Is John Curtas’ review of Bachi Burger racist, or just idiotic?

In the current issue of Las Vegas Weekly, food critic John Curtas finally gets around to reviewing Bachi Burger.  Possibly because both Mike Dobranski and I sang its praises here and here (months before Mr. Curtas got around to his review), John Curtas trashes Bachi Burger in his piece–ya gotta stand out somehow. 

In his typically pedestrian, dull prose, Mr. Curtas, a self-described ‘purist,’–i.e., ‘I have no imagination when it comes to deviating from tradition,’– accuses Bachi Burger of being watered-down ‘Asian’ food, designed for those ‘who wouldn’t be caught dead in a pho parlor on Spring Mountain’ (meaning: ‘I John Curtas enjoy hanging with my Asians on Spring Mountain–pass the Sriracha!’).  He goes on to claim that Bachi Burger ‘wouldn’t exist’ were it not for David Chang’s’  ‘East-meets-West’ Momofuku in New York.  Because, I suppose, Mr. Curtas believes David Chang is the first and only Asian person to ever employ Asian flavors in a non-traditional way.  Culturally tone-deaf, Mr. Curtas would prefer ‘the wonders of Korean and Vietnamese cuisine’ stay comfortably in the confines of Spring Mountain Rd.  Like a lot of unconscious liberal bias, he unwittingly insults the very culture he means to praise–the subtext is, ‘I love my pho and kim chee, but please stay on the porch exotic yellow person, and don’t play in my sandbox of Western tradition.’

Do I think John Curtas’ review is racist?  Not really, just tone-deaf.  But this is coming from a man who loves Carnevino, which offers the least bang-for-the-buck in all of Las Vegas, in its surly presentation of some of the most overpriced, boringly-plated food in town. 

You think the burger is overcooked?  Fine; though you can ask for yours medium rare next time.  But don’t accuse Bachi Burger of being too Asian, not Asian enough, or derivatively Asian, Mr. Curtas.  Because there is nothing particularly Italian about Carnevino, for instance, and yet you made no complaints about its cultural pedigree or roots in your review.

Published in: on July 2, 2010 at 9:31 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. “In his typically pedestrian, dull prose, Mr. Curtas, a self-described ‘purist,’–i.e., ’I have no imagination when it comes to deviating from tradition,’– accuses Bachi Burger of being watered-down ‘Asian’ food”

    WOW! You don’t beat around the bush, do you? As an unrepentant ELV fan, I do admit I enjoy reading his reviews. And most of the time, I do agree with him…

    However since I’m always so rebellious and seem to be drawn to rebels, it’s fun to read your take… Not just on Bachi Burger, but also Mr. ELV’s take on Bachi Burger. There’s no way in hell he was being racist, but I can understand where you’re coming from in pointing out his odd closed-mindedness in flat out rejecting Asian-Euro-American fusion cuisine. Come on, this has already been happening on both coasts for some time. And specifically, it’s become all the rage in LA with the HUGE success of Umami Burger there.

    Now I must admit my one Umami Burger experience wasn’t mindblowingly amazing, but I promise not to let that cloud my future judgment of Bachi Burger here. 🙂


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