The news of dog meat in a Chinese restaurant spread like wildfire. I overheard people in every corner of Tijuana talking about it — while eating street tacos or just walking around.
Social media was quick to surface plenty of memes, and articles kept coming out from that claimed more restaurants have been closed. Even a banda ranchera by the name of La Banda del Mango recorded a song about how they used to eat dog meat called “El Corrido del Lonche #3.”
It started on the afternoon of April 7 with the closure of restaurant Lo Yen City, located on Blvd. Fundadores. An anonymous tipper told police he heard dog yelps and that when he went around to the back of the restaurant, he witnessed a couple of cooks getting ready to kill a dog.
Mexican authorities shut down the restaurant, which had no operating permit, and found two dog carcasses ready to be cooked. Five people were arrested: three of Chinese descent (including the owner) and two of Mexican ancestry.
When the news broke, many Chinese restaurants closed their doors voluntarily (for fear of inspection?). Since then, more restaurants have been shut down by authorities, who slapped giant yellow stickers on the establishments' doors and windows.
The former mayor of the city, Jorge Hank Rhon, was quoted as saying “There is no one in Baja California that hasn't eaten dog-meat tacos. I don't like lying, people get mad at me, but it is true. Taqueros do that all the time….”
The consul of China in Tijuana, Wang Jian, admitted that Chinese immigrants do eat dog meat, but it is for their personal consumption and not served to customers. The consul shamed the restaurant Lo Yen City and reminded people that there are over 50 ethnic groups in China and very few consume dog meat. The current governor of Baja, Francisco "Kiko" Vega, was photographed eating at Chinese restaurants in a show of support.
Since the incident, Chinese restaurants have suffered a sharp decline in business.
“It was really funny,” a friend told me, “I was at the [Universidad Autónoma de Baja California] food court and all the places had tons of people, except there was a huge gap at the Chinese place.”
A Tijuana restaurant association estimates there are over 500 Chinese restaurants in the city. In the downtown area alone, there are more than 10 restaurants with similar prices and combo dishes.
Everyone in Tijuana that I know swears for by one Chinese restaurant or another. My brother's favorite is Rica China, located on Blvd. Aguascalientes, while my friend Denise goes all the way to Otay (from downtown) for her favorite spot.
I have visited several Chinese restaurants in Tijuana. They are all practically the same, with some perhaps offering free ice cream. Menus are usually in poor Spanish with Chinese subtext and several combos that seem to be the same but with different prices.
A plate of Chinese food costs about 40 pesos (three dollars and change); a combo dish that weighs over a pound includes rice, vegetables, a fried chili, a chun kun (that's what they call spring rolls), and meat.
My roommate told me that he once found about ten dog heads sawed in half by an abandoned building near 10th and Negrete. He didn't see any Chinese restaurants nearby, but there are a couple in the vicinity.