David Lai is one of Hong Kong’s most accomplished chefs, and with an arsenal of restaurants under his belt, including our regular go to Neighborhood, he’s one to watch. This 2012 Chef of the Year, as named by Time Out magazine, has a knack for making skillful and flavorful food without pretense. We loved him for On Lot 10 and cannot get enough of his locally sourced seafood at the newly opened Fish School. Keep reading for a look into a day with Chef David Lai.
You’re one of our favorite chefs in town for your incredibly flavorful, comforting yet elevated dishes. How does a typical day start for you?
I try to practice my tennis every morning. On the way to the courts I would check up with my fishmongers to see what they have caught. They then put aside for me the fish I need.
Your new restaurant Fish School focuses on top quality locally sourced seafood. Tell us about your favourite local fish. Is it seasonal?
Threadfin has a very pleasant balance between flavour and texture. They swim near shore to spawn during winter. The bigger fish are especially prized.
Is there anything you won’t eat?
Probably dogs because I have them as pets.
You grew up in Hong Kong but studied and worked abroad, what’s your favorite Hong Kong comfort food and where do we get it?
Once in a while I do go out of my way to get rolled rice noodle (cheung fun) at Hop Yick in Sham Shui Po. It is the only place where it tastes remotely similar to those from the old days. Perhaps because of the lard they use in the sesame paste or the quality of rice flour or something…
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing? Why?
I think I would enjoy being a carpenter as I like to work with my hands and not having to deal with a lot of people.
You obviously enjoy your wines and have a really tasteful selection of wines at Neighborhood. Tell us about your most memorable wine & food experience.
Last month I had a glass of d’Yquem with shaved white truffle. It was sublime!