White Restaurant Owners Pledge 'Clean' Chinese Food, Get Huge Backlash

New York City restaurant owners accused of racism in 'clean' Chinese food ad.
Lucky Lee's opened this week in New York City. Instagram

The white owners of a new restaurant are being slammed for touting "clean" Chinese food that doesn't make "you feel bloated and icky."

Lucky Lee's opened this week in New York City and was immediately met with heavy criticism by social media posts accusing co-owner and nutritionist Arielle Haspel of making racist statements by saying her cuisine is not "oily" or "salty" and is for "people who love to eat Chinese food and love the benefit that it will actually make them feel good."

Her online statements have since been removed. Haspel later took to social media again to say she meant no offense. By "clean," she meant ingredients without additives, she said. 

“Some of your reactions made it clear to us that there are cultural sensitivities related to our Lucky Lee’s concept," she posted. "We promise you to always listen and reflect accordingly ... When we talk about our food, we are not talking about other restaurants, we are only talking about Lucky Lee’s.”

The statement didn't do much to mute the criticism. 

Critics were quick to point out traditional Chinese food is considered very healthy for its reliance on vegetables and fish, and that oils and fat were added to make Chinese-American food more palatable to Americans.

Others also noted recent controversies involving celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern's comments about his new restaurant Lucky Cricket in Minneapolis. He was, he said, "saving the souls of all the people from having to dine at these horses*** restaurants masquerading as Chinese food that are in the Midwest."

Gordon Ramsay also took grief for his upcoming "authentic Asian" eatery called Lucky Cat that doesn't have an Asian chef.

The flame-out over Lucky Lee's has become the latest addition to intense arguments over cultural appropriation.

"It's telling that multiple times she uses the phrase 'Chinese food' when she means orange chicken garbage designed to appeal to white people," Andrew Ti, creator of the blog and podcast "Yo, Is This Racist?" told InsideEdition.com. 

Many Americans, Ti said, "are so casually accepting of all the lazy stereotypes about Chinese food."

Haspel did not respond to a request for comment from InsideEdition.com.  

She told The New York Times Thursday she was shocked by negative reactions to her social media posts that accused her of promoting her cuisine as better than traditional Asian food. 

"We are so sorry," she told the paper. "We were never trying to do something against the Chinese community. We thought we were complementing an incredibly important cuisine in a way that would cater to people that had certain dietary requirements."

"Shame on us for not being smarter about cultural sensitivities," she said. Haspel also told the Times she had decided to not post a "Wok In, Take Out" decal she had planned for the window.

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