After huge public outcry, the owner of "Pho King Bon" restaurant in Rosemère announced that he changed the names of some menu items. The decision comes after members of the Montreal Vietnamese community heavily criticized the restaurant for misrepresenting the Vietnamese language and culture. An online petition to change the restaurant name got over 6,700 signatures.
The Communauté vietnamienne de Montréal, a non-profit organization representing the local Vietnamese community, shared the petition on Facebook.
"Pho King Bon Restaurant claims to be an homage to Vietnamese culture, but uses vulgar and degrading puns in its name and menu, such as 'Lichi Mwa Lku' (a misspelling of the French phrase for 'lick my *ss'), 'Pho Kyu,' 'Pho Kme,' and 'PhoKit,' making our language the butt of a joke," the petition stated.
The menu also included a drink called "Viet Kong" — a reference to the Vietnam War that the petition called "extremely insensitive towards the people who have faced the atrocities of the war and of the authoritarian government in Vietnam."
In a Facebook post on Monday, restaurant owner Guillaume Boutin offered an apology to the Vietnamese community and "all those who felt targeted, insulted or undermined by [the] play on words."
"From now on we are thoroughly engaged in studying the etymology of any new names we may have for items on the menu ensuring that not even a single hint of racism is present," he wrote.
Boutin also promised some menu changes.
"We will delete the word 'Pho's' before the famous drink/shooter called 'Grosses Boules' which is served in many bars across Quebec. We will also be deleting the pronunciation of 'Bún thịt nướng.'"
Also, the names "Pho King Deal" and "Viet Kong" will be removed.
The owner said the restaurant will drop "Bisto Vietnamien" from its name and replace it with "Bistro Fusion."
Other "modifications will be implemented to the menu thanks to and as a result of the helpful advice of the Vietnamese community," Boutin wrote.
He said the "changes will be implemented within a week or two."