sick of seeing fortune cookies, noodles, more noodles, rice, and really tame sushi all over your dash? are you thinking, "this isn't the asian food I know"? then this is the perfect place for you.
The main points being:
- Please stop with the dog jokes.
- Learn to order what everyone else is ordering.
- The Vietnamese know there’s more to a cow than ribeye.
- Get over the fish sauce squick.
- Learn to love the herbs.
- You aren’t going to change the service model.
I have a pretty limited diet myself for any kind of restaurant, but wow, people do these things? What is the point of going to a restaurant where the cuisine isn’t familiar to you if you’re just going to be a racist asshat all over it?
Sadly, yes, and unfortunately not limited to just Vietnamese restaurants but pretty much any type of Asian restaurant here (and I’m sure the same goes for all other restaurants though I can’t speak to those experiences). The article is from where I live and I’ve lost count of the number of times my friends and I are out enjoying a good meal and just _know_ when a group of white folks that walks in is going to be _that_ kind. They typically come in with that swagger and smirk like they’re being ~oh so cultured/daring~ trying something ~exotic~, gracing us brown folk with their presence, and how if they approve, they’ll get all their white friends to eat there too. And how quickly that changes as they make a scene over “why don’t you have [insert dish]?! don’t you all serve that?!” or “This tastes nothing like what I had on vacation in your country!” or it’s some loud obnoxious complaint about “why don’t any of the waiters speak English” (that they can understand) or “this is AMERICA, not your country!” (typically referring to customer service and/or language issues) and “no wonder it’s nothing but Asians in here” and other racist shit.
I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a place like that, wow. It’s usually me dragging white friends out to eat at Asian restaurants, out of deep personal offense (and snobbery) that they are lacking such knowledge of things like how to use chopsticks.
In undergrad, one of my professors decided we should celebrate the end of the semester. It was a small group so we all went out to dinner at a new place that had just opened up. It had a decent menu (sushi, noodles, some beef, chicken & steak entrees), and we were all perfectly content. Except that one asshole who ordered off the kid’s menu (chicken nuggets or some such) & spent the entire time pulling faces about what everyone else was eating. I still wonder why he bothered to come out for dinner with everyone else if he wasn’t going to eat anything that he couldn’t have nuked in his microwave at home.
There’s an Indian restaurant in Sacramento, not too far from my grandparents’ place. I gave it a try last May and was delighted — I’ve never had the chance to try Indian food before.
And then this couple came in.
First they wanted to make a to-go order. Then they decided no, they wanted to sit down. Then they decided they didn’t like anything on the menu and departed — but not before the boyfriend thought he should deliver the perfect advice to the owner/chef of the place.
“You should really serve beef here; you’d get a lot more customers.”
The amazing Ethiopian restaurant near my house was subject to a couple once while I was there who tried to lecture the server about the lack of silverware and how gross/unhygienic it was to eat food with your hands or injera.
how do people do this
oh god I can’t even begin to properly extol the virtues of this post
every time I go out with my [family member’s name redacted], if the food is even the slightest bit “ethnic,” she has no idea what to eat and spends the whole meal looking for a hamburger or roast beef sandwich or a steak or something. She won’t even try anything on the menu if it’s not familiar to her! I don’t understand this!!!!!!! Why are you even at this restaurant!?
God THAT IS SUCH A GOOD POINT! And that is what blows my mind: If you think “ethnic” food is so gross and weird WHY ARE YOU EVEN GOING THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. Just keep your silly bigoted food opinions to yourself AND GIVE ME MORE INJERA.
oh god y’all i want ethiopian food so badly right now
On the flip side, I find it equally off-putting when, say, I go to eat Korean food with people and it’s revealed that they have expectations for me to act as an ambassador on their ~*~*~*~ethnic food adventure~*~*~*~*~. Questions and comments beyond, “Oh, so what’s in this, how is this made,” which I consider reasonable going-out-to-eat-where-you’ve-never-eaten-before questions. There’s no harm in wanting to know what’s in your food. But then if there’s face-squinching, anything that smacks of “ewwwww,” I’m going to slap you. Oh, or, like, using bibimbap as a springboard for making huge, smug generalizations about East Asian culture. Not just Korean culture, which is bad enough, but going from bibimbap -> “I’m saying this about Korean culture because I like talking out of my ass” -> “I’m now going to talk about East Asia like it’s one giant Pan-Asian monolith because I am eating this food and clearly it’s cool since I’m in a restaurant with The Asians, amirite” -> “Ow ow ow why are you hitting me, oh dear god I had no idea a ladle could be weaponized, nooooo.”
Or like this one lady, when C. and I went on a double-date with a friend, and his date said, “Oh, I’m so excited, I’ve never tried this before. I feel like I’m going on a safari!” I actually laughed in her face because SERIOUSLY? We were at a Korean restaurant, for one, and also, SERIOUSLY? (Sorry if I ruined your date, Ian, but SERIOUSLY?)
It’s like a facet of that whole sentiment of, “Well, we might be stereotyping and objectifying you, but at least we’re using nice words to do it!” Basically I’ve started to automatically side-eye people who use words or phrases like “adventurous”, “exotic”, “dangerous,” “out of your comfort zone”, or the like to describe a cuisine or a non-white restaurant because they’re all terms relative to U.S. culture and food. It’s gross and smacks of imperialist relative value judgments and exoticizing and also, HOW FUCKING RUDE. Like for real.
Go eat the food. Enjoy the food. Or don’t, to each their own. BUT DON’T BE AN ASSHAT ABOUT IT. And for fuck’s sake, stop talking about it like you’re about to get your honorary citizenship from the R.O.K. because you fucking deigned to try a little 비빔밥.