Does Oceana Have a Racist Restaurant Week Back Room Just for Asians?

Oceana, the fancy seafood restaurant on 49th btw. 6+7th, is definitely not a Midtown Lunch… but this is way too funny not to post.  On Sunday, Chubby Chinese Girl (the Midtown Lunch’er who came up with Cer Te’s Feburary Sandwich of the Month) had a restaurant week lunch at Oceana and was escorted through a practically empty main dining room to a back room that was filled with all Asian diners (6 tables in all.)  Obviously (or not?) Oceana isn’t racist, according to this their Executive Pastry Chef is Asian and even CCG admitted that she enjoyed the service and the food.  But the photo is kind of damning.  (Hilariously damning.)  There must be a perfectly good explanation for all of this, right Oceana?

We contacted GM Paul McLaughlin for comment, and he told us that the back room is actually the preferred dining area during lunchtime.  It’s away from the kitchen and the bar, plus has giant windows on two walls of the room- including one that looks out onto the newly designed waterfall walk through between 48th and 49th Streets.  As for why all the customers were Asian?  He said that was just a Restaurant Week coincidence.  According to Paul, Asian people come out in droves every year for their Restaurant Week menus: “Just counted my guests from Sunday, we did 191 lunches Sunday, 95 guests were Asian or have Asian names. That’s 49%.”

I suppose his story checks out… but that photo is still hilarious!


  • Oh man, I got yellow fever, i know where i’m going for lunch tomorrow.

  • Are Chinese people too cheap to eat there regularly? Hah!

  • Ok… so we DIDN’T go there for Restaurant Week.. in fact we didn’t even know it was part of it until we got there… so they just assumed… that BECAUSE we are “Asians” that we were ONLY there for that?… Also… have u seen that room and the lack of “decor”… how can that be preferred by anyone… when the main dining area has these comfy cushioned booth/sofas?… It looked like a catering hall at best, and i didn’t see no waterfall… service was aight/good but no outstanding… but they weren’t rude to us.. that your right… Even if all the Asian go for Restaurant Week, why is it ok to sit only Asians at the back room? They didn’t ask if we were doing restaurant week when we walked in… so they wouldn’t have known!
    I don’t know… I still think it’s racist… =/

    • Well I guess the really important part is how did your date go? You know, despite the segregation.

    • Um…the Asians I know (Not FBMers) only go to those kinds of restaurants during restaurant week.

    • I am going to go out on a limb here and say I bet they think most people who are dressed casual for lunch during restaurant week at Oceana are there for the deal.
      Was there a picture of the front of the restaurant? I go to a chinese restaurant around the office with my coworkers and for some reason they always put us upstairs even if there is space down stairs. Should I concider that racist?????

  • they didn’t want the camera flashes disturbing the other diners? :-0

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    Hilarious quote from the GM.

  • ahhh funny. gotta love a deal during restaurant week!

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    Half of those asians were probably camera wielding food bloggers and I think they didn’t want the constant flash and shutter disturbing the regular diners?

  • Who is the beauty pictured on the left?

  • Skate? That’s a “gobbage” fish. No bargain.

  • My sis used to work as a pastry cook at a high profile restaurant in midtown NYC..she quit a few weeks ago because of her crazy pastry chef but that’s another story. Anyway, my sis even said that during restaurant weeks, the number of asian customers increase dramatically at this old school midtown restaurant which is usually dominated by all white customers. Once a waiter who works with her said something like, we get a lot of asian customers during restaurant weeks but nobody orders the wine…or something like that…almost complaining.

    • or perhaps we asians don’t tip well…which was also the complaint the waiter made.
      but i usually tip around 20%…even if the service was not so good.

      • even with this… we tipped well and we ordered wine…
        i know asians like a bargain… but if ur offering it… can u blame them? and there’s not need to put them all together in a room… is that suppose to make a statement? =/ i think the GMs reply made me more mad than I was…

      • Oh he also said, asians take pictures as if they are at some kind of amusement park…ok, i made up the amusement park..but he did say something about us taking pictures. **shrug** what ya gonna do…

  • send Rosa Xang Parkes in, “i will not move”

  • This is hilarious. I went with a mixed crowd and was seated in the main dining room.

  • yah, we sit together at lunch. so what? we’re having lunch! everyone knows we subvert White America at breakfast. guh.

  • Tell them you’re calling John Liu and the consequences will never be the same.

  • CCG’s name is misleading.

  • Arr rook same?

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    Oceana’s response is clearly full of shit. If they had said, “Dude, calm down. It’s just a coincidence,” I probably would have believed them. But the nonsensical response shows that CCG might not be paranoid. Let us dissect:

    “the back room is actually the preferred dining area”–just from looking at the pictures, I doubt that is true. And if people really love to sit in the back room, wouldn’t a customer-oriented restaurant seat more people back there?

    “Asian people come out in droves every year for their Restaurant Week menus”–so the restaurant admits that they are highly conscious of the races of their customers.

    My theory: As mkim suggests, the staff probably have a stereotype about the Asians who descend for RW. The waiter working the lame back room is probably lowest on the totem pole, so the Asians get sent there.

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    Since Oceana’s GM said 49% of the RW patrons are Asians, and restaurants keep extending RW over and over and over again because the economy has been so bad; we can look at this as Asians are injecting life back into the this dead economic climate. Why aren’t you?

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    Yeah right, it’s all a coincidence. Please don’t insult us. looks like the banquet room to the Acadia Bayside motor inn. and what’s with the camera stuff? I see white people with giant cameras around their neck like a badge of honor especially the Leica’s.

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    Let’s break out the pitch-chopsticks and paper lanterns and storm Oceana.

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