A celebrated chef with decades of experience up his sleeve, Chef Chong Chee Wah is now responsible for creating your degustation experience at Chāo Cháo, a stylish Chinese eatery and Rooftop Lounge located atop Alila SCBD Jakarta. Abiding by traditional cooking techniques, Chef Chong uses only the finest ingredients and adds contemporary flair that plays wonder with your senses.
by Rizky Adityo
E: Hi chef, how would you describe your style of cooking?
A: I still follow traditional Chinese techniques. Although right now, I try to keep up with evolving technology to create contemporary Chinese dishes that are vibrant but still very flavourful.
E: Chāo Cháo is an award-winning Chinese restaurant. In your own words, what makes it so special?
A: At Chāo Cháo, we strive to always give our guests the best quality, starting from the ingredients to the way we prepare them; everything is treated with the highest respect. Another thing that makes this restaurant stand out is the location. We are in one of Jakarta’s most iconic skyscrapers, so guests get to enjoy their food while admiring the beautiful skyline of this great city.
E: What dish would you recommend to guests visiting Chāo Cháo?
A: Of course, everything on the menu! But off the top of my head, our signature Chāo Cháo 8 Treasures Dim Sum, because this is the only place to find it in the city. Other than the dim sum, I would recommend trying the Peking Duck, which we serve with Siberian caviar or black truffle foie gras sauce. For carnivores, the Oriental-style Tomahawk is also one of the best sellers.
E: Before moving to Indonesia, to what countries has your career taken you and what country has had the greatest impact on your culinary style?
A: I am very grateful that this job has taken me to live in other parts of the world and given me opportunities to work under some of the best mentors. I have been working in kitchens for over 20 years, and through those years, I have been lucky to work in places including Melbourne, Singapore, India, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Being a Malaysian myself, the places that have had the most impact on my cooking skills are China and Melbourne, because I got to learn many new things about Chinese cuisine.
E: Has there ever been an ingredient that you weren’t able to master and decided to give up on?
A: I don’t think so. As a chef, I always try to be better at what I do. If there’s an ingredient that I am curious about, I will try my hardest to cook with it and create something amazing out of it. Believe me when I say that I will not stop until it becomes an amazing dish.
E: What is your view on the culinary world right now?
A: With the rise of technology, many kitchen appliances are evolving. More kitchens are starting to use them, and I am not complaining one bit because they help me a lot. Another thing worth mentioning is how generous chefs have become. They are more eager to share stories or skills on how to make your dish better. Every day I get to learn more great things from them.
E: If you had to choose only one dish to have for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Anything with vegetables. The reason is simple, because vegetables were the first ingredient that I ever cooked for my father when I was a little kid.
E: Do you have any advice for budding chefs?
A: My advice is to be eager to learn, and if you don’t fully understand then please ask. Don’t be afraid to ask because that’s how you improve your skills in the kitchen.
Xinjiang Cumin Lamb Chop
- 300g lamb chop
- 1g cumin powder
- 15g red chilli
- 1g shallot, finely chopped
- 50g Szechuan chicken dressing
- 1g Shaoxing wine
- 1g sesame oil
- 1g sunflower oil
- 1 g salt
- 1g white pepper powder
- 1 g garlic, chopped
- 50g kimchi
- Clean the lamb, then chop it into 13-cm-long pieces with a 1-cm thickness.
- Marinate the lamb with salt, white pepper, cumin powder and chopped garlic for one hour.
- Heat the pan until it reaches 80 degrees then add a little bit of sunflower oil and pan-fry the meat for five minutes.
- Add all the ingredients except cumin powder and let it sit for one minute so that all the ingredients are absorbed.
- Serve the lamb chop on the plate and sprinkle with cumin powder.
CHĀO CHÁO JAKARTA
Jalan Jenderal Sudirman
Jakarta 12910, Indonesia
T: (+62) 8119628001