Inside the kitchen: Asia Asia.
Sang Lee, executive chef, Solutions Leisure Group - which manages Asia Asia, Karma Cafe, Q43, and Lock, Stock and Barrel in Dubai - talked to Caterer about being involved in a kitchen's design from the very beginning; and how chefs make kitchens work for them.
Lee not only developed the menu for Asia Asia, but used his expertise in kitchen layout to create the kitchens which he now runs.
Lee works with builders and designers to ensure the kitchens in his outlets are tailored to the needs of the restaurant, and that the function suits the type of cuisine.
He decides to give Caterer the low-down on how exactly to create the perfect kitchen.
Were you involved in the fit-out and/or design and/or layout of the kitchens?
Yes, I've been involved from the BOQ stage [NB: Bill of Quantities stage is an initial construction stage before building begins] with reference to choosing the equipment and liaising with contractors for the MEP works for some of our kitchens. I also always work closely with suppliers for equipment fit-out.
What, in your opinion, are a hotel kitchen's essential features?
For any kitchen it is essential to have a combi-oven, 6-8 ring burner with a conventional oven beneath, deep fat fryer, walk-in fridge, and also, if you're lucky, a walk-in freezer and a blast chiller. For Asia Asia, we have specific requirements for a robata (which is a Japanese barbecue) and the absolute dream product of the Josper indoor barbecue.
What is your one desert-island product that you can't live without?
Salt or good quality cooking oil -you can't season anything without salt and you can't cook Asian food without cooking oil.
What is your (or the restaurant's) signature dish?
My personal favourite is the hamiche ceviche, which is served with a yuzu wasabi sauce. Asia Asia's most popular signature dish is the crispy aromatic duck, which is served in the traditional style with pancakes, spring onion, cucumber and hoisin sauce.
Who are some of your kitchen's notable suppliers?
For Lock, Stock and Barrel, which is opening in November 2015, we have a double deck pizza oven and a Josper oven for the steak. At Karma Kafe, we have a Rational combi oven, a double wok, Vitamix, Kitchen Aid mixers, a robata. At Asia Asia, we use a Pacojet, a double Robata, an Electrolux French top oven, the Masahiro brand Yanagi knives for sashimi, and the Nenohi brand Teba boning knife for sushi.
We serve 750kg of duck per week (" tonnes) - I told you it was the most popular dish!
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