Food: Inside the Hong Kong's Demon Chef's kitchen
Get ready for extreme and innovative Chinese concoctions as three-starred Michelin chef Alvin Leung a.k.a The Demon Chef visits town to host a four-day food pop-up next month
If you imagined Sex On The Beach to be just a cocktail, look it up on the Web with chef Alvin Leung's reference. His version is a mixture of mushrooms, honey, tapiocas and ham, and resembles a discarded pink condom on a beach. The London-born, Toronto-bred three-starred Michelin chef has created a unique brand called X-treme Chinese, through his popular restaurant, Bo Innovation, in Hong Kong. He specialises in combining traditional recipes with new-age cooking techniques and presentations to tempt the discerning gastronome. Now, he gears to turn JW Marriott into his lab to create six-course menus as part of the second edition of Michelin Pop Up presented by 4xFour (in partnership with the hotel). Excerpts from an email interview:
Caramelised banana with chocolate ganache, shun jing fung infused caramel sauce, lemon curd, edible soil and aroma jelly
Q. Tell us about X-treme Chinese cuisine. How did it get popular?
A. My philosophy has been to pursue innovation and approach in a very modern way while maintaining tradition. People have described it using terms that have a narrow connotation, and I want to avoid such limitations. It's not just 'molecular'. That's why I call it 'X-treme' Chinese, which means that I take classic dishes and present them in a contemporary context, using modern techniques.
Dan dan noodle with red pepper, pine nut, compressed sichuan granny smith apple, crispy egg noodle, ikura, squid and preserved mustard foam
Q. How did you get your nickname, The Demon Chef?
A. Actually, it's a name I created for myself because I wanted to avoid another name people started giving me. When I started, some people said, 'you're a cooking god', some called me 'god chef'. I didn't want to be referenced as a god. That's a bit blasphemous, so, I decided I should be a demon instead. It fits my character. Also, the origin of the word 'daemon' in Greek means a playful spirit and that suits what I try to do with food. It's not demon in the evil sense.
Alvin Leung, Chef
Q. What can we expect from the Michelin Pop Up at JW Marriott?
A. People can expect my X-treme Chinese cuisine with a touch of Indian inspiration. It will be exciting, exotic, and definitely extreme.
Q. You've been known for your extreme presentation of dishes too (like Sex on the Beach).
A. I don't think we will do anything so provocative in Mumbai, but hopefully, people will find our concept of Chinese food different and fascinating. To be honest, we haven't completely finalised the menu yet, so, I can't say exactly what we will
Q. Which is the most unusual/bizarre ingredient that you've added to create a dish?
A. What is unusual for one person is normal to another. My goal is to please diners, not to force them into a Fear Factor episode. I've tried to make several dishes using the traditional Chinese fermented 'Thousand Year Egg'; a lot of customers can't get around the pungent taste. I've also used blue cheese that a few Chinese can't stand. I haven't tried cooking with dogs and I don't cook with bugs either. But I am open to trying almost anything.
From: November 25 to 28 (lunch: 12.30 pm, dinner: 7.30 pm)
At: Spices, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu, Juhu Tara Road.
Cost: Rs 4,500 per person plus taxes
Log on to: www.4xfour.in
On Indian food: Indian food is popular in Hong Kong but people have misconceptions. It’s not all hot and spicy, and curry. It’s about spices, and flavours blended through the use of spices. It is one of the greatest cuisines of the world and has variety, across regions. Like Chinese food, there isn’t just one generic Indian food either. It is influenced by culture, climate, religion and history. I have many knowledgeable Indian customers for my Hong Kong restaurant, Bo Innovation. Chinese food is popular in India, so I hope they will enjoy my creations. I have added a few unique vegetarian dishes. China
has many vegetarians from Buddhism, so the tradition of non-meat dishes goes back a long way.
On Chindian cuisine: Chinese food in India has taken on local flavours and influences, which is normal for any cuisine. I am
curious to savour it, to see if it is similar to regions like Singapore and Malaysia where there is also a lot of mix of Indian and Chinese culture.