Case Closed: Asia Palace’s Free Food Secrets Exposed

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Senior Camille Anderson frequently dines at Asia Palace and is always presented with a different free surprise.

Sarah Rockwood, Editor-In-Chief

Watermelon and strawberries. Airheads. Boxes of tomatoes. Fried rice on the house.   The list of free food given by Asia Palace, the beloved Chinese restaurant nestled in the corner of the Safeway complex in Moraga, is pleasantly exhausting. While admired for their excellent Chinese cuisine, Asia Palace is unlike any other restaurant because of their generosity.  In one sitting, a lucky customer can amass over $20 worth of produce.

But as each satisfied customer walks out the door with a fresh box of strawberries, the question lingers: Where does Asia Palace get all this free food? And how can they manage to continuously give it away at no cost?

Senior Camille Anderson, a frequent customer of Asia Palace, theorized that the restaurant bought in bulk so that the prices would be very low. “I always assumed they bought all the food at Costco in large quantities so that it wouldn’t cost too much,” Anderson said. “Then they would give it away to customers to make them think they’re getting more value for their order and just to make them happier overall.”

Crystao Chang, a waitress at the restaurant, claimed, however, that the food came from Oakland Produce, a farmer’s market near Jack London Square in downtown Oakland. “Because we’re a local restaurant, they give us a lot of cheap food when we buy our ingredients,” Chang said. “We keep it in storage and hand it out to customers while we serve them. We’ve been doing it ever since I started here.”

Store owner Mr. Jey confirmed that the produce came from the Oakland market.  “We don’t get it for free. I buy the food and give it away to customers after their meals.  We’ve been doing it for many years now,” Jey said. “I always buy a range of products.  Sometimes it’s apples, or celery, or watermelon. Usually whatever is in season.”

Many customers wonder how the establishment can afford to consistently give the food away for free if it wasn’t free in the first place. “I think of it as a discount for the customer.  Like a special deal that is just given every day,” Jey said. Since the produce isn’t too expensive, it’s like taking a few dollars off the overall price of the meal, which Asia Palace can afford due to their fairly expensive entree options served.