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‘Restaurant Redemption’ helps Satay Thai restaurant in Austin, Texas

Ching-He Huang host of Restaurant Redemption
Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Tonight's Cooking Channel episode of Restaurant Redemption brings chef Ching-He Huang to Austin, Texas to help Satay, a Thai restaurant in business for 26 years and stuck in a time warp.

Ching came to meet with Foo, who after graduating from Texas A&M opened one of the first Thai restaurants in Austin. The restaurant had to support not only her, but her struggling family back in Thailand. So Ching came in to assess the situation.

Now with thirty or more Thai restaurants in Austin, the competition is hurting their business. When Ching arrived, she saw that they were located in a run-down shopping center in downtown Austin, and if the food is not consistently excellent, people will not trek out there. Ching loved the pretty patio, but the outside of the restaurant looked something more like a bank than a restaurant.

Ching wanted to taste their five signature dishes first. The menu consisted of several dishes, but the menu ran the gamut of all Southeast Asia. Many of the dishes lacked seasoning, and Ching had nothing good to say about any of the dishes, but the sauces were good. Foo defended her food, and told Ching that she was wrong with the food. When Ching told her that the dumplings were dry, she asked if she put sauce on them? When Ching told her that she wanted to try the original taste without drowning it in sauce.

Foo was more interested in arguing with Ching, than changing her ways. Ching spoke with David, the manager, who knows what a strong woman Foo is. He said that Foo concentrates more on the front of the house, than the kitchen. She visits with the customers, but will jump in and help in the kitchen when needed. He believes that Foo is over-committed. When Foo had Ching taste another of her dumplings, they were still not up to Ching’s standards, which riled her again.

When Ching showed her how to make a great dumpling, Foo insisted on drowning them in her sauce, and Ching found her to be exhausting. So Ching met with Manot alone. He told Ching that she had a Chinese food background, while they had a Thai background. She asked him what would happen if the place failed; and he said they would have to find something else to do to survive. Ching promised that she would not let that happen. She needed him to help her elevate their food.

Ching worked with Foo, Manot and their sous chef. She made a beef salad, using the freshest ingredients. Foo feels that at 65, she should not take advice from Ching who is younger and not Thai. Manot and Foo sat alone, and he became the voice of reason to Foo and opened her eyes. She had stated that she wanted to attract younger people, so why not listen to a younger person who does know what she is talking about?

Ching brought in Carla, a marketing guru who could help Foo attract a younger crowd. She will be helping with the social media aspect. She introduced Foo to Kyle, owner of a gym who will be exchanging discounts for his customers with hers.

When Foo and Manot saw the beautiful fresh restaurant interior, she loved it. The long line of hungry people waiting outside the restaurant were anxious to try the modern and improved menu. They loved the bright interior and were very pleased with the food. However, the servers were not on the ball, so Ching grabbed Foo, who was talking with customers, to help get it going. She had the place humming in no time and all was well again, thanks to Ching and her crew of Restaurant Redemption.

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