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What I Think About My 4-Hands Partner: Chung Yiu Ming & Chan Yung

The duo talk about their upcoming collaboration and what they think of each other.
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Refined Cantonese cuisine gets an uplift with Japanese and Western ingredients when Chung Yiu Ming, executive Chinese chef of stalwart Cantonese restaurant Li Bai in Sheraton Towers Singapore, collaborates with chef Chan Yung of the two-Michelin-starred Sun Tung Lok in Hong Kong come November 6 to 10.

This four-hands collaboration marks the first time that these two veteran Hong Kong chefs and long-time friends are cooking together since they first worked together at esteemed Hong Kong restaurant Lei Garden more than 20 years ago. Though Chung and Chan specialise in Cantonese cooking, their styles of cooking have varied as their culinary careers took on different routes.

Chung, who has chalked up more than 30 years of cooking experience, has helmed Li Bai for the past 18 years. When he first moved from Hong Kong to Singapore in 1990, he worked at the local offshoot of Lei Garden.
The flavours of the lobster and scallop are enhanced by the slices of black truffle. (Credit: Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant)
The flavours of the lobster and scallop are enhanced by the slices of black truffle. (Credit: Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant)
Despite being schooled in classic Cantonese cooking, Chung adopts an open-minded cooking approach that incorporates Western ingredients. For example, one of his dishes in the upcoming four-hands collaboration is the Lobster, Pan-Seared Scallops And Cold Tomatoes dish, which is accompanied by slices of black truffles from Italy. The prized fragrant fungus is also used in a clear soup with baby yam and yellow fungus. The chef also experiments with miso paste and Thai sweet and spicy sauce as marinades in his dishes.

Other dishes that he will be presenting are Pan-fried Hokkaido King Scallop With Crispy Noodles, Sautéed Lobster On Steamed Egg White and Braised Shredded Venison With Baby Spinach.

Chung hopes to stay relevant in the face of evolving industry trends and growing competition in the dining scene. He says: “We thoughtfully incorporate ingredients that add depth to the flavours and enhance the dishes. This creates a eureka moment for us.” He adds that he enjoys visiting restaurants in Singapore and overseas to pick up learning points and buys popular produce or different species of ingredients during his travels.
Pan-fried Hokkaido King Scallop with Crispy Noodles. (Credit: Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant)
Pan-fried Hokkaido King Scallop with Crispy Noodles. (Credit: Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant)

Cooking Cantonese Food In Two Cities 

While Chung moved to Singapore, Chan has worked his way up in restaurants in Hong Kong for more than 45 years. Most notably, he has worked in the renowned Kimberley Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. He has been leading Sun Tung Lok for the past decade. Over the years, Chan has built up his mastery of Cantonese cuisine with Japanese ingredients. For this four-hands collaboration, he will serve braised premium Yoshihama abalone and Kansai sea cucumber. In his restaurant, Chan also uses Kyushu prawns and Nippon-style seasonings and sauces. His other dishes include Bird’s Nest With Crabmeat And Pumpkin Soup, Braised Prime Rib With Signature Gravy and Steamed Garoupa With Salted Egg Beancurd And Ham.

Chan’s interest in using Japanese ingredients stems from the fact that Japan is in close proximity of Hong Kong, and many dishes Chinese and Japanese cuisine share the same ingredients and seasoning. He says: “Japanese ingredients are known to be superior in quality, and when they are used in Cantonese dishes, they elevate the flavours.”

While both Cantonese chefs are inspired by overseas influences, Chung emphasises the importance of getting the basics of cooking right. He says: “No matter how fanciful the ingredients are, it boils down to the preparation and cooking techniques to bring out their best. It is important to strike the perfect balance of keeping up with trends while cooking up true Cantonese tastes to excite diners.”

Braised Shredded Venison with Baby Spinach (Credit: Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant)
Braised Shredded Venison with Baby Spinach (Credit: Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant)
What do you think about four-hands collaborations in general?

Chung Yiu Ming: I think that four-hands collaborations are highly valuable as they provide fresh insights and new perspectives for me as a chef. Through open communication with another chef, there is a fluid exchange of ideas between us. These collaborations can provide inspiration and stimulate creativity from time to time.

Chan Yung: We usually participate in four-hands collaborations once a year. The last collaboration we did was in March last year with Paul Bocuse in Bangkok Pullman King Power Hotel, which is helmed by celebrated French chef Gilles Reinhardt.

How do you usually select your four-hands partner?

Chung: One of the main considerations I make is the culinary values of the dining establishment. I prefer to collaborate with restaurants that are congruent with us on that. As I specialise in Cantonese cuisine, I also look up to those who cook Chinese fare, regardless of its regional focus, such as Shanghai cuisine, Sichuan cuisine or Hainanese cuisine. I hope to collaborate with chefs from different types of Chinese cuisines.

Chan:
We are open to opportunities to collaborate with restaurants and are honoured to collaborate with Sheraton Towers Singapore this time.

What do you think about your four-hands partner this time?

Chung: Both chef Chan and I first met as colleagues more than two decades ago in Hong Kong. We were then assisting the head chef at a local restaurant, where we developed our culinary careers.

Seeing that both of us specialise in Cantonese cuisine in different countries, this is a good opportunity for us to present the best of Cantonese cuisine from our experiences. What I admire most about chef Chan is his fine expertise in the cuisine and his refined ability to bring out the best of premium ingredients.

Chan: We decided to collaborate to build up on our friendship that has lasted for more than two decades.

Share with us what can diners can expect from this four-hands menu?

Chung: Diners can look forward to a culinary cohesion of authentic Cantonese cuisine, which is a culmination of decades of refining our culinary expertise. Some of the dishes are Li Bai’s signatures that have been tastefully improvised to elevate the dining experience. I have curated the menu by studying the specialities and areas of expertise of both restaurants and have fine-tuned the dishes to deliver a wholesome full-course meal.

Chan: Diners can expect a mix of traditional and modern Cantonese dishes from this four-hands collaboration.

Share with us one tip for guests to enjoy this four-hands collaboration to the fullest?

Chung and Chan: Try the Grand Dinner Set Menu with wine pairing. We have invited a wine partner to specially curate a wine list that best complements the dishes on the menu.

RELATED: Click here for more What I Think About My 4-Hands Partner stories.
The four-hands collaboration at Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant is from 6 to 10 Nov. Prices start from $128++ for a six-course Deluxe Lunch Set Menu. 


Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant

Address: 39 Scotts Road, Sheraton Towers Singapore

Call 6839 5623 or email libai@sheratonsingapore.com 

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