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This famous Hong Kong chef wants to reinvent chicken rice and chilli crab

At his upcoming restaurant at the Capitol Kempinski Hotel, Forbidden Duck's Alvin Leung will serve chilli crab with corn bread instead of mantou because it will "absorb sauce better".

Hot on the heels of Forbidden Duck's opening in May this year, Chef Alvin Leung – yes, he of the molecular xiao long baos and three Michelin stars – is launching yet another restaurant in Singapore.

But don’t expect “nitrogen or spherification or smoke”, he’s quick to warn right off the bat.

At 15 Stamford By Alvin Leung, slated to open at the Capitol Kempinski Hotel later this month, he’ll be serving up his “take” on Southeast Asian food, he told us over the phone from Toronto.

“I don’t want people expecting frozen chilli crab ice cream or powdered chicken rice,” Leung quipped, with only a hint of impatience.

“I want to still maintain all the flavours and DNA of Southeast Asian food, with some minor changes and adaptations through technology,” said the 57-year-old, who, on top of his flagship Bo Innovation and three other restaurants in Hong Kong, has opened establishments in cities including London and Toronto.

Alvin Leung 15 Stamford Capitol Kempinski restaurant

For instance, from his “fantastic kitchen” at 15 Stamford, on which “a lot of money” was spent, he’ll be serving up chicken rice with roasted chicken that comes off a “giant rotisserie in the centre of the kitchen”. The rice will be cooked in a “very strong chicken stock” requiring no MSG.

Another example is his chilli crab, which will take the form of char-grilled Alaskan King crab served with a sauce of crab stock that is cooked separately. “Often, with chilli crab, you put the whole crab in and cook it. But Alaskan King crab is a delicate crab. I just want to grill it and make it simple, but I want that chilli sauce,” he said.

And instead of traditional mantou, he’ll be serving his chilli crab with corn bread, which “has a nice texture and tends to absorb sauce better”.

His dishes, he said, are a hybrid of several recipes from his journeys around Asia, and will include influences from Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. There will also be one or two dishes from Hong Kong.

"People say, 'what do you know about Southeast Asian food?’ Well, I can tell you, I’ve eaten a lot of it, and I have a lot of friends who are Malaysian and Singaporean. I talk to them. I know a lot of chefs. You learn. You don’t have to be Southeast Asian to appreciate the food.”

Leung also let on that he has just shot a show called Wok The World, in which he went around Southeast Asia looking for the Chinese fingerprint in food.

Although Leung was tight-lipped about specific plans, he said “there will be more (restaurants) coming in Singapore”, To start, he hopes to develop expansion plans for Forbidden Duck if he finds the right location.

“I never say ‘never’ to anything, and I never say no." He continued: “It’s not about trying to penetrate the market or about a good opportunity to make some money. I just love to be in Singapore. I have lots of friends. I love the food scene, I love the weather.”

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