Most people who consider themselves as epicureans have probably already heard about modern Nordic cuisine or modern French cooking, but not many may know that modern Chinese dining is also on the rise. And Shanghai seems to be leading the way. No one is keener than Johnston Teo, a young old Singaporean chef known for conceptualising modern Chinese cuisine. After quitting his job at Odette – ranking No 1 one at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 – he went from Singapore to Shanghai in 2018 to unleash his passion for Chinese culinary culture by going back his Chinese heritage. Is fine dining dead? China’s Gen Z eaters think so Grounded in the principles of using nostalgic Chinese flavours, Teo takes a Western culinary approach he learned while training in French kitchens. The genre of Chinese cuisine is neither fusion nor creative dishes. “I want to take a modern approach to emphasise on the gastronomic culture and dining etiquette of China,” he says. 5 hotpot food swaps for a healthier meal Developing the concept of modern Chinese further, Teo has teamed up with Table for Eight, a pop-up dining table being rolled out by chef Wenye Li. Thanks to his trips to Zhejiang, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangdong in the past few months, Teo has been inspired to elevate modern Chinese to next level. “The DNA in a French meal has to consist of bread, butter, wine and cheese, but for my modern Chinese meal it’s about rice, noodles, tea, soybeans and fermented products,” Teo says. He associates ingredients with cultural references and then represents them using a wide range of ingredients from seafood to fruit. For example, the dish of langoustine definitely defines new Chinese cuisine as comfort food when you discover the aged tangerine peels and handmade baos that Chinese diners are familiar with. At the forefront of the movement is the chef couple Simon Wong and DeAille Tam. The two of them collaborate with celebrity chef Alvin Leung (aka “The Demon Chef”) who helms Bo Innovation, a three Michelin star-restaurant in Hong Kong pioneering “X-treme Chinese cuisine”. Following Leung’s divergent approach, the couple, who were born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada, unveiled modern Chinese cuisine in Shanghai three years ago with Bo Shanghai, a one Michelin star-restaurant (currently closed temporarily) serving inspired delights from the eight great regions of China. 7 top restaurants to try in and around Hong Kong’s Tai Kwun “Modern Chinese is a progressive movement of an ancient cuisine. It is about discovering what China has to offer with respect to techniques and ingredients alike,” Tam said, adding Chinese culinary culture has been passed down through the centuries, but because the perception of fine dining today is set by Western traditions, they consider French and Italian culinary arts as their fundamental bases. More precisely, “we strongly enforce an approach to conceptualise where there are no limitations or boundaries”, adds Wong. The in-depth culinary culture awareness matters when it comes to a marriage of cuisines. Living in both the West and the East for a lengthy period, the couple holds a deep understanding regarding the landscapes of dining habits. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West embody America’s fast food culture They explain that sea cucumber can be served in various forms and textures with northern Chinese preferring one texture while southern Chinese prefer the complete opposite one, and explain it is very tricky to find a common ground and interpret the appropriate cooking techniques. “We are working on a new version of modern Chinese cuisine,” said Tam. Fu He Hui – an award-winning restaurant in the lists of Michelin Guide Shanghai and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants , ranking No 29 in 2019 – has drawn international attention to modern Chinese vegetarian cuisine. Led by local chef Tony Lu, who specialises in Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine, Fu He Hui has taken Chinese vegetarian to a new level. The dishes are unique and represent the quintessence of Chinese cuisine, yet you may not be able to tell what ingredients are used. “Breaking rules is in my DNA,” says Lu. Lu tests out limitless cooking techniques and ingredients for his Chinese vegetarian dishes. You will discover everything from French soup stocks, Cantonese stir-frying or Japanese pickles in his creations. The dining experience is akin to travelling the world with Lu as the captain and Chinese tea as the pairing. With regards to modern Chinese cuisine, or even Chinese fine dining in and out of China, many chefs agree now is the time to commit and develop. We review: Bangkok’s edgy, no holds barred Gaggan Anand Restaurant As Tam explains: “Chinese cuisine is a greatly misunderstood style outside China which leaves it virtually untapped.” However, one thing that cannot be ignored is Chinese cuisine and its diversity. “When you try to tackle such a grand cuisine, there will always be purists who are stuck in tradition who will take your offerings too literally. There is also a problem with cooking food the way you believe it should be versus what guests are accustomed to eating with regards to their food memories,” says Tam. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .