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Red Jade’s new chef invigorates menu

By Monica Araneta Tiosejo
Images by Jules Vivas

Imperial Peking Duck 2

Red jade is supposed to harnesses vitality and passion. The warrior’s talisman not only adorns but surrounds Raymond Yeung, the new executive chef of Red Jade, the Chinese restaurant at the Manila Hotel. A third generation chef from Hong Kong, Chef Raymond’s grandfather even worked in the emperor’s kitchen during the Qing Dynasty. For many centuries, the Cantonese were considered the best cooks in all of China. Food is still at the center of their lives, and it’s quite possible that for some, it is the meaning of life itself.

Deep Fried Crispy Japan Tofu 3Deep Fried Crispy Tofu

The dim sum is delicious, with enough variety to fill and keep the steaming bamboo baskets interesting. The restaurant is elegantly wrapped in red hues and gilt, and for special occasions, is a welcome change from casual teahouses. This is a reminder that a dining experience can be just about the environment as the food. But beyond dim sum are the signature dishes Chef Raymond has been working on since August. Red Jade used to serve all-around regional Chinese food with some Cantonese items. With Chef Raymond at the helm, it’s like going on a culinary tour of Hong Kong.

Chef Raymond 2Chef Raymond Yeung

What makes Cantonese cuisine different from other styles of Chinese cooking is it preserves an ingredient’s original flavor. Sauces aside, sometimes a dish does end up on the mild side of the taste spectrum. So the Deep-fried Crispy Japan Tofu that held firm to its blandness is not just a starter but a statement that the menu is not afraid of authenticity. The Chicken Consommé, Fish Tendon, and Morel is an example of nose-to-tail or head-to-scale cooking as in times of hardship, the Cantonese had to learn how to use every part of the animal. Plus, the more exotic and medicinal an ingredient sounds, the more of an exquisite delicacy it is, the seasonal type, the expensive type. The Imperial Peking Duck is a centrepiece. You can smell the spices the bird was bathed in before roasting and carving, its skin gleaming, crackling in your mouth.

Chicken consomme, fish tendon, morel 2Chicken Consommé, Fish Tendon, and Morel

Chef Raymond deviates from tradition with the presentation of the Wok-fried Scallops, Crystal Prawns, Asparagus, and XO Sauce, and the Braised US Beef Cheeks and Five Spices. “I changed the cooking skills. I also changed the ingredients to elevate the dish,” he said. “I have almost most 30 years of experience. I have worked abroad and experienced other people’s cultures, which resulted in a modern Chinese cuisine using the best quality ingredients from the country they are known to be the best. Even local items like lechon will be on the menu. Watercress and kangkong… Good food is not always high class, even low class but good quality, I will use in my dish,” he continued, explaining his new menu.

Imperial Peking Duck 3Imperial Peking Duck 

Deep-fried dishes are not big in the Cantonese repertoire, but when they are, they are huge! The Deep fried Salted Egg Crispy Squid straddles other Asian influences, crossing over to Singapore and its food trends, and the Deep-fried Royal Chicken, is said to be traditional, but fried chicken is as universal as art and love.

The chef rounds out the meal with Fried Brown and White Rice, Pickled Radish, Raisins, Wolfberry, and Barley. “The fried rice is good for vegetarians. It’s a healthy dish using less oil, also using egg whites. Egg whites have a very pure flavor. The dish is seasoned only with salt. I suggest to eat the rice last to make sure you’re full.”

Steamed golden charcoal bun, salted pork, custard milk cream 2Steamed Golden Charcoal Bun, Salted Pork, and Custard Milk Cream

Cantonese desserts are typically heavy and sweet and the Chilled Mango Cream, Pomelo, and Tapioca, and the Steamed Golden Charcoal Bun, Salted Yolk, and Custard Milk Cream did not disappoint.

In Hong Kong, the best dishes, the specialties, are not on the menu, but luckily in Red Jade, they are.

Red Jade is open Monday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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