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New Cantonese restaurant brings exciting new menu

Superstar chef at Shang Garden

Heather Allen
I love Chinese food, not that strange western concoction served in British and American restaurants that is sweet and rather sticky but the real thing; proper Chinese food. I love Cantonese, Shanghainese, even Szechuan. The regional differences are immense and delicious.
It was with great anticipation I visited Shang Garden restaurant at the Shangri La Hotel try to the recipes of Chef Jacky Chan. Yes, their superstar chef is named Jacky Chan. He is a Guangzhou native who earned his superstar status by becoming the youngest Executive Chef in Hong Kong at the age of 18. I confess, at the age of 18 I felt accomplished that I could cook a decent omelet! Chef Jacky has cooked for former Chinese leader Deng Xiao Ping and has cooked at some of the top hotels and restaurants in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Shanghai.
Chef Jacky likes to emphasize diversity and innovation and likes to cook Cantonese cuisine in a new way that combines many factors and advantages in combined styles.
So, on to the food. We were served some amazing dishes, including a wonderfully creamy tofu dish wrapped in seaweed. I am not a huge fan of tofu but this was fabulous. The outside was slightly crunchy from the seaweed and the inside had a creamy but not too soft texture.
One of the chef’s specialties is a dish called Tongpoyok; slow roasted pork jowl. I don’t normally eat much fat; I grew up in an old fashioned home with a mother who cooked with lard as did many women her age. Bread and drippings were a family favourite but I never developed the taste. So, at first I thought to myself, “That is a lot of fat there!” But it did not taste fatty at all. It was served with a wonderful steamed bun that complemented the pork. I ate a fair amount of the Tongpoyok but after the wonderful tofu dish, tender roast duck, dim sum and fried rice, I was quite full. The problem with eating Chinese style in a small group is the massive amounts of food you end up eating just so you can try everything!
The food was divine. The service a little slow but still excellent. There were several very large groups so a slight delay was understandable. The atmosphere was modern yet cosy. There is outside seating as well but with the recent cool temperatures you might want to wear your woollies to sit outside in the evening!
Shang Garden is one of those unusual venues; it would be a great night out for a group of Chinese food- loving friends or an intimate and romantic dinner for two. It is open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. Reservations are recommended if going as a group. 053-253-888 ext. 6437 or [email protected] It is located on the ground floor of the Shangri La Hotel in the rear overlooking the garden. There is even a special Chef’s table room so you can watch the creativity of Chef Jacky in action.


RECIPES BY NOI: Kai Ook or Nam Phrik Ong with eggs!

Ever since I started working in a Foundation that helps disadvantaged people I am reminded at how lucky I am to have almost everything I need for my life. There are people out there who fight very hard for their lives; I have been inspired by the Shan or Tai people. We share a lot of similarities;, we love freedom, the languages are very similar, and so is the food. Their history is very interesting and they are real fighters. Some of them are orphans, abandoned and poor but they use all that they have and make the best out of it. Some seem to be good dancers, singers, runners, artists and good leaders.

One day 6 boys came to learn how to use computers at the foundation. They cooked for us to say thank you. The best dish was Kai Ook. Surprisingly it tastes like Nam Phrik Ong but they added deep fried hard boiled eggs into the sauce instead of using minced pork like Nam Phrik Ong.

Kai ook is made by boiling eggs and then deep frying them until they turn golden brown. Then cut them in half.

Make a paste with your mortar and pestle by pounding dry chilies, garlic, shallot and salt into a very fine paste. Then stir fry the paste and add chopped onion, tomatoes and deep fried eggs. Add sugar and salt to taste. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and spring onion.

Happy New Year to all and wish everyone has a brighter year.

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