mandarin restaurant nutrition

Mandarin restaurant birthday hashtag hijacked by nutrition critics

Few homegrown restaurant chains are as divisive as the Mandarin all-you-can-eat Chinese-Canadian buffet, as evidenced by what happens on Twitter every time its name comes up.

Some people love the Mandarin for its wide selection of bottomless lukewarm delicacies. Others call the buffet chain "gross," panning its trough-like feeding experience as an embodiment of modern gluttony.

Others still are merely salty about losing all-you-can-eat crab legs from their local Mandarin restaurant — 26 of which currently operate across Ontario.

Whatever your views on the Mandarin, it's likely that you have some, and can't help but weigh in when a mass conversation about it pops off online.

The hashtag #MandarinRestaurants was trending locally on Twitter for much of Sunday thanks to a contest announced that morning by the popular chain.

"It's our 40th Birthday and we want to say…THANK YOU MANDARIN FANS! We’re giving away 10 Mandarin Dinners for 4!" reads a tweet from the Mandarin's corporate account, published at 8 a.m. on Sunday.

All fans had to do to enter was reply to the restaurant with their favourite dessert using the #MandarinRestaurants hashtag and follow @eatmandarin on Twitter.

Nearly 700 fans replied to the original tweet with contest entries, as one might have expected given how many lined up for free food at the chain's locations this past Canada Day.

So many people were sharing and replying to the tweet on an otherwise eventless Sunday that Mandarin fast became the most talked-about subject in Toronto on Twitter yesterday... confusing people who weren't aware of the birthday contest.

Amidst all of this, someone who has a bone to pick with the Mandarin for not displaying any of their nutritional info posted a message slamming the company using its own hashtag.

"More than 10 yrs after I first inquired about nutritional info. The answer on the FAQ page remains the same 'Our food has not yet been analyzed for nutritional content. We hope to provide this information to our customers in the near future'," reads the tweet, which was posted around noon on Sunday.

Buffet fans subsequently began attacking the woman in her replies for daring to besmirch the Mandarin's name.

The amount of activity on this particular thread made it one of the first tweets displayed by Twitter to anyone who searched the hashtag, leading many people to believe that #MandarinRestaurants was in fact, trending only because of criticism about its nutritional display practices.

"People are complaining there's zero nutritional content information for #MandarinRestaurants," wrote one person. "You're eating at a Buffet, not a Vegan Restaurant while you sip on your 7 dollar iced water."

"If you are actually concerned about the nutritional content at #MandarinRestaurants why the hell are you actually eating there?" wrote another. "You go to The Mandarin to over-indulge not to count calories."

While it really was just one person originally complaining about the lack of nutritional info, many more felt it necessary to speak out in defence of stuffing one's face with unidentified garbage.

That, in turn, got people talking about everything from allergy concerns and food labelling laws to the role of government in regulating what people eat.

"The mindless anti social media gives everyone a medium to bitch usually about nothing," griped one buffet-lover.

"If people are so worried about fat and sodium and all of that good stuff then just don't go there. We are living in a world that expects the gov to hold their hand all of the time."

"There are people who have medical reasons to need nutritional information readily available," replied someone else to that comment. "Do those people just... not deserve to eat at Mandarin or something?

If you ask the restaurant brand itself, it's not a matter of "deserve," it's a matter of safety — and the Mandarin readily admits that those with severe allergies should probably just stay away.

"Our food has not been analyzed for allergens. Many of our items contain ingredients like nuts, corn, gluten, etc., or have come in contact with those ingredients," reads the company's website.

"It is, therefore, recommended that those with severe food allergies not dine at our restaurants."

Lead photo by

Mandarin Restaurants

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