Lucky Lee’s Owner Apologizes After Backlash Over Her ‘Clean’ Versions of Chinese Dishes
By Ryan General
April 19, 2019
Restaurant Lucky Lee’s has addressed criticisms of racism and cultural appropriation with a public apology on Instagram.
The New York establishment raised quite a ruckus on its opening day with a social media post on Monday touting a “clean” alternative to “oily” and “salty” Chinese cuisine.
Arielle Haspel, the owner of Lucky Lee’s, had earlier written on Instagram how her “Chinese” recipes replace dishes that make people “feel bloated and icky the next day.”
She explained to Eater that her methods of preparation are for “people who love to eat Chinese food and love the benefit that it will actually make them feel good.”
Haspel mentioned that her dishes do not use monosodium glutamate (MSG) as it allegedly “ is something that people claim to have certain reactions to.”
Such belief has been debunked years ago, with the Food and Drug Administration deeming it safe for consumption.
Despite Haspel and her husband, Lee, not being of Asian descent, Haspel chose a name that sounded stereotypically Chinese.
Not unlike many oriental-themed restaurants in the U.S., Lucky Lee’s is decorated with unsurprising touches like bamboo and jade. The logo even has a chopstick-inspired font.
Responding to the backlash, Haspel tells the New York Times that she had good intentions.
“We are so sorry,” she was quoted as saying. “We were never trying to do something against the Chinese community. We thought we were complementing an incredibly important cuisine, in a way that would cater to people that had certain dietary requirements.”
Haspel also took to Instagram on Tuesday to apologize for having “disappointed and hurt so many of you.”
“We learned that our marketing perpetuated negative stereotypes that the Chinese American community has been trying to fight for decades,” she continued.
“As a health coach turned the first-time restaurateur, I never meant for the word ‘clean’ to mean anything other than in the ‘clean-eating’ philosophy, which caters towards a specific nutrition and wellness lifestyle. I also did not realize that the plays on words we used for marketing purposes were reminiscent of offensive language used against the Chinese American community. I was naive and I am sorry.”
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