Tables Turned

Had plans to meet a friend (CBC now living in Shanghai) and his wife (local Shanghainese) for dinner. They picked a restaurant, 1221, and she calls to book a table in her native tongue.

"No, sorry, the restaurant is fully booked."

Maybe she felt like something wasn't quite right, or maybe he figured he'd book it too. Whatever the reason, my friend calls not 10 minutes later to book a table in fluent and unaccented English.
No problem. A table for 4. Available instantly.

Wow. That's reverse discrimination, against the local people! I mean, clearly, 1221 is completely catered to serving foreigners. Even if you were local, and even if -- as possibly one of the fabulously wealthy locals -- you could easily afford dining at this establishment, you weren't welcome to it simply based on the fact that you were local!

Anyway, we still had that table, and as we stepped into the quaint restaurant, it was clear their policy was in place: very few Asian faces in the space, and those we saw were one or two who were likely entertaining visitors/clients. We were probably the only table comprised solely of Asian people.

Huh. Reverse racism, that's quite a saddening sight to see.

But hey, the food is quite good and the atmosphere is not bad, if you overlook their attitude of putting foreigners on a golden pedestal (with diamond credit cards). To me, we still enjoyed the dinner, but I won't support a restaurant that's outright like that.


Ben said...

Before you all chime in, I will add that I'm sure not all fine-dining restaurants in Shanghai are like this, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were more establishments exercising this kind of policy.

Anonymous said...

This is a well-known phenomenon in China (and probably other Asian countries too). My parents and their friends complain about it all the time.

It's not so much a local vs foreigner thing. It's more of a worshiping Westerners thing (i.e. they'll give local Chinese, overseas Chinese, and non-Caucasian foreigners the same rude treatment).

Rose said...

Hmm.. well that sux, never heard of it before. Was the restaurant when you walked in packed or were there opened tables?

Also, did you go with Norris and Charmaine?

Ben said...

The place was packed. With white folks (and the Asian faces that took them there). I think I also spotted a table or two of Japanese businessmen, so in their "defense" it wasn't ALL white people.