Discover Wong Tai Sin and Tai O with Chef Shane Osborn of One-MICHELIN-Starred Arcane and Chef Vicky Cheng of One-MICHELIN-Starred VEA in HKTB’s “Hong Kong Chefs’ Playbook”
Team Out of Town Blog Hub (www.outoftownblog.com) – In Hong Kong Tourism Board’s (HKTB) and the MICHELIN Guide’s latest series “Hong Kong Chefs’ Playbook”, chefs Shane Osborn and Vicky Cheng take viewers to local destinations that inspire their culinary masterpieces.
Shane Osborn of one-MICHELIN-starred Arcane is one of the most recognizable culinary figures in Hong Kong—a status boosted after his participation in Netflix’s culinary competition, The Final Table. Chef Osborn walks us through the streets of Wong Tai Sin, a peaceful refuge from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle in the series’ second installment, introducing viewers to the only landlocked district in all of Hong Kong and home to multiple temples and gardens.
Wong Tai Sin serves as a breath of fresh air at the heart of the city. With an abundance of greenery and open parks, Wong Tai Sin is the perfect source of inspiration for chef Osborn and his mission of promoting sustainability and lessening the industry’s impact on the environment in Hong Kong.
An oasis complete with its own waterfall, the Chi Lin Vegetarian restaurant inside the Nan Lian Garden serves as the perfect backdrop for chef Osborn and host Debbie Wong as they talk about his work in Hong Kong. The restaurant serves vegetarian cuisine which is unique as it is a centuries-old practice.
Known for his passion for plant-based cuisine, chef Osborn shares how locally sourced ingredients play a big part in his own cooking practices and the significance of sustainability and ethical sourcing.
Within Nan Lian Garden’s 3.5 hectares lies another picturesque location, the Song Cha Xie teahouse. Here, chef Osborn and Wong talk about the cultural significance of tea while surrounded by the tranquil atmosphere of the garden. The teahouse offers a variety of teas and dim sum daily and is the perfect accompaniment to soak in the zen-like environment.
Chef Osborn later takes viewers to the Tai Shing Street Market in the neighborhood. This is both a dry and wet market, with products that range from fruits to fish. Tai Shing Street Market, which also houses various street food stalls for its shoppers, is open all week. For him, supporting and buying from local markets and businesses is the best way to help local farms and reduce carbon footprint.
Chef Vicky Cheng also shares this same sentiment about supporting local producers. He believes that visiting the market himself and building relationships with the shop owners makes for a more meaningful and sustainable way of sourcing ingredients. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada, chef Cheng trained at some of the best restaurants in Toronto and New York before he returned to the city where he was born. In 2016, he set up his restaurant VEA and won a Michelin star in just one year of operations.
In another episode of the “Hong Kong Chefs’ Playbook”, chef Vicky introduces viewers to the quaint fishing town dubbed the ‘Venice of Hong Kong’ – Tai O. Known for scenic views of the Tai O river and its village of stilted houses, Tai O is his go-to when looking for a calming escape from the city and his source for ingredients for his restaurants VEA and Wing.
With fishing as one of the primary industries of the village, seafood is abundant in local restaurants and dried fish and shrimp paste are widely known. Chef Cheng recounts how he was introduced to their specialty shrimp paste through a friend whose family runs the Sing Lee Shrimp Paste & Sauce Manufacturer. Operating for over 80 years now, the manufacturer’s products are still handmade traditionally and entirely out of local products. The pair then try their hand at making the shrimp paste, giving viewers a glimpse of the process from drying up to its packaging.
Next up, authentic local stops! Yick Cheong Ho and The Crossing Boat Restaurant are small and humble establishments that showcase the best of Tai O’s specialties. Before their meal, chef Cheng and Wong make a quick stop at dried seafood shop Yick Cheong Ho to check out the dried seafood the village is renowned for. The store has a wide range of products, from dried scallops to fish maws, and is Chef Cheng’s source for rare dried velvet rice shrimp.
Dried seafood is an integral part of Cantonese cuisine, and The Crossing Boat Restaurant showcases this among stir-fried dishes, and steamed rice wrapped in lotus leaves. As they talk over their meal at the restaurant, viewers are treated to scenic views of the river and the historic stilted houses around them.
Back in his kitchen at VEA, chef Vicky treats viewers to a behind-the-scenes look at his signature salted fish dish. A staple of his for over six years now, chef Vicky’s choice of salted fish and cabbage was inspired by lyrics from HK singer George Lam’s song (Without the Two of Us) that he first sung to his wife. Inspired by Tai O and his visits with his wife, he infuses his love for food and his wife through his dish.
Despite being dubbed the “Venice of Hong Kong”, Tai O’s charms are definitely entirely it’s own.
See more of Tai O and find out what chef Shane Osborn serves up in his kitchen on Discover Hong Kong.