Chef’s tables offer more than a private dining experience. They are a venue for intimate gastronomic engagements between a chef preparing his signature dishes and the guests he is serving. Many restaurants keep these chef-diner interactions to tight-knit groups of four to eight, but there are a handful that offer more seats at the table for groups meeting over lunch and dinner. Here are five of them found in Hong Kong.
18 Hanoi Road, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui
Seating capacity: 12
The chef: Hugo’s head chef Renaud Marin has worked in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants in France, Paris and England before moving to Asia in 2010. Prior to joining Hyatt Regency in Hong Kong in February, Chef Renaud was the executive sous chef at Hullett House, also in Hong Kong.
His cuisine in his own words: “Classic European with a twist.”
What to expect: A meet and greet with Chef Renaud upon being seated, where he introduces his menu for the evening. The open kitchen is right next to the private dining room and guests can watch the chef and his team as they whip up a storm. Depending on guests’ preferences, Chef Renaud serves six to seven courses during every meal. His favourite signature dishes are pan-seared Rhug estate suckling pig with piquilo peppers, girolles, spring onions, Swiss chard, French mustard mashed potatoes and foie gras sauce; and butter poached Boston lobster with cauliflower purée, confit lemon, green asparagus and Jus corsé.
Rates and reservations: HK$1,288 (US$166) per person for lunch or dinner. Visit Hugo’s at Hyatt Regency or call +852 3721-7733
ONE HARBOUR ROAD
7/F & 8/F, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai
Seating capacity: 12
The chef: Chef Li Shu Tim has been with Grand Hyatt Hong Kong since it opened in 1989. Aside from his role as Chef de Cuisine at One Harbour Road, Chef Tim is also responsible for planning the menus of the hotel’s Chinese banquets. He has been invited to showcase his cooking around the world, including Jakarta, Manila, Japan and Australia.
His cuisine in his own words: “No foreign influences, no nouvelle nuances – just traditional dishes lovingly prepared and graciously presented,” Chef Tim is often quoted. His team says: “[Chef Tim’s] cooking is original and shows much respect to the seasonal produce. Hence, he will prepare his dishes simply, in order to retain the freshness and authentic taste of the ingredients.”
What to expect: The ambience at One Harbour Road is unparalleled in its 1930s Chinese elegance. Inside the private dining room, guests are treated to a glimpse of one of the finest working Chinese kitchens – and cuisine, with Cantonese home-style cooking at its best in the hands of Chef Tim. A tour around the Wok, Dim Sum and Roast sections can be done before dining. Chef Tim can also present his collection of rare dried herbs and seafood, before he serves any one of his favourite signature dishes: Deep-fried Black Mushrooms Tossed with Cinnamon Blossoms, Tea Smoked Crispy Chicken, and Fried Rice with Abalone in Stone Bowl. Chef Tim usually serves eight to nine courses, depending on guests’ preferences. Meeting groups will also benefit from the internet-equipped dining room’s laptop computer and direct fax line.
Rates and reservations: Rates start at HK$1,220 (US$157) per person for lunch and HK$1,550 (US$200) for dinner; a minimum spend of HK$3,500 (US$452) for lunch and $7,500 (US$966) for dinner is required. Visit One Harbour Road or call +852 2584-7722
19/F, The ONE, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Seating capacity 14. Eight guests are seated around the teppanyaki table, while a partition wall may be folded to accommodate a six-seater table from the second private dining room, bringing a total of 14 guests to partake in the live cooking showcase.
The chef: Chef Katsuwa Hasegawa is a veteran in teppanyaki with over 20 years of experience. He was head chef at Teppanyaki Kaika in Ginza, Tokyo when he helped execute Kaika Hong Kong’s menu when it opened in 2010. In January 2012, he joined the restaurant as its executive chef.
His cuisine in his own words: “Flavoursome with the finest ingredients. Spontaneous, flexible and fun. I make sure every guest enjoys both my food and live cooking performance.”
What to expect: Engaging conversations and interaction with the chef as he prepares dishes using the freshest seasonal ingredients, explaining what they are and how he is using them, and why he has chosen to do so. Guests can expect six to seven courses, and look forward to some of Chef Hasegawa’s favourite signature dishes: Japanese Ezo Abalone with Seaweed Bonito Soup; Prawn Uni Salad in Persimmon and Teppan Lobster with Miso Sauce.
Rates and reservations: Around HK$1,200 per person (US$155) for lunch and dinner. Call +852 2972-2888.
THE KRUG ROOM
Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central
Seating capacity: 12
The chef: Executive Chef Uwe Opocensky learned the basics of molecular gastronomy under Ferran Adrià at El Bulli in Spain. Throughout his career, he has learned from the likes of Gasthof zum Hemberg and Anton Mosimann; cooked alongside esteemed chefs including Ken Hom, Jamie Oliver and Alain Ducasse; and had served at Heads of State events, as well as HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip’s 50th anniversary dinner.
His cuisine in his own words: “Progressive gastronomy. I think all the dishes I create are constantly changing; every dish can be enhanced and evolved to make it taste, smell or look better. All the changes are aimed to enhance guests’ experience and satisfaction.”
What to expect: Guests are escorted to The Krug Room by the restaurant manager around 7:30pm – dinner at the chef’s table begins at 8:00pm nightly. Once seated, and after a brief orientation on The Krug Room and Krug champagne, guests can watch Chef Uwe and his team as they work their magic in the Main Kitchen, separated from the dining room by a glass window.
Every dish is served by Chef Uwe with an introduction and a word or two on how it is best consumed. He says that having created over 500 dishes in the last five years, it is difficult to select which signature dish tops it for him. “They become my favourites as soon as they are created,” he said. As of recent his favoured dishes include lamb neck, where he makes use of lamb from an organic farm in the UK, and a mushroom dessert with the taste of tiramisu, which he has created with executive pastry chef Yves Matthey.
Reservations: From HK$2,288 (US$295) per person for dinner on Monday to Saturday nights only (The Krug Room is also closed on public holidays), inclusive of 10 to 14 courses with two glasses of Krug Grande Cuvee champagne. Visit The Krug Room or call +852 2825-4014
g.e (gastronomy extra|ordinaire)
2/F, The Luxe Manor, 39 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Seating capacity: 10
The chef: Chef Bonelli has been to many places: Osaka for its blue-fin tuna, Sydney for its multicultural cuisine, Germany for its culinary classics, a US cruise ship for its grand production numbers and France for its history in food and cooking – experiences that have influenced his art as a chef today. He has worked at three-Michelin-star restaurants Don Alfonso in Southern Italy, Le Calandre at Padova, El Bulli in Spain and The Fat Duck in Bray. He arrived in Hong Kong in 2002, when he headed the kitchen at KEE Club, prior to joining g.e. at The Luxe Manor in April 2011.
His cuisine in his own words: “Freedom to be me, freedom to be free. I must have this, because from this my heart is pure, my vision is clear, my actions have no fear.”
What to expect: The hotel itself is whimsical enough, but the fantastical elements don’t end in the interiors. Instead, they extend to the palate, where guests are promised a better-than-dreamlike meal – that is, a real one, prepared by Chef Bonelli himself in their presence. The private dining room – called Black – has a window behind a curtain, through which guests can watch Chef Bonelli prepare his dishes. It is usually not until the end of the dinner that Chef Bonelli makes an appearance for a brief chat.
Rates and reservations: From HK$999 (US$129) per person for dinner only. Visit The Luxe Manor or call +852 3763-8803