Fresh Meadows restaurant owners featured on Cooking Channel show say eatery did not need ‘redemption’


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan
THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Queens restaurant owners recently featured on the Cooking Channel’s new series, “Restaurant Redemption,” say their iconic 60-year-old eatery did not need the rescue.

King Yum in Fresh Meadows kicked off the show’s first episode on October 29. The series stars Ching-He Huang, a British food writer and TV chef, who helps revitalize struggling Asian restaurants around the country.

Business has dropped “drastically” for the “failing” tiki-themed Chinese restaurant, according to the network’s description of the episode.

But husband and wife duo Robin and Roberta Ng, who own the family-operated business, say the plot was largely exaggerated for show business.

The restaurant needed a change in décor, not food, and did not need redemption, they said.

“It was such a bunch of baloney, the whole thing,” said Robin, 61. “A lot of it was made up. They tried to make it look like the restaurant was failing and that the show was going to come in and save the day.”

In the episode, Huang describes King Yum’s best-selling dishes as “over-fried, greasy, bland” and “dreadful” as a straight-faced Robin blankly looks on.

“I wasn’t going to give her a reaction or feed into her,” said the Culinary Institute of America graduate, who took over the restaurant seven years ago from his late father.

One of the leading chefs in the business, Emeril Lagasse, praised King Yum’s test-of-time standards just two years ago on the Cooking Channel’s “The Originals with Emeril.”

Robin also had a brief cameo as a waiter in the 2010 action comedy film, “The Other Guys,” starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, which filmed in the 181-08 Union Turnpike eatery.

The couple said they originally thought the Cooking Channel reached out to them to shoot another tribute-esque show.

Instead, they were blindsided — a claim echoed by other show participants, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“We had no idea what they were coming in to film,” Robin said. “They kept us in the dark about everything. They never told us it was for a restaurant do-over.”

Roberta said her regular customers were “mortified” to see the restaurant on the show.

“People love the food here,” she said. “Our customers are really angry.”

It has been King Yum’s “good food, consistency and good value” that has kept the business alive in the ever-changing food industry, Robin said.

“I grew up working here with my brother. We managed the place as teenagers. I did everything from washing dishes to peeling shrimp,” he said. “We’ve been here for 60 years. We must be doing something right.”

The Cooking Channel did not comment.

Somewhat grateful for the “wake up” call, the Ng family said they plan to soon incorporate Huang’s crispy chicken wings with citrus five-spice salt into the menu.

“It had a nice ending,” Roberta said. “Things needed to be freshened up. She did that.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES