Ching met with Nina and her brother Ung; partners in this family backed restaurant that is the only source of the family income. When they first opened the restaurant in 2003, there were few sushi restaurants in the area. Nina and Ung are in a dire situation and asked for Ching to help them bring the restaurant back to life. Nina and her family are from Laos, but the Japanese fare is their specialty. If Ching is going to help this restaurant, she will also have to deal with the broken relationship between the brother and sister.
So she tried a few of their best dishes, like sashimi, tataki and sushi and a few more, all were overpowered by spicy sauces, and now she knows why they are being outdone by the competition. The Laotian soup was delicious, and she was surprised that it was the only Laotian item on the menu. When she told them that the spicy sauces were overpowering, they were surprised. When Ching expressed her concern that they did not have more Laotian foods on the menu, Ung was adamant that there were no other dishes to include, although Nina and Ching knew better. Ching immediately recognized that the communication between the two was non-existent.
On day two, Ching knew she had her work cut out for her. The décor needed to be redesigned to include Laotian items. Ung is very hesitant about Ching’s suggestion to put a Laotian influence in the menu. When she found a jar of sauce in the refrigerator, it was delicious. The called it Mama Sauce, but the recipe was a secret. When Ching made a dish utilizing the sauce, it was good, but Ung was still skeptical.
Nina was all for the change, so Ching went ahead with the recipes. Ching met with Ung one-on-one. She gave him the help to work together with his sister, so they could work as a team. Ching made sticky rice and a Laotian creation using meat and spices. In Laos, it is traditional to eat with your hands, and it was a great dish for that purpose. Ung was still the naysayer, and as both Ching and Nina pressed him, he finally agreed.
When she took the siblings in the restaurant to see the new décor, they were both thrilled with the transformation. The line outside the door was excited for the Laotian theme. Ung even smiled for the first time in ages. Now Laotian cuisine is on the map in Houston, and the siblings are on the same page, thanks to Ching and her crew of Restaurant Redemption.
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