Acclaimed Hong Kong Chefs Take Over The Grove

Chef Kwai- Pui Mak

Over the weekend, I had the chance to meet not one, but three, Michelin-starred chefs from Hong Kong. They included Chef Kwai-Pui Mak of Tim Ho Wan, Chef Mango Tsang of Ming Court in Langham Place and Chef Kam-Fu Cheng of Celebrity Cuisine. During an exclusive event with industry and media, I learned a little bit about their mission to spread the word about all things Hong Kong – but especially cuisine – to Los Angeles.

Hong Kong Sampler

While Chef Mango Tsang, the fine dining guru and Marathon-runner of the trio, lamented some of the dishes didn’t come out quite right because of the unpredictability of American ingredients, I thought everything – including his fried shrimp cake and a chicken paste – tasted delicious. Unfortunately, you can only expect to get the real thing while visiting each of the chefs’ restaurants in their native Hong Kong.

Chef Kam-fu Cheng, who first became popular through his private dining business, fixed a delicious crab claw. My favorite bite of the sampler, by Chef Kwai-pui Mak, had to be the char siu bao, or pork bun. The bun had this flaky yet chewy consistency to it that I hadn’t had anywhere else and made for probably the best pork bun I had had anywhere. His tenure at Lung King Hin inside the Four Seasons Hong Kong saw three Michelin stars, and his Tim Ho Wan Dim Sum restaurant received one star within a year of opening, so I can see why his dim sum is top notch.

Overall, it was a not-to-be-missed opportunity to see the top Hong Kong chefs right here in Los Angeles. It’s opened my eyes to the possibilities of a trip to Hong Kong, undoubtedly a culinary wonderland. Now if I can see, taste and experience it for myself…!

If you’re at all curious about how the Hong Kong chefs regard Chinese food in L.A., you’d best be on the lookout for the update from Jonathan Gold, who took them out to dim sum during one of their rare chances at off-time.

Chef Kwai- Pui Mak at
Tim Ho Wan
Shop 72, G/F.
Olympian City
Tai Kok Tsui, Kowloon (Olympian MTR Station)

Chef Mango Tsang at
Ming Court
555 Shanghai Street
Kowloon, Hong Kong

Chef Kam-Fu Cheng at
Celebrity Cuisine
1/F, Lan Kwai Fong Hotel
3 Kau U Fong, Central

The Dim Sum Truck: For Your Fix In Metro LA

Dim Sum Truck

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was in Westwood without a car and without access to any of the great Chinese food I had been hearing about. I have fond memories mooching rides all the way to Monterey Park for the sole purposes of late night, greasy Chinese cafe food and pre-Boba Explosion Era boba milk tea. There was so much as one or two Lollicups in the area. The ritual of a Saturday or Sunday morning at NBC Seafood was to get there before 11:30 to minimize the wait for a table. But the tastes that resulted were always worth the labor for us Westside college students – especially this Midwestern one.

Turnip Cakes - 2 for $3

Enter: 2008, 2009 and now, 2010 – where specialized food trucks join the movement that Kogi BBQ singlehandedly initiated. Well, it’s now come to dim sum – and though some may feel the truck movement has gotten “a lot” out of hand at over 75 food trucks (and counting), I myself can’t complain. If it’s a choice between Subway sandwiches or Trimana sandwiches every Monday through Friday at my 9 to 5, who am I to argue with entrepreneurs who choose to expand those choices – and so widely - for me?

Sticky Rice - $3

I admit, I had reservations about a truck that would hold a monopoly on an entire sub-genre of Chinese cuisine on the Westside. Sorry - I would sooner die than eat dim sum I didn’t drive at least 15 miles for, and being wrong about that generalization was worth the risk of cold shu mai or stale-skinned har gow.

So when I got invited to check out the Dim Sum Truck on a preview during one of their soft openings, Alex – the U$C grad who put the pedal to the metal when everyone else (including myself) only talked about how there should be a dim sum truck – was gracious enough to give me a sampling of everything from their soft opening menu. Apparently, there will be more menu items on the cart in the truck once it officially rolls out tomorrow night at The Brig on Abbot Kinney – but half the food that I got was enough to put me in a truly authentic post-dim sum food coma…without the 15 mile drive west.

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