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A taste of old Hong Kong

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Chef Man gets nostalgic for the past with an old-fashioned teahouse

DEEP POCKETS and reservations made weeks in advance are essential to enjoying Hong Kong chef’s Man Wai Yin creations. His popular Chef Man restaurant at the Eastin Grand Sathorn Bangkok is one of the most popular venues in town for dim sum and Peking duck while his M Krub, just up the road at Mahanakhon Cube, is more upmarket, offering contemporary Chinese fare in a private, club-like atmosphere.
For his latest venue, however, the long-time Bangkok resident has gone back to basics, opening a chain of Hong Kong-style teahouses called Chairman by Chef Man that offer affordable Chinese fare perfect for everyday dining. Four outlets are now in operation and the main branch is at the Jas Ramintra – a new community mall on Lat Plakhao Road. 
If you’ve been to Hong Kong, you’ll be familiar with the classic, 1960s-style coffee shops known as Bing Shi or Cha Chaan Teng offering unique Hong Kong East-meets-West cuisine and beverages. Formica tabletops, mint green walls, mosaic floor tiles and iron shutters form the usual decor and Chairman by Chef Man gives off much the same vibe. The furniture is very ’70s, the counter is large and open, the window frames are green and the floors are covered with ceramic tiles. The corrugated iron sliding gate adds to the nostalgia as do the pictures of old Hong Kong and its iconic double-decker buses. Seating at Chairman Jas Ramintra is adequate for 130 diners and there’s also a private room for parties of 10.
“As a Hong Kong native, I grew up with Cha Chaan Teng. It is a Hong Kong institution. Cha Chaan Teng is where real Hong Kong people go to eat, mingle and chill. The place has a unique ambience – a mixture of Chinese and Western influences – reflecting Hong Kong’s history as part of Britain,” Man says,
“I like to bring a sense of home to my business and with Chairman I’m recreating the unique atmosphere of Cha Chaan Teng where people can come and enjoy comfort food at any time of day. This concept is new to Thailand and very close to my heart,” Man explains.
He’s also replaced the short-lived Chef Man Express at EmQuartier mall with Chairman by Chef Man, hoping to draw more diners with a wide variety of dishes ranging from snacks, authentic Hong Kong buns, classic noodles, stir-fried rice, signature beverages and desserts. 
“The flagship shop at the Jas Ramintra is a bit out of town, but the mall is surrounded by residential areas that fit our expansion strategies. We hope that by bringing real Cantonese Hong Kong food to the area, we will be able to serve those who enjoy Hong Kong delicacies but not the commute to downtown Bangkok,” he explains. 
Man began his career in the culinary industry at the age of 13, working first as a kitchen understudy then moving through the ranks in a Hong Kong restaurant before relocating to Bangkok in 1995. He honed his skills as executive Chinese chef at the Amari Hotel and set up his first Chef Man restaurant in 2011 under the Chef Man Group of Restaurants.
One must-try is a milky cup of tea with a Bo Lo Bao or pineapple bun (Bt120). Regarded as a part of Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritage, the soft bun has a crunchy and sugary top crust that looks like a pineapple, hence the name. There is no pineapple in the bun. It’s served hot from the oven with a thin piece of butter in between the halves that melts slowly into the soft and fluffy bread. Another treat is Hong Kong-style French Toast (Bt120), for which sees two pieces of sliced bread dipped in beaten egg then deep-fried and served with peanut butter spread and syrup. 
I check out the wok-fried Hor Fun rice noodles with egg and shrimp (or beef if you prefer) and Chinese kale (Bt220) and find it tasty and not too oily. The steamed shrimp wontons dressed with a slightly tangy and spicy sauce (Bt180) are also excellent as are the deep-fried fish fillets in Sichuan spicy sauce (Bt220). For fried dishes, Chef Man recommends duck confit served with black pepper sauce (Bt150) or crispy chicken that is marinated with herbs overnight before boiling and deep-frying (Bt280 for a half and Bt500 for a whole).
A set of barbecued pork, roasted duck and crispy roasted pork belly (Bt300) is perfect for two persons. And if you must have rice, opt for the Portuguese-influenced rice curry with chicken (Bt230), where the rice is first stir-fried with egg then cooked au gratin with tender chicken, diced potatoes and curry powder. 
For dessert, there’s the delicious Hong Kong-style noodle dessert in chilled mango cream (Bt95). The noodle-like strips are made from jelly and coconut cream and the mango cream is refreshing thanks to the right blend of mango puree, milk and vanilla ice cream. 
 
MAN’S THE BOSS
>>Chairman by Chef Man is on the second floor of the Jas Ramintra on Lat Plakhao Road. It’s open daily from 11am to 9pm. Call (02) 041 8330.
>>Other outlets are at the EmQuartier, the Empire Tower, and the Athenee Tower, Check out www.ChefManGroup.com.
 

Published : January 22, 2016

By : Khetsirin Pholdhampalit The S