Wednesday 23 January 2013

Susan Jung Jumps In The Soup

Local food critic Susan Jung has landed herself in a spot of bother in reviewing a Hong Kong restaurant that offers sharks fin soup.

Other posts about Food Critics


Susan Jung: How a restaurant's name landed me in the soup (SCMP; paywall)

Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 12:00am

Susan Jung

What's in a name? A lot, as I found out recently when I reviewed the new Fu Sing Shark Fin Seafood Restaurant in Central.

It was a rather tepid review - I liked some things I ordered, but didn't find this branch as good as the original in Wan Chai. But it wasn't my criticism of the too-lean roast pork belly or the too-salty beef brisket that attracted name calling and irate comments from readers when excerpts were published on the South China Morning Post's Out and About Facebook page - it was the name of the restaurant. The phrase, "shark fin", was like a red flag to a bull. It didn't matter that I hadn't ordered any shark fin; the fact that I was writing about a restaurant that served it was enough.

The comments on Facebook were quite interesting, if only because they show how people can sound unreasonable when they're angry about something; they'd be more persuasive if they kept their emotions in check and tried to convince, rather than bully. The thing is, I actually agree with them, to a point. I think finning (removing the fins from the live shark, then throwing it back into the ocean to die) is abhorrent. I don't order shark fin - when I review a restaurant, or when I'm dining out with friends. I never write about shark's fin promotions, when I get e-mails about places serving it on buffets or as special dishes, I delete them.

It's obvious that many of those who responded didn't bother to read the review, because some of them accused me of eating shark's fin soup. The most extreme posters said I should boycott all restaurants that serve shark's fin - which would mean avoiding most mid-range to expensive Chinese restaurants (there are some hotel groups - such as The Peninsula and Shangri-La - that don't serve shark fin).

The first Fu Sing opened in about 2005. In this day and age, most of us would agree that the restaurant has a misguided name. While shark fin is still considered by many to be a status symbol, there is a growing movement to avoid eating it. But just because a restaurant doesn't have shark fin in its name doesn't mean it isn't serving it. And just because a restaurant that opened seven years ago has shark fin in its name doesn't make it any guiltier than other places that also have it on their menus. It just makes it an easier, more convenient target.


tomonday Jan 18th 2013
here we go again, blah blah blah...

honger Jan 18th 2013
There are thousands of good restaurants out there - but Ms Jung opted to review a new branch of the SAME shark's fin restaurant she visited before in Wanchai.
Just why did she choose the two to give free publicity to - promote - when thousands out there merit more press? One wonders............

simon.hill.779 Jan 17th 2013
Ms Jung, you miss the point entirely. It has nothing to do with "What's In A Name?" and everything to do with the fact you gave this establishment your patronage, despite professing your abhorrence at the practice of finning.
Having read your rebuttal I can't even discern a sense of remorse; that maybe by inadvertently promoting a shark fin restaurant you had made a mistake and owed an apology to a great number of your paper's readership. Instead you have chosen to be both defensive ("I don't order shark fin") and aggressive ("It's obvious that many of those who responded didn't bother to read the review") which indicates you stand by your decision.
As for your ridiculous statement "I never write about shark's fin promotions, when I get e-mails about places serving it on buffets or as special dishes, I delete them" then what, pray tell, were you thinking when you opted to do a review of 'The Fu Sing Shark Fin Seafood Restaurant'? Did you conveniently forget all those e-mails you've allegedly deleted?
There's no place for double standards in journalism. As the other respondent has succinctly put it, you are being disingenuous at best. Jan 17th 2013
I think you are being disingenuous at best.
Quite clearly most people read your review and noted that you did not mention ordering or eating sharks fin. That was not the point of the criticism.
You reviewed, and promoted a restaurant that serves and indeed builds it's reputation on being a sharks fin restaurant - thus continuing the barbaric practice.
There are plenty of restaurants to review and those that do use sharks fin may be encouraged to stop serving it, or at least minimise its use if they were not reviewed and promoted. At the very least they might stop so proudly describing themselves as servers of sharks fin.

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