By Assunta Ng
I have never encountered any YELP reviews at an Asian Weekly’s event. Last week, the review landed on my plate, and it was amazingly bad.
The reviewer was my sponsor’s intern. He showed up at the Diversity at the Top dinner, where we were honoring Asian Americans who have broken the glass ceiling. The event took place on Oct. 18 at the China Harbor Restaurant. No food critic has ever showed up to review our events. I didn’t know he was a YELPer. (According to my staff, YELPers are the general public, providing criticism. YELPers are not actual food critics, but then again, we can all argue that we are all food critics.)
Ouch, his review hurt not only the owners, but me as the host/organizer. How could this be when so many guests raved about the honorees’ speech, the program, and China Harbor Restaurant’s presentation!? People who come to these events rarely care about the food, but the essence of the program and the amazing guests in the room. I am not bragging; we had both. We even finished our program before 9 p.m. Checkmarks and a four-star review for that!
One judge who attended our dinner said he didn’t really care for American banquet food, but enjoyed Chinese food as it gave him variety. For those of you who support nonprofit annual dinners, these meals average $100-$175 per person in downtown hotels. If the price is under $125, you usually have to endure overcooked chicken as the entrée, and sometimes, dessert, which might not be included.
Why? Most organizations simply ask you to pay for your desserts through the dessert bid program, so they can cut down on expense and squeeze more money from donors. I saw many friends, including me, experiencing hunger (as we devour all the bread on the table) during these events, as entrees are usually served late so as to keep us staying for the presentation or auction. A glass of wine can go as high as $7.
Compared to many Asian community events, our ticket price was low, $75, which included an 8-course dinner with soup, seafood, veggies, and meat. We were able to keep the price affordable because we held it at China Harbor. We have limited choices because only a few Chinese restaurants can seat over 300 people. China Harbor is the most gorgeous place among many Asian restaurants which can hold banquets in this city. Sometimes, I went home hungry going to events at American hotels, but never at China Harbor.
That night, we brought the Asian and mainstream communities together. What a night to showcase the accomplishment of Asian American leaders and role models! Karen Tsuo, who went to many events held at China Harbor,who didn’t like the food before, actually said, “The event was special and the food was good.”
I don’t read YELP. It’s popular among young people. So I told my young friends what happened and sought their perspectives.
Stacy Nguyen, our freelance writer and social media specialist, said, “I read just to see new restaurants, I don’t read their reviews. I don’t believe them. Even if it (a review) said it has cockroaches, bugs, I’ll (still) go and eat (to find out).”
My son said, “Many who write for YELP just want to get attention.”
That’s why the reviewer trashed China Harbor? That’s unfair.
Can’t young writers learn about professionalism, balance, and thoughtfulness in their writing? Those three strengths require maturity, character, and vision to develop.
By the way, that piece he wrote on YELP has now disappeared. If he wants to review my events again, he is welcome to do so, provided that he gets insight from other aspects of the event, and not just food.
Perhaps he should be focusing on what he was invited to acknowledge, versus what he is eating. (end)