Posted on July 28, 2014

It’s Fried Price If You Can’t Speak Chinese: Restaurant Charging English Speakers 10 per Cent Extra per Dish

Taylor Auerbach, Daily Telegraph, July 21, 2014

It’s the Shanghai shuffle, the fried price–a Mandarin restaurant in Sydney’s CBD is charging English-speaking patrons more than 10 per cent extra per dish than their Chinese-speaking counterparts.

A serving of fried rice costs $2 more on the English menu than for people who order from the Chinese menu–effectively a 12.7 per cent fee on English-speakers.

Yin Li Sichuan restaurant owner Diana suggested it was meant to be a secret among Asian customers.

“The Chinese menu is usually just for Chinese people, they like the Sichuan flavour,” she said.

Despite both menus using the same photos and descriptions, she denied there were any discounts for Chinese-speaking guests. “Sometimes people who come a lot get discount,” she added.

The two menus are colour-coded to help waiters quickly discern between the two. The red Chinese menu sits on the top shelf, above the black English menus.

The Daily Telegraph pointed out the discrepancy in prices to a staff member at the Dixon St restaurant on Thursday night.

“The English menu is new, that’s why it’s more expensive,” she said. Both menus, however, appeared equally worn and dated.

A serving of fried rice with lettuce and beef is $17.80 on the English menu but only $15.80 for Chinese speaking customers. Mapo tofu ($16.80) and dried spicy bean ($17.80) are both $1 more if you can’t read Chinese.

The Daily Telegraph could not find any examples of cheaper dishes for English-speaking customers. The double standards have drawn the ire of the online community, with one customer labelling the restaurant “racist” in a review last year.

“Two menus–one for Chinese (cheaper) one for others (dearer),” wrote tripadvisor reviewer Stephanie. “Will never eat there again or encourage others. Racism (in) its worst form.”

Another wrote: “If you are not Chinese, do not eat here.”

It is against the law to offer goods or services at “less favourable terms or conditions” based on somebody’s race or nationality under Section 13 of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

But Restaurant and Catering Association chief executive John Hart said it was difficult to prove discrimination under the current law.

“It obviously doesn’t sit very comfortably,” he said.