Esteemed Hong Kong-based food critic Chua Lam has a controversial take on Japanese omakase which some have found hard to swallow.
Writing in a Weibo post on August 22, the Singapore-born food writer and TV personality expressed his disdain for the multi-course Japanese dining experience, with dishes left entirely to the chef's discretion.
"Lately I've an issue when it comes to eating sashimi, omakase meals where the chef decides on everything and treats diners like idiots.
"If I want to eat something I can order it, there's no need to bother the chef," noted the 82-year-old in Chinese. 
He shared that operating in this manner only makes it easier for restaurants to calculate their cost, and does not transmit the essence of Japanese cuisine.
His post has since received more than 900 likes and 120 shares, with several expressing agreement with his stance.
A Chinese newspaper columnist, however, slammed Lam in an article published on Tuesday (Sept 6), criticising him for being "worse than an ordinary food blogger".
The columnist, Zhou Xian, indicated that while Lam may have been an authority on food "30 years ago", he's now nowhere near the realm of a food blogger.
Xian praised Lam for his knowledge on a wide array of ingredients, but stated that the latter has never been to most of the top restaurants in Japan.
He pointed out that it is because omakase restaurants are able to manage their cost well that they can provide the best ingredients for the price, which is also a hallmark of Japanese cuisine.
Lam, who posts his musings on Weibo on a near-daily basis, also took to the platform on Tuesday (Sept 4) to share about the cost of food in Hong Kong.
"It costs HK$1,000 (S$179) per person to host a banquet in Hong Kong, and people tell me it's cheap," said Lam, noting that omakase meals would cost upwards of HK$4,000 per diner.
"With my life savings, I can eat any restaurant in the world," he noted.
However, Lam indicated that his philosophy when it comes to spending on food is that there must be value, and the price must be reasonable.
"Dumpling wanton noodle soup, hamburgers, pizza, are the prices reasonable? Not at all if they turn out to be rubbish," said Lam.
This is not the first time that Lam has incited anger over his opinion on food.
In 2019, he stirred controversy after commenting on a Chinese talk show that he doesn't get what's the big fuss over hotpot.
He named the dish when asked which food item he would wish to see "vanish from the world".
"Because hotpot is a cooking method totally lacking cultural significance. You just throw some ingredients into a pot. I don't get what's delicious about it," UK publisher The Guardian quoted Lam as saying.
His comment outraged many netizens in China, where hotpot is a dish enjoyed by many, especially during the Lunar New Year. One commenter online noted that Lam was in Sichuan — home of the famous mala hotpot — at the time of the interview.
"Only Mr Chua has the guts to make such a remark, what more in Sichuan," he wrote.
candicecai@asiaone.com

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