Fishy business on 29N
WINA broke the smelly story last week: apparently, when the Chiang House burned down back in March, some kind of meat product remained to decompose. It wasn’t long, according to the radio station’s report, before the county was “hearing beefs.”
But in fact, the odor wasn’t beefy; instead, it was distinctly fishy, nearly identical to the smell around any old fishing pier.
Oh no! we groaned, our thoughts immediately swimming to the Chiang House’s ill-fated koi, those giant goldfish that cruised peacefully in the ponds near the entrance until fire sent them steaming to the big koi pool in the sky.
But those weren’t the source of the stench, according to Albemarle County spokesperson Lee Catlin.
“There were two large coolers with food in them,” she explained, which were damaged in the blaze. And although the meat inside “didn’t cook to any real degree,” Catlin says, “it got to the rotten stage.” When temperatures soared last week, voila! instant air pollution.
The county issued notice to the Chiangs on April 17, giving them until 3pm on April 19 to remove the source of the smell. If they didn’t comply, the WINA story stated, “the Supervisors will let the county staff remove the decaying food.” Boy, some people have all the luck!
The stuff clearly had to go. “The smell was unpleasant,” Catlin explains, “but it had also begun to pose a serious health threat.”
Fortunately for the on-call county clean-up team, the Chiangs acted quickly, and by the April 19 deadline the fish was on its way out, and the air on Route 29 got a heck of a lot fresher.
Holding our breath through occasional lingering wafts, Dish met with Chiang House owner Jong Chiang at the site last week, and we learned the latest developments in the Chiang’s plans to rebuild.
Chiang explained that delays with the insurance payoff have prevented him and his wife, Li Yun, from beginning to clean up before now. When the county applied pressure last week, Chiang says, the insurance company finally came through with enough cash to get the cleaning process started— a process he hopes will be complete (including removal of the remains of the structure) in the next week or so.
As for what will go up in the old restaurant’s place, Chiang has been busy making plans— though of course, nothing is definite.
“We hope to brew beer in the new restaurant,” Chiang explained, showing pictures of impressive micro-brew tanks in the restaurant next door to a Chiang House in Sevierville, Tennessee (there is a third Chiang House in Harrisonburg).
Chiang says the exterior of the building will be modeled after a Japanese restaurant he admires in Norfolk, with a blue roof and walls of white stucco and stone. A huge awning in front will allow patrons to be dropped off right at the door.
The menu will remain the same, featuring the teppan yaki tables at which slicing and dicing chefs perform magic, as well as sushi and other Japanese dishes, including Japanese bbq.
And, of course, there will be beer. Chiang says he will hire a beer manager, and that he and that person will be trained as brewers. If the remaining insurance payment is cleared up in the next few days, Chiang hopes his restaurant will reopen around Christmas time. Though that seems a bit optimistic to Dish, we wish him the best and hope the new and improved Chiang House lives up to all his expectations.
Is it too much to hope for a return of the koi pond?
It’s farewell to Papagallo Grill, up 29 North across from Forest Lakes. Apparently, the eatery closed about a month ago, though we didn’t learn why by deadline. Both the restaurant’s and owner/chef Jamie Darby’s phones have been disconnected, and no forwarding number is given. We’ll stay on the story and find out what happened, as well as what might fill the space.