Whole Foods sparks social media outrage after a branch of its 365 grocery chain announced a partnership with an Asian restaurant called Yellow Fever.
The restaurant in question is located in Long Beach, California. Just a few days after its opening on April 25, Yellow Fever has been slammed for its racial connotation, which refers to white men's sexual attraction toward Asian women.
Yellow fever is also known as a mosquito-borne virus that is usually found in tropical and subtropical areas. It causes joint pains, muscle aches, and severe liver disease, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What The Name Means To The Company
As for the Yellow Fever restaurant, Kelly Kim, who is the executive chef and co-founder, said that the name implies the company's "love of all things Asian."
"Yellow Fever celebrates all things Asian: the food, the culture and the people, and our menu reflects that featuring cuisine from Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Hawaii," Kim said.
Kim explained that the idea of a fusion of Asian cuisines stems from her childhood memory of different kinds of food for Thanksgiving. Eventually, her Asian-American palette has evolved through her career.
Whole Foods Slammed On Twitter
With its tagline "Asian bowls for your soul," Yellow Fever boasts customized meals inspired by different cultures. However, not all social media users are enticed by the twist the restaurant offers.
"Fetishization is a huge issue for Asian women like myself. Yellow fever is mostly used by white men who solely seek to date Asian women. It's f*** up that Whole Foods is gonna make money off of the hypersexualization of Asian women," wrote a commenter who goes by a Twitter handle @FranG_H.
Others also questioned how the concept of the restaurant's name came to fruition and why Whole Foods approved the partnership.
"One night, we just said 'Yellow Fever!' and it worked. It's tongue-in-cheek, kind of shocking, and it's not exclusive — you can fit all Asian cultures under one roof with a name like this. We just decided to go for it," Kim said in an interview last year, adding that she wanted the restaurant to be the Asian version of Chipotle.
What's In The Menu?
Yellow Fever's menu offers basic staples such as triptych rice, rice noodles, or field greens. Customers can then choose among different kinds of bowls, namely Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Saigon, Bangkok, Californian, and Konan — each representing a specific taste.
Aside from bowl meals, Kim said the ugly egg rolls are also the restaurant's bestseller. The name came up from the way the food is prepared, where eggs are rolled in rice paper. By the time it is deep-fried, the outside of the rice paper gets crackly, giving it an ugly appeal.
Yellow Fever also offers Parmesan furikake fries, and according to Kim, it is a huge hit among patrons. They also serve Bruce Lee, a specialty drink made with green tea and lemonade. It is complemented with another version called Jackie Chan, which basically has the same ingredients but with sparkling water.