New York Times' chopsticks photo called culturally insensitive on social media

A New York Times photo received backlash from Twitter over the inclusion of chopsticks.

The Times was reporting on yet-to-be opened “Asian-inspired” steak house, Jade Sixty, which features classic steaks and traditional Asian cuisine.

In the photo for the digital article, there are typical Chinese dishes like beef and broccoli and steamed buns placed next to a hefty New York-style steak and tall beer.


Though the issue Twitter has isn’t necessarily with the cuisine – it’s with the presentation, which showcases chopsticks sitting under the steak and perched in the beef and broccoli.

Twitter users have been quick to accuse the newspaper for cultural insensitivity over the use of the chopsticks, which many have been saying are placed in an upright manner -- a chopsticks etiquette faux pas. In Japanese culture, upright chopsticks indicate death or suggest a funeral offering.

One user wrote, “So, who died? Or was your menu inspired by a part of Asia that uses wooden sticks as decor?”

“I'm glad the chopsticks are placed like offerings to the dead. I'm sure my ancestors will be excited to eat steak with chopsticks,” another wrote.

In the photo the Times’ used, the chopsticks appear to be leaning against the side of the dish.

The chopstick placement was not the only issue those on social media had with the photo. Some suggested incorporating the small chopsticks with a large, uncut steak seemed awkward.

One user sarcastically wrote, “Asians stick chopsticks under steaks as levers to catapult the meat into their mouths. Tres traditional.”

One user asked, “am I supposed to eat the whole steak w/chopsticks??”


In addition to the photo critique, Twitter users took issue with the “Asian” label since it did not identify what specific Asian cuisine the restaurant was inspired by.

“Inspired by, like, ALL of Asia? I don’t see any Indian or Malaysian food on that table. Oh, I forgot. All of Asia is basically the same,” a Twitter user tweeted.

Another weighed in on two issues, writing, “1. Which ancestors is this table for 2. Ah, a steakhouse inspired by 48 countries.”

The New York Times has since replaced the photo with one without chopsticks.