Having dined at the restaurant, Antonio Malik, aka @antonio_eats_la, initiated a social media storm.
Replying to a private message from Wei, saying he hoped he liked the food having seen that he'd visited, Malik wrote: “Honestly wasn’t good, though the service was 'great'. I wouldn’t recommend this place to anyone. Sorry!”
Malik later decided to go public, tagging Corner 17 in an Instagram story, writing “Worst dumplings ever!” over an image of the restaurant's food, plus making derogatory comments about the flavour of the food in another.
Wei, who says he is open to criticism to improve the restaurant, told St.Louis Post Dispatch, this “is not criticism anymore. I realized this is more like (an) attack because … we did not give him, like, $100 off”.
In a post on the restaurant's Instagram account, Wei wrote: “An intentionally bad write-up from a large following influencer because of our refusal to accept their collaboration is unprofessional and a such hostile manner can simply ruin their businesses.”
“I want to step up because we felt threatened by this media influencer. I want to give a voice to my Asian community that is OK to say no and turn down any promotional offers, no fear to stand up and defend yourself.”
It's not the first time that unethical influencers have been called out by chefs and restaurateurs. Restaurant owner Gary Usher, among others, has been very vocal in shooting down brutal negative reviews in the past.