China: Around The Nation

Chinese restaurant probed for reusing customers’ leftovers

Eatery criticised for draining off and reusing chilli oil in hotpots, but some insist it’s standard practice to prepare the dish in one city in China

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 March, 2017, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 March, 2017, 4:19pm

A restaurant in southern China is under investigation after it was accused of draining off chili oil from leftover Chinese hotpots and serving it again to hundreds of customers during one week, according to Chinese media reports.

The restaurant in Guangzhou in Guangdong province extracted the oil from the hotpot soup left by customers and kept it for a week, a report on Guangdong Radio and Television said.

Before it was dumped, it was served to an estimated 560 customers through the course of a week, the report said.

The television station sent an undercover reporter to investigate and film the kitchen at the restaurant.

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Video footage shows a waitresses bringing leftover hotpot meals into the kitchen.

A cook dumped the remaining soup base in a metal bucket and at the end of the day the chilli oil floating on top was scooped out.

The reporter found that some of the recovered oil would be mixed with fresh soup base while other leftovers would be served directly in customers’ hotpots.

A cook in the restaurant justified his practice by saying that old soup base tastes better than fresh.

He added that customers would not be able to tell the difference between old and new.

The report said that as hotpot oil was usually heated to 270 degrees Celsius, if it is repeatedly recycled, it can accumulate excessive metal and be harmful to health.

The reporter estimated that at least 560 customers would visit the restaurant provided that it caters to at least 20 customers a day.

The report also alleged the restaurant also allowed staff to clean pots and pans with the same brush used to sweep the floor and toilet.

The restaurant has been closed for business and placed under investigation by the local health authority, according to the New Express newspaper.

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The report caused a stir on social media. While some web users strongly condemned the restaurant, others said it was expected that old-school hot pot restaurants would use old soup base repeatedly.

One person wrote: “This is the norm and tradition for Chongqing-style hotpot. If you use new chilli oil every time, no customer would come. It’s OK to have it once in a while. People from Chongqing have survived.”

Another wrote: “I am feeling so bad as I like to down as much soup as possible in a hotpot restaurant.”