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A white woman opened a 'healthy' Chinese restaurant in NYC — but then the cultural appropriation police stepped in

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Here we go again

Photo by China Photos/Getty Images

A new restaurant in New York City is taking fire for ... well, everything about the new Chinese food restaurant.

What exactly are people complaining about?

The majority of the complaints center on the fact that a white woman is owning and operating the Chinese food restaurant. Other complaints include the fact that it's called "Lucky Lee's," the fact that the owner, nutritionist Arielle Haspel, is marketing the restaurant as a "clean" alternative to traditional Chinese restaurants with regard to its all-natural ingredients, and more.

The restaurant's marketing insists that the food is cooked in less oil, avoids MSG, refined sugars, and is gluten-free. Some of the traditionally meat offerings can also be substituted with healthier vegetable-based picks, like cauliflower. The branding also suggests that the food is much healthier and lighter than traditional Chinese restaurant menu items.

According to Eater NY, Haspel said, "There are very few American-Chinese places as mindful about the quality of ingredients as we are."

"We're excited to offer it to people who want this type of food, and it can make them feel good and they can workout after and they can feel focused after and it will add to their health," she added.

What else?

Some people, especially on social media, find the restaurant's name problematic for its "superficial understanding of luck and fortune in Asian culture."

One post by the restaurant in particular caught social media's ire. The post has since been deleted, but Eater NY was able to spot it before it was pulled down.

According to the outlet, a portion of the Instagram post read, "We heard you're obsessed with lo mein but rarely eat it. You said it makes you feel bloated and icky the next day? Well, wait until you slurp up our HIGH lo mein. Not too oily. Or salty."

The restaurant's latest Instagram posts have been inundated with negative comments, mostly consisting of their insistence that the restaurant is engaging in cultural appropriation, racism, and more.

One user, as highlighted by Eater NY, wrote, "This white woman just opened a 'clean' Chinese food restaurant ... not only is she using Chinese food stereotypes/naming, she is shaming traditional Chinese food cooking with MSG/grease/starch."

According to WNBC-NY, another social media user added, "This is terrible. Why do you feel the need to grossly appropriate another culture while simultaneously calling it 'unclean' and 'unhealthy?'"

Another Instagram user wrote, "On Behalf of subtle asian traits, F*** OUTTA HEREEEE."

Social media users are even taking their issues to Haspel's personal Instagram page.

One user wrote, "Your intentions don't matter if you don't take accountability for your actions and realize how they've affected people, especially people of color who felt alienated by your use of racist tropes and s****y orientalist marketing. Thanks for continuing to perpetuate the idea that Chinese food is somehow dirty and unclean, I'll take my mom's home cooked Chinese food over your bland cauliflower mess any day."

About the controversy, Haspel told Eater NY, "I love love love American Chinese food. I made some tweaks so I would be able to eat it and my friends and other people would be able to eat it. I am by all means never ever looking to put down a culture at all. I am very inclusive, and we're here to celebrate the culture."

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