SCMPeeved | Susan Jung vs Backless Stools in Hong Kong

Max Levy, known to Beijing food fans for Traitor Zhou’s, Apothecary, Bei and RBL, opened a branch of Okra restaurant in Hong Kong early last year and South China Morning Post critic Susan Jung took a shot at his seats. Turns out—and restaurants seeking positive SCMP coverage should note—bum holders are a big issue for Jung. Specifically, she hates backless seats. Check it out.

[1] Okra

“Cons: two words–backless barstools. They’re so uncomfortable and don’t invite lingering over a meal–which may be the point.”

[Exactly. Eat your food, pay your bill and hit the pavement, sister, so Max can guzzle booze out back in peace.]

[2] Numero 15

“…the décor has changed slightly from when this space used to house Mesa 15: the low-backed padded chairs have been replaced with uncomfortable backless stools….”

[Numero 15 ain’t becoming Numero Uno with that kind of seating.]

[3] Basic Korean

“… crowded, smoky and uncomfortable. The small, brightly lit room was packed with young diners. The tiny round tables are close together, and diners sit on backless stools.”

“Uncomfortable” and “backless stools” share the same paragraph. Coincidence? I think not.]

[4] Bread Street Kitchen

“The host said we could sit in the front area on backless stools at the communal table. We asked if we could sit at another table that had chairs with backs but were told no.”

[Sounds like this place was infiltrated by the dreaded stools triad. But did Jung take this sitting down?]

“Later, however, another group of walk-ins sat at our communal table, then moved to the more comfortable seats.”

[Sometimes life —and Bread Street Kitchen—is fair.]

[5] Keyaki

“There are only a few tables for two at Keyaki; most diners sit on backless stools along the long counter that runs along the bar and grill.”

[And you bet your sweet patootie Jung got one of those tables. And a seat with a back!]

[6] Little Bao

“… young and hip with counter-seating on backless stools, either around the open kitchen or facing a wall…. we were lucky to snag the last two seats. However, there were three of us, so one of my guests had to eat standing up.”

[You know the saying, ‘be careful what you wish for, you just might get it’? I bet at that point, Jung wished there were more backless stools on our miserable little backless stool-loving planet. Karma.]

[7] Hongik Univ

“Ambience: basic but comfortable enough—the stools are well padded.”

[I’m sensing a pivot. Stools are evil. Unless amply padded. Seating policy wonks, please note.]

[8] A Side/B Side

“The high chairs around the counter have low backs, and it doesn’t take long for them to become uncomfortable.”

[Then again, the universe of uncomfortable seats is capable of expansion. Low backs now included. Note again, wonks.]

[9] The Roundhouse Taproom

“…the tables are tiny, round and tall, and the stools, which are high and backless, are uncomfortable after a short time.”

[You know what else is uncomfortable? The feelings of the backless stools themselves. Imagine the effect of their collective self-esteem of this bashing.]

[10] Samsen

“There’s an open kitchen, the walls are concrete, tables are small and the low stools are hard and backless, which doesn’t encourage lingering over the meal.”

[We’ve come full circle in this review, posted just two weeks ago, with the same connection between a lack of comfort and a lack of lingering.]

[Bonus] The Hospital

“Doctors in southwestern China have performed surgery on a 27-year-old man to remove a 5 kg stool from his colon after he complained of severe stomachache for more than a decade, the West China Metropolis Daily reported.’

[Nothing to do with Hong Kong restaurants, but, just for reference, *that’s* an uncomfortable stool.]

By the way, I don’t know Susan Jung. She might be the world’s sweetest woman, so I’m not judging her as a person. And we all have our pet peeves: mine is bars that use paper napkins rather than coasters for cocktails. I’m just saying that if you’re a restaurant and you know Jung is coming to review your place, make sure you have a wing chair handy.


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