Essential Macau Feb | Celebration menu of Master Chef Chin

Chinese New Year is the most eagerly anticipated festival of the year for Chinese people. It is a time for everybody to reunite with family and enjoy a big feast. As Hotel Okura prepares to welcome the brand new Year of the Dog, Executive Chef Chin Kam Wah of 28/F has created a special menu brim-full of auspicious delicacies.

Chef Chin started his cooking journey in 1979 in Hong Kong, during the Asian depression. There were not enough jobs for people, and working in a kitchen was the dream of many. Once Chin did land work in a kitchen he was immediately hooked on cooking and knew that this would be his lifelong career, and under his mentors’ guidance he gradually perfected his cooking skills.  

“The most important thing I learned from my mentors was ‘cooking morality’. What is called ‘cooking morality’ is respect for others. Firstly, we need to respect our guests and understand that ‘guests first’ is very important.  Then, we need to respect our colleagues; a good restaurant can’t [be successful] without a united culinary team.” Chef Chin says. “This is what I always teach my apprentices.”  

Over the last 40 years, Chef Chin has encountered many unfriendly guests but always remembers the code of ‘cooking morality’, treating all of them with sincerity. “There was an unforgettable guest who ordered steamed fish. As you know, the size of a fish after steaming will reduce. When we served the dish to him he insisted we had stolen part of the fish!  

“As a chef, we have the responsibility to explain what happened to the fish even if the complaint is unreasonable. In this case, I invited this guest to visit our kitchen, and showed him how to cook steamed fish. In the end, he was moved by our sincerity and passion and we became good friends afterwards,” Chef Qin laughs.   

Today, this sophisticated chef still believes studying is the only way to improve. He often competes in cooking  competitions, winning countless awards. 

“In addition to entering competitions, I judge many different competitions,” says the chef. “During the competitions, I can get many new inspirations. If I join a competition as a participant the pressure pushes me to come up with some new ideas. The experience can also help me jump out of my comfort zone and improve a lot. When I serve as a judge, I also learn a lot from the participants.” 

The chef’s signature dish – Sautéed Chinese Perch with Olive Seeds and Preserved Vegetables – was also born from a world-class competition in Shanghai. Chinese people attach great importance to the meaning of a dish thus this fish is served with the head and tail, signifying a good experience and a good ending. The sliced fish fillets are deep fried and drizzled with savory preserved vegetable sauce, finished with crunchy olive seeds. To enhance the texture, guests are advised to eat the fish with slices of ham, green onions and fried egg. 

“I spent more than a month creating this dish. As the judges said, to make fried fish is not difficult; to make it unparalleled is more important. So I paid a lot of effort to the sauce and the ingredients,” he explains. 

Chef Chin is a trailblazer of Macau resorts’ catering industry. In 2004, he was chosen as one of the first batch of famous chefs for the first resort opened with foreign capital in Macau.  In 2010, Chef Chin wanted to improve himself in a new atmosphere thus he joined Hotel Okura Macau. He was originally hired for its MICE and wedding dining but later the hotel realised that they should let more people know how good the food of this talented chef was, moving him to the helm of the hotel’s 28/F Chinese restaurant.  

“Continuing to innovate” is the cooking philosophy of the chef.  In addition to participating in competitions he often goes to the local wet market to apprise seasonal produce in order to design a new menu every quarter. In celebration of the Chinese New Year, the chef and his culinary team have created special menus. “The key element of Chinese New Year is good fortune,” he says. “All the dishes should have a good name for auspicious blessings.” 

Technical creativity and elegance best sum up the dishes developed by Chef Chin. He whets the appetite with a wide selection of dim sum such as Golden Fish Shape Pork Dumplings, which contain the wish of all diners for a good New Year: symbolising a fish in water as well as all kinds of adorable buns representing an all-inclusive New Year with Steamed Milk Custard Bun and Mushroom Bun. 

To showcase the unique characteristics of the menu, the chef adds many little details; for example, the four colours shrimp dumplings. “We use different juice; like from the green spinach, orange carrot and pink beetroot to make the dumpling skins more delightful. We want our diners to have a colourful future – just like the dumplings!” he says.  

“In addition to traditional dishes like noodles and steamed dried oysters and black moss, I really want to showcase more creative dishes. For instance, the sauteed prawns and scallops in pomelo sauce. I use the scallops – correlating to the Cantonese phrase 富贵带人来 (unsolicited wealth and followers) – to do some fusions with pomelo sauce and fried taro. This dish will give our diners a brand new experience.”  

Other highlights include Bird’s Nest with Shark and Scallop Dumpling, Wonton Chicken Soup, and a la carte items such as Salmon Sashimi, King Prawns with Crab Roe, Pan-fried Scallops with Shrimp Paste and Crab Roe, Sautéed Fillet of Beef with Pumpkin and wild Mushrooms – plus much more!