Montreal Chinese Restaurant Goes Viral for Its Blunt, Honest Menu Descriptions
When it comes to restaurants, you kind of expect hyperbole to be one of the Specials of the Day. Everyone's burgers are the "best you've ever eaten," the pizza is "life-changing," and you'd probably leave your spouse for the cheesecake. But that's not the case at Aunt Dai, a Chinese restaurant in Montreal, where almost every item on the menu is accompanied by the owner's honest assessment—even when he's not crazy about it.
In the descriptions for each dish, Feigang Fei acknowledges that the Imperial Rolls might be a little too small, that the Orange Beef "isn't THAT good" when compared to the General Tao Chicken, and that he's "not a huge fan" of the Sweet and Spicy Pork Strips. (He also wrote that Aunt Dai no longer serves the Cumin Beef on "small sticks" because some misguided customers ate the wood pieces like it was part of their meal. "They must have watches [sic] some shows about weird Chinese food," he added.)
Although Fei's modest assessments have been part of the menu for several years, they got everyone's attention a few days ago, thanks to a viral tweet. On Sunday, Sweet Baby CEO Kim Belair posted several screenshots from what she called her favorite Chinese restaurant in the city. "[B]ut the REAL treat is the menu, featuring extremely honest commentary from the owner," she wrote, describing the tone as "Hell yeah, absolutely! But also temper your expectations." As of this writing, it has been liked and shared more than 70,000 times.
In an interview with Today, Fei said that he wrote the menu descriptions because some customers were unfamiliar with some of the ingredients, didn't know what to expect from a particular dish, or weren't sure how spicy an entree would be. "The whole idea is just to let people know what they're ordering," he said. "A lot of people found it very funny [and] very helpful. I was so encouraged by them. I didn't think I needed to write comments for each item, but I was encouraged by them, their comments, and their feedback, so I finished all of them."
He said that the tweet—and the media interest that followed—has been "very, very good" for business at Aunt Dai. The restaurant has been restricted to takeout or delivery since the beginning of the pandemic, but he told Eater that the restaurant has been "extremely lucky" to have a lot of orders, even through third-party delivery apps. "UberEats and DoorDash take so much in commission, so profits are really low," he said. "You might break even or make a little extra. Given the environment we're all in right now, I guess that's pretty good though."
Although Aunt Dai might be getting some extra attention—and some business from new customers—Fei still wants them to know what they're in for. "A lot of people want to be the best …and we are simply not the best," he said. "That's a fact. We just try to be a little bit better every day. And that's how I see it."