Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Legends of Cantonese cuisine - Jiang Taishi and Pearl Kong Chen

Mrs Pearl Kong Chen (third from left) at Kin's Kitchen in April this year.

A while back, I was commissioned to write a short piece on Jiang Taishi 江太史, a legendary figure in the relatively contemporary history of Cantonese cuisine. The piece was drafted and never published, and on this sad day of the passing of Jiang's granddaughter, Mrs. Pearl Kong Chen 江獻珠, a culinary figure in her own right, I was reminded to share what I learned.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Singapore - The Most Incomplete Guide Ever

Hainanese curry rice with pork chops, fried egg, braised pork and veg, in Tiong Bahru
I lied in the title. Not only is this incomplete, it's not even a guide - just a quick itinerary/rundown of what I did, ate, and tips on how to get around, get a SIM card, where I stayed and stuff. This post is probably more for my dementia-prone self than you. Also, I think this is about my 6th visit to Singapore, and I was largely travelling alone, so don't judge me for not eating chilli crab, laksa, chai tow kway etc.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Upper Modern Bistro - Almost There

Upper Modern Bistro - beauty without the pretence
Let's start with the obvious: the pedigree of the restaurant. The chef is Philippe Orrico, most recently of St George at Hullet House, but his CV notably includes a big chunk working for Pierre Gagnaire. He was initially brought to Hong Kong to open Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental. Another notable addition to the team is Jeremy Evrard, formerly manager of then-three-Michelin-starred Caprice at Four Seasons Hong Kong, and known particularly for his expertise in cheese.

The restaurant world (well in fact, the world itself) seems much more predictable when you see it in terms of evolution à la Darwin. El Bulli spawned a bunch of modernist, Spanish-inflected avant-garde-ists, Noma has led to a clutch of clean-lined, new Nordic, locavore philosophers in kitchens around the world.

Looking at Hong Kong - in the 1990s and early 2000s, we had hotels and groups importing good chefs from around the world - Bombana at the old Ritz, L'Atelier de JR (owned by Lisboa), and the various chefs coming through Gaddi's and Petrus, and to this day, I'd say hotels are still the ones with enough muscle and hiring expertise to bring the right people into Hong Kong.