OCEANA: Asians eat at the back… How RACIST!!!

Dear Food Diary:
Walked into the blue dominated, cruise like Oceana last Sunday for lunch. Perfectly lit by natural sunlight, spacious with high ceilings. We had reservations from days ago and since this was midtown west on a Sunday, it wasn’t crowded at all. The 2 ladies in the front asked for our reservation and one quickly decides our table “location”… and off we went.

There were comfortable looking booths with marine themed tapestry couches along the way, I though we were being taken to. But as we followed the hostess further and further away, by passing an seemingly empty main dining room (about 40% full with non asians, maybe one asian mixed into a all white table), she opens a door and enter “the other” dining room. My first reaction was that of an “color blind” customer. Thought to myself, maybe this is more quiet or private!? Even though it looked so plain.

It wasn’t until my date had also noticed that we took a good look around. It was way too obvious and I had to that a picture, even though I don’t usually whip out my camera on a date. So the waiter didn’t capture the dining area on my right, behind me… there were 2 more tables of asians. While the main dining room outside looked really white (sorry I don’t mean it that way, but I’m trying to make a point here, so don’t get all sensitive on me please)… maybe we didn’t match the blue and white color scheme of the decor?

From my seat I could see the empty tables outside, with comfortable looking couches, empty  with no one to sit on. We were tempted to ask for another table, or make a non-friendly remark (you know me, I couldn’t resist) but we figured, this is where they thought we belonged and we didn’t want to mess with the people who had the power to spit in our food. Yes, we could of walked out, but for the most part, we were shocked and in disbelief. Or just making up reasons, like maybe we weren’t dressy enough? or we didn’t specify to sit in the main dining room when making our reservation? or we were magically transported to Chinatown? This sure was an experience. Honesty, you can’t tell me this was all just a “coincidence” and we were just too sensitive. I might be naive sometimes, but I don’t buy that!

Ok, now to the food, because I’m a food blogger darn it! and I have to be professional in any circumstance. Ok, so we did the Restaurant Week Menu (sorry guys, no photo).

Scallop Sashimi with peach chutney. The scallops were fresh and naturally sweet, tender and delicate. The peach chutney was a little too dulce for me, so I ate around it. Overall a nice light  summer dish, the herbs gave it a nice fresh touch. 
Chilled Seafood Salad had shrimp, fish and squid with olives and pesto vinaigrette. Good and simple but nothing to be drooling about. 

Chilled Poached Skate with marinated zucchini strips that reminded me of a sunny day at the farmers market. Topped with a chili-fennel vinaigrette. A colorful presentation of white, yellow and green. The skate bones were removed, nice firm pieces of delicate fish, topped with a salad. I liked the tender fish with the fragrant pine nuts in each bite with hints of fennel and citrus. 
Grilled Bluefish was a tough in texture for me. Beefsteak tomatoes a la plancha was good, but I hate to see good ingredients being overworked, summer tomatoes are best raw in my opinion. The olive tapenade was a little too salty. 

Red Wine Plum Popover was good. The creme fraiche mousse presentation was pedestrian at best, but looks aside, the cabernet crumbs sounded better on paper, but never delivered any wine flavor, nor did the red wine plum. But overall a sweet, tangy dessert that I enjoyed for the most part. Nice textures. The popover was so buttery, it would make Paula Deen blush, in a good way of course.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Parfait had an amazing buttermilk granite, refreshing yet slightly creamy and playful on my tongue. The rest of the components had a more peanut butter taste, sort of like a giant deconstructed peanut butter cup. Had some chocolate and cream. A nice sweet treat for kids of all ages. 
P.S. Chubby’s RATING:   (For FOOD)

Food wise, this was one of the better Summer Restaurant Week experiences so far. But, I can’t help my sensitive Asian side from feeling discriminated. Even my tastebuds felt a little hurt and mad. I’ve seen Avenue Q and I know everyone is a little bit racist but this was too obvious. Food blogger or not, this is beyond, surely NOT A COINCIDENCE that ALL the Asians were placed in the back when the rest was so empty. Sure, service wasnt bad and at the end of the meal the dining rooms got mixed, but we were there for a good 2 hrs in the Asian only dining room at the back and that was enough. I ain’t coming back.


120 West 49th St
Oceana on Urbanspoon
This post got picked up by some NY blogs, number of forums, yelp and…. 
Eater.com (where the GM issued a letter *rolling eyes*)
MidtownLunch Part 2

In case your wondering how the MAIN DINING ROOM looks like, and you tell me if that back room would be anyone’s “preferred” seating. 

73 Responses to OCEANA: Asians eat at the back… How RACIST!!!

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think its a coincidence… I've been to oceana and sat in the front… and I know others who have to. Their executive pastry chef Jansen is also asian and hes incredibly nice and makes delicious masterpieces. Oceana also supports a bunch of local charities and causes! I think it was merely coincidence that this happened.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Maybe they put all of the Asians in the back room because they thought all of you were going to take pictures?! That is crazy!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    That is appalling! It's hard to imagine that it was mere coincidence, but WHY? It's nuts! I think you should forward this post to the restaurant. I may just help you out and shoot off an email.

    Segregated seating aside, those were also the worst seats in the house. It looked like a catering hall back there. I know it's awkward on a date, but I usually change my seat AT LEAST once, because I know I'll just be witchy during the entire meal if I don't like where I'm seating. BUT if you HAD done that, you wouldn't have discovered this horrible practice.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wanted to think that… like i said, i liked the food.. and the ambiance outside of where we were sitting… I looked out and wished i was there! but it was odd… cuz i was there… and i was paying the same thing the ppl out there were paying!! it wasn't like a cafe side of a nice restaurant… it was just a back room!!! u see it… no deco… no nothing!!! its hard to believe it's just coincidence.. the place was practically empty!!!

    No one there was taking pic that I saw… and I wasn't my food paparazzi self that day either…

    I know!!!! it was so messed up! but i guess we stayed to "experience' it… i know we made comments between us, not sure if the waiters heard us…. YES!!!! thats what i said… i looked like a random catering hall!!!!! The decor outside, where we werent aloud to sit at… was actually pretty darn nice!!!!! live and learn? at least I have this as an outlet for this traumatic experience…

  5. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how the restaurant will respond to this terrible situation. That back room looks terrible – like a conference room instead of a high-end restaurant!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I know right?! good thing it was a bright sunny day, so at least it was lit! and honestly… how can it be a coincidence when the chick in the front has a computer screen with the table plan… and assigns each table!!!! PLUS, the main dining area was EMPTY… I repeat EMPTY! I mean its Sunday lunch at midtown west… really empty! u know?! its crazy

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if they only do this during Restaurant Week since menus are discounted?

    I would definitely be curious to see how the restaurant responds to this!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the back room was for people doing Restaurant Week meals.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Jen, Alex,

    There was no way they would of know that we were doing restaurant week, actually we went for brunch and since we saw the restaurant week menu, we decided to do that… so there was no way for them to know that from our reservation! so going along that theory… it'll be like… since we asians.. they knew we were gonna go for the "deal"?? makes no sense either…. =/

  10. Anonymous says:

    If the main dining room was empty, sometimes on slow days, restaurants will put all the people in one area. I assume that it's easier to clean the back room hence you guys were put there. If more people went, then the main area would open up.

  11. Anonymous says:


    there were people in the main dining area… it was about 40% full when we walked it… so it wasn't like empty empty… i just meant that if they wanted to… they could of sat us out there!

  12. Anonymous says:

    If you wanted to be seated in the main dining room, why didn't you say so to the hostess?

    As to the all-Asian back room, not sure. Could be coincidence. Could be you had a racist VIP customer in the front who refuses to be in a room with Asians. Could be that Oceana is racist. Will agree with Grace that many times I go to a restaurant, whenever a camera comes out, 80% of the time the camera belongs to an Asian.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I was at a different restaurant last Friday and felt the exact same way! We were upstairs and the five other dining groups were also Asian.

    We started to wonder the same thing, until I went downstairs to use the bathroom and realized that 90% of the diners happened to be Asian that day.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, it's not like this never happened before either, but this was a little extreme. There was like 40% occupancy outside… a sea of caucasians only? come on now! at least mix it up a little and make it a little less obvious??? and that back room is ugly… i don't care how the GM puts it… and I didn't see no waterfall!

  15. Anonymous says:

    i've pretty much noticed that treatment at all restaurant week places i've ever been to….my fiance n i just laugh it off

  16. Anonymous says:

    but isn't that sad though… why should we have to pay and live with this kind of bs… when it's so ridiculously obvious!

    I'm glad at least u guys are chill… me on the other hand… i was fine until i read the GM's reply on midtownlunch… idiot!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I've been to a lot of places for Resto Week and can't say the same about other joints…

  18. Anonymous says:

    If you went to the restaurant repeatedly and saw the same trends you have something. To go there once and make accusations based on a fraction of that restaurant's day is completely irresponsible. That's like walking into a store and seeing all females working and saying, "this place only hires females." You are basing it one instance without knowing any other factors that are influencing decisions.

    You may be right, and the host/ess maybe doing it, but are unaware of it (there are studies that show this happening in classrooms), but you can't go around making accusations without proper research. That's what gets people riled up about race for no reason, and you have a responsibility as someone who is blogging seriously, to have some journalistic integrity.

    Asian by the way, but that doesn't matter in this case.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I am Asian-American (Shanghainese mother and Korean father) and have been eating regularly at Oceana since they moved to this location in 2009, including on weekends. In fact, it is one of my favorite restaurants for the combination of food and ambience. Further, the management and staff are highly professional and rather warm people. Having been involved in civil rights and anti-Asian matters over the past 20+ years, not to mention Wall St law firms, I know racism. Perhaps you're too young to recall the wonderful "next to the kitchen" seating afforded people of color at Lespinasse, which I experienced first-hand in the early 90s. Please don't get me started on the treatment of non-Japanese/Asian patrons at certain popular Japanese restaurants. We've all been there! There is no evidence of any such bias at Oceana (color, gender, orientation, etc.), unless one is troubled that they do not keep Kosher. Other than this rush to judgment re Oceana, Chubby, your NY Food Diary is a great read!

  20. Anonymous says:

    The room will now and forever be known as The Shanghai Room. 🙂

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thanks everyone for reading and taking time to comment…

    I'm glad your experience was better. I don't think I was being irresponsible when I wrote about "my" experience. It's like when those real stuck up food critics say that food bloggers can't be real food critics because we don't visit the restaurant more than 3 times. This is merely "my" blog about what happened to me that day, both of us felt it so it can't just be me. If I didn't like a dish, I don't go back to try it again. Just like in this instance, it left a sour note. Why would I go back and try again? one time was enough, trust me.

    What kind of influencing decisions could there be? that we were all sat in the back? and I DON'T buy that hostess "unaware" factor… I just don't…
    Also, based on the GM's response to all this on MidtownLunch, it sorta proved that the race ratio coming to their REstaurant week was pretty apparent in their minds.

    I'm not the type who is super sensitive about race. And despite all this, I did give the food a fair review, so you can't say I'm being irresponsible.

    Alexander Moon,
    Thanks for the references. Like the GM said… I think they only have this "color" separation during Restaurant Week!!! Like I said, his reply made me furious! he doesn't really deny my claim, instead he fuels it with % remarks.

    I know about the JApanese restaurants, at least some of them make it clear and don't even have english menus!!! so at least you know, your not welcomed. But Oceana participates in restaurant week and then finds that oh… so many Asians come… what the heck! who thinks like that, isn't it business regardless of color?… I still can't convince myself that that room at the back with 6 tables of Asians at the same time, while the outside if a sea of white…. is a mere coincidence and I'm just too sensitive… I've been to restaurants where it seems like an area has a lot of Asians at once, but not secluded in the back room, separated by curtains and doors! Thanks for reading my blog =)


  22. Anonymous says:

    Alexander Moon

    Can you list those restaurants so my wife and I can be treated like white people for once?

  23. Anonymous says:

    In one comment you say the main dining room was "empty, I mean EMPTY" to justify why you should have been seated there instead of the other room. In the very next reply to a comment you state that the main dining room was "40% full" to justify the fact that the restaurant was not trying to seat everyone in the same space for convenience sake. If you can't keep your own facts straight, please take a moment before throwing such a horrible, hurtful and character damaging term such as "racist" around. Especially in big bold print. I feel for the poor hostess whom you have just labled as "racist". You know nothing about her and yet you feel that you have every right to malign her character. She may have grounds to sue for libel.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Ew. For the record, I thought your post was hilarious, but the GM's response creeped me out.

    I actually had lunch reservations there for Sunday that I just cancelled cause… honestly, I've already spent too much on restaurant week, and this is just a good excuse :D.

  25. Anonymous says:

    In one comment you say the main dining room was "empty, I mean EMPTY" to justify why you should have been seated there instead of the other room. In the very next reply to a comment you state that the main dining room was "40% full" to justify the fact that the restaurant was not trying to seat everyone in the same space for convenience sake. If you can't keep your own facts straight, please take a moment before throwing such a horrible, hurtful and character damaging term such as "racist" around. Especially in big bold print. I feel for the poor hostess whom you have just labled as "racist". You know nothing about her and yet you feel that you have every right to malign her character. She may have grounds to sue for libel.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Reading over the comments by your fans, they seem to be pretty racist against asians themselves. Maybe you're just joking around, but you shouldn't joke and make racist comments about your own race especially when you're seriously accusing someone of being racist. By the way, are there any other races in your world besides white and asian?

  27. Anonymous says:

    I was inclined to think that this was just a coincidence, but the guy basically says you were put in the back room because you were there for Restaurant Week. Which would be fine — lots of places separate out their RW diners — except that you never told anyone there that you wanted the RW menu. Basically, he flat out says, "Yeah, because she's Asian, she was here for RW, so that's why she was in the back room." In other words, he made assumption about you based solely on your race. If that's not racist, I don't know what is.

    Oh, and I assume that when they dropped off the bill, they let you figure out the totals and the tax, right? Because you must be good at math …

  28. Anonymous says:

    I'm sending this to my friends who work at other restaurants who constantly complain that during restaurant week,the crowds are unusually Asian folks who are lousy tippers. One joked to me that they are going to put Hello Kitty on the menu. Hilarious! I can't wait for them to see this. What's with Asians and Restaurant Week? I dare you to go there any other week and find more than two tables of Asians together.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Christ! Are you sure? Could you've possibly overreacted? How do you define Asians? For example, are Indians, or Pakistanis, or Syrians FWIW Asians too?

  30. Anonymous says:

    1. I am Asian-American.
    2. I know the hostess at that restaurant, she is a good friend and forwarded me your article.
    3. I have worked in NYC upscale restaurants for years.

    I agree with the above that you have, very inappropriately, rushed to judge this establishment and its employees. While I certainly appreciate your intent to 'call out' racism when you see it… you must be much more cautious when making such strong statements. Particularly when you do so in a public forum in which the accused is unable to respond.

    In a NYC restaurant many factors beyond what you, the patron, can see go into seating… there may be reservations before yours who requested the main room, you may be a small party of two so they seat you at a smaller table to save larger tables for larger parties, it may be another servers' turn to get a table, etc. In this case, they opened the outside room to accommodate the increased numbers for restaurant week. The fact that you were, as you claim, "all asian" in the 'back room.' IS in fact a coincidence; due only to the fact that the hostess IS colorblind and never thought to distinguish you from other guests in any way. She rotated the seating and made best use of the available seating as is her job. YOU are the one who noticed the color of those in the restaurant and made judgments based on it. Had I, an Asian-American woman, been your host and sat you in the same spot- would you have said I was racist as well?

    You owe my friend, if not this entire restaurant, an apology for YOUR snap judgment.

    I hope since you were so quick to accuse that you will also be quick to retract.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I would like to go on record as saying that I ate in the dining room that same Sunday CCG is reporting. I am Asian and sat with another Asian companion. We were sat in the main dining room, which was getting quite full. CCG may have felt discriminated but I received excellent service and food (and was there for RW, btw!). After reading people's comments here, I think its absurd to blow this out of proportion. I read food blogs for food news not National Enquirer BS!

  32. Anonymous says:

    That's so awful! That picture makes it obvious. Oceana's response about how the picture was taken so that it looks like there's only Asians in the same room, is stupid. If you're a food blogger, it doesn't seem like you're looking for some racial issue to complain about…seems like you were just looking to have a good meal and a good time.

    I don't think it's a coincidence– maybe it was different staff that day.

    Additionally, just wanted to say that I have been at restaurants where it was clear that they were seating only Asian people at the front, near the windows and white people at the back. I have no idea why, but I can only guess that it was because I was at a Japanese restaurant, and they wanted it to look like their food is so authentic, that yes, asian people eat it.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I think it's dumb that people are telling you that it may be a coincidence or however else they want to excuse it. Sometimes, shit is just fucking racist.

    Talking about these things doesn't get people riled up about race – seating asians all in one area in a restaurant (i.e. RACISM) is what gets people riled up about race.

    and no she does not need to fucking do research before she declares something racist. does someone need to continually call me a chink before I call them racist? does a rapist need to rape more than once to be a rapist? fuck naw! Once is one time too fucking many.

    Good on you, Chubby, for calling it like you see it, and fuck all the ones who tell you you're being "too sensitive" or some shit like that. If you're sensitive to racial nuances, it's cause we live in America, where racism runs rampant.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Coincidence? I suppose anything is possible. But the GM's explanation, I think, makes an innocent, unfortunate coincidence much less likely.

    If the GM's response is to be believed, and the back room is actually the preferred dining area during lunchtime, then that must mean they're discriminating against non-Asians by not seating them in the "preferred dining area," even though there are clearly tables available back there.

    The stats don't help his claim either. So what if 49% of their customers were Asian that day? If Chubby's account is accurate and there were no Asians seated out front (minus the one sitting with a bunch of non-Asians), that doesn't explain how the restaurant ended up so perfectly segregated.

    Sometimes you've just got to call it like you see it.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Order wine instead of water and you will get a better table!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Chubby Chinese Girl

    If you just realized that restaurants are racist towards Chinese people you have alot to learn. I'm concluding your younger than I. BTW some of the most biggoted restaurant service people are fellow Asians. Gee what a revelation if you didn't know. But since your a woman, next time go with a white man the restaurant will treat you as a honorary caucasian. The racism and bigotry is primarily directed against Chinese men. Your father & grandfather will understand. Some thing you will never comphrend or experience! Many Asian women don't support Chinese men and collaborate with non-Chinese men in subjugating Chinese men. Not very P.C comments but it comes from the heart. Regards, HopSing

  37. Anonymous says:

    Chubby Chinese Girl

    If you just realized that restaurants are racist towards Chinese people you have alot to learn. I'm concluding your younger than I. BTW some of the most biggoted restaurant service people are fellow Asians. Gee what a revelation if you didn't know. But since your a woman, next time go with a white man the restaurant will treat you as a honorary caucasian. The racism and bigotry is primarily directed against Chinese men. Your father & grandfather will understand. Some thing you will never comphrend or experience! Many Asian women don't support Chinese men and collaborate with non-Chinese men in subjugating Chinese men. Not very P.C comments but it comes from the heart. Regards, HopSing

  38. Anonymous says:

    Asians have it so bad in America because we never stick up for ourselves. Our inaction will guarantee that racism like this happens again in the future.

    Lets speak with our wallets and BOYCOTT OCEANA NEW YORK, YOU RACIST ZIONISTS!!

  39. Anonymous says:

    1. good on you, chubby girl for saying it how it is…

    2. a big F__K YOU to you anonymous racist oceana management commentors on here, too chicken to admit to your prejudice and apologise to this girl, and instead write crap comments on her blog in reply to what she is clearly stating as her fair opinion. She should sue YOU for being so narrowminded and then get bonus points for being so nice about your food. But instead has to put up with you sneakily pulling the reverse card with anonymous blog comments. if i ever have to visit your shitty restaurant im gonna burn it down, no matter how tasty your culinary delights are, your management is F–KING ugly and deserves to be DESTROYED. Bon appetite in hell, SUCKERS.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Obviously no one at the restaurant is sitting around stewing "OMG we hate Asians!" But it's clearly bias. They reserve that for a particular subset of diners to segregate them from their "regular" diners.

    It probably has to do with the fact that they associate Asians with Restaurant week or they think Asians are less likely to say something about a side table. Maybe the shift manager believes that Asians dont tip well, or that other diners prefer to eat with their "own kind." (Again "own kind" could be defined as "regular" patrons as opposed to "restaurant week" visitors or whatever not semantically racist definition for Asian ppl in the restaurant that particular Sunday)

    The denier comments are pretty funny here. I wonder what they would have said about back-of-the-bus rites in Selma. "The ride is actually nicer at the back of the bus." "Black people prefer the faster egress of being at the back near the rear exit door" etc.

    CCG I gotta say adorable blog, keep your head up.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps they were offended by your inability to use the words "a" and "an" correctly. I for one would normally be sympathetic but I got so frustrated at the misuse of those two words I simply stopped reading.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I am shocked to read the negative comments on Oceana. I am Chinese American and have been enjoying the wonderful food and service at Oceana since it opened last year. I am always welcomed by name and with a smile. As a professional woman who entertains business contacts over lunch frequently, I would never tolerate any sign of racism. Oceana has always been gracious and professional and I would recommend the restaurant without reservation.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps they put all the ugly people in the back? I'm asian, I sat in a the main dining room and had a wonder dining experience with seamless service.

  44. Anonymous says:

    for those of you saying its a "coincidence"….its like having buckets filled with each color M&M's, and saying, "i just tore the bag open and they all fell into their own buckets!"

  45. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous @ 7/26/10 11:50 a.m.:

    You're being facetious, right? Because if you're not, your comment is startlingly bitchy, vain and also blind.

  46. Anonymous says:

    dang cindy. causing trouble 🙂

  47. Anonymous says:

    good for you CCG, Please stick to your guns. We will not be silenced anymore. I never knew self loathing applied to Asians, too.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Wow I'm surprised Oceana wrote a letter to Eater addressing this issue! Although it may have been mere coincidence, I have been to Asian restaurants where non-Asian customers seemed to be receiving much better service and given more attention. But who knows…!

  49. Anonymous says:

    @Ben: Lol – I fucking love that analogy. Gonna have to borrow it the next time some asshole tells me something racist is "just a coincidence."

  50. Anonymous says:

    1. The picture tells the truth. Coincidence or not, that’s not cool – its so sad that its funny.

    2. Any GM worth his paycheck would’ve apologized for the inadvertent actions of his employees and not spilled a million useless excuses. Nobody like excuses.

    3. Racism against Asians is real. Most people think Asian people won’t say anything thus do things that other minorities won’t tolerate.

  51. Anonymous says:

    ruh rooh, CCG got them white people angry, see the new guy at MT lunch.
    listen if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's a duck.
    stop making excuses and stop defending them. Sue 9:27 is right, this is segregated seating.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Ben: no, it is not like self-sorting M&M's. It is more like CCG showing you a picture of 4 M&M's and telling you she saw the whole pack sorted. Not quite the same evidentiary value.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous 7/27/10 3:45 PM

    Well, it wasn't like I was at M&M's world and took a pic and said it… I was more like at Dylan's

  54. Anonymous says:

    I've been to enough japanese establishments, and not just their restaurants, to believe what you're saying.

    You don't need some JD to know what's discrimination. And no, you don't need to apologize to oceana!


  55. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous 7/27/10 3:45 PM:

    regardless of if its the whole pack, half the pack or a few from the pack. for something like that to happen (where each color is segregated) takes some kind of outside intervention. 4 M&Ms of the same color don't just group themselves together.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Ben,
    I'm still speechless after reading Hopsing's comment above. holy crap.
    I'm really surprised people still think it's a coincidence, included zach b. that's why we still have race problems in America.
    Stop making excuses, it's a duck.
    by asian names? did the GM include Japanese, korean, vietnamese, etc etc names?
    Again, CCG owes no one an apology.

  57. Anonymous says:

    I'm glad you wrote this up CCG. People are overcomplicating it. You and the other Asians at Oceana were put in the backroom ghetto and they assumed you wouldn't complain much about it. You are the guest of the restaurant and they made you feel uncomfortable, looked down upon and not treated well. What kind of service oriented place would be so insensitive – whether it be restaurant week or not? They're learning because you spoke up. So thank you.

    Frankly, Oceana, if they are not run by folks who harbor hostility or resentment towards their Asian customers, Oceana should thank you for highlighting a moment when they made some of their customers feel like they were in a racist restaurant.

    For whatever it's worth, I'm less likely to go there for meals anymore (been there a few times since it opened and thought it was pretty good). Who needs the aggravation.

  58. Anonymous says:

    You're a stronger man than I. I would not have been able to give such high marks after that.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Chubby? You are beautiful! (And I'm a gay man. You know how critical we can be.)

    Thanks for pointing this out. Racism is so rampant in America. Most white people deny this fact because they have never experienced it personally.

    As a gay man, I have. Racism is wrong.

    As for the poster who said, this can't be true the head chef is Japanese… well, I guess some people don't understand that institutionalized racism can be followed out by people of color who don't stand up to it for many legitimate reasons: such as they like being employed.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Hi Chubby,

    Thank you for bringing greater awareness of restaurant racism with your blog post. And BTW – you are *so* not chubby!

    Last night my husband and I (we're both Asian) decided to dine out at Le Cirque for the ongoing NYC Restaurant Week. Even before we went I joked how they might put us in the Back Room. Your blog post has been re-blogged and twittered everywhere, so he knew exactly what I was talking about. Turned out it wasn't such a joke after all.

    The maitre d' (I think his name is Mario) took one look at us and had one of his subordinates usher us into the Back Room of Le Cirque, which isn't really a room, more like an alcove off-center from the Main Dining Room. Once we sat down my husband half-joked there were Asians sitting nearby. At first I brushed it off as coincidence. Then I started noticing a trend.

    As earlier Asian guests left, their tables were occupied by new Asian guests. I was quite appalled, and realized this truly was intentional when we were walking out. Indeed the Main Dining Room was filled with older, mostly white guests.

    I don't know why there is such prejudice in expensive restaurants. Do Asian customers not tip as well? Despite my experience, I tipped the servers at 18%, although I was tempted to leave less because of the customer service experience I was having.

    At any rate, although Le Cirque's food was on par as always, I'm not inclined to go back there because of the substandard service and RACISM I experienced there.

    This is New York, and all restaurants are up to stiff competition. If we're putting down our hard earned money to dine, we should expect nothing but the best.

  61. Anonymous says:

    As an Asian American and a New Yorker I can't say I've ever noticed this sort of thing in Oceana or elsewhere. Possibly similar behavior due to age or dress or nationality but nothing I would attribute solely to race. Then again, I'm a New Yorker and if ever directed towards an unsatisfactory table I simply request a better one. This almost never happens though as I usually pre-request table location… Have I been the target of racism my entire life but due to my attitude never noticed or been negatively effected by it in restaurants?? Oh goodness, my entire world has been turned upside down!

    Possibility #2: Asians are good at math. An Asian responder above mentioned she and her partner tip 18% for good service (even though she felt she did not receive equal service at Le Cirque). 18%, possibly calculated on the pre tax amount? In NYC this is considered a bad tip. White people (and most shades of brown) on the other hand are bad at math. If from NYC they generally take the post-tax total and tack 20% on (it's quite easy to move the decimal place to the left and multiply by two) and then round up to the nearest bill for normal service, often 25% for exemplary service as dividing the bill in half and then half again is usually not beyond grasp. If European or Canadian tourists they will often do something similar but at 10 or 15%, which is why most restaurant workers dislike tourists, especially during restaurant week.

    [Those upon whom irony is lost should note that with exception of the last sentence I was being facetious in the previous paragraph.]

    And herein lies the meat of the situation I believe. When a restaurant has a standard customer base that changes significantly during specific times of the year and said new customers generally order cheaper meals and/or leave worse tips they will likely be singled out. Wether it is because one is Thai at an English pub, one is British at a Japanese sushi bar, one is from anywhere wearing a fanny pack with a digital camera dangling around neck or because one is wearing a polo shirt instead of a button-down and jacket, these things logically will happen. I however would not consider this horrible… Just simple common business sense.

    Then again maybe I am automatically being pegged for the good tables upon reserving as I do not have an Asian surname. The plot thickens!

    Lol I think everyone needs to chill out a bit, I have lived all over the world (multiple locations in North America, Caribbean, Western Europe, Balkans, Middle East, South Asia and East Asia) and for better or worse NYC is one of the least racist cities when it comes to service in higher end restaurants. Local joints in Ethnically homogenous neighborhoods are different, obviously. Granted, in most 3rd world countries I am treated much better than the locals but this is still racism.


    Enjoy the food people!

  62. Anonymous says:

    I was just at Oceana last night and I experienced what Alexander was referring to – seated next to the kitchen. There's no restaurant week going on now, so the bill would not have been cheap. And once again, the main dining room had at least 5 tables that were empty. I even made reservations, so I should've had a table in the main room ready for me. I'm Asian and I guess I do look younger than my actual age, but nobody should judge me based on what I look like. I felt so detached from everybody else because you really can't see anything seated all the way in the back next to the kitchen and the bathrooms.

    In the end, it worked out fine because we enjoyed the booth seating and our waiter was very nice. But still, a little racist? I believe so.

  63. Anonymous says:

    I was just at Oceana last night, a non-restaurant week night and I experienced what Alexander was referring to – next to the kitchen seating. My party of 3 were all Asian. Once again, the main dining room was not full when we arrived and was never full during our whole time there. I even made reservations, so there was no need to usher us to the back where we were separated from EVERYBODY. I felt like I did something wrong and was in a time-out.

    In the end, it all worked out because we loved the booth seating and our waiter was very nice. But still, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

  64. Anonymous says:

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    – Thomas

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  68. Anonymous says:

    Hey just joining, glad to be here! I'm glad to be here last but not least, heading to submit considering I've been reading through a prolonged time.

    Sooo anyways, enough about me, see you around and hello once again haha.

    PS, how do I change the little picture thingy like some people have, I like it but can't figure it out haha

  69. Anonymous says:

    Hey just joining, glad to be in! I seem ahead to partcipating and have read a great deal so far, so hello!

    Sooo anyways, plenty about me, see you all-around and hello again haha.

    PS, how do I change the time zone for my account? It's kind of weird having the time like 5 hours off lol

  70. Anonymous says:

    Hey just becoming a member, glad to be here! I seem ahead to partcipating and have study a good deal so far, so hello!

    Sooo anyways, plenty about me, see you around and hello once again haha.

    BTW, what can I do to change the time zone for my account? It's kind of weird having the time like 5 hours off lol

  71. Anonymous says:

    This happens in NY restaurants all the time. Have you been to "Perry St" for brunch? All Asian customers are seated in the back area near the bathroom EVERY WEEKEND. They'll only be seated in the front area when they're with a white person.

  72. Anonymous says:

    I agree with your post completely and totally understand your frustration. There's always been a quiet history of discrimination against Asians in the US ie Japanese internment camps, law blocking Chinese immigration that wasn't revoked until the early 1900s, Asian English accents are routinely ridiculed whereas European, Latin, etc accents are accepted, etc.
    There really should be no reason for intolerance to different cultures nowadays, but it seems to be on an upswing again, especially in the service industry. People sadly still judge by skin color whether they admit it or not.
    Anyways, appreciate your post highlighting this discrimination against Asians since it's usually never spoken about and kudos for keeping up a wonderful blog 🙂

  73. Dlinshoes says:

    I assume that it’s easier to clean the back room hence you guys were put there.http://dlinshoes.com

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