While the restaurant’s name has many questioning the racial and sexist implications behind the term, the twist is that the founder of the restaurant, Kelly Kim, is a Korean-American who is actually “re-appropriating a term — taking ownership of something and defining it in our own way.” In an exclusive interview with NextShark last year, Kim said:
“Growing up in Texas, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to Korean food and culture and I realized that my palette evolved into more of an Asian-American palette. As I got older and grew into my career, I packed lunches during the week — mostly mixed rice bowls — when it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen the kind of food I was making anywhere before and that I could do this for a living. I wanted to start a restaurant, but I didn’t want to be tied down to one kind of food, like Korean or Japanese. I wanted to be the Asian version of Chipotle.
“When we finally came up with the concept, all the names we thought of just plain sucked. Buzzwords like ‘traditional,’ ‘bamboo,’ ‘lotus,’, and ‘golden’ weren’t memorable.
“One night, we just said ‘Yellow Fever!’ and it worked. It’s tongue-in-cheek, kind of shocking, and it’s not exclusive — you can fit all Asian cultures under one roof with a name like this. We just decided to go for it.”
Although word has gotten out that the owner is an Asian American female, some netizens are still on the fence on whether the name is appropriate.
Not sure why Asians would be offended, since I’ve always understood “yellow fever” to be a racial/sexual pejorative that Asians use against non-Asians (white men in particular). https://t.co/tyMSTsIwPm
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