Local Dad, John Swann (71) is well aware that the demographics are different in this particular Chinese restaurant, when compared to his street in the suburbs.

In fact, he appears fascinated by the cultural differences he gets to experience in Chinatown.

“Wow. Look at this. These Asian blokes don’t even bother with the knife and fork. It’s chopsticks all the way” he says at the top of his voice.

With his three adult daughters far more familiar with the etiquite of Asian-Australian cuisine, they are currently sitting in horror as there Dad asks the waiter if they sell Crown Lager with a patronisingly slow articulation.

Oldest daughter, Sarah, says she nearly fainted when her Dad asked if all the staff ‘were all the same kind of Asian’.

“He’s trying his best. But he’s never been to a Chinese restaurant that wasn’t completely Westernised. The staff here are very traditional”

“He just asked for a schooner ‘of that asian rum’ – I think he meant sakè – and I think he wants to mix it with coke.”

While insisting he order on behalf of the family, John is currently licking his lips in anticipation of the 2 x Mongolian lamb, 1 x Honey Chicken, 5 x Fried Rice and the ‘Sungshoi Bowa”.

“Jeez. This place is the real deal” he roars

“They are full on Chinese. I wonder which part they are from. Excuse me miss? What part of China are you from?”

“Are… You-a From-a.. Hong… Kong?” he says in a broken Chinese-English, so as to not confuse.

More to come.



  1. Oh dear. This puts me in mind of when we convinced a mate to join us for a traditional Chinese New Year dinner. We booked a table for ten, even though there six of us and we could easily afford the cost six ways.

    Among our number whom we finally convinced to try “genuine Chinese cuisine” was a member of a Chicken Empire – a top bloke. We had warned him there wasn’t a few dishes, it was a slow progression of many, many dishes over the evening.

    About half way through the evening he started to abuse us, that we knew absolutely nothing about Chinese dining. Amid this fuss the head waiter [a mate of mine] arrived, and enquired what was wrong.

    The descendant of the Chicken Empire intoned – “This is all bull-shit pretend Chinese food, not real Chinese at all”. He told the mortified head waiter:

    “Proper Chinese food? Bull-shit. I haven’t even seen one dish of Curried Prawns and Rice”.

    That was when his wife finally punched him in the head and firmly told him to shut up and stop being an ignorant dick head.

    I followed the head waiter who had stormed away, as I was worried he might have been looking for the biggest meat cleaver in the kitchen. I mollified him by explaining:

    “You know all those chickens you buy every day? His family own the factory.” He replied:

    “The only thing I heard right was his wife – he is a fucking dick-head.”

    For years later, our friend never let us forget that evening – “Don’t ask those prix about Chinese food, they know absolutely fuck all, check out the takeaway up the street for the real thing.

    FOOTNOTE: I am indebted to the owner of the takeaway up the street [also a mate] who had told me years before that Curried Prawns and Rice is an Australian/Chinese invention. He had never heard of it until he came to Australia in the 1960’s.

  2. The daughters have more to worry about than the horror and heart-break of paternal embarrassment. They must now gastro-intestinally contend with the interesting Asian body fluids – and solids – which will, without doubt, anoint the “Gwai Lo” authentic dishes they are about to receive. After all, the staff are very traditional, right?

    I worked one summer as a line-cook in a Chinese family owned and operated restaurant. Being Burmese, I was obviously a different kind of Asian than they were, but I swear none of our myriad Gwai Lo customers could distinguish my sputum from that of Boris “Gai Si” Kwong – the proverbial Number One Son and fellow line-cook.

  3. Gee Clancy, what a great on-the-spot story. Lucky you were there at the right place and right time. Must be journalistic intuition. It seemed like it was all happening right before my eyes. In all the excitement you wrote ‘there dad’ instead of ‘their dad’. I expect better from trained journos. See that it doesn’t happen again.


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