TV chef Tony Cheng returns from overseas with some fresh flavours

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 February, 2011, 12:00am

Celebrity restaurateur Tony Cheng Shai-yin (left) invited a few of his friends in the media for lunch at the Tsim Sha Tsui branch of Hainan Shaoye to share his latest exploits. He and his team have spent the past few months travelling, to research the cuisines of Singapore and Malaysia, trying dozens of versions of the region's best-loved dishes.

The lunch was an opportunity to sample the fruits of his hard work, in the form of 20 new dishes from the Hainan Shaoye menu, including a pan-fried homemade egg tofu covered in Chinese black truffle shavings, personally prepared by Cheng.

'Our tasting research wasn't about replicating the 'most authentic' mee goreng or prawn mee, that's pretty subjective anyway,' Cheng says. 'I was more focused on grasping the essential flavours that excited me. For example, we make our own sambal in-house, which is used for many of our dishes.'

The 29-year-old is also appearing on the recently launched Chef Corner programme on Now TV's channel 101, along with five other local food experts, including co-hosts Margaret Xu and Jacky Yu. But it isn't Cheng's first time on the small screen - the trained chef also worked with Martin Yan on an RTHK show a few years ago.

'Martin was amazing, of course,' Cheng says. 'His on-screen presence is not an act, he is like that off-camera, too. He just has one of those big personalities that sucks up all the energy in a room. Chef Corner is more homey and relaxed; three of the six hosts take turns cooking together each episode. It's been a lot of fun to shoot.'