Ferran Adrià

Extreme cuisine

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2007, 12:00am

Alvin Leung

Restaurateur and chef, Bo Innovation

32-38 Ice House Street, Central, 2850 8371

Alvin Leung (pictured above) loves talking which is probably why he put a chef's table in his kitchen - or more appropriately a chef's bench.

It is a long bar that can seat up to 10 people and is reserved for diners who book the HK$880 chef's menu.

I have known Alvin for some years, before he opened his own restaurant and when he was still a part-time chef at his friend's restaurant. Leung was trained as an engineer, taught himself to cook and eventually grew to like it so much he set about pursuing a restaurant career.

His restaurant, Bo Innovation, has been called Asia's El Bulli. Among the dishes that we tried from the menu were foie gras tofu, durian fried rice, Chinese sausage ice cream and razor clams with a foam of fu yu (fermented bean curd). But he says that he has never tried to be like El Bulli.

'It's what people say. Some people also call me the rock 'n' roll chef, but I've never referred to myself as that,' he says.

'Demon chef', however, is a name that he wears - It is tattooed on his right arm. It is also on the sign bearing his restaurant's name.

It is certainly apt if, by demon, he means mischievous. The fridges contain plastic squeezy bottles of liquified ingredients, which he let us sample in Parmesan cones.

His notoriety is such that he was invited to appear on the television show of another culinary enfant terrible - Anthony Bourdain. He has gained notable media exposure from major publications that range from Forbes to The New York Times.

'My cuisine is extreme Chinese. I don't want to be in any way referred to as an El Bulli. Some dishes in my repertoire are in the style of what some may call molecular gastronomy, but there are many others that are not,' he says.

'I don't deconstruct all my dishes, I just do different combinations of taste and texture. It's innovative cuisine.'

That does not mean he does not appreciate what El Bulli has done. 'It's a benchmark, it's not a trend. The food at El Bulli is for real food connoisseurs.

'They are the kind of people who would eat off the street and then go to a Michelin-star restaurant,' he says.

'They have completely open minds about food, and would try anything, from deep-fried scorpions to monkey brains.'

Leung may not want to be Hong Kong's Ferran Adria, head chef of El Bulli, but he does have one thing in common with the gastronomic master - he's not doing it for financial reasons.

'I am not making any money. My objective is to cook for people. I enjoy it.'