We chat to… Chef Tong
We chat to… Chef Tong
Chef Tong of Kingston’s iDimSum Luxe on the inspiration behind his dishes
Hakkasan and its dim sum-focused sibling Yauatcha brought high-end Chinese dining to London, garnering much acclaim and Michelin stars for their contemporary twist on traditional dishes in gorgeously glamorous settings. The chef behind them was Tong Chee Hwee, who was discovered by the restaurants’ founder Alan Yau while he was working in Singapore. Chef Tong went on to oversee several more openings for Hakkasan around the world. He has now joined JRC Group, which is behind iDimSum in Wimbledon and restaurants such as Shikumen, and has come to Kingston’s riverside with iDimSum Luxe.
The restaurant, which is located at the old Henry’s Café Bar site, offers a refined range of Cantonese dishes, specialising in seafood and its signature dish of Peking duck – and, of course, dim sum. Its prawn toast is just incredible – served as a vast ball of delicious juicy whole prawn. A range of seafood dim sum looks like a jewellery box, presented in an array of colours and topped with decadent additions such as caviar and truffle. There’s a fish tank on site for the fresh lobster with noodles, and frequent deliveries from Billingsgate market ensure the seafood is spankingly fresh.
Chef Tong was first inspired to cook by his grandmother. One of the dishes of his childhood is on the menu – a steamed pork belly with pickled mustard greens. “It’s a very authentic dish, with the pork fried and steamed until tender and the fat is rendered away. It has a very homely feeling,” he tells us.
The London-based chef is passionate about what he does. “In my spare time I am always researching new dishes, looking at how to bring in elements from other cuisines and how to innovate. It’s my hobby. I don’t see what I do as a job…”
As well as working with iDimSum in Kingston, Chef Tong is opening an exciting new restaurant called Gouqi in Charing Cross – which will be inspired by nature and will be aiming for Michelin-star success.
And as for his new Kingston restaurant, he adds: “Cantonese food is light, delicate and healthy. I want people to come and experience it and to come back for more.”