Australian Sushi Counter Forced To Delete TikTok Videos After Woke Chef Calls Owner A “Colonizer”

Natasha Biase

An up-and-coming Australian sushi restaurant in New York City found itself on the receiving end of a woke mob after an activist chef labeled them “colonizers” on social media.

Sushi Counter opened it doors in the Big Apple earlier this month, with the owner stating her purpose was to bring affordable, Australian-style hand rolls to the notoriously expensive city. Sushi Counter, which offers a small menu at fixed prices, recently launched a TikTok channel documenting its opening process for customers.

But on October 20, chef Eric Rivera uploaded one of the TikToks in a thread to X (formerly Twitter), mocking Sushi Counter and labelling its Australian owner, Alex, a “colonizer” for preparing Japanese-inspired food as a white woman.

Rivera’s thread, which has since been deleted, resulted in a slew of backlash towards Sushi Counter, with users on X attacking Alex’s race and business concept.

Although the restaurant had previously received a lot of positive attention, with some like Stripe founder Nick Whitaker calling it “amazing,” a wave of bad reviews manifested on Google shortly after Rivera’s thread began circulating online.

One reviewer, who left the restaurant 1/5 stars, wrote: “Enough of the gentrification! The last thing anyone needs are blonde hair, Australian white women appropriating Japanese cuisine … We’re sick of the disrespect inflicted upon our cultures by white people, enough is enough.”

Many other negative reviews described the food at Sushi Counter as “gentrified,” with some pointing out that because a white woman owns the restaurant, it cannot be considered “authentic” Japanese cuisine.

“There are plenty of good AUTHENTIC sushi spots in this city and prices aren’t crazy,” said one reviewer. “I suggest going to one of those. This is a colonizer sushi spot ran by a woman who thinks she can do better than actual Japanese people.”

Instead of explaining why they disapprove of the restaurant, several other reviewers, including one who used the name “pee poo,” opted to leave a 1-star review without comment.

Sushi Counter soon after scrubbed its TikTok, deleting all of the videos it had made vlogging its opening.

But days after Rivera began his hate campaign, netizens discovered that he was opening multiple Japanese fusion restaurants of his own in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Sharing screenshots of Rivera’s comments, Anna Slatz, co-founder of independent news outlet Reduxx, said: “This guy launched an all-out hate campaign against a woman for opening an ‘Australian sushi counter’ to the point that she had to delete all of her TikTok videos and got review bombed on Google for being a ‘colonizer.’ Meanwhile he’s opening a ‘Puerto Rican izakaya.'”

People were quick to point out the hypocrisy of Rivera opening his own Japanese-inspired restaurant despite not being Japanese while attacking others for doing the same.

“How the fuck can an izakaya be Puerto Rican. It’s literally the definition of a fucking Japanese bar,” one user commented.

“Another miserable and frustrated middle age man trying to ruin a woman’s business out of jealousy,” user @astrofemina said.

Others, like Rwandan commentator Sasa Kayinde, condemned “cultural appropriation” as a concept and pointed out the beauty of cuisines being shared between cultures.

“Culture, especially food & entertainment, are meant to be shared. It’s like gifting someone something you also love. This ‘cultural appropriation’ thing is the most stupid thing,” Kayinde said.

Others, like journalist Shay Woulahan, also called attention to the fact that most of New York’s restaurant scene is reliant on diverse cuisines and fusion.

“Saying this like New York isn’t literally known for its bastardised version of other cultures food. The pizza?? The ‘French bakeries’ on every corner? The Chinese food??”

After beginning to receive pushback, Rivera deleted his thread on Sushi Counter, and made quick work of blocking anyone mentioning he was opening his own Japanese-inspired restaurant.

Posts calling attention to Rivera’s hypocrisy prompted some social media users to leave positive reviews for Sushi Counter in an effort to reverse the damage to the score done by Rivera.

While it had previously been brought from 4.5 to 4.3 as a result of the flood of 1-star reviews, it has since been lifted to a 4.8 score on Google.

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Natasha Biase

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