As tips go, this is way over 20 percent!
A Mandarin-fluent foodie has filmed himself dropping $1,000 tips at five of his favorite, but struggling, take-out joints in Manhattan’s Chinatown — and the video of his startled beneficiaries trying to give him back the money is just heartwarming.
“I got five thousand dollars,” YouTuber XiaoMaNYC explains in the clip before handing out the huge tips, which he stuffs into the bright red envelopes that are traditionally exchanged as gifts for Chinese New Year.
“We’re going to be going to five different restaurants, and giving them each a nice little ‘hongbao,’” he says, referring to the envelopes by their Mandarin name as he stuffs each with ten crisp $100 bills.
“It’s actually a great time to do this because it’s Chinese New Year,” he explains of the holiday, which began Feb. 12 and ended Friday.
“I’m just going to be going to some of my absolute favorite Chinese restaurants here in New York City,” explains the three-million-fan YouTuber — a Manhattan-based video producer whose real name is Arieh Smith.
“Not only do they provide great food to the people in the neighborhood, but they also support a lot of employees and they’re all family run,” he says. “They’re just really amazing and great people.”
One of his first stops was Spicy Village on Forsythe Street.
“They work nonstop for 12 hours a day, he said of the restaurant. “And they definitely deserve a little something.”
“We’re just hanging in there, honestly,” owner “Wendy” tells Smith, as she takes his noodles order and they chat in Mandarin about how business has been damaged by the pandemic.
Not knowing she’s on camera, she stuffs Smith’s takeout bag full of complimentary tea and holiday candies for his wife, tells him the order comes to $15, and wishes him a happy New Year.
“Oh by the way, I wanted to give you something,” he says, handing over a hongbao envelope.
“No, I don’t want that!” she insists, backing away.
When Smith finally convinces her to take it, she looks inside and immediately tries to hand it back. The two practically tussle over the money. Smith insists, “Mei yo! mei yo!” — “No, don’t worry about it!” — as she repeatedly tries to stuff the envelope back in his backpack.
“Are you sure? I really can’t accept it!” she says, nearly in tears.
“I just wanted to thank you guys, on Chinese New Year,” Smith tells her. “Just keep doing what you’re doing and making great food!”
At other takeout windows, his red envelopes get similar reactions.
“This is crazy that you would do this!” one grateful owner tells him.
“Too much, dude!” protests a street vendor, who Smith speaks to in fluent Cantonese.
“No way!” shouts another restauranteur, after handing Smith a $1.50 milk tea and getting the huge tip in return.
Smith ends the clip by urging folks to support Chinatown or their own local eateries — though he concedes with a laugh, “You don’t have to tip them $5,000. You could just show up at any of these great restaurants and buy something delicious.”