Top Chef

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Mai Buddha Sucks

Padma expresses delight at the sight of the pork and pickled plum pot stickers, while Jose eagerly awaits Bourdain's reaction to the laksa, which looks afflicted with a gummy clot of noodles. "Too damn smoky," says Bourdain. Padma's excitement about the "slammin' dumplings" continues as she ingests them, and Ted appreciates the their char. Spike takes a moment out from his dining room duties to enter the kitchen and offer his version of constructive criticism: the short rib portions should be bigger. Lisa's annoyed that he would dare question her, but when he suggests comparing it to the large piles of scallops, he may have a point, even if Dale thinks he's a "fucking idiot."

The braised short ribs with pickled red cabbage and apple basil salad again excites Padma, who loves a short rib, but the butterscotch miso scallops with spicy eggplant and pickled long beans apparently tastes even worse than it sounds. "Like Willie Wonka scallop," offers Bourdain, while one baffled guest can only say, "I don't know what, exactly, we're eating." There's some yelling and confusion in the kitchen, as Lisa snaps at Dale and Dale snaps at Lisa. Dale (looking thoroughly spent) says that Lisa's too negative, doesn't like the fact that he's executive chef and can't take criticism. In fact, she takes it even worse than he does. Should be an interesting round at the judges' table. Spike shows up with some beers and a few words of encouragement, Lisa pours some beer, Dale yells at her for drinking, she responds that she's not drinking, Lisa thinks Dale's unhappy with his choices, that he can't handle being executive chef and is blaming her, blah blah blah fishcakes.

Mai Buddha's menu winds it up with the halo-halo with cantaloupe, coconut, kiwi, avocado, candied nuts, and a sprig of cilantro and the mango sticky rice with toasted coconut. While Bourdain doesn't love the halo-halo, it's a flavor spectrum he knows well and "arguably they did it right." Jose thinks it makes a great idea for dessert -- yeah, "compared to this atrocity," says Padma, holding up the mango sticky rice, "it wasn't bad." While Ted takes offense at the lack of knife skills and dull presentation, Bourdain likens it to "baby vomit with wood chips." The dinner guests, filling out their comment cards, seem to agree, as the Kitchen Warehouse staff visits their tables and Spike wants to know what a table of women wrote about him. As the chef-testants pack up their equipment, Spike explains that, despite the "poor" performances of Dale and Lisa, his guests never had an inkling of what was going in the kitchen -- they just knew it was turning out bad food.

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Top Chef

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