The owner of a Chinese restaurant wants to be honest with his customers – really honest.
Feigang Fei is the proprietor of Cuisine AuntDai in Montreal, but he’s not really into the orange beef on his own restaurant’s menu, and he doesn’t mind saying so.
He thinks the General Tao Chicken is much better, but his message to customers? “It’s your call.”
Because his restaurant caters to the North American version of Chinese cuisine, there are some items on the menu that he’s not “a huge fan of.”
That applies to the sweet and spicy pork strips, one of his favourites in China.
“Since I have high expectations on this dish, I am not a huge fan for our version, to be honest,” he states bluntly.
All this is listed on the online menu for AuntDai, which serves a variety of traditional and non-traditional Chinese dishes.
Each item including a few lines of commentary from Fei.
When Kim Belair, a writer, posted the menu to Twitter last week, Fei’s descriptions quickly blew up, with tens of thousands of people enjoying his words.
Mainly, his notes are helpful, pointing out which dishes aren’t really as spicy as they look, which are popular, and which are his favourites.
Beneath a photo of Tofu Skin Salad, for instance, he gives a brief history.
“QianZhang is translated (to) thousands of layers,” he writes.
“It’s a big sheet made of Tofu and it’s magical that Chinese people can make so many different food (sic) using soy beans.
“We cut QianZhang sheets into thin julienne. This plate is very tasty and healthy and it’s widely accepted.
“Totally recommend this one.”
Others, he writes, he hasn’t had a chance to even try.
Thinking of the customers
And these honest descriptions of the dishes aren’t a new addition.
Most of them he wrote years ago, he told CNN partner CBC news.
He just didn’t want customers to get disappointed.
“A lot of people want to be the best … and we are simply not the best. That’s a fact,” he said.
“We just try to be a little bit better every day.
“And that’s how I see it.”
Now, as news of Fei’s menu and brilliant commentary went viral, business has gone up, too.
“Friday and Saturday we saw a lot of new customers, and a lot of them told me they heard me on the radio or saw me on TV and they loved it,” Fei wrote in a blog post on Monday, following his eventful week.
It’s good news for the restaurant, which has spent months doing take-out only amid the pandemic.
Though AuntDai has been all right, other restaurants and small businesses in Canada, like those in the US, have been hit hard.
In British Columbia alone, for example, more than 25,000 businesses closed in March and April of 2020, the first two months of the pandemic, according to reporting by CBC.
“We are super lucky to be alive,” Fei told CBC.