Whilst we are still bathing in festive feasting during this season, Eliteror.com caught up with owner and executive chef Fung Chi Keung, previously of highly acclaimed Paradise Group, whom had placed Cantonese cuisine in the spotlight with the opening of his 200-seater Kai Garden in Marina Square.
Diners will no doubt welcome his intimate style and interpretations of heritage Cantonese classics, including the hotly anticipated best Peking Duck in Singapore, alongside unique signature dishes such as Grouper in Lobster Soup, Sweet and Sour Pork and Kung Fu Soup.
The Peking Duck is prepared in traditional style that emphasises the crispiness of the skin and tenderness of the meat. Served with a platter of 5 different wraps and 5 dipping sauces.
As for the Grouper in Lobster Soup, lobster soup is used instead of the usual chicken soup. Chef Fung cooks the soup at a high temperature and rinses it over the grouper so that it is cooked to perfection.
The Sweet and Sour Pork is popular pork favourite is served on ice-cubes to accentuate the richness of the meat, and enhance crispiness.
Speaking with someone whom started out as a bakery assistant and subsequently worked his way up, chef Fung did not lose his roots in the midst of food trends and fickle taste buds. He stuck to the fundamentals, and is philosophically pragmatic in his approach to being a chef, and owner.
1) Are there any more breakthroughs in Cantonese cuisine ?
Yes there is. Cantonese cuisine is immensely fascinating as it uses a multitude of fine ingredients in its preparation. There is still so much more potential to discover about the food. Through different combinations of ingredients, I feel that Cantonese cuisine will always be able to breakthrough and achieve endless new possibilities and flavours.
2) What can we expect in Kai Garden, which is different from Taste Paradise ?
None, as a matter of fact. In fact, customers can expect to find the same high standards of food and service quality that they have grown to expect out of a renowned establishment such as Taste Paradise over here at Kai Garden, where we put in our heart and soul to ensure an overall great dining experience for our customers.
3) Do you taste the flavours in your head, before you taste them with your tongue ?
I love good food and have practically eaten my way through all the tastiest cuisines in the world. Every flavour is at the back of my mind, and for any new dish or idea that I’m pursuing, I will first conceptualise the taste profile in my head before tasting.
4) Is there any difference in using ingredients from the wet market, and from expensive sources ?
It depends. I am of the view that every ingredients you find(whether at the wet market or from expensive sources) has its own unique purpose and usage. We must fit each ingredient to its proper use depending on what you want out of a dish. For example, imported hairy mountain fig 五指毛桃 can be used as a soup ingredient, but the arrowhead 粉葛 that you can easily find at a market us can also be used as a soup ingredient. When the occasion calls for it, you have to find the right ingredient suited for the purpose.
5) Do you keep up with the current food trends, regardless of Western food or Chinese food ?
Yes I do, a good chef cannot remain stagnant but must be innovative in his thoughts. People’s tastes and preferences are constantly changing and if one becomes fixated in his old ways, and do not adapt, it is difficult to stay in this business. A good chef must keep up with food trends and be able to adapt and change to the preferences of our diners.
6) What is one tool you cannot live without your kitchen ?
As for the one thing that I cannot do without in my kitchen, I’ll have to say it’s the ability to read people’s hearts and minds. But if I have to strictly answer, it will definitely be a well-seasoned Chinese wok!
7) How does your staff describe you as a owner and as a chef ?
Firstly I have to say that I am a professional in the F&B business, and every skill and knowledge gained in this career path stems from personal experiences and encounters from the many years in the business. At Kai Garden, I uphold multiple heavy responsibilities, as a business owner, as the executive chef holding fort over the kitchen, and also as the leader leading the charge at the forefront in this very competitive industry.
My expectations for myself and my staff is the same, to always be on their toes and not remain in their comfort zone, but always be in pursuit of continuous improvement in whatever role they are put in, for there is always room for improvement. This is how they see me.
Wow, truly spoken from someone whom hones his craft with quiet observations.
Now this is what a master is made of.
Kai Garden is located at the following address #03-128A/B Raffles Boulevard Marina Square
Singapore 039594. Do make reservations via telephone 6250 4826.