Edward Voon: Reimagining French Cuisine in Hong Kong

By LE PAN staff - February 14, 2017
Executive chef Edward Voon is on a mission to give his guests a “different" dining experience
Photo courtesy of LE PAN restaurant

A seat at the chef’s table of the new LE PAN restaurant in Hong Kong is the jelly char-grilled cherry on top of what is already an extraordinary fine-dining experience. Homemade butter curled off a mini mountain beside the table; a mouth-watering array of canapés served on stone slabs; course after artfully plated course; a pre-dessert to steer you seamlessly from savoury to sweet – this is imaginative and ambitious contemporary French cuisine rendered more remarkable by the fact that the chef is neither French nor French trained. He hails from Singapore and he’s thrilled to be breaking the mould.

Watching executive chef Edward Voon direct his team in the large, pristine kitchen, you can taste his drive for perfection and infectious energy. The drama unfolds just metres from your seat in the corner: an elegant white marble table glistening under a crystal chandelier. There are no tantrums, or Ramsay-esque crudity; heads are bowed in concentration as a complex French dinner moves with painstaking precision, and surprising speed, from pot to plate.

Oyster pearlsPhoto courtesy of LE PAN restaurant

In the kitchen, and out, Voon has a mission: to “reimagine” contemporary French cuisine. “I’m creating a little bit out of the box and I want diners to be excited,” he says. “I want them to come and enjoy a different dining experience – my interpretation of French gastronomy.”

Voon uses the finest ingredients from around the world to craft colourful, multi-layered dishes. Once a pioneer in molecular gastronomy in Asia, he still likes to surprise with unexpected combinations, and to add theatrical flourishes. Daring pairings on the plate and palate include lobster coral and vanilla ice cream; in a similar savoury vein ice cream made from a seashell bouillon could be teamed with caviar.

Cooking methods are often unexpected. Voon uses a homogeniser to emulsify water and oil for the zesty essences that characterise many of his dishes. Scallop, langoustine, and wagyu beef might be cooked at the table on hot stones.

Watching executive chef Edward Voon direct his team in the large, pristine kitchen, you can taste his drive for perfection and infectious energy. The drama unfolds just metres from your seat in the corner: an elegant white marble table glistening under a crystal chandelier. There are no tantrums, or Ramsay-esque crudity; heads are bowed in concentration as a complex French dinner moves with painstaking precision, and surprising speed, from pot to plate.

Hokkaido scallop, squid 'tortellini', emulsion of carrotPhotos courtesy of LE PAN restaurant
Wild turbot, black olive, Jerusalem artichokePhoto by : Jose Aldo

Seafood is a speciality, as seen in the light starters of sea urchin and shrimp bedded on a jelly of crunchy crustaceans and topped by Kristal caviar; and Hokkaido scallop paired with squid styled as a tortellini.

“I spend a lot of time conceiving each dish and then piecing them together for a well-balanced meal,” says Voon. “My eight-course dinner menu isn’t heavy, so you won’t feel too full. Everything is designed – from the hors d’oeuvres, the amuse bouches, the starters, the seafood and meat mains, and the desserts – so you’ll have room for petits fours with your coffee.”

Voon, good-humoured with a boyish charm that belies a 25-year career, is largely self-taught. After stints at the Mandarin Oriental and the Tower Club in his home city – the latter was where he discovered his “true love”, French fine dining – in 2006 he was poached by Aurum, a new restaurant in Singapore specialising in molecular cuisine. By the following year his name was known in the West, as one of the 10 most innovative chefs listed by the UK magazine Restaurant.

Chocolate preparationsPhoto courtesy of LE PAN restaurant

In 2010 Pan Sutong, chairman of Hong Kong-headquartered conglomerate Goldin Group – who had been impressed by Voon’s cooking at a private dinner – offered him a job and the promise to open a restaurant in the city to showcase his culinary talents. “These were very important years for me,” he says. “I was able to travel the world and get inspiration, to have access to the best produce, and to learn by studying and eating.”

Now that LE PAN is open, located in spacious, white marble-clad premises in Hong Kong’s Kowloon Bay, Voon is out to prove a point. “I’ve dedicated 20-odd years to perfecting my interpretation of French cuisine and now is the right time for me to launch a restaurant to demonstrate this.

A selection of hors d'oeuvresPhoto courtesy of LE PAN restaurant

“Food is like fashion – you have to have a style and you have to own it. It’s about energy and seduction, imagination and technical execution. In a world that is constantly changing, the rules are meant to be broken. I’m competing with myself each day to present a perfect dish, a new discovery, an amazing meal. It’s about being real, being controversial and being true to myself.”

As the final course of the evening is presented, with customary flourish, the chef joins his captive audience. Sitting down, smiling and signalling for coffee, he is quick to gather feedback from the table: how was everything; is everyone happy? Not too full, right; just enough?

“I want my diners to feel me through these dishes that I have put my heart and soul into,” he shares. “LE PAN is more than just a restaurant to me. It’s the fulfilment of my dreams. It’s personal; it’s my craft, and my obsession.”

LE PAN restaurant, Ground Floor, Goldin Financial Global Centre, 17 Kai Cheung Road, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, tel: 3188 2355. lepan.com.hk

X

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.