Cantonese cuisine is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of China. It is perhaps the most widely recognised of the regional cuisines of the country; its prominence outside of China is partly due to the large number of emigrants from Guangdong.
It is well known that Cantonese cuisine incorporates almost all edible meats, utilising every part of the animal that can be enjoyed gastronomically. It is not unusual, for example, to see offal, chicken’s feet and duck’s tongue on many menus in Guangdong and Hong Kong: the entirety of the animal is savoured and devoured.
It is because Cantonese cuisine is so celebratory of ingredients – from unusual cuts of meat and fish to a wide range of vegetables sourced from both land and sea – that it can be enjoyed in many different parts of the world. Keen Cantonese chefs relish the opportunity to cook using ingredients sourced from the local area, such is the adaptability of the cuisine.
Chef Ho Chee Boon, International Executive Chef at Hakkasan Group, is currently working with the team in Yauatcha Waikiki to create a menu that is both authentic to Cantonese cuisine and simultaneously sympathetic to the local area, making use of seasonal ingredients that can be found locally such as taro root.
We spoke to Chef Ho ahead of the opening.
When did you decide to be a chef?
I decided to be a chef when I was a little boy. I was perhaps inspired to cook by my mother; even now I still think my mother’s cooking is the best in the world.
How do you ensure you stay creative within the food industry?
I’ve always enjoyed Chinese cuisine, especially with the availability of different products in different countries. It’s exciting to try and incorporate new and unusual ingredients into traditional dishes.
I love seasonal products. They allow the guests to try something new and experience local flavours. They also help me to develop the menu based on the local palate and culture. We use a lot of local and seasonal ingredients at Yauatcha.
What are your favourite ingredients to cook with?
I have a long list of favourite ingredients. I especially like to cook with nutritious products.
If I had to name just one ingredient, I’d say I use garlic the most, because it adds a sweet flavour and aroma.
How would you describe the cooking style at Yauatcha?
Yauatcha is a dim sum parlour. We give Hong Kong street food a makeover using the finest quality ingredients.
How is the cuisine at Yauatcha different from other Cantonese restaurants?
The main difference between Yauatcha and other Cantonese restaurants is that we serve dim sum all day long. We haven’t included a lot of traditional Cantonese dishes, but focused instead on street food flavours, such as Malaysian fried kwai tao.
Reservations for Yauatcha Waikiki are now open.