A Chinese-language vlogger recently gave out hongbaos (bright red envelopes) stuffed with generous tips to his favorite restaurants in Manhattan’s Chinatown.
On Friday, YouTuber Arieh Smith, known to his 3.49 million subscribers as Xiaomanyc 小马在纽约, uploaded a video in which he surprised different Chinatown restaurants
with tips worth $1,000 each to help them during the ongoing pandemic.
At the beginning of his video, Smith mentioned that many restaurants have been suffering while others have completely shut down.
“I got five thousand dollars, we’re going to be going to five different restaurants, and giving them each a nice little ‘hongbao,’” Smith says.
The community was still celebrating Chinese New Year at the time. Smith delivered the tips to some of his favorite family-run Chinese restaurants which not only “provide great food to the people in the neighborhood,” but also “support a lot of employees.”
Smith first visited Spicy Village on Forsythe Street, which he says deserves a reward for working “nonstop for 12 hours a day.”
Speaking in Mandarin, Smith chatted with a worker named Wendy, who talked about how Spicy Village has been struggling and “hanging in there” due to the pandemic.
Unaware that she was being filmed, Wendy filled Smith’s takeout bag with free tea and holiday candies. After paying for his $15 order, Smith handed a red envelope to the surprised worker.
“No, I don’t want that!” Wendy quickly responded as she backed away.
As Smith kept convincing her to take the envelope, she said: “I can’t accept this, my family would kill me for accepting this.”
“How can I accept this, this is just too much. How about I take out just a little bit,” she said.
Smith was only able to convince her to take the money after he suggested that she could share it with her employees: “If you don’t want to accept it for yourself, then give it to your employees.”
After Wendy asked how she could repay him, Smith responded: “Just keep doing what you’re doing and making great food!”
The other restaurants that Smith visited gave similar reactions, immediately turning down the red envelopes as soon as he offered them.
“How can you give me so much money?” one shocked worker asked.
“You gave too much, bro,” a Cantonese-speaking street food vendor said.
“This is way too much,” another restaurant owner said. “I can’t accept it.”
Later on in his video, the YouTuber urged his viewers to show up at these restaurants in Chinatown or at their own local eateries to support struggling businesses.
As of this writing, the video has attracted more than 2 million views.