Cantonese pub

Controversial ‘The Ching Chong’ menu item at Johnny’s Burgers sparks new debate

Asian leaders have weighed in on a debate over a controversial menu item at a popular Perth burger bar.

Johnny’s Burgers offers a meal called “Le Ching Chong” – which is also an insult used to make fun of people of Asian descent.

The term has in the past been a gross imitation of the way Cantonese and Mandarin sound to Westerners and is offensive to some communities.

The $ 14.90 burger, available at locations in Canning Vale and Joondalup, is billed as an “Asian burger with a bite.”

It has pure beef patty, fried egg, cilantro, sriracha, mayonnaise, and salad.

However, the burger left a bad taste in the mouths of some.

A spokeswoman for the Australia-China branch of Friendship WA said the term mimics Chinese pronunciation and believes the burger bar should consider changing its name.

She said that while she was not personally offended, other senior members of the Asian community may have been insulted.

Labor MLC Pierre Yang, who is only the second Western Australian Chinese to be elected to the Upper House, said the wording could have been “more inclusive”.

Camera iconThe “Ching Chong” burger at Johnny’s Burgers has sparked a debate. Credit: Briana fiore

Mr. Yang said the context of the words used in any scenario is fundamental in making an appropriate value judgment.

“It looks like in this case someone is trying to employ a light Australian humor by using the phrase in their menu,” Mr. Yang said.

Pierre Yang flanked by Paul Papalia & Peter Tinley speak at a press conference in Parliament.  Photo Sharon Smith
Camera iconLabor MP Pierre Yang said the controversial burger name could have been more inclusive. Credit: Sharon smith/The west

“So as long as there is no malicious intent, I have no problem, although the word selection could have been more inclusive. “

It comes as COVID-19 continues to fuel racism against the Asian community around the world.

At the start of the pandemic, the United Nations secretary-general said the virus had sparked a tsunami of hate, due to xenophobic conspiracy theories about its origins.

Australia was not immune to racism either, an Asian Australian Alliance report last year revealed nearly 400 incidents of abuse across the country in just two months. And more than 90 percent of the abuse went unreported to police.

Owner Johnny Wong told The West Australian he was Chinese and born in Malaysia, but declined to say if he thinks the burger’s name normalizes racism.

A petition to change the burger’s name was started three years ago by Lisa Chappell and drew 299 signatures at the time.