Hong Kong chef Christian Yang urges visitors to venture beyond char siew and dimsum

Chef Christian Yang, who hosts a new TV food series, aims to showcase Hong Kong eateries not usually in travel guidebooks

New television series A Taste Of Hong Kong is not your typical food show about Hong Kong, says its host, chef Christian Yang.

According to him, the series goes far beyond the usual suspects of just char siew (barbecued pork) and dimsum.

"It's always been the same old story when we talk about Hong Kong. Yes, we've got the best char siew in the world, but for the person who's coming back to the city for the fourth, fifth or sixth time, he'll eat the char siew, but he'll want to know if there's something else as well.

"There definitely is and I think we've found it this time," he says of his new three-part series, which airs on TLC (StarHub TV Channel 427 and Singtel TV Channel 254).

In each episode, he and his co-host, British TV personality Ian Wright, introduce viewers to eateries around Hong Kong that locals are talking about, but which may not be featured in the usual tourist guidebook.

Chef Christian Yang with co-host of A Taste Of Hong Kong Ian Wright. PHOTO: TLC

Among examples A Taste Of Hong Kong presents are: Foxglove, a stylish speakeasy bar and Western restaurant hidden behind an umbrella store; dessert joint Oddies Foodies, which serves traditional Hong Kong egg waffles with ice cream and other toppings; Yin Yang Coastal, a private kitchen where guests dine on gourmet Cantonese dishes made with farm- to-table ingredients; and bakery Munchies, which offers customisable ice cream sandwiches.

Chef Yang, 38, says all these places point to the fact that Hong Kong is emerging with its own distinctive cuisine and identity.

In an interview with The Straits Times from Hong Kong, he says: "Hong Kong has always been known to be a speciality place, so you have great and authentic Teochew restaurants everywhere, a Frenchman cooking in a French restaurant and a Thai grandma working in a Thai restaurant.

"But now, Hong Kong chefs are coming out and developing their own narrative, where they take things that are typically Hong Kong - like a pineapple bun or a Hong Kong-style milk tea - and play around with these flavours."

Innovation in cooking is something dear to his heart, as chef Yang, whom the Hong Kong media dubs "the crazy chef" for his creations, has garnered a reputation for doing just that on his other TV cooking shows, such as NowTV's Chef Corner and RTHK's Food And Culture.

Some of the dishes he has come up with include a savoury pie filled with Hakka-style pork belly and taro, and a kimchi seafood stew made with a borscht soup base.

In Hong Kong, he is also the man behind Japanese customisable okonomiyaki restaurant Bang Bang Pan Pan and the now-defunct French restaurant, Brass.

Yang, who is married with a five-year-old daughter and a nine-month-old son, says: "When I started, I was taking European flavours and putting them into Chinese cooking. Now, I'm trying to mix Chinese flavours from different provinces and see where that goes.

"The point is that chefs are always trying to do new things in Hong Kong and that, to me, is just fantastic.

"I will always love the old stuff too. I mean, we really do have the best char siew, but this is also a new era and it's all very exciting."

•Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

•A Taste Of Hong Kong airs on TLC (StarHub TV Channel 427 and Singtel TV Channel 254) on Fridays at 7.35pm.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2016, with the headline Hong Kong chef Christian Yang urges visitors to venture beyond char siew and dimsum. Subscribe