A report by Beijing News details what two reporters witnessed while working undercover at the famous Beijing barbecue restaurant chain Hanlixuan. It can only be described as a consumer’s worst nightmare.
Two journalists applied to work at the Changping, Beijing location of Hanlixuan as a waiter and a cook’s apprentice. Both were both immediately accepted in a hiring process that only took only three minutes. A certificate of health was waived for the two journalists and for all Hailixuan employees despite it being a mandatory part of operating a restaurant.
However, as the two undercover journalists discovered, the horrors of Hanlixuan restaurant would only begin to be revealed.
The Beijing News alleges that Hailixuan makes it a restaurant policy to reuse uneaten food in order to re-serve it to other paying customers. One of the reporters describes a senior waitstaff named Li who put aside uneaten food when clearing dishes. When the lunch hour rush is over and all customers have left the restaurant, Li sorted ten dishes of uneaten food before returning it to the kitchen to be served again.
An apprentice says he was told:
This is leftover food; anything that hasn’t been used is sent back to the kitchen. When it’s taken to the front of the restaurant again, no customers will suspect anything.
The kitchen is described as “very dirty” with a foul smell and always covered in swill water. On July 23, the reporter masquerading as a kitchen apprentice noticed there was a dead fish lying on the ground. Because no one took care of it, the fish was kicked around by wait staff when it got in their way until it finally found a resting place beside the garbage can.
When the undercover reporter asserted that no one would want to eat such a thing, he was told:
Who says no one will eat it? Once we prepare and marinade it, it will once again look fine. Don’t worry about it; you just do your job and cut vegetables.
The fish was finally prepared later that day and served to customers during evening dinner. As with squid that has started to smell, it was mixed with onions and condiments so that customers won’t be able to tell any difference.
Even something as basic as simple hygiene was also ignored at Hanlixuan. When the undercover reporter said he needed to wash his hands before being taught how to handle food, he was told by the cook:
You don’t need to wash your hands. There’s no need.
All of these allegations made by Beijing News are likewise confirmed by former Hanlixuan employee Chen Wen (a pseudonym), who had previously made allegations against the barbecue restaurant chain online.