Charles Borden, John Harrison
The occasional celebrity chef who visits Moscow is likely to share wares at Nedalny Vostok, a restaurant that takes pride in being at the cutting edge (so to speak). Last month, Hong Kong’s “Extreme-Chinese” chef, Alvin Leung, came to town with his crew for a week. Leung’s Bo Innovation recently earned two Michelin stars in the first edition of Michelin’s Hong Kong/Macau red book. With the moniker “demon chef” tattooed on his forearm, this relatively young chef has become a global sensation in just a few years. He fitted right in at Nedalny Vostok, which has its own adventurous, Asian influenced menu and a bright, open, central kitchen where guests can watch the action.
According to Nedalny Vostok host chef Glen Ballis, Leung is self-trained, an acoustical engineer by trade who still manages by day, but chefs by night. Glen described Leung’s presentations as “twisted Chinese,” but very straight forward, drawn from a detailed knowledge of food and attention to detail and quality. Glen raved about Leung’s guest chef visit, and the opportunity for him and his crew to work together to serve the Nedalny Vostok menu and the Guest Chef menu, in Leung’s case a nine-course fixed set at 3500 rubles.
Although Leung’s “seared foie gras with white miso” has become a signature dish, Leung in his travels is as likely to use more common ingredients, a kangaroo and vegemite dish in Sydney, or a span and fried egg sandwich (albeit pigeon eggs with truffle slices). Leung does cocktails as well. His Lichee Bomb was a hit of the evening, prepared at the table with lichee sauce and vodka stirred up in liquid nitrogen at minus 196 degrees.
Chef Leung likes to visit his tables late in the evening, and Passport editor John Harrison was able to have a few words with him:
You’ve brought a Chinese menu – northern, southern?
Everywhere; Chinese North, South, East West. I’ve brought “extreme Chinese,” basically a lot of Chinese flavors and techniques mixed with other infl uences. It’s my second night but I’ve gotten a bit of Russian inspiration. I am trying to give you a different Chinese experience.
How do you name the dishes?
Inspiration comes from the regions, for example the ‘jo lo’ sauce is from Sichuan, the crab dish from Shanghai, the scallop dish from Shanghai, and the oyster dish is inspired from Guangzhou.
What about the Russian influences?
There’s the caviar dish, very Russian. For desert I created a sweet borsch with star anise. I even did a version of chicken Kiev.
Is there a chance of Russian-Chinese fusion food taking off?
You’ll be the judge of that. We have had a very good response so far.
I’m doing one special drink, the “Lichee bomb” made lichee sauce mixed with vodka and cooled by liquid nitrogen. I put some sauce stuff on a spoon, dropped it in vodka cooled to minus 186 degrees, fished them out, they tasted weird, no amazing - a mixture of lichee and vodka, very visually eff ective with clouds of steam rising up. You can mix vodka with all kinds of fl avours. It’s a very versatile drink.