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The Shangri-La鈥檚 World-class Cantonese Cooking Team

The Shangri-La鈥檚 World-class Cantonese Cooking Team
By Michael Dow

棣欏澶у巺Tianjin鈥檚 army of Cantonese food fans are in for treat this summer as one of the finest restaurants in the city prepares to unleash its new and improved menu. The new repertoire of sensational dishes at the Shangri-La Hotel鈥檚 Shang Palace restaurant will include all of the traditional classics, including excellent dim sum and stunning seafood options, but it will also feature an array of other delicious dishes. The team behind this culinary revolution is being led by globally-renowned Hong Kong-born Executive Chef Oliver Lai. Mr. Lai, along with dim sum specialist Guo Jia Xi from Guangdong Province, is responsible for some of the finest Cantonese cuisine in the city, if not the country. We recently met up with him and his team to find out more about what is going on at this exceptional venue. Here is what they had to say.


Firstly Chef Lai, please introduce yourself and your team to our readers.

I was born in Hong Kong, which is where I developed my passion for Cantonese cuisine and Chinese food in general. During my career as a chef I have had the privilege of working all over the world, including at some highly prestigious hotels in Indonesia, the Philippines and a number of other major cities in China.
I am incredibly fortunate to be working with such a great team of creative and highly experienced chefs from all over China. We have nine dim sum chefs from Guangdong Province and a number of staff from Sichuan, Beijing and the Northeast. The collective skills and the diversity of our team allow us to consistently come up with fantastic new dishes and unique ways of preparing traditional classics.

Give us a sense of what people can expect when they visit Shang Palace and what gives this venue the edge over all the other Cantonese restaurants in Tianjin?
Our restaurant, the Shang Palace, is located at the Shangri-La Hotel Tianjin, right next to the Hai River. Since it opened it has gained a superb reputation amongst both local people and foreigners who visit our venue during their stay in the city. Of course there are other Cantonese restaurants in Tianjin but I am often reassured that this is an elite establishment. It goes without saying that our menu includes a wide variety of Cantonese classics and dim sum dishes but in addition to all of that we also offer Beijing roast duck and a range of other popular dishes from different parts of the country.

I am a firm believer in constant renewal in order to set ourselves apart from the competition. Our mission is to stand out in terms of food selection, taste and presentation. We also have to use fresh seasonal ingredients all year round. This is especially important when it comes to delicious organic vegetables and fresh seafood. Our customers鈥 health is of the utmost importance to us. That is why we strive to keep our dishes as healthy as they possibly can be.

As well as having excellent food, the restaurant is known for its elegant and ambient surroundings. It has a traditional regal Chinese feel. Dining here makes you feel like an emperor. What鈥檚 more, our discreet yet highly attentive service is second to none.

What are your signature dishes?
Every member of our large culinary brigade brings something very special to the table. Our hotel鈥檚 dim sum chef, Mr. Guo Jia Xi, takes this classic Cantonese snack to a whole new level. He and his team have come up with unique new dim sum treats that you won鈥檛 find anywhere else in the world. My recommendations would be traditional Cantonese favourite main courses, such as the boiled seafood with green radish in lobster broth. I would also highly recommend our Pan-fried Pork Dumplings and Passion Fruit Puddings, both of which are guaranteed to excite your taste buds like never before.

How about the beverages? What kind of beers, wines and spirits do you serve?
As you would expect from a restaurant of this calibre, we indeed serve an extensive range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. We have a number of typical healthy options, including mineral water and fresh fruit juices. But of course any great Cantonese restaurant should offer an elite selection of teas from around the Middle Kingdom. Here you will sample some of the finest blends on earth. If you would prefer something stronger to accompany your meal then we have plenty of alcoholic beverages to choose from. Our red wine selection in particular is very broad and of extremely high quality.

Going forward, what can the people of Tianjin expect from your exciting new menu?
The new menu will be launched in May this year. We have been working on it for some time and we believe that now is the right time to share what we have been doing with the world. All of our old favourites will still be available but our new menu is about putting new twists on traditional classics. The dim sum segment is especially exciting for us and our customers. People can expect to see an array of innovative new dishes, courtesy of Chef Guo and his excellent team of dim sum specialists. We invite everybody and anybody to come and experience the best Cantonese cuisine you will find anywhere in the world.

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