Tonight’s Cooking Channel episode of “Restaurant Redemption” brings beautiful chef Ching-He Huang to the Murray Hill section of New York City, affectionately named Curry Hill because of all the Indian restaurants. Ching visited mother and daughter Alia and Aysha Kiani who own and operate the restaurant called Chal Chilli. They arrived from Pakistan about fourteen years ago. As a Muslim woman, starting her own business was frowned upon by family and friends. They opened the restaurant a year ago, but started going into debt immediately. Aysha quit her job as a corporate lawyer to help her mother in the restaurant. Their disagreements have caused many problems.
Lately, their bad reviews regarding their takeout business have them concerned. So on her way there, Ching had her taxi driver call in an order for takeout. When Ching arrived, she asked why they insisted on fusion and not Pakistani, but they wanted to be different. When asked how much debt they are in, Alia told her $180,000. Aysha handles everything but cooking. She told Ching that service is their biggest problem. The kitchen was small, but manageable and contained a tandoor, a cylindrical oven used in Indian cooking. Ching then picked up her order that was called in. She did not like the spring roll, and the chicken on her salad was cooked to death and was tasteless. The Pad Thai contained a moldy piece of radish. The dish was not good, and the Beef Penang was hard to identify. The curry sauce was sickly sweet and did not speak of modern fusion.
When she met with mother and daughter and critiqued their food. Alia defended her food and stated that customers love it. Ching questioned where they were, as the place was nearly empty. When she pointed out the moldy radish, Alia told her that customers do not care about garnishes. When Aysha tried to criticize her mother’s food, Ching told her that it was her fault too, because she was running the place.
Alia was not focusing on the food, she was micromanaging everything else. The restaurant was shut down for the next few days to revamp the menu and redo the décor. When she spoke with Aysha, she had a difficult time getting her point across. Finally, she told her to let her speak. When she asked Alia what she used in the curry, she told her peanut butter. Ching now wants her to get rid of the peanut butter and use better ingredients to avoid the heaviness of the curry she was making. When Alia tasted it, she knew that the old way was gone for good.
Ching suggested a takeout counter where Aysha would work the front of the house, and she continued to disagree with the concept and finally agreed. When Ching showed the women how to make quick wraps to takeout, they liked what they saw.
While the renovations were going on, Ching sent the mother and daughter to another restaurant, run by a father and daughter. She gave them hints about getting along with each other. The women learned a lot about patience and tolerance.
When they saw the change in the restaurant, especially the front, the women were thrilled. Because the area is very busy, this concept was a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The grand opening brought lots of people to the restaurant who loved what they tasted. They promised to return for the new fresh food, all thanks to Ching and her crew of Restaurant Redemption.