Executive Chinese Chef Chan Yan Tak
The road to three Michelin stars, one of the world’s most coveted culinary accolades, wasn’t an easy one for Executive Chef Chan Yan Tak of contemporary Cantonese restaurant, Lung King Heen at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.
It took humble beginnings and years of hard work, but what a journey it has been! Even before its Red Guide nod, Lung King Heen, which translates to “View of the Dragon,” was popular with locals and travellers alike for its exquisite food and impeccable service. Now, get to know the man behind the Michelin stars.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Chef Tak started his career in his early teens out of necessity. His knowledge comes exclusively from hands-on experience and a love of food versus formal training. Having initially left The Regent Hong Kong (formerly a Four Seasons Hotel) to care for his youngest child following the passing of his wife, Chef Tak was lured back to the kitchen – as executive sous chef at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong – by William Mackay, regional vice-president and general manager.
“I initially had no plans to come out of retirement,” explains Tak, “but when I saw what we could do together, I reconsidered. The opportunity to work with management that really believe in creativity and providing only the best experience possible was really what made the decision for me.”
The decision has had the biggest impact on his career to date. Though he is quick to point out that the Michelin stars that followed are not solely his to claim. The Chef is quick to point out that the stars belong to each member of his team, some who have been by his side for many years and create the overall dining experience. Michelin admits to following Chef Tak for years prior to his tenure at Four Seasons, sending its anonymous inspectors to dine at Lung King Heen 12 times before releasing the first Hong Kong and Macau Michelin Guide in 2008.
In addition to Chef Tak’s menu, guests savour breathtaking views of Victoria Harbour through floor-to-ceiling windows in a spacious dining room decorated with crisp linens, contemporary flower arrangements, elegant white plates and embellishments in line with the rest of the luxurious hotel. The staff is expert at intuiting needs, whether a guest is entertaining a business associate or dining with family. The Michelin Guide also notes that “the delightful serving team prepares dishes with great care and obvious pride.”
Chinese cuisine varies by region, and Cantonese is lighter in flavour than other regional cuisines, says Chef Tak. This makes the quality of ingredients critical for even the most basic dishes.
“We always select the best produce available, even if it means the costs are higher.”
Dim sum at Lung King Heen is steamed to order and seafood is plucked from a tank in the kitchen. With fresh ingredients come flair and creativity—the occasional gold leaf, truffle or caviar accents often surfacing next to standard dishes that look like works of art. Lung King Heen’s extensive seasonal menu includes more than 100 choices. Chef’s choice? The steamed lobster and scallop dumpling, baked pork buns and baked whole abalone puff with diced chicken.