‘Maid menu’ in restaurant stirs controversy, angers netizens

The menu offered 'only for babysitters,' a cheaper food option at a pricey Japanese restaurant, goes viral on social media

'MAID MENU'. The supposed 'maid menu' spurs controversy online. Photo from Joko Anwar's Twitter.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (UPDATE) – A Jakarta restaurant’s “maid menu” – allegedly offered just to nannies – stirred controversy online after a photo of the menu went viral on social media on Sunday evening, October 30.

Indonesian Director Joko Anwar tweeted a photo of the menu from Shabu Hachi, a pricey Japanese restaurant that offers all-you-can-eat shabu shabu from about 120,000 Rp ($9.20) to 278,000 Rp ($21.31).

The “maid menu,” which was described as “only for babysitters,” offers chicken or beef terriyaki with rice and a drink for just 49,000 Rp ($3.76). 

“Can you imagine the feeling of the maid or babysitter who is offered a different menu like this? Don’t be so heartless. (Allegedly menu in Shabu Hachi),” he tweeted.

The restaurant owner, Githa Nafeeza, then replied to Anwar’s tweet also via social media.

“I feel bad for babysitters. Their boss and children eat well while they hungrily watch,” she said in a series of tweets.

“When I go to their bosses, they usually say they don’t want to pay 150,000 Rp ($11.50) for their babysitters’ meal. It’s too expensive.”

She added, “And because of that I made the main menu with an affordable price.”

Nafeeza’s explanation got mixed responses.

Blogger Alexander Thian praised Nafeeza’s move, tweeting, “Well done and thank you. Many people accuse first and ask for an explanation later,” he said, defending Nafeeza.

But not everyone was as sympathetic.

Netizen @hayhayhaya, in a series of tweets said, “The menu doesn’t make it convenient, but makes it easier for heartless people to differentiate themselves from their babysitter’s level.”

“We hire babysitters because we need them. Why do we need to differentiate their food? If the babysitter is confused [about the food], we can give them a recommendation.”

He went on, “There should be a common menu in the restaurant like bento boxes.”

“The bottomline is: your kind of menu dehumanize[s] people. They’re not just ‘maids’ but also ‘mates.’ Please be kind.” 

Another netizen @t_anna said, “If you can’t afford to pay for your babysitter, don’t bring them to an all-you-can-eat restaurant.”

By Monday afternoon, the owner thanked netizens for their feedback and said they would remove the “maid menu” from their offerings.

Bigger issue

Despite the owner’s move however, Anwar told Rappler that the issue went beyond just the menu.

Told of the development, Anwar said: “Alhamdulillah (Praise God),” before adding, “It’s not just about the name of the menu. It’s about the concept of differentiating the maid from the employer. It’s just wrong.”

“Many of us are used to treating the maid and babysitter inhumanely. So that when these cases come to light, many who insist this is reasonable and okay, that’s a defense mechanism – so that we do not realize that we have already become a monster.”

What do you think about the controversy? Let us know in the comments section below. – Rappler.com