Umami Mart Sake


We often joke about the Asian Salad genre at Umami Mart HQ -- Chinese Chicken Salad, Chopped Asian Salad, Oriental Salad, etc. It is so ridiculous and it boggles me that it's still on menus around the country, and even, ehem, the Bay Area. What exactly makes a salad "Asian"? Is it the cilantro? The thin strips of cabbage? The sesame oil in the dressing? Almonds, perhaps? Mmmhmm, so Asian... Ok, ok, the Chinese Chicken Salad is actually pretty palatable and standard, and I'd order it at Applebee's if I was ever forced to eat there. However, leave those disgusting fried wonton bits out, they taste like a grease trap!

So anyway, I was happy to read Bonnie Tsui's op-ed piece in the New York Times titled, "Why is Asian Salad Still on the Menu?" She goes through the history of this salad and touches on the tropes and casual racism that comes with it.

The bottom line is that a salad does not and can not have an ethnicity. We've normalized the Asian Chop Chop Salad and the Secret Asian Man Salad (WTF kind of name is that?! And it's trademarked!!!) enough and it's time to dismantle the horrible moniker. I am Asian and my mother never made me this salad growing up. I go to Asia twice a year and have never seen these salads anywhere in any Asian country. As Ms. Tsui puts it, it's a salad based on suburban Americana nostalgia, not on any actual country in Asia.

So let this silly 80s trend die already. Can't it just be called a Chopped Chicken Salad?

*Photo by Easy Peasy Mealz
Column: The UM Reader
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3 comments

  • Elaine. You are HELLA being racist. Why do you read Umamimart blog? Is it because you want another reason to be racist? Check your self. You have NO REASON to weigh in on the experience of an Asian-American woman. I wholeheartedly agree with Kayoko, they don’t have to call this “salad” Asian. They could call it literally anything else: sesame chicken salad, cilantro almond, Literally anything! But because some white chef might have seen some random ingredient in an Asian cuisine they now feel justified in calling it Asian. It’s exotifying the ingredients for marketing purposes and it’s very offensive. Get your life, Elaine. And if you harbor racist ideals about Asian folks, maybe don’t comment on blogs that celebrate REAL Asian-American culture.

    Lizzy on

  • Another easily wounded “writer” complaining about an ethnic indignity. Do you your research. Ms Tsui didn’t either. It’s American, just like the fortune cookie., which was Invented by your Japanese forebears.. As to Chinese Chicken Salad, know your history of the Cantonese in America. And there was no pastrami sandwich in the shtetl. And no big meat balls in Italy (although there were small ones in Sicily. When the likes of Applebee’s make up ridiculous names for a perfectly legitimate salad made in American-Cantonese history, I think that’s your problem.

    Elaine on

  • I always felt the same about this ridiculous Asian salad. Well said, kayoko san!

    Shiho on

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