Taste always good for today

| Siu Sai-wo 14 May 2019

I went to a gathering at Mott 32 in Central and the group's executive chef, Lee Man-sing, came out to greet guests.

I last saw Lee when we were on the judging panel of the Best of the Best Culinary Awards. It has been a few years since, and he looks even more vibrant now.

Many exquisite Cantonese restaurants have sprung up in Central recently, and their head chefs have to be really good. As for Mott 32, Lee said it needs to put new elements into the menu once every few months to keep it fresh for regular customers.

We had dim sum, of course, which is a crucial part of any Cantonese culinary experience. You'd never grow tired of it.

Lee recommended the matsutake mushroom shredded turnip rice roll, a dish that can be prepared in a vegetarian way.

It is delicious but not greasy, perfect for the lighter taste of ladies. You can even add a sprinkle of katsuobushi - bonito flakes - on top.

We also enjoyed pan-fried bitter melon glutinous rice dumplings. The bitter melon lends a refreshing note to this special sweet dish, and the tricky part is to know how to tone down the bitterness.

The dumplings were al dente, and the aroma of a single strand of green onion inside accentuated the dish's quintessential Cantonese character.

Lee is also helping the Vocational Training Council to train up a new generation of elite chefs.

Like performing, cooking is a skill that takes a long time to perfect. Lee is still young, but he already has 30 years' experience in the profession under his belt.

Lee was working at the Harbour Plaza Hotel in Hung Hom when Xi Jinping, then vice president, stayed there. He has also served the princess of Thailand at Mott 32. So he is no doubt a royal-grade chef.

Back to tastes of the present, and it must be mentioned that Mott 22's barbecue pluma Iberico pork with yellow mountain honey, priced at over HK$300, is famous in Central. As I was savoring the delicacy I remarked that the dish was rather pricey.

This drew a chuckle from Lee, who explained that the ingredient, pluma Iberico pork, costs HK$300 kilogram. Considering also that the roasting process shrinks the meat, the charge is really not high.

The restaurant has outlets in South Korea and Las Vegas, and Lee participates in their kitchen administration too. So some people who live far away from Hong Kong do not have to travel to enjoy the food.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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