CHEF Peter Tang is not above altering recipes to suit tastes. Despite his youthful appearance, he has had 25 years' experience chopping, stir frying and blending exotic ingredients to please the palates of diners. The menu at the Regal Palace is a showcase for Tang's talents and for those who really want a taste of the exotic. In fact, for a fortnight from July 3, there are two promotional menus at $21,000 for the Imperial Special and $26,000 for the Imperial Deluxe banquets. The 12-course Imperial Deluxe will give 12 diners the chance to sample delicacies that would grace an emperor's banquet table, including braised superior shark's fin with water lily, pan-fried shredded turtle with assorted vegetables, double boiled harsmar with dates and lotus seeds, (harsmar is frog's spawn), Yokohama abalone and steamed giant lebroid with vegetables (lebroid is a fish from the Philippines). Tang has been busy creating special flour dolls clothed in traditional Chinese dress and creating colourfully painted roosters to grace the tables for these special dinners. It takes about two days to create a rooster but the effort is worth it with the guest-of-honour, or the host, taking his seat in a specially made imperial chair with its carved dragon's head arms and red velvet covering. Mr Tang has come a long way since he started in what was then the top Chinese eatery in Tsim Sha Tsui at the now-closed Crown restaurant in the Miramar Hotel. In 1970, he headed to Nagoya, in Japan, as the executive chef of a popular Cantonese restaurant. Apart from some of the ingredients being different, Tang learned to adjust recipes to suit Japanese palates. These days, he has a repertoire of thousands of recipes, many of his creation, along with old favourites. Every six months, the extensive menu of about 100 dishes is shuffled to make room for fresh ideas. There is also a seasonal menu to take advantage of available ingredients. The staff is treated to food tastings each week and with this feedback, as well as ideas gleaned from dining at other restaurants, Tang ensures the menu offers plenty of variety. Behind the scenes, the kitchen buzzes with activity. About 36 chefs are employed - each with a specific task - from frying, steaming, chopping, to attending to the fish cooker. The menu does justice to the surroundings of the Regal Palace with its subtle blend of East and West decor. Four private rooms seat from 12 to 36 people and a VIP room can accommodate 20 diners. Also, three banquet rooms with moveable partitions and fully sound-proofed walls can seat up to 160 people for banquets. When fully opened, these rooms will seat 288 people. And then Tang will be really in his element.