Crying over spilled noodles: mainland women accept Hong Kong shop’s apology for food fight
The incident at Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop reignites claims that people from mainland China are treated like second-class citizens in the city
Two women from mainland China on Wednesday accepted an apology from a Hong Kong restaurant after an employee threw a bowl of food at one of them in an incident that rekindled a heated debate over cross-border tensions.
The women posted about Sunday’s episode on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging site, attracting more than 2,000 comments – with many claiming mistreatment of mainlanders by Hongkongers.
“We have decided to accept [the restaurant’s] formal apology. We just want this incident to come to an end. We both want to lead peaceful lives, we do not like conflicts, and we definitely do not want to disrupt the peace between Hong Kong and mainland China because of this incident,” the woman who was hit with a bowl of congee and noodles said on Weibo.
The quarrel broke out when the tourists were ordering food at a branch of Tasty Congee and Noodle Wantun Shop at Hong Kong International Airport.
The two women accused restaurant staff of “poor customer service”, prompting a male employee to throw a bowl of congee and noodles at one of them after swearing at the pair.
In a statement released on Tuesday night, a spokesman for Tasty Congee and Noodle Wantun Shop offered their “sincere apologies” over the “unpleasant incident”.
“Security footage confirmed there were staff members that had engaged in a verbal dispute with customers over service issues, and both parties had thrown food at each other during the incident,” he said.
“The group must emphasise that, no matter under any circumstances, employees must not throw food or behave impolitely. We will continue to follow up on the matter and deal with it seriously.”
The woman’s jumper was stained, and the two were not injured in the process.
The restaurant refunded the meal to the pair before their departure.
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman contacted by the Post said two employees were involved in the incident, but refused to say if there would be any disciplinary action.
Police said they received a report from a 54-year-old man on Sunday saying that a member of staff had “accidentally thrown food onto the clothes of a 26-year-old mainland Chinese woman”.
According to their initial investigation, the case had been classified as a dispute and was not a crime.
In recent years, the influx of mainland Chinese tourists had led to local backlash and a rise of anti-mainland sentiment, especially against parallel traders – those who buy up goods in Hong Kong to sell across the border.
Hong Kong has seen several anti-parallel trading protests and clashes turn violent in recent years, and mainland media reports about their behaviour had affected the local tourism industry.
The two tourists had earlier complained that they were discriminated against because they were from the mainland.
“I felt like I was subjected to shame and humiliation. In Hong Kong, if you speak English, people will be polite to you, if you speak Mandarin, they will roll their eyes at you,” said one woman, whose Weibo username was “jojoyi’er”.
The other woman who had food spilled on her said on Weibo they were upset as the man had told them to “shut up” and swore at them.
One Weibo user, “Ngpuiching”, described a similar experience at the same restaurant.
“The servers had a really bad attitude and told me to step aside if I hadn’t made up my mind … I ended up going to another restaurant.”
Another netizen said: “I’ve lived in Shenzhen for 15 years, and I’ve been to Hong Kong many times. It’s clear that if you don’t speak Cantonese, you’ll more or less be treated unfairly.”
But not all Weibo users agreed with the pair.
“I visited Hong Kong with my family last year, we met some really nice people and there wasn’t any so-called discrimination against us. We were lucky, I guess,” one user said.
“A lot of Hongkongers are nice,” another said. “There are just one or two bad eggs.”