"There are very few American-Chinese places as mindful about the quality of ingredients as we are"

A “clean” Chinese restaurant opened by a white woman is being slammed for racism

Eater and Grub Street report that a white woman who opened a “clean” Chinese restaurant in New York is being slammed for “racist and insensitive language.”

Nutritionist Arielle Haspel recently opened Chinese-American restaurant Lucky Lee, offering “clean” food.

Haspel said her restaurant is for “people who love to eat Chinese food and love the benefit that it will actually make them feel good.” 

According to the nutritionist, not many Chinese restaurants in New York care about the quality of ingredients compared to her restaurant.

“There are very few American-Chinese places as mindful about the quality of ingredients as we are,” she said. “We’re excited to offer it to people who want this type of food, and it can make them feel good and they can workout after and they can feel focused after and it will add to their health.”

On one Instagram post, the restaurant said unlike other places, it offered lo mein that did not make their customers feel “icky.”

“We heard you’re obsessed with lo mein but rarely eat it,” the now-deleted post read. “You said it makes you feel bloated and icky the next day? Well, wait until you slurp up our HIGH lo mein. Not too oily. Or salty.”

For Haspel, by opening a Chinese restaurant, she hopes to celebrate Asian culture.

“I love love love American Chinese food. I made some tweaks so I would be able to eat it and my friends and other people would be able to eat it,” she said. “I am by all means never ever looking to put down a culture at all. I am very inclusive, and we’re here to celebrate the culture.”

Her restaurant will feature “a lot of Chinese elements” such as “lucky bamboo” and “jade”.

However, social media users were having none of it.

“This white woman just opened a ‘clean’ Chinese food restaurant … not only is she using Chinese food stereotypes/naming, she is shaming traditional Chinese food cooking with MSG/grease/starch,” one commenter said.

“Love to watch a Becky go bankrupt for racist appropriation,” another said.

“This restaurant uses racist tropes to position itself as better than a traditionally Chinese-owned restaurant for no good reason,” said one person.

Freelance food writer Esther Tseng said the restaurant was an insult to Chinese Americans and their history.

“It’s very much erasure, the way that she’s stepped on years and decades and centuries of tradition, of the migration of Chinese immigrants who were actually banned from taking jobs that were reserved for white people,”she said.

“Either doing a Chinese restaurant or running a laundry were the only jobs that they were allowed to do. Does she know that? Does she know that history? Does she know why there’s sugar added to some Chinese recipes, in order to cater to the white palate?”

Tseng criticized Haspel for suggesting “that a lot of other American-Chinese restaurants don’t care as much about their ingredients,” implying that she is In suggesting Tseng continued, Haspel seems to be “elevating herself above this Chinese-American tradition of feeding as many people as they can with their dishes, or adapting their recipes for a wider audience,” whilst profiting off it.