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 Christian Yang.
You may have seen Chef Christian Yang’s jolly visage across the city and on the small screen in the last few years. He’s been featured on various shows across ViuTV, Discovery TLC, BBC, NatGeo People and Asian Food Channel to name a few, with an impressive tally of over 350 episodes of TV food shows and over 30 TV drama episodes. Yang was also the first Hong Kong born culinary artist to compete in an international televised cooking competition, The Next Celebrity Chef.
Raised between Hong Kong, Mauritius and France (he speaks 6 languages!), his cross-cultural background is truly reflected in his character and love for life. “I like to use my Chinese culinary expertise and understanding of European kitchens to create a bridge between European chefs and Chinese cuisine. I’ve had the great opportunity to travels the world, teaching chefs to cook authentic Chinese and Asian dishes,” he says.
In 2018, he opened Typhoon Shelter in Mumbai, taking a fresh new approach to Chinese food. Typhoon Shelter has gone on to win multiple awards in recent years.
Yang is humble when questioned about his various accolades, one being the first chef in Asia to work with McDonalds collaborating on campaigns, he explains, “I’m trying to be deliberate about not being overly enchanted by my own story. After all, I’m still writing it.”
What is your signature dish? Tell us about it.
I like to make food that’s fun to eat and fun to cook. I use Hong Kong — the dishes, stories, the environment and the people — as essential ingredients that I sprinkle into my dishes. Ever since I was in hotel school, I only wanted to share the excitement I have for our home and a hint of Hong Kong here and there. There are quite a few dishes I am very proud of but these are two that I think best represent my cuisine:
1. Lamma-Inspired Potstickers stuffed with Scallops in Lager
It’s all the flavours of steamed typhoon shelter scallops enveloped in a crispy potsticker. Typically, when you have seafood in Lamma Island, lager is the beverage of choice, so I infused it into the dumpling to get that completely unique Hong Kong experience in one bite.
2. Lemon Tea Crystal Sweet and Sour Pork
Juicy hunks of pork are wrapped in a Cha Chan Teng lemon tea crystallised caramel that has a wafer-thin crunch when you sink your teeth into it. It’s a lot of work, and what we call a dish that requires a great deal of kung fu, but it’s well worth it.
What elevates a meal from being simply a meal to a memorable dining experience?
If you are very lucky, you will have a meal that the front-of-house staff had really enjoyed eating.
What is the best compliment you’ve received about your food?
My kind of cheffing is slightly different from most chefs. If I inspired someone to cook and appreciate themselves for doing so, I would have done my job.
Do you cook when you are home? Which is a go-to dish for you?
I cook on Sundays. I like to braise venison or grass-fed beef in Vietnamese flavours and make soup noodles for the family. It’s very rewarding when the kids ask for seconds (they are very nice to me).
Cheat Day time! Which are your five go-to dishes/drinks in restaurants or bars in Hong Kong?
BONUS: Egg Waffles from Mr Eggcellent (Causeway Bay)! The best egg waffles on the island. Get the mochi sesame egg waffle for that chewiness that is so extra. I could go on forever. Of all the cities in the world, Hong Kong has the best menus, hands down.