock made with chicken bones, but I bet it ain't the same soup you get with your meals at an actual Chinese restaurant with all the collagen...which makes the name even worse on top of not having any fermented bean paste in it! This shit is fucking potato salad.

This is textbook cultural appropriation with a racist twist.
 
Oct 27, 2017
304
Tn, USA
No one is missing the pun. Historically people make fun of first generation Chinese immigrants (and other Asians) for how they say English words. Especially how they struggle with the letter "L," which walk->wok definitely incorporates. So it's incredibly tone deaf at the very least, and I would say pretty offensive given the current political climate.
I dunno, "wok in" seems like a pretty harmless pun for a Chinese food place and easy enough to think of without considering how it might sound coming from a native Chinese speaker. It's not like a soul food joint called "Axe me a question" or something straight up offensive. Hell, there is a vietnamese place called "Pho King" (and I'm sure it's not the only one) so spelling/ pronunciation puns seem par for the course.

And anyway, just how authentic are most dishes in an americanized Chinese place anyway? I've been to more than a few with two menus. Not sure a white chef making even more americanized versions of already americanized Asian cuisine merits a whole lot of comment, really.

The real issue to me is how she presents herself, regardless of what she is making. She kinda shits on the inspiration no matter the source, which doesnt inspire confidence.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,698
I dunno, "wok in" seems like a pretty harmless pun for a Chinese food place and easy enough to think of without considering how it might sound coming from a native Chinese speaker. It's not like a soul food joint called "Axe me a question" or something straight up offensive. Hell, there is a vietnamese place called "Pho King" (and I'm sure it's not the only one) so spelling/ pronunciation puns seem par for the course.

And anyway, just how authentic are most dishes in an americanized Chinese place anyway? I've been to more than a few with two menus. Not sure a white chef making even more americanized versions of already americanized Asian cuisine merits a whole lot of comment, really.

The real issue to me is how she presents herself, regardless of what she is making. She kinda shits on the inspiration no matter the source, which doesnt inspire confidence.
You're absolutely wrong about the "wok in" thing and it's the same exact shit as "Axe me a question." It's as harmless as doing chink eyes, buck teeth, and a straw hat.

Did you know anything about cooking? Have you looked at that garbage they call a menu? It's all bland ass shit that they market by shitting on the very thing they're appropriating. It's the whole package that makes me want them to fail; not just a racist pun.
 
Oct 27, 2017
304
Tn, USA
You're absolutely wrong about the "wok in" thing and it's the same exact shit as "Axe me a question." It's as harmless as doing chink eyes, buck teeth, and a straw hat.

Did you know anything about cooking? Have you looked at that garbage they call a menu? It's all bland ass shit that they market by shitting on the very thing they're appropriating. It's the whole package that makes me want them to fail; not just a racist pun.
I understand how you feel, but that particular pun could arise without ever thinking about the Chinese pronunciation (combining it with "Lucky Lee" might be telling however).

As for the food, I think the standard "beef and brocoli" type Chinese menu as presented in America has become assimilated enough that someone could replicate/riff on it without really considering the source (kinda like how you can put anything into a taco now). That's good progress in a sense. But I agree with you on most of the rest of it. The restaurant as a whole is probably garbage but not every aspect is inherently bad.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,450
The Munchies article on this topic is a good read, too:

https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/art...-clean-and-healthy-chinese-food-is-not-needed

Gotta love the part where Haspel claims that Chinese food is full of “globs of processed butter.” Cause, you know, one thing Chinese cuisine is famous for is for its prodigious use of dairy...



I’d say it’s a bit of both; there are definitely a number of dishes that were created or altered to cater to an American audience. There are some autobiographical accounts of early Chinese diaspora restaurateurs changing up their menus because they couldn’t stay afloat without offering food more familiar to the tastes of white customers. With that said, you’re right that other dishes were created out of adaptive necessity.
holy shit lmao

That's some misinformation to put out by the restauranteur.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,698
I understand how you feel, but that particular pun could arise without ever thinking about the Chinese pronunciation (combining it with "Lucky Lee" might be telling however).

As for the food, I think the standard "beef and brocoli" type Chinese menu as presented in America has become assimilated enough that someone could replicate/riff on it without really considering the source (kinda like how you can put anything into a taco now). That's good progress in a sense. But I agree with you on most of the rest of it. The restaurant as a whole is probably garbage but not every aspect is inherently bad.
It comes from a place of racism. Your assertion that it could arise without even thinking about it only goes to prove that racism is reflexive and a integral part of our society.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,745
Los Angeles
User Banned (1 Week): Dismissing concerns surrounding racism and history of reinforcing stereotypes
I'm a second gen Chinese and we should ALL be telling this racist asshole to get fucked instead of chan-ing it up.

I think you need to learn more about our history, my brother.
I am aware of how the portrayal of MSG and it’s supposed health risks was used to smear the reputation of Chinese food as it first became popular in the US. I don’t think this person deliberately evoked an outmoded xenophobic tactic in opening her own NYC Chinese Restaurant.

I don’t really feel offended by her efforts to bring the novelty of branding her Chinese food as health conscious. At the end of the day, if her food really is exquisite, she can make a splash and legitimately earn her place in a very competitive culinary market.

My worry is that we have much more legitimate and troubling issues to overcome in social representation, and I question if highlighting a innocuous if not thoughtlessly spoken resteraunteur as an oppressive target is really the best way to rally and organize for a meaningful purpose.

To me, the thing that sticks out is that she found an ethnic cuisine she is passionate about and inspired by to put her own spin on.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,698
I am aware of how the portrayal of MSG and it’s supposed health risks was used to smear the reputation of Chinese food as it first became popular in the US. I don’t think this person deliberately evoked an outmoded xenophobic tactic in opening her own NYC Chinese Restaurant.

I don’t really feel offended by her efforts to bring the novelty of branding her Chinese food as health conscious. At the end of the day, if her food really is exquisite, she can make a splash and legitimately earn her place in a very competitive culinary market.

My worry is that we have much more legitimate and troubling issues to overcome in social representation, and I question if highlighting a innocuous if not thoughtlessly spoken resteraunteur as an oppressive target is really the best way to rally and organize for a meaningful purpose.

To me, the thing that sticks out is that she found an ethnic cuisine she is passionate about and inspired by to put her own spin on.
Her menu is potato salad garbage and there's nothing unintentional about her racism or the fact that her marketing hook is based entirely on shitting on Chinese restaurants.

If you think a white woman shitting on Chinese restaurant food to make money off of appropriating said food is innocuous, that's a real shitty attitude.

I'm really passionate about food too, but if I open a friend chicken joint called Sambo's and called a dish "Uncle Tom's Crabcakes" with blackface motifs, I'd say there's a pretty fucking legitimate reason for people to want to burn my place down.

These types of issues are ALL legitimate because it's ALL RACISM.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,575
I was interested in the design of this place’s menu from a nutrition standpoint. I was wondering if it was actually as interesting as she claims.

There are opportunities to substitute ingredients to refresh some traditional American Chinese dishes and make them legitimately more nutritious, like using stevia (which is a natural low calorie sweetener) or agave nectar (which has lower glycemic index) instead of traditional syrup and sugar. Or using almond or coconut flour instead of regular flour and corn starch. Or fry using avocado oil instead of corn oil. Or using a more complex grain than white rice. All of these substitute for healthier fats, less sugar/simple carbs, and more complex carbs. None of it is “authentic,” but it is a legitimate way to rethink and increase the nutrition content of an American Chinese fried, syrupy entree.

But this menu instead claims: “This entire menu is gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, corn-free, peanut cashew & pistachio-free. Ingredients may be made in facilities that processes gluten, dairy, wheat, nuts. We use non-GMO oil & never refined sugar, MSG or food coloring."

None of that is inherently healthy. Which just confirms to me this owner doesn’t know anything about nutrition nor care about making anything healthy, she just wants to put her own granola vegan Whole Foods uppity white people spin on American Chinese food. And in the wake of her doing so, she didn’t avoid shitting on the food genre with abstract, meaningless, offensive terms like “clean eating.”
 
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Oct 27, 2017
304
Tn, USA
How is it not the same?
Because a wok is used in the cooking.

Just like "Skillet and grill it" or something like that. The "wok" for "walk" switch works because it sounds close enough in English and refers to the pot specific to that style of cooking. That it also sounds like "engrish" is unfortunate and certainly enough to merit abandoning the catch phrase once it is brought up. But just creating the phrase isnt inherently racist as a group of native English speakers without much contact with native Chinese speakers may not even be aware of how the latter might pronounce "walk" and just think it is clever word play (like the "Pho King" example I brought up earlier).

But anyway, the point isnt worth debating as the wok thing, in context with the rest of the story, seems bad and not up to defense.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,698
Because a wok is used in the cooking.

Just like "Skillet and grill it" or something like that. The "wok" for "walk" switch works because it sounds close enough in English and refers to the pot specific to that style of cooking. That it also sounds like "engrish" is unfortunate and certainly enough to merit abandoning the catch phrase once it is brought up. But just creating the phrase isnt inherently racist as a group of native English speakers without much contact with native Chinese speakers may not even be aware of how the latter might pronounce "walk" and just think it is clever word play (like the "Pho King" example I brought up earlier).

But anyway, the point isnt worth debating as the wok thing, in context with the rest of the story, seems bad and not up to defense.
The point is worth discussing when you're conflating white people being racist with Asians re-appropriating their own shit. Those pho restaurants are owed primarily by Vietnamese other Asians, whereas white people have no fucking excuse to play up puns that belong in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Why are you so invested in minimizing this and what authority do you have to tell Asians that this is meaningless?
 
Oct 27, 2017
304
Tn, USA
The point is worth discussing when you're conflating white people being racist with Asians re-appropriating their own shit. Those pho restaurants are owed primarily by Vietnamese other Asians, whereas white people have no fucking excuse to play up puns that belong in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Why are you so invested in minimizing this and what authority do you have to tell Asians that this is meaningless?
I'm not minimizing anything. But of all the red flags in this story IMHO the "wok in, take out" part is the LEAST effective example to use to illustrate the entire story as a problematic cultural appropriate example. It can be easily demonstrated to be a pun relevant to the cooking style and there are many other examples of similar word play. But the menu names, the restaurant name, the comments by the owner, those ARE problematic and folks should focus on those instead.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,691
Because a wok is used in the cooking.

Just like "Skillet and grill it" or something like that. The "wok" for "walk" switch works because it sounds close enough in English and refers to the pot specific to that style of cooking. That it also sounds like "engrish" is unfortunate and certainly enough to merit abandoning the catch phrase once it is brought up. But just creating the phrase isnt inherently racist as a group of native English speakers without much contact with native Chinese speakers may not even be aware of how the latter might pronounce "walk" and just think it is clever word play (like the "Pho King" example I brought up earlier).

But anyway, the point isnt worth debating as the wok thing, in context with the rest of the story, seems bad and not up to defense.
So if someone opens a fish place and has a sign that says, "Wait just a cod n' picking moment," it's also okay? After all, it's related to the business, right?

Or is your argument actually that it's not offensive because you don't find it offensive? Because, spoiler, I don't find it offensive either. That doesn't mean I get to speak for others.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,698
I'm not minimizing anything. But of all the red flags in this story IMHO the "wok in, take out" part is the LEAST effective example to use to illustrate the entire story as a problematic cultural appropriate example. It can be easily demonstrated to be a pun relevant to the cooking style and there are many other examples of similar word play. But the menu names, the restaurant name, the comments by the owner, those ARE problematic and folks should focus on those instead.
Effective to to who? People that aren't sympathetic to begin with that twist themselves into pretzels to explain why it isn't racist after ACTUAL CHINESE PEOPLE have said that it is?
 
Oct 27, 2017
304
Tn, USA
Effective to to who? People that aren't sympathetic to begin with that twist themselves into pretzels to explain why it isn't racist after ACTUAL CHINESE PEOPLE have said that it is?
Yes. I know it is derogatory. You know it. Folks in this forum know it. But I'd bet the average American would think "that's not so bad" if you lead the discussion with "wok in, take out". That phrase can be created out of ignorance, not racism. The context is important in understanding why it can be offensive because there are other examples of similar phrasing, at least on a superficial level, that dont cone across as racist. So start with the "this is Chinese food that doesn't make you feel sick" comments, or the name, or the menu items.

I think that would be a more effective introduction to the discussion in explaining why this entire concept is problematic and not only should be shut down, but serves as an example of how NOT to serve a cultural product if you are not born into that culture.

But I understand this is offensive to you and I dont want to make you upset. I've said my piece and I'll bow out.
 
Nov 20, 2017
1,837
I don't know why you think it just happened out of ignorance. I'm an Asian-American out in the boonies of America, and I've heard people make fun of Asian accents in precisely that manner. There's about a zero percent chance an east coast person is unaware of things like this. It was done out malice and appropriation. Stop with the concern trolling.
 
So my Asian American friends are upset about the restaurant ,but my mainland Chinese friends say it's not a big deal as long as it doesn't taste like shit

Idk I'm a billion times more offended by Panda Express existing.

The names of all of her stuff are really bad though , She definitely didn't make those names out of ignorance.

However the concept of "healthy" Chinese food is fine. They have "healthy" restaurants for all types of cuisines. She just did everything wrong.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
3,236
So my Asian American friends are upset about the restaurant ,but my mainland Chinese friends say it's not a big deal as long as it doesn't taste like shit

Idk I'm a billion times more offended by Panda Express existing.

The names of all of her stuff are really bad though , She definitely didn't make those names out of ignorance.

However the concept of "healthy" Chinese food is fine. They have "healthy" restaurants for all types of cuisines. She just did everything wrong.
Hey, leave Panda Express alone!