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Readers respond to hygiene in Chinese restaurants and a proposed shark-fin ban

Food stories about Chinese culture and cuisine had readers buzzing last week. Joe Soong’s satirical look at the LA County’s restaurant-rating system and its backward correlation to Chinese food triggered a discussion about varying interpretations of restaurant hygiene.

It even garnered a comment from Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold.

“Cool," Jgold wrote. "(Although the wedding-album-style photo menus show up often as not in places, especially high-end HK seafood houses, that are both authentic and good.)"

Soong concluded his article by instructing readers: “Try a restaurant you’ve never tried before, order an entrée you’ve never tasted and maybe discover your inner Jonathan Gold.”"

This advice was not lost on the real Gold who commented, "Some day I hope to channel my inner Jonathan Gold too…”

Christina requested a similar article be written about Hispanic restaurants. “I know like Asians, their lack of consideration for hygiene and overall health standards can easily be construed as ‘authentic.’”

The rest of the comments revealed a general disgust of the low hygiene at C-grade restaurants and mistrust of the food there. But Jesse Chang joked, “Side benefit of eating at C restaurants: builds resistance to food borne illnesses because you always get a little bit every time you go.”

In another food story, the Alhambra Source's report on the proposed shark-fin ban had animal advocates discussing the importance the food holds in Chinese culture compared to the damage the industry has done to the shark population. “This is a bloody and unsustainable business," Eric Mills wrote. "We're currently massacreing [sic] an estimated 70-100 million sharks annually, and have reportedly already wiped out 90% of the world's populations of sharks. And for what, pray? SOUP AND SUPERSTITION, God forgive us.”

Readers also commented on the dish's significance in Chinese culture, responding to opponents of the ban who have argued that shark fin is central to Chinese cuisine. “As far as I know, Shark [sic] fin soup is only served for the RICH in Chinese culture and it is not even a common Chinese dish in CHINA!" Len posted. "The restaurant owners are obvious [sic] worried about the profit loss with the ban and come up with shark fin represents Chinese food culture non-sense.”

One reader defended the dish, however, even comparing the ban to another infamous ruling. “Why does this sound so familiar," Albert Lu wrote. "Oh yeah prohibition.”

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