The Internet Is Obsessed With This Montreal Restaurant's Refreshingly Honest Menu
But who is behind the hilarious descriptions and anecdotes that accompany each menu item? We spoke to owner Feigang Fei about his newfound fame and the decision to caption his orange beef with "This one is not THAT good. Anyway, I am not big fan of North American Chinese food and it's your call."
What's the story behind the brutally honest comments on AuntDai's menu?
Fei told MTL Blog he began posting comments on the online menu four years ago, after noticing that some customers would order plates they didn't enjoy in the end.
"After so many of these cases, I started focusing on the weird menu items," said Fei, explaining he added comments to unusual dishes so customers would know what to expect before trying them.
The descriptions proved to be effective.
Fei said that when customers showed up to AuntDai, they raved about his advice and how helpful it was.
Fei went on to add descriptions to every one of AuntDai's menu items last year.
The comments are too good, each more comical than the last.
Here are some examples:
Peanut sauce (chicken, beef, shrimps or vegetables at choice): I don't know why but peanut sauce chicken is liked by a lot of customers at AuntDai.
House Salad: A lot of Chinese people know this dish but I don't, maybe I am not so Chinese.
Satay sauce beef: According to a lot of customers, this one is very popular, I still don't have chance to taste it. Looks like I should spend more time eating in my own restaurant.
Cumin beef: We used to have the beef pieces on small sticks but several customers cut their lips by it thinking it was some hard ingredient ... To avoid incidents like this, no more sticks.
Hot and sour soup: Spicy and tasty, no meat, drink slowly to avoid hiccups.
What is it like to 'go viral'?
The recent spike in AuntDai love started with a tweet from Montrealer Kim Belair who wrote, "Aunt Dai is my favourite Chinese restaurant in Montreal, but the REAL treat is the menu, featuring extremely honest commentary from the owner."
The tweet has since racked up over 66,000 "likes."
Aunt Dai is my favourite Chinese restaurant in Montreal, but the REAL treat is the menu, featuring extremely honest… https://t.co/N5dZlilil0— Kim Belair (@Kim Belair) 1610317945.0
Fei called the experience of going viral "crazy."
When a German newspaper contacted him, he said he even asked for proof thinking it was spam.
"After checking, I saw it was one of the top papers in Germany," he said.
The story was also picked up by other international media outlets, such as The Guardian.
"It’s a first thing for me in my whole life," he said.
What's next for AuntDai?
Fei said he worried for his business near the start of the pandemic.
"The business went down a lot — maybe [by] 50, 60 percent," he said. "It was really bad, we had to let people go."
However, Fei said business slowly picked up when the restaurant joined Uber Eats, SkipTheDishes, DoorDash and Foodora.
"They take really big portion [for] the commission. I don't think we can make money, but it helps," Fei told MTL Blog.
"Without them, we would have closed for sure."
Fei also thanked AuntDai's loyal customers, who he said have been integral in keeping the restaurant alive.
"I know families who come from the West Island and Brossard to come pick up — some of them live really far," he said.
"Those customers really helped us, otherwise I would probably have had to close in early February."
Prior to the pandemic, Fei said the restaurant regularly held "exchange groups" on its second floor in the evenings, facilitating English and French tutoring for Chinese immigrants while helping Montrealers learn Chinese.
The restaurant also offered information sessions to new immigrants with backgrounds in specialized professional fields, aiding them in learning how to regain careers in Quebec.
"We resume the club [after the pandemic] to help the immigrants, to improve each other," he said.
As for next steps for the AuntDai website and Fei's food commentary, he told MTL Blog his goal is to continue the restaurant's blog in his spare time.
"I always like to write real stories about the hardships of running a restaurant," he said.
"We try to be better for ourselves, we want to improve. I just want to make things right and make customers happy."