Satay is still open?
It’s been years since we’ve been.
Before we discovered Little Thailand, we used to love the occasional visit, but once you’re under the spell of Chef Surin Simcoe there is no going to any other Thai restaurant.
Welcome to Austin Restaurant Redemption. After a few moments of b-roll footage, the pert, small-boned host Ching-He Huang informs us that Satay is in TROUBLE. Cue Gaspar Noe, minor key soundtrack of doom.
Satay’s owner Foo is a sweetheart, has been in business for eons, and if you don’t have the time to visit her restaurant? Well, you can run down to HEB, buy a jug of one of her branded sauces and take a crack at making your own pan-Asian food in your home kitchen.
The cameras vector in on Foo explaining how dire Satay’s situation is: competition is stiff, the economy lackadaisical, and Foo’s husband has had to refinance their home to keep their business operational.
Foo’s Satay is in dire straits.
Something tells me this is when firecracker Ching-He Huang is going to swing into motion and save the day.
Ching-He Huang rolls down Anderson Lane and breaks down the situation.
Bad news: Satay looks like a bank.
Good news: the patio meets Huang’s approval as she claims she “feels like she’s in Thailand”
Barking orders, Huang commands Foo to hit the kitchen to make “Five of her signature dishes”
It’s probably not going to go well. A sweet-seeming waitress delivers a hundred or so pounds of food to Huang who savages the feast.
Pineapple rice: “Nothing special”
Vegetarian Pad Thai: “Forgettable”
Tiger Cry: “Lazy cooking”
Chicken dumpling: “Unappetizing”
Now let’s see if Foo can offer a defense.
“You are WRONG” Ooh, love Foo karate chopping the air with emphasis.
Huang is shocked and attempts a take down of the Tiger Cry.
Foo is not having it. “You are WRONG!”
Huang admonishes the older woman “We have to present in a way that is sexy”
Foo and husband roll eyes, look at the ground and eventually make their way outside where Foo addresses the camera while wildly gesticulating.
“Ching comes in here and wants to change everything…the answer is NO!”
Something tells me Ching’s fat wallet will ultimately win out though.
Foo turns to husband “I’m mad like Hell” Husband sees his chance to get a free revamp of the restaurant vanishing so he pleads “Honey I think this is a good opportunity”
Ching makes her way through the Satay dining room and proclaims it to be “Filled with gimmicks”
Next scene. Foo has decided to personally cook for Ching. It’s surely not going to go well. And it does not as Ching chomps into a piece of garlic, and voice overs that Foo’s head is probably harder than the garlic.
Now the ladies are face to face. Foo “THE ANSWER IS NO!”
Ching’s demo-ing a potsticker with tons of fresh goodies as stuffings. Foo looks highly suspicious.
“I’m not taking a lesson. I’m not a student!” much gesticulating.
“We might as well change the name to Ching’s Restaurant!”
Scene cuts to Ching trying to talk some sense into Foo’s husband who sees the problem as being the eternal divide between Chinese (Ching) and Thai (Foo) Ching’s not having it and after much consternation the two decide to work together.
Another demo in the kitchen as Ching decides to teach Foo how to make Yom Nua. A Chinese girl trying to teach a Thai woman how to make THE quintessential Thai dish? I just see no path to victory for Ching here.
Imagine an Aquarium-using, rib tip-making Chicago pit boss rolling into Austin to teach John Mueller how to smoke a brisket.
As predicted Foo ain’t having it. “Let Me Talk!” The two headstrong females each go for the jugular. Who will win?
Foo and husband retire to the patio for another conference. Foo does not appreciate taking advice from a “much younger” woman.
Progress is being made! Foo decides that maybe they can “meet in the middle”
Redemption song cues.
And in walks a marketing guru who knows how to TWITTER! Anyone who’s looked at Satay’s website knows how far off the contemporary marketing front the restaurant is. It’s that antique, flash-enabled gimmicky website that was hugely popular ten years ago.
Next up, the big reveal on the remodel: Lots of lavender and Foo is not going to smack the shit out of Ching. She likes it. She really likes it.
Pep talk in the kitchen as Ching revs up the hard-working Mexican cats that power every kitchen in USA.
As is the custom on all restaurant reality shows, the service immediately goes into the tank but is quickly salvaged by a humble, brilliantly helpful host who gently steers the wayward owner back on track.
As the closing music swells, Ching, Foo and husband hug it out. Satay has been saved from certain closure and Restaurant Redemption got some very fine TV out of a fiery, combative restaurateur.
It’s time to head back to Little Thailand. Surin Simcoe will never be on a restaurant makeover show, she’s content to rule our Thai food scene from a humble quonset hut on the side of the road in rural Travis County Texas.
Ching is available to do pop up restaurants