“The spirit of Cantonese cuisine comes down to one word—freshness,” says Danny Yip, the owner of one-MICHELIN-starred The Chairman. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Yip found his passion for Cantonese cuisine when he returned to the city after spending over a decade opening restaurants in Canberra, Australia. At that time, his reason for opening The Chairman was simple—to do Cantonese cuisine his way, which translates to a back-to-basics approach to Cantonese cuisine, focusing on original recipes and the best local ingredients to bring out the essence of Cantonese flavours.
“Local ingredients offer a special emotional connection, it’s more than just the taste,” he shares. “That is why, as much as possible, we use locally sourced ingredients, products from local condiment stops, and seafood from local fishermen.”
Seafood is a key component in Cantonese cuisine, which is evident in The Chairman’s signature dishes, including razor clams steamed with aged lemon and mixed herbs, and steamed fresh flower crab with aged Shaoxing wine. Every morning, The Chairman’s staff, who is an ex-fisherman, goes to the Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market to pick fresh seafood that will be served at the restaurant that day.
“Aberdeen has the biggest seafood market in Hong Kong,” says Yip. “I think it’s comparable to Japan’s Tsukiji market.”
Yip is adamant about not using any pre-made sauces or condiments at the restaurant—even the oils, like the chicken oil for flower crab and chilli oil (they have at least seven types of homemade oil), are made from scratch.
“But there are flavours that couldn’t be achieved through the hands of a chef but through time,” Yip admits. For this, Yip goes to his trusted condiment shop, Tai Ma Sauce in Kwun Tong, which specialises in homemade condiments such as fermented soya bean paste, chilli oil, garlic dip, salted fish sauce and premium soy sauce.
Now run by the third generation, Tai Ma takes pride in processing their condiments by hand and free of preservatives. Their aged lemon, which carries an intense citrusy aroma, is a perfect match for The Chairman’s steamed razor clams.
“An ingredient that has been aged for more than a decade carries a flavour that is developed through time. No one can achieve such a flavour through cooking.”