Saturday, August 16, 2008

are japanese steakhouses racist?

this is a vexing question, friends. i went to one last week and i'm still troubled by the experience.

so, some observations/questions. the big problem seemed to me the fact that no one there was japanese--the waitstaff and chefs were all filipino. so, despite the veneer of a japanese restaurant paying homage to japanese culinary traditions (ie, NATIONAL traditions), this wound up being a sort of free-for-all asian stereotype-fest. does the fact that there were no japanese people working at a japanese steakhouse automatically make it racist?

incidentally, i found myself feeling VERY uncomfortable (despite several pina coladas) when our "chef"/grill master kept saying "yummy yummy...you like?" he kept singing it too: "yummy yummmmmmmmy! i know you loooooooove it!"

so, what do we make of establishments that are meant to provide a "cultural experience" as well as a culinary one? and does that very fact produce an obligation to hire "authentic" staff?