White Owners Apologize After Naming Asian Fusion Restaurant ‘Misohawni’
Two white owners of a Johannesburg, South Africa, restaurant have apologized after they landed in hot water for their establishment’s tasteless name.
Ryan Vermaak and Fabio Di Cosmo recently issued a statement regarding their self-proclaimed Asian fusion restaurant, originally titled “Misohawni.”
After initially defending their choice, saying, “You can’t please everybody,” the restaurant owners eventually apologized on Facebook, calling the name a “mishap.” They’re currently in the process of changing the establishment’s name.
“In our enthusiasm to open the restaurant however we fully admit that we showed serious lack of expertise and understanding when it came to the name and fell back on an ingrained stereotype that we clearly did not understand – and for that we are sorry,” the pair wrote. “We are happy to engage with the community, and anyone who we have impacted, with the intention of opening dialogue with them, because while we’ve learned from this experience we believe that there is always an opportunity to learn more.”
— misohawni (@misohawni) November 14, 2017
The “me so horny” phrase the restaurant riffs on has roots in the 1987 movie “Full Metal Jacket,” where it’s said by a Vietnamese sex worker. The line has since been used to perpetuatestereotypes, including the fetishization and objectification of Asian women.
The restaurateurs, who have worked in the entertainment industry for some time, have claimed to strive for creating “safe and inclusive” spaces for women and people of color in the past.
But their attempt to remedy the situation comes after an uproar on social media. Twitter users did not hold back in calling out the restaurant for its offensive name. Some pointed out that the line is used by those sexually harassing people of Asian descent.
A new 'Asian' restaurant opening in Joburg, owned by non Asians. It covers 3 different cultures: 1.ramen (Japanese), 2.poke (Hawaiian) & 3.Korean BBQ. As an Asian woman, I really hate the name. It might seem funny but when men say it while they sexually harass you it's not. pic.twitter.com/gAVDiSKFah
— Ming Chows 林明巧 (@mingcheau) November 14, 2017
— Adeline Levescot (@ads_infinitum) November 14, 2017
Really excited for the wave of white guys protesting that this racist term used to sexually harass and/or mock Asian women is “just a joke.” https://t.co/XMcZc6UC1h
— Liz Alper (@LizAlps) November 14, 2017
This phrase has been said to me on the street by men harassing me. It's been cracked to me as a joke. I've held my head high in life despite this haranguing.
— Dakota Kim (@dakotakim1) November 14, 2017
Unfortunately, this name debacle is a familiar one.
In a similar incident back in July, white owners of a hip-hop themed restaurant in Iowa angered both black and Asian-American people with their name, “Me So Hungry.”
The establishment ended up changing its name to “Eggs & Jam” following social media backlash.