Cassia and Shang Palace are ushering in a fresh era this new year after a momentous change of hands in the kitchen. These recently minted head honchos tell us more about themselves and their innovative creations.
For the first time since its opening in 2009, Cassia has a new chef at the helm, and his name is no stranger to the local culinary scene. Succeeding chef Lee Hiu Ngai, Hong Kong-born Alan Chan was formerly heading Four Seasons Hotel Singapore’s Jiang-Nan Chun for nearly six years. Thereafter, he moved to Jeju, South Korea, in 2017 before returning to our shores for Capella Singapore.
Traditional but not bound by tradition, chef Chan negotiates that line with finesse in his sophisticated and sometimes unexpected Cantonese creations. Classic, time-honoured recipes are reinvented in new ways with alternative ingredients and creative methodologies while remaining faithful to the cuisine’s distinctive identity of freshness and purity. “I have a deep respect for the traditional methods, techniques and flavours used in Cantonese food, but my cooking style also incorporates innovative twists that adapt with modern palates,” he explains.
Chef Chan’s culinary prowess is best reflected in his six-course signature menu. Opening with a trio of refined bites – which includes a sweet and tender piece of South African abalone with kombu sauce and a rich Iberico pork char siew that melts in your mouth – the bar is set high for the rest of the meal. And he does not disappoint. What follows is the pièce de résistance of his Cassia debut: the Double Boiled Chicken Soup with Fish Maw and Conpoy, which is painstakingly brewed for over six hours to fully extract the flavours and nutrients of its exquisite base ingredients. Another creation that highlights chef Chan’s dexterity is the succulent and bouncy Stewed Australian Lobster, served with slippery Inaniwa udon smothered in a luscious superior broth.
The ingenuity of chef Chan’s cooking also comes through in the Sauteed Italian Spinach with Truffle Oil, in which the quintessential Cantonese vegetable stir-fry is reimagined with silky egg white, accented with truffle oil and topped with generous shavings of black truffle. There is also the delightful Chilled Almond Jelly that is shredded into strips of noodles to be slurped using chopsticks.
If there is any doubt that Shang Palace Singapore will hold on to its Michelin star in 2023, a look at new executive Chinese chef Daniel Cheung’s impressive resume and menu should instil confidence.
Hailing from Hong Kong, chef Cheung comes fresh from a five-year tenure at Shang Palace Kowloon, another Michelin-starred restaurant within the group. He brings with him 37 years of experience in top-level Cantonese cooking, having cut his teeth in some of the most prestigious Chinese dining establishments in the world, including Spring Moon at The Peninsula Hong Kong and revered Hong Kong institution The Jockey Club.
For his mastery in Cantonese cuisine, he has also clinched several awards over the years, among them the Distinction Gold Award for Appetisers at the 10th Asian Culinary Exchange 2016; Gold with Distinction Award at Gourmet Master Chef 2014; and the Gold Award for Creative Appetiser at the Modern Chinese Cuisine Challenge of Hong Kong International Culinary Classic HOFEX 2013.
Combining a traditional foundation with contemporary creativity, chef Cheung’s approach is modern and meticulous. This is exemplified in his medley of star dishes, such as the Applewood Smoked Bean Curd Rolls with Shiitake Mushroom, Carrot and Green Mustard and Fried Rice with Kagoshima Wagyu Beef served in Whole Tomato, which he brought over from Shang Palace Hong Kong. The former demands effort in first prepping each vegetable with a specific regime, skilfully rolling them in a prescribed sequence, then steaming and smoking them with Pu-erh tea, sugar, uncooked rice and applewood. In the latter, chef Cheung’s signature fried rice is presented in a large, scooped-out tomato for that extra umami and a dose of fun.|
Of course, there are also dishes chef Cheung crafted specially for Shang Palace Singapore to bring forth a sense of place. The Baked Live Prawns with Garlic and Sarawak White Pepper is a robust adaptation of his well-loved Hong Kong recipe of crabs with Chinese peppercorn, while the Stewed Shrimp Pomelo Peel honours a laborious 50-year-old recipe that elevates under- utilised ingredients and turning them into a decadent course. These new items from chef Cheung are additions to Shang Palace’s renowned Nostalgic dishes, Cantonese classics and guests’ favourites.