Hong Kong’s first Hooters is already causing controversy

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FoodBeast/Next Shark (by Ryan General):

American restaurant chain Hooters, known for its skimpily dressed female servers is about to open its first restaurant in Hong Kong. A month before its launch, however, the sports bar that bills itself as “delightfully tacky yet unrefined” is already attracting controversy.

Set to occupy a prime location in Hong Kong’s Central district along Wyndham Street, Hooters Hong Kong will be just one of the 30 branches that Bangkok-based Destinations Resorts will be bringing to Asia on behalf of Hooters Asia.

While preparations are all well under way for the Hong Kong opening, Hooters Asia general manager Mike Warde is also fending off criticisms about the company’s image and hiring processes.

We’re a sports bar, a family-oriented, fun-loving, entertainment outlet. We have standards for our service and food,” Warde told South China Morning Post in an interview.

For Warde, the Hooters girls who he calls the chain’s “brand ambassadors” are not dressed provocatively but are simply wearing sportswear. He also denied that breast size is a factor in the company’s recruitment.

That’s a myth. That was 30 years ago,” he said while showing a photograph of Thai Hooters girls with small breasts. “The reason they don’t look flat chested is because they are wearing Wonderbras.”

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A friend of one Hong Kong applicant, however is refuting his claim. Scarlet (not her real name), an applicant herself, said her friend who applied didn’t pass because of her breast size.

Her boobs are smaller, so of course they won’t hire her,” she said.

The recruitment process has been going on for months and so far 12 Hong Kong women, one Japanese woman and two European women are being considered for the job.

Aside from normal food-serving tasks, Hooter girls are also expected to perform two-minute dance numbers at certain intervals.

They stop whatever they are doing, wherever they are, and dance every 45 minutes,” says Warde. “In Thailand guests pay them to do hula hoop and the money goes to charity. We have pom-poms and we take them to the rugby pitch to support teams.

To stay in shape, they are also required to attend three kickboxing classes per week.

We teach the girls to be a lot more respectful of themselves, have more confidence in themselves. They have a fit body and fit mind and we bring out their characters because we put them all over social media,” he added.

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They said, ‘This is the largest size’ – I think that was true. But it’s crazy that the largest size is extra small. My boobs were exploding and my ass was half showing out,” the 24-year-old said.

When I went for the uniform fitting they said I’m the only girl with boobs. They want to hire locals, but most local girls are really skinny.”

Scarlet also found the salary disappointing and realized she could earn more as a beauty therapist. The HK$15,000 ($1,932) per month offered for a five-and-a-half-day week is barely above standard.

They said I would get good tips, but in Hong Kong I don’t think the guys would pay a lot. There isn’t the tipping culture here,” Scarlet said.

Back in the U.S., the company has closed about a dozen stores in recent years, with observers saying the concept of “breastaurants” is outdated.

Warde believes that it will be a different story in Asia. “In Asia we are a new brand. And in America they’ve been closing the ones that haven’t been performing and reopening others. Over the last four years it’s growing, they are on the up again,”he said.

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In the next five years, the aggressive expansion plan of Hooters Asia will also see restaurants opening in Indonesia, Thailand, Macau, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam and Malaysia.

What proper table etiquette looks like in East and Southeast Asia…

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Mashable (by Chelsea Frisbie):

Whether you’re planning an international trip or you’re headed to a local cultural experience, it’s important to learn about the eating habits of the folks you’ll be dining with. What might seem silly to you could be incredibly important to someone else, so don’t judge.

Langford’s silverware shop has compiled a collection of the dining “Do’s” and “Don’ts”…

Here is an excerpt of East Asian and Southeast Asian countries’ dining etiquette.

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The history of Cambodian-owned donut shops

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Audrey Magazine (by Ethel Navales):

You’re probably already aware that a large amount of independently-run donut shops in California are Cambodian-owned. What you may not know is that the donut shop industry is an integral part of the Cambodian immigration story.

In honor of National Donut Day, we decided to look into the history of hardworking, Cambodian donut shop owners:

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1) Finding a donut in Cambodia is harder than you think.
There may be donuts if you look hard, but if you thought you’d find streets lined with donut shops in Cambodia, you’re in for a let-down. While donuts are a large part of the Cambodian American culture, many can tell you that this is purely an American tradition. Allegedly, there is only one donut shop in all of Phnom PenhCambodia.

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2) It all began with a man named Ted Ngoy.
Before donut shops were associated with the Cambodian American culture, there was Ted Ngoy paving the way. He arrived in the U.S. in 1975 and two years later, he began his own donut shop. Clearly, his legacy continued.

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3) “The American Dream” 
Ngoy is the one who found a way for Cambodian immigrants to become part of the American dream of owning their own business,” said Dennis Wong of the Asian Business Association. “Taking a loan from an Asian loaning society, Ngoy was able to buy two stores, operate them for awhile and then sell to someone in the community or a family member who wanted to buy them. That’s how they got into it.

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4) Running a donut shop is hard work. 
You’ll often hear about these donut shops having only a few workers in order to save money. In fact, many of the workers are family members who must find time within their day to help the family business. As a result, many owners will work long and tiring hours to make sure their shop is functional. Additionally, many donut shop owners have voiced that the long hours have made it difficult to assimilate into a new society.

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5) They have thrived. 
An estimated 80% of donut shops in the Los Angeles area are owned by Cambodian Americans. In Houston, Texas, the percentage is an even larger 90%.

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Fake 7-Elevens across Asia

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RocketNews 24:

Take a quick look at the picture above. Notice anything strange? Perceptive readers may have spotted something out-of-place right away. If you didn’t, well, no worries, but you’ll probably want to facepalm yourself when you take a second look.

Like this Chinese 7-Twelve, there are a number of fake, localized versions of popular convenience store 7-Eleven scattered throughout the Asian continent. They may think they can slip through the cracks, but perhaps it’s only a matter of time before a lawyer comes knocking at their doors. We have to hand it to them, though–they score high on creativity for coming up with some amusing names.

Let’s take a look at some photographic evidence of the various 7-Eleven wannabes out there.

 

Japan:

You may not have guessed it, but our first offender is actually from none other than Japan! Err, was, that is–this particular store is no longer in business.

7-Mercy apparently opened during the latter years of the Showa Era (1926-1989) somewhere in Miyagi Prefecture. We certainly did a double take the first time we glanced at the store’s logo:

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Ironically, there’s now a real 7-Eleven located right across the street:

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China:

Moving on to China, we’re once again almost, but not quite, fooled by the familiar-looking red and green logo. Perhaps someone was trying to make a statement by one-upping the number eleven? At least they spelled it right…

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Here we’ve got the presumably less-convenient 9-One.” We wonder what the significance of the numbers “nine” and “one” is…

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Vietnam:

If you travel further south in Asia, you can find a mini-mart in the guise of 7-Days.”

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Cambodia:

Does the name 7-Bright suggest that it’s only open when there’s still light outside? Or that the shop workers will greet you with bright smiles? Perhaps only intelligent people can shop here…

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Nepal (Pokhara):

Although the sign reads “7-Eleven,” the merchandise being sold there appears to be fitting only for some kind of school festival.

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Here’s a new one–how would you like to waste the night away at the “7-Eleven Dance Bar”?

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South Korea (Dongdaemun district, Seoul):

Finally, we have this 7-Seven mart located in a popular Korean tourist area. While lacking the chain’s distinctive red and green stripes, the design of the numeral “7” still comes a little too close to the real thing.

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Has anyone seen any other fake 7-Elevens out there during their travels around the globe? We’re sure there’s a whole slew of counterfeit shops for other popular chains, such as McDonald’s and Starbucks, as well.

Hooters racks up 30 new locations throughout Southeast Asia

 

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FoodBeast:

Hooters of America LLC announced that they will be opening 30 Hooters locations in Southeast Asia. The development agreement will bring to Asia 30 new restaurants over the next six years. Hooters first hit Asia with Thailand‘s opening of Hooters Phuket.

We’re guessing it found some success as now the brand intends to further expand into neighboring countries, including: Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam. Thailand will also possibly see more Hooters restaurants there as well.

Currently, the Atlanta-based franchiser has more than 430 locations in 28 countries. The majority can be found in the US.

The owl-themed restaurant is known worldwide for its chicken wings and cheesy appetizers. We hear the servers are also pretty charismatic too.

 

10 Asian soups to keep you warm over the holidays

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 Audrey Magazine:

On a blistering cold night, a steaming hot bowl of soup is the tastiest cure to the shivers and well, almost everything else right? Now that winter is full steam (sorry) ahead, here are ten different Asian soups, from the popular to the underrated, that you should try eating and possibly try making this winter!

1. Kuy Teav

Image courtesy of khatiya-komer

A Cambodian delicacy, kuy teav is a Camobidan Chinese pork noodle soup made from a clear broth and flat rice noodles. Kuy teav is usually enjoyed as a breakfast dish from street vendors, but we feel that it’s comforts will last throughout the day!

2. Soba

Image courtesy of kampai.us

Unlike the popular ramen, soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour. Soba can be a year round dish and is typically served either hot and in a soup for winter or chilled with a dipping sauce for summer. Also, soba differs from udon in that soba noodles are thin while udon noodles are genuinely thicker.

 3. Laksa

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A spicy MalayasianChinese fusion dish. There are three main types of laksa: curry laksa, asam laksa and sarawak laksa. Curry laksa has a coconut curry base, while asam laksa has a sourfish soup base, and sarawak has a sambal belacan base. No matter which type of laksa you choose, it’s sure to give you a kick!

4. Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Image Courtesy of S.O.F.A.T BLOG

There are many different types of beef noodle soups out there. However, the red-braised beef noodle soup was invented by Chinese refugees in Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War. Today, Taiwan considers this red-braised beef noodle soup a national dish. With it’s tender beef and spicy broth, it is sure to be a comfort during those chilly months.

5. Tong Sui

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Tong Sui literally means “sugar water” in Cantonese and is a soup dessert that is a Cantonese delicacy.

6. Bakmi Ayam

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Bakmi ayam, or often shortened to mei ayam, is an Indonesian noodle soup that is very simple but delicious. The main ingredients are wheat noodles, chinese bok choy (cabbage), and slices of chicken and mushroom. Eaten separately or together with the broth, the soup is delicious either way!

7. Sinigang

Image courtesy of PanlasangPinoy

Sinigiang is a Filipino dish. A tamarind-based soup, Sinigiang is usually sour because of ingredients such as guava and ripe mango.

8. Soondobu Jjigae

Image courtesy of LTHforum

Soondubu jjigae is a spicy Korean tofu soup. It’s typically served in a hot stone pot with other dishes such as rice, meat, or banchan on the side.

9. Milagu Rasam

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Milagu Rasam is a pepper tamarind-based South Indian soup. Supposedly, both the black pepper and tamarind are natural heat-inducing ingredients for the body. Either way, milagu rasam is a tasty method to staying warm!

10. Bun Mang Vit

Image courtesy of PhamVo's Kitchen

Pho is probably the most famous Vietnamese soups, but Bun Mang Vit, a duck and noodle soup, is also another tasty option! The main ingredients here are duck, bamboo shoots and vermicelli noodles, but the lemongrass, ginger and chili give this soup a nice kick.

Get inspired by Sokha Chen: From scavenging garbage to starring in CNN’s “Girl Rising” 

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 Audrey Magazine: 

 

I wanted to be a social worker,” says Sokha Chen, “but now I’ve decided I would rather study business so that I can set up a nongovernmental organization to help the people at the Stung Meanchey garbage dump.”

The 20-year-old pauses for a moment and then continues. “I’m in the scholarship program at Zaman [an exclusive private school in Phnom Penh] because I want to study in America. The education system there is much better than it is in Cambodia. I would be able to improve my English, learn about the culture and meet different people.”

Just a dozen years ago, such a dream would have been unthinkable to Chen. In a developing country like Cambodia, where poverty is rampant, education limited and women’s rights hardly a priority, an orphan like Chen most likely would not have survived, much less dreamed of an education in the U.S. But this is Chen’s reality today. After all, she’s already met First Lady Michelle Obama and the Clintons.

Chen was born in the provinces of Cambodia where life is about subsistence farming and eking out a living as best as one can. When Chen was a little girl, her mother passed away; her father died soon thereafter. Orphaned with her siblings — a brother and two sisters — Chen struggled to survive. After three years doing grueling work at her uncle’s farm, she and her sisters left for Phnom Penh. There, they had no choice but to become scavengers — people who go through the garbage to collect plastic, tin and cardboard to sell to recycling operations — and lived at the infamous Stung Meanchey garbage dump, the largest landfill in the country, as squatters. Chen and her older sister took turns working at the dump, from dawn to twilight, for 50 cents a day, and watching their younger sister.

In 2007, when Chen was 13, she happened to meet the organizers of A New Day Cambodia (ANDC), a Chicago-based residential NGO that takes children out of the dump and into school. The agreement was simple: they would look after her and her sisters, and the girls would study.

When I arrived at ANDC, it was overwhelming,” remembers Chen. “I had never seen such big buildings. And there was as much food as you wanted to eat. Everything was so clean. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have such an opportunity.

Chen delved into learning. She studied Khmer in the mornings and English in the afternoons. Apsara, the traditional Khmer dance featuring stylized movements and intricate hand gestures, became her passion. Chen went from being a 13-year-old garbage girl to one who can not only read and write Khmer but speak English fluently and even some basic Turkish, which she learned for a school trip to Istanbul. She was soon awarded a partial scholarship to Zaman International School, one of the most prestigious schools in Cambodia.

In 2011, Chen was invited to perform an apsara dance and give a short speech at the Women in the World Conference, put on by Newsweek and The Daily Beast, in New York City. Her performance, which ended the conference, prompted then Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown to say in her closing remarks, “That last sight — of Sokha Chen dancing — may have been the most moving thing of all.” In addition to meeting Bill and Hillary Clinton and other luminaries (Korean American journalist Juju Chang introduced Chen’s apsara dance performance), Chen was invited to the White House where she met First Lady Michelle Obama. “I couldn’t quite believe it,” she remembers. “Michelle Obama is someone I admire very much.

“The city was amazing. It was so busy, and everyone moved so quickly,” continues Chen. “The trip to America really opened my eyes.” She realized that there was another world out there and that she wanted to study in America. “I am going to work very hard so I can get the funds to study abroad. Besides getting a better quality education than what is available in Cambodia, I will develop the skills and the understanding of how to set up an NGO properly. Living in another culture may be a challenge at first, but I will adapt.”

Most recently, Chen was featured in the 2013 CNN documentary film Girl Rising, helmed by Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins. From a child bride in Afghanistan to the Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, the film features the accomplishments of nine girls and young women from various countries who are breaking through their circumstances. An A-list cast of narrators range from Meryl Streep and Selena Gomez to Freida Pinto and Priyanka Chopra. Chen was the first person selected for the film.

When they first started to shoot the film, I was very nervous,” admits Chen. “Then I got used to being in front of the camera and it didn’t bother me. It almost started to feel natural.”

 

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The confidence Chen has gained both from the film and from her education is evident. Today, she speaks to groups and gives speeches at events. She stands proudly and radiates a quiet determination. Hailed as a role model, Chen wants to tell other girls and young women from seemingly insurmountable situations: “Never give up. It is important to keep trying until you succeed. It may be scary at first, so take a friend with you and approach NGOs who may be able to help you. There are people out there, but you have to go and find them.”

Chen is aware that she is very fortunate and has already started to pay it forward by helping other students with English and teaching them apsara. In spite of her accomplishments, she never forgets where she came from, and she is determined to help as many people as she can to break the cycle of poverty.

Education totally changed my life,” says Chen. “When I was a garbage girl, I didn’t have the money to go to school, not even a local public one, because I would have still needed to buy books and uniforms. Now a whole new life has opened up for me.”