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.
Why do I always get accused of misogyny but never racism?
— Giles Coren (@gilescoren) October 30, 2012
Six years later, he is getting what he asked for.
this is a thread about why giles coren is the worst person in the food industry and why we, as a whole, should stop defending him
— Jonathan (@demarionunn) September 30, 2018
6 years later, Giles Coren gets his wish with this truly off-colour characterisation of a Chinese person. pic.twitter.com/3O39WMGiYG
— Victoria Ho (@vickiho) October 3, 2018
Delightful racist drivel from a terrible writer/person, @gilescoren for @thetimes. Imagine this, but particularly in 2018? Imagine filing this and thinking it was good? The mind boggles. pic.twitter.com/babVCJtI9c
— Raf (@rafayagha) September 30, 2018
— Clarissa Wei (@dearclarissa) October 3, 2018
To hold power is a privilege that is wonderful and precious. To be callous with that is inexcusable. Giles Coren’s (rave) review deepened stereotypes and used blatant racist tropes. It was simply hurtful. I am in solitary and awe of @DumplingShack response on instagram 👊 pic.twitter.com/lwrGIi9GvK
— Anna Sulan Masing (@AnnaSulan) October 2, 2018
Wow I genuinely had no idea Giles Coren was such a racist pos, mad this goes so unchecked https://t.co/8gnvehcQCq
— Hgugrhhhhhh (@hdt_hugh) October 2, 2018
I’ve deliberately not read anything written by #GilesCoren for a while now…but I didn’t realise he was so openly racist and abusive on Twitter. I’m surprised he still has a job at the Times and folks like O’Laughlin collaborate with him ☹️
— Bangladeshi Kitchen (@DeshiKitchen) October 1, 2018
thanks Giles! i’ve read the whole thing now and it’s definitely racist. is this where you threaten me with violence?
— respectable website user (@wariotifo) October 3, 2018
— Dom (@westerbuck) October 2, 2018
— J Musashi (@JMusashi1) October 2, 2018