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How John Anthony elevates the art of traditional dim sum

Staying true to tradition while flying the flag for sustainability

Time Out Hong Kong in partnership with John Anthony
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Chef Saito Chau takes a disc of dough in his left hand. With his right, he drops a dollop of fresh pork into the centre of it. “You must have the perfect proportion of water, flour and oil to achieve the right thickness in your dough,” he says. “You want it to be thin – a few millimetres thin – but also just thick enough to seal the filling so that it doesn’t break when you hold the dumpling in your chopsticks.”

John Anthony is led by Chef Saito Chau, who worked with award-winning Chef Man Sing Lee of Mott 32 to create John Anthony’s innovative menu, influenced by the bold flavours of the spice routes. Chau is one of the few in Hong Kong still carrying the banner for the culinary art of making dim sum by hand. He knows, for example, that every xiao long bao needs between 18 and 22 folds to retain its integrity. He also knows that a filling of fresh pork yields the richest flavour, and that Cantonese xiao long bao are thinner and more delicate than their Shanghai counterparts. That’s what over 20 years of experience in making dim sum the traditional way – carefully, by hand – will do.

Classically trained in Chinese cooking, Chau has always had a deep-rooted curiosity for dim sum techniques. That led him in his spare time to observe and learn from the dim sum department. In 2000, he was invited by renowned chef, Jacky Yu, to helm the kitchen of his private restaurant Xi Yan. It was here that Chau was deeply inspired by east-meets-west cooking, developing a penchant for experimenting with flavours, textures and techniques, while remaining true to dim sum traditions.

Dim sum literally translates to ‘touching the heart’. This is evident in his determination, commitment and craftsmanship in preparing each bite-sized morsel from start to finish, especially in a world where there are many ways to save time and money and cut corners. “You can’t develop the same quality with a machine,” Chau says. “Dim sum made by hand has more soul.” The soulfulness he is referring to really shines in several of the menu’s signature items including the Australian Wagyu Beef Char Siu, Veggie and Beetroot Dumplings, Black Truffle Vegetarian Siu Mai and the Traditional Pork Soup Dumplings.

A lifetime of experience working with numerous chefs and brands – this is all brought together in Chau’s culinary creations at John Anthony now. John Anthony is a modern interpretation of the classics with a rule-breaking ethos when it comes to being sustainable in an industry fueled by excess. With eco-friendly touches, such as coasters and chopstick holders made from upcycled plastic and only sourcing ingredients from sustainable suppliers, John Anthony hopes to lead the industry not only through its delicious and forward-thinking Cantonese cuisine, but also by setting a new standard for environmental consciousness in Hong Kong restaurant design.

For reservations, contact John Anthony at 2898 3788 or reservations@johnanthony.hk.

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