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‘Restaurant Redemption’ helps Shiki Wok in Bloomfield, N.J.

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 Bloomfield, N.J. to help Shiki Wok in this episode.

Before Ching met with the owners, she checked online to see the restaurant had terrible reviews. She then met with Ming, who came here from China and learned how to cook. His restaurant was doing well until the downturn in the economy. Now he is unable to pay his bills and his staff. His manager, Anny Fernandez, has worked there for six months without being paid, but she considers Ming and wife Jenny her family.

Ching stated that Shiki Wok may look like just another hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant, but many times, these have the best food. Ming told Ching that his food was excellent and Jenny is the sushi chef, and they have never had a complaint about either food. He stated that if he knew it would be so bad; he would have never come to America. If they lose the place, their sons will not be able to continue their college education.

Ching ordered five of his top dishes. The Sweet & Sour Chicken was loaded with grease, and the sauce was full of coloring. General Tso’s Chicken had an aftertaste that was not good. The Lo Mein was greasy and lacked any vegetables. She was concerned that the oil was rancid and when she went into the kitchen, it needed a serious cleaning.

When she told Ming and Jenny that the food was not good, he asked which one, but she told him it was all of them. Ming believes that Americans want greasy and salty food. She then told him how dirty the kitchen was, and it was because of laziness. Although Ming did not totally agree with Ching, he needed a change to save his restaurant.

The next day she closed the restaurant and had her design team came in to make the front of the house presentable, while she worked her magic in the kitchen. When Ching made the Lo Mein, it was beautiful looking, but Ming is still fearful that the New Jersey clientele will not like it. Ching took it and Ming outside, and people loved the dish.

Ching arranged for Anny to go to a nearby restaurant and watch how they operate. She asked for help managing the restaurant and the takeout operation. Mona, the owner and Jefferson, the manager of Double Ai Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar in Pompton Lakes, were very accommodating to Anny and gave her tips.

Next, Ching made over the General Tso’s Chicken and made it the way it was made in China, not the greasy American way. When he tasted it, Ming was doubtful that it would work in his restaurant. She told him that if he took a bigger risk, he would get bigger payoffs. Ming then spoke to his son Ben on the computer to ask him his opinion. Ben knows that a larger demographic wants the healthier food that Ching wants to incorporate there.

Ching wanted to change the sign on the outside that was dated and old. Both Ming and Jenny agreed. She then told them to stop making sushi, that they did not do well, and took up a lot of inventory. Ching wants him to get his fire back, and he said he was born in the year of the tiger; Ching was born in the year of the horse, and Ming knows that a tiger and horse work very well together.

When Ming and Jenny saw the new sign, it was very appealing to them, and then they went inside and saw the fresh interior. It was lovely and so fresh looking, a perfect complement to the new healthier menu. They both had tears of happiness. She now had a bao bar instead of a sushi bar.

Ming called his regular customers and told them about the grand opening and new menu. There were lots of people waiting for the exciting new menu. There was inconsistency in the dishes, and Ching was not happy with the first dishes. Once Ming got his bearings, the items straightened out and became much easier to handle. Soon, Ming got his computer and showed his sons the booming restaurant with lots of happy customers thanks to Ching and her crew of Restaurant Redemption.

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