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.

Korean-American celebrity chef David Chang bans tipping at his new Momofuku Nishi restaurant

Tucked away in NYC’s vibrant Chelsea district lies Momofuku Nishi, the newest restaurant by celebrity chef David Chang which opened its doors for the first time last week. With locations already in Toronto (Momofuku Daisho), Washington, D.C. (Momofuku CCDC), and Sydney (Momofuku Seiobo) in addition to its Noodle Bar headquarters in NYC, Nishi is the first full-service, original Momofuku restaurant to open in the past five years.

What else is new for Momofuku? Plenty. With his latest venture Chef Chang takes it back to his Korean roots with an Italian and Korean cuisine-inspired menu infused with classic Cantonese barbecue and of course, dishes inspired by his mother and grandmother.

Nishi is what Noodle Bar would be if I opened it up as a 38-year-old, not a 26-year-old. We know how to play all our instruments now. The skill level here is higher,” Chang told Lucky Peach in a recent interview.

Chang had a few words to share about his menu’s price points:

“I’m done with people telling me that I can’t charge what I want to charge for things. The only difference between these dishes is price point and regionality. It pisses me off that Asian food has to be cheaper. Why? Not one person has given me a reason why. All the ingredients that we’re getting are top quality, and just as expensive as any other restaurant. Look at the version of cacio e pepe we’re serving here. The only expensive ingredient we’re not using is parmesan—and guess what parmesan is? MSG. We’re replacing the parmesan with our own fermented chickpea paste that took us six to nine months to make. So fuck you guys. I’m not getting on the phone and ordering a wheel of parmesan. Don’t tell me that I can’t charge like Italian food.”

His stance for a no-tip system stems from the restaurant’s success at their Sydney location:

“We have a restaurant in Australia where tipping is not like it is here. I got to see just how much our cooks and servers make. It’s a considerable amount, and there is greater parity between the front and back of house. I don’t know if anyone has a restaurant in Australia who can say that, but we can. It is crazy how much money a cook can make relative to NYC—still not enough, but a lot. It was an idea that we want to try. Bottom line is we want to pay sous chefs, cooks, and dishwashers a living wage. People say, ‘Why don’t you just charge more money?’ They’re idiots. Margins are slim to none. Restaurants are not a very profitable business. This is an opportunity to pay our cooks more… We want to be able to grow as a company so we can provide for more people. This is a way we might be able to do that. And if it doesn’t work, we can always go back to the old way.”

Nishi’s menu has not been released yet, but the eatery is now open five days a week, from Tuesday to Saturday.

Momofuku Nishi
232 8th Ave. (between 21st and 22nd streets)
New York, NY 10011

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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Burger King Japan’s black burgers are coming to the US just in time for Halloween

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Burger King will be celebrating Halloween by putting some terrifying black-colored buns on its Whoppers.

Business Insider:

Burger King Japan‘s black burgers are coming to the US. The burgers, a variation of a type that launched in Japan last year, are rolling out in late October for Halloween, according to a source who works for Burger King.

The sandwiches will feature black buns and a Whopper patty topped with A1 Steak Sauce, cheese, pickles, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes, and onion.

News of the burger’s US launch was first reported by a Reddit user claiming to have access to Burger King’s internal website. Unlike the black burgers released in Japan, the US version doesn’t have black cheese or squid-ink sauce.

The black cheese made the burger in Japan look pretty unappetizing. Here’s an ad for the burgers that launched last year:

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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.

Korea’s Mexicana Chicken offers fried chicken in strawberry, banana, and melon flavors

RocketNews 24:

On 5 July, Korean chicken restaurant Mexicana Chicken unveiled their new selection of Stoplight Chicken which are small pieces of boneless chicken coated in flavored powders colored red, yellow, and green.

Apparently emboldened by the previous success of chicken nuggets coated in cheese powder, Mexicana has decided to go all out and add strawberry, banana, and melon to the available flavors for their fried chicken. However, according to online reaction, the result is not great.

According to the website Soompi reaction to Stoplight Chicken in Korea has been less than positive, with various criticisms appearing online. In particular, mukbang – which is both my new favorite word and online Korean shows in which people eat something and talk about it – have been harsh.

The video is fairly long so I’ll give you the gist: Throughout the 30 minutes that this video lasts she only eats about four and a half pieces (1 strawberry, 3 1/2 banana) and spends much of the time picking at it, trying to shake off the fruit flavored powder, and making a phone call.

Adding fruit to chicken doesn’t seem like such a far-out idea. Usually a touch of lemon, lime, orange or cranberry goes really well with such a dish. However, the unique choices of strawberry, banana, and melon are much harder to imagine.

Good or bad, it’s definitely intriguing.