Hong Kong Best Food Box Hill: white people not welcome

August 10, 2009

hong kong best food

The suburb we moved to just over a month ago borders Box Hill, the center of the Chinese community in Melbourne. Box Hill is our local shopping center, and its 3 minutes in the car. I love it: parts of it remind me of Hong Kong: a magically fascinating range of shops you don’t get other places, a big food market selling anything and everything, and a ton of interesting Chinese restaurants.

Since we moved here we’ve been slowly visiting different restaurants…well, and one we’ve been to before and loved: Indochine, a Vietnamese restaurant that offers great food, happy and quick service, at really cheap prices.

Friday night we decided to try Hong Kong Best Food. A sure sign of a good Chinese restaurant is that it’s always full with Chinese people, and this fit the bill.

We had to wait 5 minutes for a table, which was fine, and were seated at around 6:50pm. That’s when the fun began.

The first thing we were asked is whether we wanted chopsticks or not. It’s an odd question given every other Asian restaurant I’ve been to just gives you the chopsticks and if you want a fork you ask for it. We thought nothing of the question then, and it seems innocent enough by itself (despite the fact it presumes we couldn’t use chopsticks)… until what happen next.

So we order and then wait….and wait…and wait. We watch people enter the restaurant, order, and get their food with a wait no longer than 5 minutes, often quicker. People who entered Hong Kong Best Food Box Hill at 7:15pm had eaten and left before we had our food, which finally arrived just after 7:30pm. It probably goes without saying at this point that those entering the restaurant were exclusively Chinese, and we were the only white people in the place.

The food wasn’t good, indeed had we not wanted to make a scene, we could have sent at least one dish back, because the meat was undercooked…which is even more interesting given how long we waited for it.

We paid the bill and left.

My wife, who would normally be the last person in this world to note racism like this said to me that we’d been racially profiled, and that the service was intentional so that we wouldn’t return again. I have to say I 100% agree.

So my Hong Kong Best Food Box Hill Review: probably a great place to dine, as long as you’re not white.

I’ll be investigating the racial discrimination laws this week to see if there is any way to complain as well. I don’t support racism from white people on others, but likewise I don’t support it happening in reverse either, and there can be no other explanation for our treatment by Hong Kong Best Food Box Hill.

48 responses to Hong Kong Best Food Box Hill: white people not welcome

  1. i have had many of these experiences and want to look into anti discrimination laws too.Blatent racism againts white people in chinese restaurants is just out of hand and something needs to be done.All the little things that i have experienced could not be typed in this box…getting given a fork to eat noodles is my worst hate…then i ask for chopsticks,they laugh and then it seems i am being pretencious)one guy walked off repeating CHOPSTICKS CHOPSTICKS giggling once)AND getting not exatly what you ordered…..went to a vietnamese place once,ordered soup and got no vegetable condiment plate as all the other vietnamese had on their tables…..i had to ask once again…..i think they do these little things on purpose just so you have a bad time and never return WHO ARE THE RACISTS?????

  2. I went to box hill china town on a vist to melbourne with my mate and the ammount of hostile looks we got was just depressing,even to buy a steamed pork bun was like asking the guy i wanted all his money and worldy posessions.Send in A CURRENT AFFAIR undercover to expose and embarrass these racists

  3. Agreed with you there Duncan and I'm Chinese. Some Asian restaurants are out and out racist and not just to Anglo-Australians. I've been to Vietnamese noodle houses with the same treatment, where 90% of client?ɬ®le are Vietnamese.

    Having been to Hong Kong 'no-where-near' Best Food, I'd rate their service as typical Hong Kong cafe style attitude. Rude, inconsistent and blatant snobbery.

    I gave them shit in Cantonese because our food came later than a table next to us, who got there 10mins after us. After that, they served us a bit more competently. In such places, you've gotta give them some attitude first before ordering anything. I learnt this whilst in Hong Kong, and it becomes part of the banter.

  4. I'm sorry that's been your experience. As a Korean-Australian with a (white) South African boyfriend, we regularly eat out at different places and neither of us have experienced racism like that. In fact, we sometimes get special treatment at Asian restaurants because my boyfriend is “a white boy” and they want to make a good impression.

    Having said that, it is still racial profiling (even if it is in our favour). Bad service will always be bad service, but in your case, you were blatantly victimised and that's unacceptable.

    At the end of the day, it's the restaurant that loses anyway.

  5. Unfortunately this isn't rare in Boxy – just try getting served at the Bubble Cup place in the Centro!

    I lived there for 5 years – moved bayside early '08 – and this sort of thing used to happen on the the time. I worked around it though – Indochine is easily the best food in the area and it wasn't uncommon that I'd have both lunch and dinner there. I really don't think they're too fussy who they take the money from. Ditto Tien Dat (which is in the same family I believe). Tan Tan are always friendly too, but you have to be a bit more selective with the menu.

    Box Hill is mostly a great place to live, but it can be incredibly racist.

  6. i like your article.. thank you so much for sharing your experiencse in visiting Hong Kong and share some of your pics there..

  7. I don't think you're alone on this Duncan. I regularly go to the Jewish bakery, Glicks in Balaclava and often I won't get served in order (despite having waited there first) because I'm clearly not Jewish. It's a shame and really tarnishes the reputation of these great food places.

  8. Hong Kong is now a tourists spots because of its beautiful places. people like most to visit is the Disneyland in HOng Kong.

  9. i have to say that hongkong is as much western as it can be for an asian city. i have been there once and the restaurant experience has been great.

  10. That's not a good experience in Hong Kong Best Food Box Hill..they should not discriminate other people if they will be in your situation and do the same that they did what could they will feel…they're lucky that tourist would go to there and love there food..they should give there best service to their customer no matter what there races..

  11. Its really sad if they had done this type of behavior with you intentionally , Even most of the chinese won't support this act and i think Hotel should apologize for such kind og act or give a proper explanation

  12. ive been here ,im white and i went by myself …never waited too long ,ok service …maybe your order got misplaced? 1st sign of a “f%#ked up” order and all of a sudden its racially motivated? ..sounds like your being paranoid and your investigating the racial discrimination laws bahahaha ..1 word of advice ..dont go to asia! ..and if you do ..never venture out of your 5 star hotel and eat at a restaurant.

  13. I would urge you to speak to a manager next time. Even if you did not bring up the race issue, at least to complain about the wait and undercooked meat (salmonella, anyone?).

  14. Sadly – I've experienced this myself.

    The Best Food Gallery is not the fastest food, or best service for white guys around.

    Little things like trying to get the attention of staff to place orders can be difficult. The food can be fantastic there – but when the service is good, it's adequate 😉

    My belief is that it's a little bit racism, but mostly incompetence rather than malice.

    As a sinophile (at least when it comes to food), and a Box Hill regular (we must be in the same neighbourhood), I find I'm usually OK so long as I do one of these 3 things:

    1) Take the path less traveled – Order something adventurous, uncommon, or at least less likely to be ordered by a white guy. Show them you won't be one of “those guys” who comes into the restaurant, orders a Kwai Teow and complains that the mild chili is too hot.

    As for undercooked meats.. Hell, you're eating *real* chinese food now! It tastes good – but if you're not taking your life into your own hands by eating it, some of my chinese friends might say you're missing out on the best part – the excitement! 😉

    2) Take an asian – I've never had bad service (or even asked whether I'd like a fork) when I've dined on asian with an asian.

    3) Know the magic words or secret signs – The first question they ask is “how many [people do you have wanting a table]?”. Shoot back with “Liang ge” (lee-aang geh – “two of”) and give them the “peace sign” to get a table for two.

    This gives you faster service, and none of the white-guy-going-to-complain-about-the-food stereotype.

    For good food in Box Hill, hit David and Camy's (a few doors down from where you were).

    Pan fried pork dumplings with chili oil, soy sauce and vinegar are great. Shanghai Xiao Long Bao have a burst of soupy taste in a steamed dumpling – but wait for them to cool slightly before biting in. The fried pork ribs are a favorite among families there. Mapo Tofu (silken tofu) is also good. Avoid the Dan Dan Noodles – the spiciest ones I've ever tasted.

    The other thing you'll like about David and Camy's is the speed of service. They must have telepathy. I swear I've received meals within 60 seconds of ordering.

    If you ever end up back at the Best Food Gallery, pick something out of the cold display case. Jellied ox tongue (OK, maybe not for everyone). Drunken Chicken is a safe choice. Ask them if they have “Sheng Jian Bao” (it's not always available). It's a pork bun that is steamed on the top, and crisp-fried on the bottom.
    Avoid anything with “combination vegetables” [read: frozen corn, peas, snow peas and carrots from the packet]. They use this in their Mapo Tofu as well I believe.

    Avoid D&C Noodle (across the road, beside Club X) – unreliable service, and poor english skills can cause bad experiences. Fantastic dumplings though… if you can get them.

    China Bar is “consistently adequate” – and open very late (for us internet types). Nothing on their menu is bad, nothing on their menu is fantastic. Service is fast. My only word of warning is – don't go there if not everyone is eating. Idiotic “minimum orders” mean you need to order at least $10 of food per person – even at 2am when you're the only people in the joint.

    But if you want the ONE GEM of Box Hill…

    Inside Centro Box Hill (the one with the station in it) tucked in behind the food court, between Pete and Rosie's Deli and the Health Shop – there is a small dumpling and handmade noodle kitchen.

    Handmade organic noodles with stewed beef that literally falls apart in your mouth, in a delicious soupy broth – the best ones I've ever tasted (#2 being in Nanjing, China).

    More than a meal – but not open late (as the center closes, and they have no street access).


  15. This is really not happening! Whats wrong with the people, i really don't get it! People really need to get real now.

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  17. Sadly racism is not exclusive to your country or this restaurant. As white people we are absolutely lambasted for seeming the least bit racist, but when it happens to us, we are simply expected to suck it up and take it. And most of us do – even those of us who have never been racist in our lives.

  18. not only white. but also some nation done that!

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  19. Great! Thank for information, I'm looking for it for a long time,

  20. Sorry – I have to say – the issue at Glicks is not racism.

    I'm very clearly Jewish and I've had SO MANY problems there – they're just plain rude. I won't buy ANYTHING there anymore because I'm so tired of being made to feel small by staff who need to feel big!!!

    On a separate note,

  21. Don't think much about it, it's just bad service. As a chinese-Indonesian myself we are used to meet rude waiter/waitresses once in a while in some chinese restaurants . Longer wait for food, throwing plates/chopsticks on the table, saying “JUST WAIT” loudly when we ask for service are just part of the culture of some staffs who knows that they are never short of customers. Just last week my dad made a big scene at http://www.goldendragonpalace.com.au for very rude services until the manager promised to sack the senior waiter (the one usually in black suit).
    A word of wisdom: If you guys want to complain, just make sure to do it after you have finished your meals and about to leave the restaurant, coz they might do something with the foods/drinks if they hate you.

  22. Don't think much about it, it's just bad service. As a chinese-Indonesian myself we are used to meet rude waiter/waitresses once in a while in some chinese restaurants . Longer wait for food, throwing plates/chopsticks on the table, saying “JUST WAIT” loudly when we ask for service are just part of the culture of some staffs who knows that they are never short of customers. Just last week my dad made a big scene at http://www.goldendragonpalace.com.au for very rude services until the manager promised to sack the senior waiter (the one usually in black suit).
    A word of wisdom: If you guys want to complain, just make sure to do it after you have finished your meals and about to leave the restaurant, coz they might do something with the foods/drinks if they hate you.

  23. I am of Chinese descent, and I think like my Jewish friend above, I dont think the rudeness and bad service is racism. If you've ever been to HK, in general, that's how it is.

  24. I am of Chinese descent, and I think like my Jewish friend above, I dont think the rudeness and bad service is racism. If you've ever been to HK, in general, that's how it is.

  25. yah, discrimination or no trust after all.

  26. I don't know why their are people who discriminate other color I hate that.

  27. you are really sick people…bad service is just bad service, not racism! Why you get mad when they asked you whether you want chopstick? What's wrong with that question? They just want to be polite…if you are expert with chopstick, just respect their question and say that you want chopstick. Don't show your condescending tone in your answer and they will respect you back as human being, not as white-Asian etc. In your writing above, the only racism behavior I can detect is coming from you.

  28. I am a white Australian person and I have been visiting Hong Kong Best Food in Box Hill for years now. I have organised large dinners there with white and ethnic friends. Never once, ever, have I or my friends felt racially profiled or discriminated against. I highly doubt that the restaurant, which is vying for customers in Box Hill's extremely competitive restaurant scene, would purposely exclude white customers. I have always found the food to be delicious and the service exemplary – however, every restaurant is prone to mistakes, and the undercooked meat and bad service you encountered was probably the product of rare miscommunication. I urge you to visit Hong Kong Best Food again and see if you have the same experience; if you do, then you may have a case for racism.

    P.S. Knowing that many white Australians cannot use chopsticks (myself included), the restaurant asks for your cutlery preference to save you having to ask. They were simply being helpful and understanding that people from different cultures often have different methods of eating food.

  29. hope every people in this world respect each others for peace and unity.

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  31. the service/food quality is inconsistent. Im from HK. I had been there a few times. The first two times were good.
    When it is not busy. It'd be a bit better. However when it is busy or lack of staff like the third time I went there. I had to wait, push a bit and wait…After that I got a lousy dish.
    I didn't go there again too because in general it takes a bit long time for a dish.

  32. Every human on Earth likes to be considerd special and individual, We can all miss the mark on accation. It is the act of a person we truly dont like. That night its sounds like the service did take longer than what it should, given the statement based on others being seated afterwards and served faster. However having eaten at many of Boxhills restraunts i would imagine this is rare. I have had similar experiences at what are supose to be 5 star top notch places around melbourne only to find my self waiting 45 minutes because the football crowds kept the bar extra busy that night. The food was delayed due to staff busyness……. Well we are all human, waiters will always make mistakes and customers will always be kept waiting . In saying all of that, let there be no mistake! Australia does suffer from an extreme racist undercurrent. Not everyone is racist but the ones that are do spoil life. I am sure that the above story was not written by a man who is racist because he clearly likes to visit other cultures restraunts and loves it! Read the words and see the thinking. These words are from a man who just wanted the same deal as those around him.

  33. i agree maybe you should just get over it

  34. Time can change most of things,but not all of things.

  35. bet ur asian u cant spell

  36. Ah, funny. I am a white woman married to a Chinese man. We go to many many Chinese restaurants, and if we have to wait more than 5-10 for our food, we never go back! It is just not the done thing in a Chinese restaurant. Unfortunate for the restaurant, because I truly believe mismanagement or miscommunication is the cause for bad service rather than blatant racism.

  37. I too am white australian, married to a hk hubby. went to best food gallery with bub. they realised she was half asian and got many smiles (she is cute). but i understand – me being given fork and spoon is insulting. give me what you give everyone, and if i need something different i will ask. Having said that, being married for 10 yrs, i'm used to the art of getting attention. If our meal is not there whithin 15mins my hubby is half standing to get attention. I have learned from this (would never do this in a western place tho).

    maybe you could/should be a bit “asian” and stand up from you seat (or make a point of getting wait staffs' attention) and ask where your meal is. I feel really uncomfortable doing this, but it seems to be the asian way.

    fyi, but my hubby and i feel like BFG has “lost the love” in their food. there used to be more care and flavour. now we don't go there cos there's no taste.

  38. Bloody hell!!!!! What the hell has happened to Box Hill? I moved back to my country of origin 20 years ago and have only recently been able to see and read about the sad transformation Box Hill has gone through during this period.
    I worked at VACC Insurance at 1013 Whitehorse Road (which has since moved) till 1990 and I used to go to Box Hill Central (I see it's changed name) to have lunch there. There was only one Chinese take-away inside the place and I used to get my lunch there most days. I can't believe how or why such a flood of Chinese people could have taken place without a Council intervention. Looking at Street View on Google Maps absolutely shocked me. Just about every shop has become Chinese. This isn't integration, it's an invasion. Please, someone let me know what happened to the place.

  39. the health dept has had its issues here over the years, resulting in fines – I've even had a Jewish lecturer bagging it out (glicks) to the class. 'everything' bagels are the best. only bagels and chulla (?pron) bread is safe. i hope!

  40. Are you sure? so far as I know there are lots of White people in Hong Kong Best Food Boxy. It is a Chinese restaurant in Asian populated area, of course there are lots of Asian people in there. I believe it's just the culture difference and not racism. I suggest you go to Hong Kong, and you'll understand. Every restaurant offers different experience. If you want to feel the authenticity of the food and the culture I suggest you go to Hong Kong Best Food or similar places. Otherwise you can always try those Asian restaurants catered for White people. Just take it easy.

  41. Melbourne is a diverse city and if you are here long enough there are areas populated by Greek, Turkish, American, Canadian, Chinese, Indian, etc. Not only Box Hill.

  42. Man you're so racist. Looser!

  43. I know exactly what you're trying to say. eg. Carlton, Fawkner, Thomastown are populated mainly by Italians. What I'm trying to say is that Box Hill, where I lived and worked for several years, was very multicultural and this has appeared to have changed very quickly. I am trying to understand why the Chinese people picked this particular area to settle.

  44. theboxunderthebed March 19, 2011 at 5:49 am

    People need to relax a bit, different cultures are great, you can really learn a lot if you are willing too

  45. Stop this racist comment. If you have money, you can move anywhere you want.

  46. Thanks for the post Duncan.!

  47. i have been to hong kong best food like 13 times with my brother and various friends and family members ( i am white) and we have never been asked if we wanted chop sticks ever they just automatically give us a fork and chopsticks.
    Also have always waited around 10 minutes or sometimes longer depending on what we ordered. a lot of the things that many of the chinese people order often alone are meals that are very very quick to make. 
    there is not racial profiling at this restaurant at all. 
    maybe they were just busy that night? or you ordered something that took a while? or maybe they just messed up your order? 
    happens all the time in the hospitality industry

  48. Im hongkie and I brought my white mates so to speak, to HKBF, we were served kyat like any other customers. Their food is awesome, just like HK.