28 February 2016

Orange Rouge / Yellow White


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post-white / post-hype



It's strange that in the middle of Chinatown, there's an expensive speak-easy style restaurant selling chashao pork, shanghai lamian, and qingdao pijiu to white people. General wisdom for a chink is to stay away from any fusion restaurants. Only thing that can come out of it would probably be some sort of awkward disappointment mixed with fiscal regret. That made it fun when I went to Orange Rouge last week to start Reading Week. The suave and savvy chink I am, I usually go to my main Chinatown spots, but I guess, for the break, it would be fun to go somewhere fancy.

So, naturally, I went on Eater and looked around Chinatown for some white fusion restaurant. Sure enough, there it was, tucked in cobble street la gauchetière with bro-science Chinese medicine stores and decades-old pawn shops around it. A couple of wack ass Chinese concrete drum stools stood around as well.

So we went in around 730 and as soon as I saw the thing,他妈的, funny as fuck. As soon as we got in, a weird double door foyer greeted us with two options: one going towards a strange yellowed-newspaper pasted counter, the other, a completely blacked out door. First try, I push on the one headed in the pastiche counter, thinking it one of those hipster nights where everyone had a beard. The door didn’t move.

Then, I went to the other door, which honestly I didn't even see at first. On closer examination, it said红桔轩, which translates roughly into red mandarin restaurant. Great. There might be one Chinese person if they're using. Sure enough, the chef looked asian. He was a fashionable young guy—tattooed, bunned long hair, slim build, all black clothes.

And then we talked to the waitress and on came the quebecois waft. She gave us good service, and sat us quickly at the bar. The bartender wore a snapback and had a lumberjack beard. Not the most Chinese experience, but I signed up to criticize the lack of a Chinese experience so I was still in the green.

Honestly, the food tasted fine and the atmosphere felt fine. Nothing impressive, nothing I couldn’t make at home. The strange thing then is that I didn't notice I was in Chinatown or that there were probably no Chinks profiting from someone using up the land that could open a grocery store or some ethnic restaurant.

That's where the problem is. Chinatown straight up does not exist for guilao to go and jerk off to some poverty porn. I guess the vague Chinese influence redeemed it, but come on. If your clientele in the middle of Chinatown is a bunch of upper-class white hos, the land is being raped. The symbolism is getting shitted on. Every urban media source runs an annual feature on how Chinese New Years is a feast of symbols. And still, here we are, white people sitting in Chinatown eating us out.

To be clear, Orange Rouge is a perfectly fine restaurant. The food does not tilt me towards any opinion other than a mild satisfaction. But, the idea of the restaurant borders on a fucked up rhetoric: we’re gonna do your thing, in your land, for someone else. Then, the people around will probably be priced out. Shit, the landlord priced out the old Café Saint-Henri of their place because a Tim Hortons was next door and the landlord wanted to charge the same money. Don’t for a minute think that just because the landlord’s a chink, he’ll make a concession for the other tenants. The second Orange Rouge blows up, the old lady with the visor next door won’t be able to pay her rent, at the expense of some girls celebrating their bachelorette party or some white family celebrating their birthday with some chink food.

Whatever, I bought a sixpack with the boys and we drank it at the ATM atrium, then I got my lanzhou lamian and it was all good.


2 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, the Tim's situation hits close to home for me. I'm a Canadian born Somali from Ottawa and we have our own little row of Somali-owned stores (that I grew up around) now at risk of closing. Tims won't be able to provide me with cheap calling cards, international money transfers, greasy Somali food, fobby-looking fancy curtains, or clothes to wear to the next family wedding. Honestly, this'll probably make me feel some type of way bout Double Doubles for a good while.
    I know this is a space for you to discuss and define your identity as an Asian-Canadian, but (some!) parts of your blog resonate with me. Anyways, c'est très intéressant de voir les différents points de vue des Canadiens "ethniques".

    Sincerely,

    Une "ethnique" Canadienne

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    Replies
    1. merci ma soeur.

      la situation de notre identité commune (il est intéressant que larousse définit «identité» comme conformité totale) comme immigrants est constamment sous l'attaque de la système blanche. il faut toujours qu'on questionne le monde.

      c'est un plaisir que des choses sur mon blog peuvent résonner avec les autres!

      Delete