The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library at Harvard University has a collection of menus they provide as references for food lovers and historical researchers. Recently a menu from the Cuisine AuntDai Chinese restaurant in Montreal, Canada, has joined the compilation. The restaurant opened seven years ago. The owner is Feigang Fei, a former IT engineer who moved to Montreal from China 14 years ago.
What is so unique about this new menu? What is it that makes it a fitting addition to one of the world’s leading academic institutions? Is it because of its exquisite design or wonderful wording? Most restaurant menus try to attract customers with exaggerated descriptions, but this restaurant’s menu is different. The restaurant owner added his honest remarks to each dish.
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The owner’s comments on the Cuisine AuntDai menu
Here are some examples of his comments. You can view the entire menu here.
- Black Pepper Shrimp
“Don’t let the name fool you, this one is NOT authentic Chinese food.”
- Orange Beef
“Comparing to our General Tao Chicken, this one is not THAT good.”
- Poached fish slices in chili oil
“In China, we most probably will use the fresh fish but due to the extremely high price, we can only use the frozen fish fillet.”
- Spare ribs with bamboo shoots
“Also customers tell me there are very few dry bamboo shoots in this plate and I agree. But you never know how expensive those dry bamboo shoots are, I guess its presence is only for its flavor and naming purpose.”
Providing the best dining experience
Feigang said that he is being this forthright so customers can make a more informed decision when they choose what to order. Feigang feels that many customers do not know what to order, so they order the familiar-sounding dishes with no expectation, which can lead to disappointment. On the other hand, some customers miss out on many great dishes. Just because of their names, they conclude that a dish is too spicy, too greasy, or has too many bones.
In the beginning, Feigang only commented on a few dishes on the Cuisine AuntDai menu. He found his customers thought his remarks were helpful, so he decided to do it for every dish. About his strategy, Feigang commented: “Doing this is a bit risky, but I believe it is the right thing to do. I like our food, but I don’t want to oversell it, and speaking honestly is my nature. A lot of restaurants want to become the best, but we are not the best and that is the truth. We are just trying to do our best and to become better.”
Translated by Yi Ming and edited by David Jirard