Hong Kong boasts one of the most dynamic dining scenes on the planet, filled with culinarians and tastemakers galore. In our Cheat Day column, we spotlight some of the top players in the kitchen and behind the bar, delving into their personal favourites during their days off. This week, we speak to Chef de Cusine Manav Tuli of Chaat.
Growing up in Bhilai in Central India, Chef Manav Tuli was exposed to all the best foods from the four corners of the country, sparking his inspiration to study Hotel Management in Kerala, South India. This opened the doors for what he deems his “most exciting journey of life”, cementing South Indian food as the base of his culinary repertoire.
“After the Hotel Management course, I started working with Oberoi Hotels in Udaipur, Rajasthan,” he says. “I worked there for three years and got selected for the Management Trainee program – and was thus able to travel to another four properties before ending up at The Oberoi Mumbai as a Kitchen Executive. Later on, the opportunity arose to open an Indian restaurant for Intercontinental Hotels in Mauritius, and I went for it.”
Tuli’s international journey eventually led him to London, joining the highly-acclaimed Chutney Mary as Sous Chef. He ended up staying for almost seven years, even opening the new Chutney Mary at St James’s, and the fully renovated Tamarind in 2018.
Of his consequent journey to Hong Kong, he was hand-picked by Chef Fernando Corona, Executive Chef of Rosewood Hotels, who came to interview him in London.
What is the founding philosophy of Chaat?
To serve the best street food that represents India and execute them with the right refinement and balance for the lush and opulent standards of Rosewood.
What is your signature dish? Tell us about it.
My signature dish is our Baked Jackfruit Samosa.
It’s inspired by the Lamb Patti samosas that are sold in the streets of Hyderabad and Calcutta. We use pastry sheets similar to the ones to make patti samosa, and mould it in the shape of a cone. It keeps the outer crust crispier and adds to the whole experience.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
When I was working as a Commis in the Oberois, I was young and did not have a proper direction in life; Executive Chef Surinder told me, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing is well’.
Do you cook when you are home? Which is a go-to dish for you?
My wife Neha cooks very well and that’s why I hardly cook at home. She spoils me. Sometimes, she would request that I make her my Egg Biryani; she loves it.
Cheat Day time! Which are your five go-to dishes/drinks in restaurants or bars in Hong Kong?