Thursday, October 30, 2014


I received a call from “Rogue” the magician, inviting me to a grand opening of a restaurant that was being “redeemed” by the Cooking Channel.  He asked me to bring as many people as I wanted to but letting him know the head count.  The final total was five as we all met up at Panda Asian Bistro in Elmhurst. 

The time period was from 8 to 10 p.m. and showed up at 7:30 due to the prospect of a long line of people having a free meal.  People were invited and whoever came off the street who wished to participate, were allowed to as well.  The checking in process had us signing one form that had to do with being on television as well as that alcohol beverages were going to be served.  Another form had to do with not revealing anything on social media, etc. prior to the show being aired.

I checked in and told the crew or whoever, that I would be writing an article. I also asked if they could get me a chair to sit on for the long wait of what wound up being sometime after 9 p.m. 
We went through a number of conversations with different members of the crew as to being able to get in before and not have to wait on the line.   It was agreed on and even alerted soon before the doors opened.  The doors did open and we were ignored.   I had to push the point of telling them that they just finished saying something.  We finally went into a different entrance and took a table nearby that door. The table was not in the common area and chosen because everyone was seating themselves before we could get to it. 

Lights, cameras and a menu came out.  It read, “Panda Asian Bistro Dumping (not my typo) and Bao Bar Chinese Bar Food.”  The first thing listed were Dumplings showing an assortment of both steamed and fried.   We waited for food to arrive but other people were being served.  I actually had to ask the owner. 

Panda Broth came out, two bowls for five people, no serving spoon and had to ask for something to have it served in.   They brought cups.  Soup had some kind of various balls that tasted mass produced with an awful consistency.  Knife, fork, soup spoon, chop sticks, and a bar napkin!  A BAR NAPKIN?  FOR WHAT?  We were soon informed that although the bottom of the menu cited two different specialty drinks, the only liquid being served was iced water!! At least that is what they told us.  No plates, either.

Cameras were all over the place and in people’s faces to film this completed and staged set up.  It was
“boys night out at the bar” with one token non-Asian as they got to eat, drink beer and watch some of Rogue’s magic which must have entailed making the bartender disappear and take his place. Give me a break!  A group of young Asian men are going to come here and take up the bar space to watch someone perform their magic act?  Sushi bar had about a dozen people set up (I’m certain that they chose who they wanted there as well) with food and beer.

Then out came a basket of two steamed buns with extra balls on the side.  Did they give it all away before they got to us?  This one basket was for the five of us to share.  It was so obvious how the reality was missing.  You know how they say that you can tell how good an Asian restaurant is by seeing how many Asians are eating there?  They obviously couldn’t get enough Asians. 
Another basket came out with three spring rolls and I’m not sure if these were the fried dumplings as listed or fried wontons. 

We kept seeing beer being served to other people.  At one point, I noticed one of the crew members coming into the same door that we came in and carrying four boxes of pizza.   She tried not to make it obvious as she slipped up the stairs. 

Having gone there prior and finding some very pointed bones in my boneless chicken (when I took home the leftovers), I was looking to see the difference in décor that the thousands of dollars were spent on.   I think it was a paint job and some lighting.  I really couldn’t tell due to all the lights being used for the filming.  The menu change was for the restaurant to have this bar menu instead of the prior ayce sushi or regular menu. WHAT?  None of us enjoyed any of the food, except for the broth of the soup. 

Why did the service suck?  They fired the waitstaff and used Rogue’s fiancé and her sister to do the serving…maybe another one that Rogue works with as well. 
At one point I tried to talk with the woman who does the show.  As she was asking me about whether I enjoyed the food, she was taken away by a crew member.

We wound up leaving and going across Queens Blvd. to eat at a Turkish restaurant.  Despite the redeeming atmosphere it appears that many people have given it a thumbs down when it comes to both food and service (as noticed on Yelp).  I have heard that they have been sticking to the menu at hand but may or may not add the Bao Bar offerings. 
The show will air in December.  Will the restaurant stay open until then? This is one “reality show” that’s a total setup and restaurant that will turn out to be a letdown.

On a separate issue.  F. Ottomanelli Burgers and Belgian Fries.   Did you see them on Food Network’s new Hungry Games?  I don’t think so.   Food Network was there.  I could barely see part of the restaurant’s logo out of focus in the background.  They certainly made use of the place but never mentioned the name or even gave credit at the end of the episode.  I’m guessing that owner Frank Ottomanelli had to shut down his store for several hours and lose the business from real customers.  WHAT A RIPOFF and I’ll bet that the Food Network’s attitude is, “Oh well, it happens”.   Interestingly is that they featured a burger place in Manhattan that they said that they “took over”.   Perhaps there was a money deal with that place saying that no other burger place could be featured or named in the episode.  LET’S HEAR A NON-HALLOWEEN BOO FOR THE FOOD NETWORK!!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment