Yesterday marked the second coming of the super-popular Roundeye Noodle Bar pop-up at Matyson BYOB, and was by all accounts, a great success. More than 250 people shoveled pho and ramen into their gullets and left satisfied. Just prior to the doors opening, though, Eater received an email from Helen Gym of Asian Americans United who believes the name to be offensive and racist.
"If these self-named "white boys" are the "roundeye" noodle makers what does that make the Asian noodle places they're modeling their place after? As a city notoriously home to Chink's Steaks, it's really a shame that a well-regarded spot like Matysons would lower their reputation to a legacy of petty, derogatory names in an effort to be "hip."
Near the end of the email, she linked all references to eye-shape to a recent media alert put out by the Asian American Journalists Association in regards to NBA sensation Jeremy Lin. We're not sure what the connection is between the two, since Jeremy Lin is of Taiwanese descent, and was actually born in the U.S., and Roundeye Noodle Bar is heavy on Japanese goodies, and to a lesser extent, Vietnamese food. That being said, we cant be 100% sure of Lin's ramen-making qualifications either, but judging by his uncanny ability to get to the hoop, it's probably pretty good.
This weekend, Ben and Jerry's was forced to apologize for a new ice cream flavor "Taste the Lin-sanity," as it contained lychee and fortune cookies, two big no-no's in the eyes of the AAJA. Just a tip, guys: fortune cookies were invented in Northern California, Lin's birthplace. We also noticed that no one has made a fuss about Karamel Sutra, Dublin Mudslide, and Jamaican Me Crazy, all of which could be considered borderline racist or insensitive at best. Also, they're all delicious.
If you'll notice, the AAJA site has crashed because of traffic, which makes one wonder if the recent surge in visitors has been caused by this perceived media slight against Lin.
While Eater understands the importance of being sensitive to racist issues, including the naming of Roundeye Noodle Bar, we wonder if cashing in on the recent fame of an Asian American is as bad as the borderline racism they're so quick to point out in others?
It should be noted that many of the patrons of Roundeye Noodle were of Asian descent (most Japanese), and very few had any issue with the name of the pop-up, co-founder Shawn Darragh told Eater. Also, the soup was good.
UPDATE: The Roundeye Boys are crafting an apology letter to those who they have offended, and Meal Ticket's Drew Lazor chimes in on the issue as an Asian American.