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Monday, August 26, 2013

Mashiko in West Seattle Writes a Letter to Their Bigoted Customers

Posted by on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 2:25 PM

The West-Seattle-and-beyond cult favorite (and all-sustainable-fish-serving) sushi restaurant Mashiko has some words for some of its customers. Note: The letter is not to ALL of their customers, just the bigoted ones. "To everyone else," Mashiko says, "thanks for not being a bigot."

A few highlights:

...we serve Japanese food. And yes, we have Japanese ownership. We also have several employees of Japanese descent. But that shouldn’t matter. By claiming that there are no Japanese people working at Mashiko, you are not only incorrect, you are also demonstrating what a racist you are. Would you refuse service at an Irish pub if your server didn’t speak with a fanciful brogue?

Why yes, we do have a female sushi chef. She also happens to be Caucasian.... Should you refuse her fare based on her gender or race, you are an absolute fool.

And:

We are sorry to carry on like this, but this discrimination nonsense has got to stop. Seriously. It is ruining so many wonderful things all across the world.

Here's the whole thing.

And you can find the jackassery, as usual, on Yelp.

Oh, you might also enjoy Mashiko's rules (also posted after the jump).

Mashiko's rules:

#1 Mashiko is a non discriminatory establishment
#2 Music is chef’s choice
#3 We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone
#4 Prices are subject to change based on customers attitude
#5 Please respect others when using your cell phones
#6 10% box fee added to all to go orders
#7 18% gratuity included for parties of 6 or more.
#8 We take reservations
#9 Cork fee $10 (it has to be good bottle of wine or sake)
#10 Everything you know is wrong
#11 Tip well… live long
#12 After you eat, eat more!
#13 Enjoy life
#14 Talk to the people around you (as long as you do not have food in your mouth)
#15 Do not be afraid to try something new
#16 Tako is not chewy
#17 Chopsticks are not drum sticks
#18 Soy sauce is not a beverage
#19 Trust us, we are professionals
#20 Visa and master card and washing dishes are all acceptable methods of payment
#21 Because Hajime said so

 

Comments (44) RSS

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raku 1
The funny thing is that our non-Japanese chefs know that they are being so overly scrutinized, and therefore they study and grow more than most chefs out there. Trust us – we’ve had many Japanese men working here that had to be fired because they relied on their gender and race instead of making amazing food.


Wow.

Mashiko:

It's fine if you decide you like your white female sushi chef best for your restaurant. It's NOT OK to say that she's better because she's white.

It's fine for people to want to support chefs from Japanese culture to make Japanese cultural food like sushi. Cultural appropriation by white people is a serious problem and de-legitimizes immigrant culture and reduces their economic/social power. But, it's NOT OK for people to make mean racial comments to your chef or servers.

And clearly it's not fine for anyone to criticize your chef because she's a woman.

Can’t we start at home by making an example that race, gender, and sexual orientation truly do not matter?


You've got to be kidding. It clearly does matter in this society, as any woman or person of a racial minority who walks outside can tell you. It's either an extremely sheltered white person who wrote this, or someone being willfully ignorant to drum up business.
Posted by raku on August 26, 2013 at 2:53 PM · Report this
raku 2
"Why Reverse Racism Doesn't Exist": http://callingoutbigotry.tumblr.com/post…
Posted by raku on August 26, 2013 at 2:55 PM · Report this
rob! 3
Yeah, racist, technically, I suppose, but it seems that most of the complainers were hankering for a more ethnic experience than what they got, however misguidedly. So I guess that's a good thing compared to the WWII-era attitudes toward people of Japanese ancestry, and other outrages-in-retrospect like the Coon Chicken Inn.

Were I the business owner, I'd've made the diplomatic choice to put a more positive spin on things by emphasizing the qualifications of the staff, the sourcing of ingredients, working on restaurant ambience, etc.

Note to self: MAKE TIME to watch "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" DVD purchased at Redmond Half Price Books this summer, dammit.
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on August 26, 2013 at 2:56 PM · Report this
T 4
Should include #17a ...nor are they walrus tusks, or anything other than eating utensils.
Posted by T on August 26, 2013 at 2:57 PM · Report this
5
Reading the story, and the open letter (and the rules, which are hilarious), I was ready to get all grrrrrrrrrrrr internet angry over such injustice - and on Yelp to boot! but then I went to yelp and saw exactly ONE lame review mentioning anything about the lack of Japanese people working the restaurant, amid a sea of rave reviews (and a tiny smattering of reviews with mostly legitimate sounding complaints - slow service etc). I'm guessing there was something else that precluded such a huge response from management...right?
Posted by genevieve on August 26, 2013 at 3:23 PM · Report this
sirkowski 6
When left and right reach to the extremes, they become indistinguishable.
Posted by sirkowski http://www.missdynamite.com on August 26, 2013 at 3:24 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 7
Well from now on if I go to an Irish Pub I damn well better here a rich Irish brogue from everyone working there.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on August 26, 2013 at 3:27 PM · Report this
rob! 8
@6, or at least adjacent. My calculus prof called this "the magic of the hyperbola."
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on August 26, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Beetlecat 9
@1 That's not what they said.
Posted by Beetlecat on August 26, 2013 at 3:31 PM · Report this
JF 10
@2 You just sent me a link that claimed the dictionary, the only authority of the definition of words, was wrong. I am very upset with you right now.
Posted by JF on August 26, 2013 at 3:43 PM · Report this
11
seems like a made up controversy. does anyone really read mre than 1 or 2 pages of yelp reviews...i only saw 1 reference to whitey race issues.
Posted by Cassette tape fan on August 26, 2013 at 3:43 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 12
Did anyone else notice that the ONE comment on Yelp that mentioned (in a pretty minor way it should be pointed out) that there was no one of Japanese decent working when they were in the restaurant? Talk about taking a shit of a ton of bricks over one sentence of a fucking Yelp review.

Some people need to get a high colonic right away!!
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on August 26, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Ziggity 13
The letter doesn't even mention Yelp. Why is everyone assuming this is about Yelp?

Also really looking forward to more of raku's insightful posts as sophomore year sociology courses begin.
Posted by Ziggity on August 26, 2013 at 3:50 PM · Report this
raku 14
10: I'm concerned that you are very emotionally and mentally disturbed at me.

http://m.dictionary.com/d/?q=upset
Posted by raku on August 26, 2013 at 3:53 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 15

What if someone went to the Yankee Grill in Renton, and found people from Mississippi working there?

Similar outrage?

http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-yankee-grill…

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on August 26, 2013 at 3:58 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 16
@raku, what @9 said. A response (or better yet, a retraction) is in order.
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 26, 2013 at 4:08 PM · Report this
raku 17
16: I don't understand. I quoted what they said verbatim. If you don't think they were saying that race doesn't matter, or that they were inferring that their white chef "studies harder and grows more" because she is white - I don't have a response, I just disagree.
Posted by raku on August 26, 2013 at 4:25 PM · Report this
JF 18
@14 Not just disturbed. VERY disturbed. Spreading idiocracy like that is dangerous.
Posted by JF on August 26, 2013 at 4:33 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 19
@ 17, and what is your disagreement based on? THEY are the ones who know first hand.
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 26, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
20
@13 Well, a check of three other major review sites (Urban Spoon, Trip Adviser, City Search) shows exactly one review that brings up the subject. It's on Urban Spoon, and it's from 2008. So, clearly we're dealing with an epidemic of bigoted online reviews.

Congrats on the free publicity, Mashiko!
Posted by Chali2Na on August 26, 2013 at 4:35 PM · Report this
raku 21
19: I still don't understand what you and #9 are talking about with "that's not what they said"? I quoted them! I'm responding to what they wrote and what I quoted in #1.
Posted by raku on August 26, 2013 at 4:39 PM · Report this
lolorhone 22
@1: They said that some Japanese chefs previously in their employ had relied upon their gender and race instead of being good at their jobs. That is not saying that all Japanese chefs are inherently inferior to the Caucasian one they employ now. That is not saying that the current chef's skills are attributable to her gender. Since the criticism they faced was about not having Japanese people in their employ, they were pointing out the racism behind some customer's expectations that only Japanese people would be able to produce excellent food. You completely misread that, raku.
Posted by lolorhone on August 26, 2013 at 4:44 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 23
@21 - Maybe if you could find the specific part and point it out where they say that her skill is due to her race and/or sex, that would help move this forward. You quoted a large block of text, and I'm not seeing it.

I do see the part where they say "race doesn't matter" but perhaps better phrasing would have been "shouldn't matter".
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on August 26, 2013 at 4:46 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 24
@ 21, nowhere in the quote do they say "that she's better because she's white." That's misconstruing (or maybe even distorting" their response to people who won't give white sushi chefs a chance.
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 26, 2013 at 4:48 PM · Report this
raku 25
22/23/24: I don't want to argue semantics, but they're clearly saying that their white chefs are better than "most [sushi] chefs" (Japanese sushi chefs). And to trust that their white workers are better because they had to fire a bunch of crappy Japanese workers. What other purpose does this paragraph serve?

The funny thing is that our non-Japanese chefs know that they are being so overly scrutinized, and therefore they study and grow more than most chefs out there. Trust us – we’ve had many Japanese men working here that had to be fired because they relied on their gender and race instead of making amazing food.
Posted by raku on August 26, 2013 at 5:16 PM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 26
What lolorhone said.

@1 - I find it extremely telling that this is what you chose to focus on out of the entire letter. And you got it wrong.
Posted by Pridge Wessea on August 26, 2013 at 5:19 PM · Report this
27
Mashiko is terrible, not because they're not Japanese, but because the waiters are the rudest, most entitled-acting waiters I have even encountered. The food was also pretty bad, and the flavors simply clashed or fell flat. I have never been to a place that has been on such an ego trip, from the service staff to the kitchen to (apparently) the owners. Mashiko is an embodiment of all that is wrong with Seattle's passive-aggressive entitlement culture.
Posted by sanotehu on August 26, 2013 at 5:32 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 28
@ 25, context matters. Some people are prejudiced against non-Japanese sushi chefs, and they are responding to that. That IS, in fact, okay for them to address this, and point out that they have had Japanese sushi chefs who relied upon their heritage more than their skill. It is not a general (therefore racist) conclusion, but one based on actually judging chefs they have employed on a case by case basis.

It's interesting that you have a problem with this, but their IDENTICAL observation regarding the chefs' gender is totally okay.
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 26, 2013 at 5:35 PM · Report this
29
I do think it's noticeable that in Mashiko there seems to never be another Japanese face other than Hajime's among the staff, and I can't help but suspect that that has something to do with why the one little comment got such a big response. It's noticeable among Seattle-area Japanese restaurants to the point that I've always assumed it was like an unwritten "Mashiko rule."

One time Mashiko made the single best piece of sushi I've eaten in Seattle. I don't know the race or gender of the chef who made it, and of course it doesn't matter. The service has always been good too, and I've given them good marks on the comment cards they pass out at the end of the meal.

Mashiko does unfortunately have a problem with being inexplicably overrated, though. I've been back more than once and found out that that one piece of sushi I had was definitely an anomaly. Even the rice they served last time I was there was so ridiculously bad, that it was almost funny.
Posted by aiff on August 26, 2013 at 5:42 PM · Report this
30
@3: That movie is fantastic.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on August 26, 2013 at 6:20 PM · Report this
julie russell 31
I heart Hajime, Mashiko's owner. Great sushi...w/ awesome options for vegetarians.
Posted by julie russell http:// on August 26, 2013 at 6:30 PM · Report this
julie russell 32
Sydney:)
Posted by julie russell http:// on August 26, 2013 at 6:32 PM · Report this
TVDinner 33
Can we please talk about the awesome Japanese toilet seat there? Seriously, when my student loans are paid off (which should be about retirement age) I am gonna warm my ass on one of those jobbies for the rest of my short, happy life.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on August 26, 2013 at 7:01 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 34
White people ARE better now shut up.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on August 26, 2013 at 7:28 PM · Report this
rob! 35
@33, DeAnne E. on Yelp in a weird little aside said "I found the bidet in the women's restroom to be astonishing and fearful." I assume she's talking about one of those Toto electronic jobbies? (Ignoring for now the question of what the seat saw that made it so full of fear.)
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on August 26, 2013 at 8:13 PM · Report this
TVDinner 36
@35: Yes, I believe so. Set your phasers on warm, and be the cleanest you've ever been. It's magic! It's a thousand times more hygienic!

I assure you, rob!, that the seat welcomes all with warmth and kindness. It is never fearful, for it has seen all manner of horror except, it appears, DeAnne E's butt.

And the loss is hers.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on August 26, 2013 at 9:01 PM · Report this
37 Comment Pulled (Trolling) Comment Policy
ScrawnyKayaker 38
@ad nauseum SHUT UP, VEGAN!
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on August 26, 2013 at 10:53 PM · Report this
Fenrox 39
#4 Prices are subject to change based on customers attitude

Fuck you too.
Posted by Fenrox on August 27, 2013 at 8:49 AM · Report this
McGee 40
People who fancy themselves sushi authorities are boring people trying to create themselves some semblance of a personality.

Also raku is the fucking worst.
Posted by McGee on August 27, 2013 at 6:11 PM · Report this
41
@15,

Wait classic Yankee cuisine, the stuff with only salt and pepper for spices?

If you were a classic Yankee, you'd accept any imports from elsewhere and be grateful (well, except for baked beans and/or a clambake/steamed lobster fest). Modern Yankee is a whole different ballgame, with things like garlic, portugese sausage, and unboiled vegetables...you know, the stuff from people with taste buds. If anything, a classic Yankee restaurant would hire a Mississipian just to have people come to listen to their accent. Part of "our" fortune is in understanding that good things come from someplace else, and returning home with it.

Peace
Posted by Married in MA on August 28, 2013 at 7:04 AM · Report this
42
@38,

Well, I've only been to the vegan sushi place in the Chelsea Marketplace in Manhattan, but I thought the food was excellent! As an introduction to vegan cuisine, I thought it was a great starting place.

Peace
Posted by Married in MA on August 28, 2013 at 7:12 AM · Report this
43
@13 because the Slog post pointed to Yelp as being the source of the "jackassery"
Posted by genevieve on August 28, 2013 at 10:47 AM · Report this
44
Fuck restaurants with lists of rules.
Posted by jimg on September 2, 2013 at 7:02 PM · Report this

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