Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai on His Time at the Two Michelin Starred Lai Ching Heen of Regent HK
With Two Stars in Michelin Guide Hong Kong & Macau 2023, Two Diamonds in Black Pearl Restaurant Guide and a spot in South China Morning Post 100 Top Tables 2023, Lai Ching Heen restaurant is the culinary signature of Regent Hong Kong and a gastronomic force to be reckoned with.
Once known as Yan Too Been, the Cantonese fine dining restaurant is helmed by Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai. To Chef Lau, Lai Ching Heen is like a second home. He has been there since its original opening in 1984, helping and guiding the restaurant to its esteemed position today. This is where he has spent over 30 years of his culinary career and where he humbly continues to refine his crafts. And, after all the years, his passion for Cantonese cuisine and culture still burns brightly. For every dish, Chef Lau seamlessly fuses his soul to further cement the legacy of Lai Ching Heen, and to bring the treasured traditional delicacies to new heights. Here, Chef Lau shares his culinary philosophy and his time at Lai Ching Heen and Regent Hong Kong.
1. How would you define Cantonese cuisine?
Cantonese cuisine emanates from a treasured heritage with rich traditions and time-honoured techniques crafted with fresh produce and abundance from the sea and land into a sublime spectrum of flavours. While the cuisine is associated with Guangdong province and Hong Kong, it reflects influences from other regions of China and has a global appeal.
Cantonese cuisine is acclaimed for its fresh flavours and ingredients, including those showcasing the abundant seafood and the rich agriculture of the Pearl River Delta. While dim sum, congee and steamed garoupa with ginger and soy sauce may be the first Cantonese dishes that come to mind, the cuisine is filled with refined dishes crafted with techniques that have been passed down over centuries.
2. How would you describe your culinary philosophy?
Using the freshest and finest seasonal ingredients, I craft refined Cantonese cuisine with traditional cooking methods I have mastered over decades. During a culinary career that has spanned over 40 years, I have developed a vast knowledge of Cantonese culinary arts, which is reflected in my cuisine. Most importantly, I infuse passion and soul into my dishes.
I am continuously evolving my cuisine, from sourcing the best products from around the world to elevating classic dishes and adding contemporary touches to all-time favourites.
"Most importantly, I infuse passion and soul into my dishes."
- Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai
3. What does Lai Ching Heen mean to you?
I first joined Regent Hong Kong when the hotel originally opened in 1980 – working in the Chinese banqueting kitchen and joined the opening team of Lai Ching Heen in 1984. After working my way up the culinary ranks, I have been at the helm of this kitchen for over twenty years now, with Head Chef Cheng Man Sang working alongside me for the past two decades. It is especially sentimental and heart-warming for me to have the restaurant return to its Regent heritage and reclaim its original name – Lai Ching Heen. It is a true homecoming.
4. Congratulations on being awarded Two Stars on the Michelin Guide 2023 and Two Diamonds on the Black Pearl Restaurant Guide 2023. What does this mean to you?
It is a great honour and accomplishment to receive these prestigious accolades, which reflect the dedication and hard work of our entire Lai Ching Heen team.
We are thrilled to achieve this recognition, which fuels our passion to continuously provide our guests with exceptional dining experiences. We are committed to building on the beloved legacy and heritage of Lai Ching Heen with the return of Regent Hong Kong.
5. Can you share with us your all-time favourite Cantonese dish to cook, and to eat?
In my leisure time, I enjoy cooking and eating simple food – from steamed fish and fresh vegetables to rice and noodle dishes. Whenever I travel abroad for work or holiday, I seize the opportunity to taste local dishes and discover authentic flavours and ingredients. This fuels my inspiration in creating new dishes and refining Cantonese classics.
"I am continuously evolving my cuisine, from sourcing the best products from around the world to elevating classic dishes and adding contemporary touches to all-time favourites."
- Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai
6. How would you describe the dining scene at Lai Ching Heen?
Dining at Lai Ching Heen is an immersive experience. The discovery begins with its elegant décor, which is inspired by a jade jewellery box which opens to reveal a rich heritage of Cantonese culinary treasures. You enter the restaurant through a jade passageway which leads to the main dining room, where majestic views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline unfold before you. From stunning One of the hallmarks of the Lai Ching Heen experience is the signature jade place settings, which have been featured on the tables since the restaurant first opened in 1984. There are so many special touches – from an introduction to the art of Chinese tea culture with our Tea Sommelier to a selection of homemade sauces to enhance our dim sum and à la carte selectons. We have generations of guests who dine with us regularly. For business entertaining and celebrations or intimate dinners, we can curate a special menu for a bespoke discovery of Cantonese treasures.
Photo: Regent Hong Kong
All imagery of Chef Lau Yiu Fai is provided by Regent Hong Kong.
Address: Ground Floor, Regent Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong | Website: hongkong.regenthotels.com/dining-destination/lai-ching-heen | Phone: +852 2313 2313 | Email: email@example.com | Instagram: @laichingheen | Facebook: @LaiChingHeen