British Restaurant Critic Mocks Chinese Staff’s English in Racist Review
By Carl Samson
October 3, 2018
A British restaurant critic ridiculed a Chinese restaurant staff’s ability to communicate in English in a new review.
Giles Coren, an award-winning columnist, penned the questionable part while evaluating his time at Kaki, a Chinese restaurant that opened in London last month.
“When I phoned Kaki to see if one needed to book, the guy answered the phone in Chinese,” the critic opened his review for The Times.
Apparently, Coren could not make sense of the staff’s words, so he resorted to transcribing his side in gibberish.
“TAKA TAKA TAKA BOKKA TAKKA TAKKA!” he said.
“Um, hi. Is that Kaki?” I asked.
“AAAA TAKKA. TAKKA TAKKA BOKKA BOKKA TAKKA.”
“Okay, thanks. I’ll see you later.”
Despite being unable to understand a thing from the exchange, Coren visited the restaurant in 125 Caledonian Road as the staff’s language suggested “authenticity.”
“And off I went to Kaki. Because to me, if not to you, this was a very good sign,” he wrote. “It simply reeked of ‘authenticity’ – the holy grail for all food snobs.”
As if speaking in mock Chinese was not enough, Coren went on to “interpret” how the conversation may have sounded to the staff.
And he did this, apparently, to deter anyone from thinking that he was being racist.
And just in case you think there was something racist or xenophobic or in any way grotty about my transcription of the conversation, I would now like to record, for balance, how the conversation will presumably have sounded to him:
Him: “Good afternoon. This is Kaki restaurant. How may I help you?”
Me: “GOBBA FLOBBA GOBBA GOBBA FLOBBA?”
Him: “I’m afraid my English isn’t up to much, but we look forward to welcoming you.”
Me: “GOBBA GOBBA GOBBA FLOBBA GOG!”
Needless to say, Coren believes that the staff is unable to understand basic conversational English. But whether or not that is true is out of the question — mimicking a foreign accent in mockery to imply the ability to speak English makes one superior and those who can’t inferior is, at best, racist.
Interestingly, the problematic review sheds light on a tweet Coren posted in 2012, where he asked why people always accused him of misogyny, but never racism.