Tuesday, December 5, 2017


For all the how-many-hands dinners we have attended, the Dim Sum Duets series by Hong Kong Tatler Dining (now with the hipster-like name T.Dining) was by far the most impressive, and we said this not because our friend C was organizing it. For 4 evenings in November, four different chefs known for their innovative cooking were paired up with two chefs specialized in traditional Chinese cuisine for a series of pop-up dinners featuring new dimsum dishes.

We went to the one on a Sunday evening, featuring Chef Max Levy of Okra and Chef Lee Man-sing of Mott 32. We were somewhat familiar with the cooking by the two chefs and enjoyed our meals at their respective restaurants previously, so we had high expectation to see how this collaborative effort would pan out. The event was in the form of stand-up dinner with dishes passed around in a kitchen studio space in Causeway Bay by the Swiss appliance maker V-Zug, with the elaborate open kitchen turned into a performing stage for both chefs and their teams. Reminded me of the Iron Chef setting, except this time it's a duet not a duel.

All the dishes served looked just like the dimsum items we were familiar with but each with a twist in terms of ingredients and cooking methods. Our first course was based on Chef Max's starter of chilled tofu with black pigeon sauce, but served like a Sichuan "Hong You Chao Shou" (紅油抄手) dumpling wrapped with Yuba with the Sichuan pepper-based "Kou Shui" sauce (口水汁) for the salivating flavor.

The rest of the meal followed the similar styles with traits of western, Japanese and Chinese cooking but in a totally different interpretation by these two creative chefs, stretching the limit of our imaginations. All the courses were unique and eye-opening - what looked like a traditional dimsum of shredded turnip puff (蘿蔔絲酥餅) was filled with BBQ freshwater eel and miso-steamed foie gras and topped with threads of pickled woodear mushroom for a crunchy bite and hint of acidity; then there was the quail egg siumai served with the half-cooked egg stuffed inside grounded iberico pork and topped with dab of black truffle sauce and cobia bottarga.

One of my favorites of the night was the xiaolongbao with fish maw and maitake mushrooms served with burnt leek soup instead of pork, with the New Orleans crystal sauce and pickled ginger instead of vinegar as condiments. The slight sweetness of the ginger matches well with the tangy sauce, smoky broth and the bouncy fish maw filling. I also liked the pairing of the bloody mary made using the same crystal sauce served with okras on mini-skewer. Our last savory course was served in Japanese kushikatsu style, with abalone, shishito peppers and baby corns deep-fried, dipped in Shichimi Togarashi powder and served on a skewer. The togarashi powder might be a bit too overwhelming but I did like that with the baby corn.

Two desserts were served - the water chestnut rolled with candied lotus seeds and coconut cream was a play of the traditional chiuchow sweets of caramelized taro (反沙芋) by Chef Man-sing, and V-Zug's resident chef Yin prepared the baked icecream with filo pastry and dehydrated matcha and brown rice powder to showcase their appliance's capability of cooking in extreme high temperature (so the pastry was crisp while the icecream inside did not melt).

Bravo to both chefs for their excellent creation and to T.Dining team for bringing about this one-of-a-kind dining experience to us. Not to mention this is one of those rare occasions you actually see the chefs cook in one of these "crossover dinners" instead of them just going around from table to table chit-chatting and take photos with the customers. Tsk tsk... please do it again soon!

When? November 12 2017
Where? Dim Sum Duets,T.Dining by Hong Kong Tatler Dining
Menu Highlights? Pacific cod fish maw with Yunnan maitake mushrooms, soy sauce, mirin, dashi, ginger, burnt leek soup dumplings with crystal sauce and ginger (yes, that's the description of a single piece of dim sum)
Web: https://hk.asiatatler.com/dining

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