Michelin chef on a mission to revive forgotten Canto cuisine
27 Aug 2021
Traditional Cantonese delicacies are difficult to replicate, but chef Hung Chi-Kwong of one-Michelin-starred Rùn at The St. Regis Hong Kong is determined to breathe new life into the fare.
Chef Hung Chi-Kwong says many of Cantonese cuisine’s traditional flavors are slowly waning. Hung has observed this personally over his 32-year culinary career, which he started by working as a kitchen assistant at a Cantonese restaurant in Causeway Bay at age 15.
“Produce and ingredients have changed over time, so of course some of those flavors are now lost,” says Hung, who today helms one-Michelin-starred Rùn at The St. Regis Hong Kong. “They are difficult to replicate.”
But Hung is undeterred as he continually works to not only bring back, but also update these familiar yet forgotten flavors. He says one of his strategies involves “combining classic dishes with new cooking techniques”.
The chef also focuses on artistic plating and presentation, so that guests are smitten with the dishes at first sight, before even taking a bite.
Hung’s philosophies are evident in Rùn’s signature dishes, which include black pepper Wagyu beef puff, double-boiled abalone soup cooked in a baby coconut with kelp and goji berries, and barbecued Ibérico pork with honey. These dishes, he says, have been on the menu since the restaurant first opened in May 2019.
The name Rùn translates to mean “abundance”. For Hung, its meaning refers to the feeling of happiness that his guests will experience at the fine-dining restaurant.
To further enhance this sense of enjoyment, Hung collaborates with an in-house tea master to offer a premium tea-pairing menu. “Tea is significant in Chinese and Cantonese cuisine. That’s why it was common in the past to refer to Cantonese restaurants that served dim sum as ‘teahouses’,” he explains.
It’s no surprise, then, to see that the restaurant’s interior – designed by award-winning architect André Fu – is reminiscent of a traditional tea pavilion, but with a contemporary twist.
“Every new dish we create in the kitchen goes with a different kind of tea to enhance the guests’ culinary experience,” Hung adds. “The teas can also be tailored to the guests’ preferences.”
Whether it’s a tea pairing or the unique, Instagrammable presentation of a dish, every part of the dining experience is an art to Hung. This creative process is what keeps him going as a chef. “It makes me happy,” he says.