Restaurant Retrospective: Xiao Ye
In its brief four-month run at 198 Orchard Street, Xiao Ye nabbed plenty of hyper-local headlines due to the antics of chef-restauranteur Eddie Huang. His actions with regard to the notorious Four Loko beverage eventually hit the mainstream, and ultimately became the achilles heel for the Taiwanese eatery. But one could also place blame on the unlucky real estate itself – it’s housed three restaurants in as many years (Regate, Blue Elm, Xiao Ye).
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Xiao Ye closed for good a couple weeks ago, but the official leasing sign just appeared above the security gates within the last few days. So while we wait for the next occupant, let’s pore over this quick retrospective of Xiao Ye:
May 2009 – Regate closes after two years at 198 Orchard Street.
September 2009 – Blue Elm opens.
July 2010 – Blue Elm has a short run; Xiao Ye opens to lots of fanfare.
August 2010 – We learn of Huang’s love of Four Loko. In a blog post, he writes, “If I can figure out a way to braise meat with Four Loko I should win Player of the Year.”
October 2010 – The month starts with bad press from Time Out, which calls Huang “a cocky pretender to the David Chang throne.” He writes a point-by-point response on his blog. A week later, Times critic Sam Sifton pans the restaurant, awarding it a “Fair” ranking.
November 2010 – In response to the Sifton review, Huang makes some menu changes, including increasing portion sizes. Shortly thereafter, he announces plans for an all-you-can-drink Four Loko event. The shit hits the fan. It makes headlines, especially since Michigan banned the beverage around that time. The Daily News calls the stunt illegal, so the party is canceled four days later, and replaced with a $3 per can night. The SLA wasn’t too happy, either, and raided Xiao Ye, destroying the stash. Narcs were also sent in to test carding policies, and the eatery racked up three separate fines. Xiao Ye closes at the end of November.
December 2010 – Huang wins Village Voice Web Award for “Best Local Internet Character (Real).” Leasing signs appear at 198 Orchard Street. Life goes on…