Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Something i did @ Eastin Ee Cuisine last weekend

Very often, we take these people for granted; the people who slog through hours of prep work and an intense moment to create that special dish that you wanted with a snap of the fingers.

When it comes up to our expectations, we nod with approval and get on with the rest of the dish. If it falls below the expectations of the gods in heaven because you have been getting wet dreams at the thought of that dish (picture foie gras and melting wagyu beef), you curse the hell out of the chef because you paid a bomb for nothing.

To learn how they cope with such stress and maybe appreciate this group of people, i took the opportunity via Foodstreet to meet up with the Executive Chef of Ee Cuisine to have a few words. To be honest, i had jotted questions down in English to only realise that he wasn't exactly very well versed in the Queen's English. Cantonese yes, but if you ask me to translate those questions i had in mind and be the active one in the conversation; that, was a tough one. At that point, i wonder if i can survive in Hong Kong with my half past six cantonese.

So like a cat talking to a dog, with the dog shaking his head due to the complex language spoken by the cat, i managed to come up with an interview. Enjoy, while my stupid internet connection tries to wake up from its slumber dream and actually start uploading my pictures.

One or two minor details have yet to be confirmed with the PR Manager and yes, take note, this is the journalist in me, proper sentence structure and a typical article to prove i can write.

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My experiences with chefs are almost non-existent. At most during on a quiet dinner, they may come out to ask how the food was, shake my hand and they whizz off to the kitchen. How they inspire themselves to come out with such a culinary experience or how they think, was something that i would always like to know but have never got to known.

So to be shaking hands with Chef Woo Chee Mun and having the chance to chat with him and getting to know him a little bit better, was a chance of a lifetime.

Chef Woo Chee Mun or as he prefers to be called Chef Mun, is a man of few words but possesses a mind that is constantly full of ideas for his new dishes to excite his customers’ palate.

Having worked for over 25 years as a Chef and as one of the pioneer chefs at Ee Cuisine when it first opened doors 10 years ago, Chef Mun is certainly not short on experience.

Chef Mun first started off his career in Malaysia under guidance of a Hong Kong chef before his cooking journey took him to Hong Kong for training and Singapore to gain experience before being handpicked to take on the role of Head Chef of Ee Cuisine.

Ever since taking helm of Ee Cuisine, Chef Mun has been enjoying himself as he constantly faces the challenge to think on his feet to come up with new dishes to vow and impress. So how does he do it so naturally all these years?

As he explains, one of his inspirations is going back to the roots of Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine and tweaking the subtle flavours to suit the spicier and stronger palates of the local crowd.

“As we all know, Hong Kong flavours are subtle and to some, bland. Malaysian fellows like us eat chilli like tomorrow, so i have to strike a balance between authenticity and suiting what Malaysians eat.

When asked what he likes to eat, the answer is heading back to basic and simple dishes. This angle has given him inspiration to creating new dishes by trying to present it with a twist. Not only limiting himself to Cantonese cuisine, his free time has taken him to try out places of different cuisine based on his friend’s recommendations, reading recipe books and magazines before heading back to his kitchen to experiment with different flavours and techniques.

Given the trend of fusion cuisine and mixing western and eastern ingredients together, his adapting and creativity skills is evident from their rotating dim sum menu which boasts items like a bacon wrapped steamed prawn dumpling with a tangy BBQ influenced sauce to one of his best selling signature dish in 2003; the oven baked pork ribs with tong kwai.

A proud man of all his creations, it is almost impossible to single out his favourite creation over the 10 years and as such Ee Cuisine has made available their best selling dish from 1998-2008 to celebrate Eastin 10th anniversary ranging from Peking Duck to Marble Goby Fish head Vermicelli Soup.

At the moment, he seats proud with his Gui Fei Chicken named after the famous China Beauty; Yang Gui Fei. If the dish is already looking this good, one can only imagine how good looking Yang Gui Fei would have been those days.

18 comments:

PenangTuaPui said...

hi.. a lot of idea rush through my mind on what is my next step of doing the food review and intro after reading this post...

It meant million words to me. thanks a lot.

Talking to the chef is what I did during my stay at US. Here? Hmm.. I may think of getting to do it at least once...

btw, I am Huat Koay from PenangTuaPui.com

Nice meeting you.

CUMI & CIKI said...

yang gui fei must have had white puckered skin and plump juicy flesh... kidding! lol :) great write up !

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

huat koay: haha nice to knw i inspired u..and meeting you of course.

c&c: must be lar..good life..

daphne said...

what a great honour to meet a chef! Lots of inspiration there for u ya?

Nic (KHKL) said...

chilli (+ fermented shrimp paste) has taught us well. i absolutely agree with the chef! ;)

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

nic: yes yes..we were taught well..i mean after all u guys purposely burn your tongues with tom yam barely weeks ago rite?

daphne: hmm yeah i suppose its quite an honour although this chef here is abit of a quiet 1..

mimid3vils said...

from my knowledge,Yang Gui Fei is a plus size woman.. ~.~

Life for Beginners | Kenny Mah said...

Hehe, who says plus-sized women aren't sweet beauties too? ;)

P.S. Joe... reading your previous post of Chiaroscuro, I wish The Apartment served pork... that's what's missing: a great pork place at The Curve... :(

P.P.S. We do both need to compare notes on our gym workouts lah... Need to see some results, man! We must fight FLAB! Lol.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

mimi: isit?

kenny: haha yeah..bring on the ass rite? u knw..the curve has this bavarian restaurant that serves a good knuckle, u didnt know?

okok..let me jot dwn the workout n c how we can improve each others..yes..flab is getting out of CONTROL!

ling239 said...

Yang Gui Fei is very fat and rounded one leh... the chicken in the plate seems... flat :p

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

ling239: the chicken ar? no mah..havent show u the whole thing..teaser mah..

Jun said...

haha no need to survive on ur half-past 6 cantonese, jt point to wat u wanna eat ;p

btw yang gui fei wouldn't be considered a "beauty" these days cos she was fat (fat ladies in the tang dynasty were considered "beautiful").

leo said...

aloha! greetings from amsterdam!

gui fei chicken is super yummy there! i love it!!

What's up with you these days?

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

leo: hey! take it easy on the mushrooms ok?

jun: well trends nowadays eh?

Henry Yeo said...

kenny and nipples: screw it, we are not living in nomad times, fat is good...:P

nipples: aiyoh, say you need a cantonese translator, can find for you one :P

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

henry: hahaha..yes im sure can get..just not with a fone call..

Crunchasarus Rex said...

Awesome..!! i hope i can get to talk to some good chefs in Canada too.. :)

AnGeLiC PrInCeSs SeReNa said...

Joe boy, I hope you have a good editor at hand, I've been mentally editing your work as I read it. Itching to take a pen and change stuff here and there, too bad its not on paper... sigh... ;-)

On another note, great experience and good on you for giving it a go!