WITH CHING HE-HUANG
Nothing greasy, fresh ingredients and layers of flavor –– this is modern Chinese food.
No chef deserves to be in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant without knowing these terms.
Ching-He Huang brings her culinary magic to a restaurant in Queens, N.Y., that's on the verge of extinction. Roger, Sam and Paulina opened Red Panda a year ago and have tried everything to attract customers to their restaurant. After failing to wow with their food they've hosted weekend entertainment including magic shows and karaoke to draw in the crowds, all to no avail.
Ching-He Huang takes off for Austin to revive a 26-year-old Thai restaurant that is stuck in the 1980s. With tired Thai cuisine on the menu, Ching must convince stubborn owner Foo that updating her food won't drive away customers but give the restaurant a whole new life.
New York City's Koreatown is the location for Ching-He Huang's next struggling restaurant. Run by fun-loving owner May, Kirakuya Sake used to be the place to drink and party for NYC's Korean and Japanese communities. Business has declined as fewer customers come in to eat, drink or socialize with May. Is it too late for Ching to rein in May's party-girl ways and get her more focused on her food than on having fun?
Ching-He Huang's hailing a yellow taxi, headed to New York's Murray Hill -- or Curry Hill as it's affectionately known. She's tasked with helping to save a Pakistani mother and daughter's failing restaurant. It was mom Alia's dream to open up her Indian Thai fusion restaurant one year ago, but the restaurant is not attracting customers and has terrible online reviews. Ching has to convince Alia and daughter Ayesha that the only way to increase business is to completely overhaul their take out business.
Food trucks are the latest foodie fad, a whopping $800 million industry in the US. But one truck in San Francisco is suffering from an identity crisis and has called in Ching to help. Zenia Llamas was inspired to make her own "naked chorizo" - the spicy Spanish sausage served without the usual casing. A food truck showcasing Zenia's chorizo-based Spanish-Filipino dishes was the logical next step. But that's when things started to veer off course. Customers, confused by the name and branding, assume that Naked Chorizo is a Mexican food truck. Their reluctance to try the fusion fare has resulted in the food truck's profits coming to a skidding halt. Zenia, however is a strong-minded firebrand who refuses to change the name of her business. Can Ching put this food truck back on the right track or will she be on a collision course with Zenia from the start?
Ching is heading to Silicon Valley to help a restaurant owner keep her establishment afloat. Hye Kim is the owner of Korea House, a restaurant specializing in a Korean all-you-can-eat buffet. With big IT companies and college campuses nearby it should be filled to the rafters with hungry office workers but it's failing to attract customers. With high food costs the buffets are expensive to maintain and Hye is hemorrhaging money. She's also borrowed thousands from her family and friends who are bankrolling her restaurant. Hye has little previous restaurant experience, finds it hard to be authoritative without shouting and as a result struggles to earn the respect of her staff. With bankruptcy looming, can Ching help this failing restaurant before it's forced to shutter?
Ching-He Huang's on her way to Southern Philadelphia to help Joe and Renae DeCristo. These Italian American siblings are the owner and manager of JC Chinese restaurant, a business opened by their late father in the 1950s. Like the decor, Joe and Renae's food is stuck in a time warp and their customers have stopped coming. To save their business Ching needs them to modernize their dated decor and their menu but she is met with resistance at every turn from Joe.
In Bloomfield, N.J., Ching-He Huang faces one of her toughest challenges yet at a traditional Chinese restaurant that hasn't been touched in over 20 years. Ching helps owner Ming bring his old and tired dishes from outdated to modern Chinese American with a twist.
Ching is heading to Fresh Meadows, New York to help save a failing Tiki themed Chinese Restaurant. King Yum has been in Robin Ng's family for over 60 years, but in recent years business has dropped drastically. Ching will have to convince Robin and his wife that the over fried, greasy, bland dishes that they insist their customers love have to go. Will Ching's culinary expertise and tough love be enough to turn this restaurant around and help Robin rediscover his passion?
John Bian along with his parents and wife run a struggling Chinese restaurant in Bloomington, Ill. The restaurant is the only income for the family and as sales continue to drop, tensions have begun to run high. Due to the family's lack of communication and leadership the restaurant has fallen into a state of disrepair. To turn the failing restaurant around Ching-He Huang will need to convince the feuding family that they need an entirely new restaurant concept -- and that they need to work together to make it happen.
Shogun Palace in Flushing, N.Y., boasts a whopping 23,000 square foot dining room and banquet hall, all of it empty. To save the business, owner David Wong and Chef William Chen enlist Ching-He Huang's help to transform their over-the-top banquet style menu to modern Japanese. In the process, David and William bid farewell to some seriously fishy decor in the dining room.
Ching-He Huang is headed to Kansas City, Mo., to a family-run Vietnamese restaurant. Mimi Perkins opened Saigon 39 to rave reviews and lines down the block. Now, over 20 years later, the restaurant is in the hands of Mimi's children, Linda and Victor, and business has plummeted. Although officially retired, Mimi is still the boss. Ching needs to bring the dishes and the decor into the 21st century and get Mimi to take a step back and let Victor and Linda run the restaurant.
Ching-He Huang packs up her cleaver and heads to Livingston, N.J., to help save a failing kosher sushi joint that has lost its way -- and its customers. When owner Kevin admits from the start that the restaurant is for sale, Ching is suspicious that he's already given up. Redemption could be too late for this ailing restaurant and things only get worse when Kevin receives news that his kosher certification is being taken away.
Ching-He Huang's next destination is Cherry Hill, N.J. When brother and sister Jim and Anita opened Vietnamese restaurant Pho Barclay, there were lines out the door. One year later the business has slowed and the food has become boring and predictable. Ching is shocked to discover that Anita is bankrolling the struggling business as well as financing her brother's hobby as an amateur inventor. Jim and Anita need to focus their resources on the restaurant and reinvent their food and decor if it's to survive.
Ching-He Huang's next restaurant seems like a lost cause from the get go, with no signage and difficult to find with GPS. Frank and Vivian Dominick gave up their careers to run Fusion Fire. Several years ago Frank's head sushi chef quit, taking three other staff employees with him. Frank immediately jumped into the role of head chef and added to their menu, but more choices has meant more confusion and fewer customers.
Ching's dishing out culinary therapy at a Thai restaurant in New Jersey. After their first restaurant in Manhattan failed, ex-husband and wife team Joey and Jumi had hoped for better luck opening a business in Montclair. Sadly after only a year they've found themselves struggling to make more than $100 a day. Now the stresses of operating a failing restaurant are taking their toll. To save money Jumi has a full time day job and rushes to the restaurant at night to make deliveries. Joey runs the business like a dictatorship doing everything from cooking to serving, with a temper so unpredictable that no one wants to work with him. With such stressed out owners at the helm, can Ching turn this restaurant around? Or is a change of ownership what is really needed?
Ching's heading east, to a struggling restaurant in Canton, Massachusetts. Golden China's been in the Chen family since the 1970s, and since then neither menu nor decor have changed. Once Golden China was considered Canton's answer to Boston's "Cheers" bar, a popular Chinese sports-bar themed restaurant. Now it's hit hard times and the bar can no longer turn a profit. Will Ching be able to help the Chen family continue their legacy? Or will their restaurant remain empty despite Ching's best attempts to drag their dated Americanized Chinese menu and décor into the 21st century?
Ching packs up her cleaver and heads to Farmington Hills, Michigan to save failing family restaurant New Mandarin Garden. There Ching takes on bickering brothers Gary and Jerry Che, as they work together to revamp this outdated Chinese restaurant and bring it into the 21st century. Can the brothers get along long enough to make the restaurant a success? Only time will tell.