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.

Calbee teams with gourmet French chain for uni and dried roe potato chip flavor

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RocketNews 24:

Calbee and the casual-gourmet French chain Ore no French will release an “Uni and Dried Roe Kyokujo Cream Saucepotato chip flavor on March 21.

The “Ore no” series of restaurants boasts a unique concept: By doing away with all the niceties of typical gourmet restaurants, such as spacious dining areas, unfailingly polite and classically trained servers, and chairs, the chain serves up gourmet meals devised or prepared by renowned chefs at just a fraction of the price you’d typically expect to pay.

It’s this exact dynamic of delicious and kind of crusty that sort of makes “Ore no French” — the company’s French fusion lineup of restaurants — and Calbee, the Japanese potato chip maker, a match made in heaven. And in fact, the two entities have just announced their third release in a collaborative potato chip series, this time introducing “Uni and Dried Roe Kyokujo Cream Sauce” potato chips due to hit shelves on March 21.

The flavor was specially conceived by the head chef of the Kagurazaka area location of Ore no French, Yousuke Yamazaki, and contains real powdered uni and mullet roe.

 

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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Gaijin Tips: “Eat all your rice in Japan”

Check out this Gaijin Tip from video/blogger kanadajin3, who is actually named Mira and is “a girl who moved from Toronto, Canada to Tokyo, Japan.”

Eat all your rice in Japan. Leaving food behind is rude esp if it is rice bits. When you scrape food off your rice cooker, you need to take everything, leaving little bits is ruder than leaving a lot. If you just can’t finish your food that you got at a restaurant then you can leave some behind, but try to finish everything at home and at your friends house.

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Inside one of New York’s finest Chinese restaurants located in the Waldorf Astoria

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 4.57.46 PMNext Shark (Laura Dang):

A new, glitzy Chinese restaurant has opened its doors in the renowned Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan, New York, and the food looks fantastic. The restaurant, La Chine, is in the running to be one of New York’s finest Chinese restaurants, according to Luxury Travel Magazine.

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La Chine was a collaborative effort of Waldorf’s culinary director, David Garcelon, and executive chef, Kong Khai Meng.

Garcelon hand-selected a team of international chefs including famed Chinese culinary master Jereme Leung. The culinary director said:

“It was our primary focus to develop La Chine as a must-visit destination for high-end foodies, experientialists, New York City locals and international visitors alike.”

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Kentucky Fried Chicken set to open all-you-can eat buffet restaurant in Japan

RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

If you’re walking into a branch of KFC, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re there to eat fried chicken. You could even argue that the whole process of ordering is partially redundant, since the question isn’t whether you want some of the Colonel’s deep-fried bird, but simply how much.

And if your answer to that query is “All of it,” then head on over to Osaka, where the first all-you-can-eat Kentucky Fried Chicken buffet is about to open.

Actually, KFC and Osaka go way back. Not only is the local baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers, said to be cursed following some of its rowdy fans tossing a statue of Colonel Sanders into a river 30 years ago (which was also the last time the Tigers won the Japan Series), in 1970 Osaka hosted the Japan World Exposition. Inside the event’s United States pavilion was a Kentucky Fried Chicken trial restaurant, the very first to operate in Japan.

45 years later, the Expo City entertainment complex is set to open in the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park, and from November 19 one of its tenants will be a buffet-style KFC restaurant.

For 90 minutes, diners will be able to enjoy all the Colonel’s original recipe chicken they can eat, along with roughly 60 other menu items. In addition to standards such as fresh-baked biscuits and cole slaw, the restaurant will also serve rotisserie chicken, soup, salad, and macaroni and cheese made according to a recipe from Colonel Sanders himself. For dessert, there will be a selection of fruit, cake, and other sweets.

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KFC is also promising an atmosphere of Southern hospitality, which in addition to piles of fried chicken means a woody interior and Colonel Sander’s actual suit on display, since the late chicken mogul’s iconic duds are now in Japan.

Adult prices range from 1,880 to 2,480 yen (US$16-$21), with weekday afternoons being the lowest-price dining time and weekend evenings the highest. Children between the ages of 4 and 12 eat for reduced prices, and those under 4 dine for free.

Restaurant information
Kentucky Fried Chicken Lalaport Expo City /ケンタッキーフライドチキン ららぽーとEXPOCITY店
Address: Osaka-fu, Suitashi-shi, Senribanpaku Kouen 2-1
大阪府吹田市千里万博公園2-1
Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Soho House Interview: Chef May Chow and Little Bao (Hong Kong)

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Soho House: 

Chef May Chow pairs traditional ingredients from Hong Kong with Western cooking techniques to create her stuffed, steamed buns – fans queue around the block for the slow-braised pork belly bao, served with leek and shiso red onion salad and hoisin ketchup.

We sat down with Chow to find out more:

Q: Where’s the best place to eat in Hong Kong right now and what is your favorite dish on the menu?

A: I love The Chairman because of my favourite dish, which is steamed crab with aged Shoaxing wine, chicken oil and flat rice noodles.

Q: How did you get to where you are today and who inspired you?

A: I had a very singular vision about the kind of food I wanted to cook and who I wanted to be very early on in my career. I have to thank Matt Abergel (owner of Hong Kong’s Yardbird) because without his guidance during my restaurant development, Little Bao wouldn’t have been possible. He was honest when he believed something wasn’t good enough and I trusted his opinion.

Q: Tell us about Little Bao and the inspiration behind it.

A: Little Bao is my life translated into a restaurant. It takes inspiration from the best of both Chinese and American culture but most importantly it’s a place to have fun – so expect good food; loud, upbeat music and great cocktails.

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Q: How has your background influenced your cooking?

A: I grew up in a traditional Chinese family and I’m influenced by Chinese culture. When I moved to the US, I was influenced by the freedom of speech and, of course, the food. My cooking draws on both cultures and I love taking traditional ingredients and putting an original spin on them.

Q: What made you decide to open your own restaurant and how did you go about launching it, finding funding and finding the perfect venue?

A: I always knew that I wanted to be a restaurant owner because I felt I had a story to tell through food. The opportunity came when I was offered a booth at a market. The response was great and I started to daydream about opening a restaurant.

I developed a business plan and gained financial support from my family and friends. We scouted for a Hong Kong location for over six months and I ended up taking over a space that was occupied by a hideous Thai restaurant. That was the first right decision I made because it was in my favorite neighborhood in Hong Kong.

Q: Have you ever faced any sexism in the industry?

A: I’m such a positive and happy person that I don’t feel that I’ve ever felt discriminated against, especially in a city like Hong Kong. I am quite an empowered woman and I generally see sexism as ignorance but I don’t experience much of it.

Q: What advice would you give to other pop-ups who are looking to launch their own restaurant?

A: I started as a chef working in restaurants, so my story is slightly different because I already had a basic understanding of the DNA needed for a successful restaurant.

The first step is to develop a detailed business plan and have legitimate solutions for all the questions that crop up. How do you make sure there is consistency in your service, food and experience? Have you developed your service manual? How will you make sure food and drink cost is controlled? Where is the best location for your target market? Who is your target market? Who is your competitor? What is your PR and marketing strategy? What music should you play? How much funding do you need?

Most importantly, though, listen to the people who will provide you smart insight.

Q: How do you think the London food scene measures up to Hong Kong?

A: Both Hong Kong and London have great food scenes but I think while Hong Kong offers the best of every type of Chinese cuisine, London has a bigger array, from great modern British food like St. John and Gordon Ramsey to fantastic Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. London also has a wonderful farmer driven open market that Hong Kong doesn’t have.

Mindy Kaling now has her own Umami Burger, featuring house-made Sriracha aioli

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FoodBeast (Peter Pham):

Umami Burger is teaming up with comedic genius Mindy Kaling to create a burger: The Mindy Burger. Kaling is probably best known for her role as Kelly Kapoor on NBC’s award-winning comedy The Office and, more recently, Mindy Lahiri on The Mindy Project.

The Mindy Burger is made with pickled jalapeños, fried onion strings and a house-made Sriracha aioli on a beef patty. It’s served on Umami’s famous bun.

I love Umami and I was so honored to be able to create my own burger. Spicy and cheesy, it reflects my own personality,” Kaling said.

The burger isn’t for show, either. For every one sold, a dollar will go towards The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Through research, patient support and community outreach, the Pancreatic Cancer Network has set a goal to double pancreatic  cancer survival by 2020.

Available Sept. 1, the burger will be available at all participating Umami Burger locations for $13.

What it looks like when you order 100 slices of pork in your ramen bowl

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FoodBeast/RocketNews 24 (by Peter Pham):

P.K. from RocketNews24 is our hero. The reporter decided he wanted to tackle 100 slices of chashu in a single bowl of ramen, so that’s exactly what he ordered. Chashu, a fatty pork belly that’s braised until tender and served in slices, is a common topping for ramen.

Ramen chain Ishiyaki Ramen Kazan was holding a promotion where 30 slices of chashu could be added to your ramen. Typically, a regular ramen bowl only boasts 2-3 slices. Thirty slices of pork, however, wasn’t going to cut it for P.K.

The writer asked the restaurant to add an unheard of 100 slices.

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It cost about $85, Mashable reports.