Its most controversial days are likely behind it, but we have one more update on Beijing Snacks, which some have taken to calling “the most racist restaurant in Beijing” thanks to its owner pasting a “no dog… no Japanese et al.” sign on the front window. RFH recently visited with friends, including a Japanese man named Tomo (initial plans to bring a dog were scrapped). Here’s what he had to say about the place in a piece for That’s Beijing:
The restaurant serves, as mentioned, northern capital delicacies. These usually have a strong smell and taste, and can be found by following the trail of pungent whiffs: one notorious local dish is simply called ‘stinky tofu.’ Our arts editor, James, describes the style as “hearty and heavy. It’s difficult to grow things up here, so there really isn’t much of a varied diet.” Young Beijinger Jinqing says it is “mostly based on Shandong cuisine and quite salty… As the former capital of Qing Dynasty China, it also combines features of Mongolian food (grilled beef and lamb [i.e. chuanr]) and Manchurian confections.”
Ah, but you don’t care about the food, do you? You just want to know how the manager reacted when he found out he had unwittingly served a Japanese customer. Disgruntled, for one…
But overall, the food would fall flat to any experienced Beijing snacker. It turns out that notorious ex-sign was one of the main things going for the place. On that subject, we tried to lure Boss Wang to our table to discuss the matter a number of times, but he was churlishly holed up in the corner, answering our comments with non-committal, monotone grunts. I think he was onto us from the beginning, really. Eventually, while paying the bill, we mentioned how much Tomo, our sushi-guzzling Japanese friend, had enjoyed the food. The frown faded from his face, swiftly replaced by a scowl. All eye contact vanished. I’ve never before seen anyone go so rapidly from grumpy to grumpier. Admittedly, the remark was a touch provocative. But all we’d said was that he’d enjoyed the meal: we didn’t tell him they “serve a much better lu zhu huo shao on the Senkakus” or anything. Still, I guess if you are a serious racist, learning that you just served a grinning devil your own House Special has to hurt in a Special way.
As we said our goodbyes outside, some of the staff gathered at the window to stare at us. This is a non-traditional Beijing goodbye – it says approximately something like “Don’t ever come back here again, you running dogs.” One of them glared balefully through the spot where the sign had once proudly hung on the glass. I gave him my warmest smile and pedaled off.
Invited to comment on the story, PKU Professor of Japanese Studies Wang Jian told Beijing Cream’s editor-at-large that she thought the restaurant’s behavior was “terrible.”
She explained that “that’s how Chinese people were treated during the Anti-Japanese War. But it doesn’t mean they can simply use it now against the Japanese. That’s not what civilized people do. There are surveys in Japan about their attitudes towards Chinese and 70 percent of them don’t like Chinese. But they’d never do that.”
If readers know of any xenophobic sushi bars in Okinawa, though, you be sure to let us know!
‘No Japanese or… dog’: A meal at Beijing’s most racist restaurant (That’s Beijing)