09 Jun Secret Kitchen, Melbourne CBD
The phenomenon of the celebrity chef is ever-growing, and gathering interest in the world’s top restaurants has drawn our attention to chefs beyond our borders too. Despite this, it’s not too often that we hear of international celebrity chefs specialising in Chinese cuisine.
Helping to raise the profile of fine Chinese cuisine in Melbourne, Secret Kitchen recently hosted a series of dinners headed by Chef Dai Long, the famous ‘God of Cookery’ from Hong Kong who has numerous culinary awards from France, China and Hong Kong. During these Secret Kitchen x Dai Long banquets, diners were treated to a sumptuous 10-course meal showcasing Hong Kong-style dishes. This was definitely no ordinary banquet. It’s not every day that one expects to see rich and creamy cubes of foie gras as an appetiser on a Chinese banquet menu.
The Suckling Pig came in an unconventional pairing with cucumber, avocado and sliced bao. The crunchy crackling with perfectly rendered fat was seated atop a thin sliver of succulent pork, and the flavour combination worked quite well. No surprise, seeing as it’s one of Dai Long’s signature dishes.
We washed away the richness of the pork with a more delicate soup of thinly sliced Greenlip abalone and sea cucumber in chicken broth. Seafood featured quite heavily on the menu, with other dishes including sauteed Jade Scallop and Clam Meat, and giant Crispy Prawn Cutlets in Hawthorn Sauce. One of the highlights of the meal were the Golden Fried Fish Rolls with Basil Leaves, slathered in a flavoursome salted egg yolk mixture.
Pan-fried Beef and Pork Belly were paired with Emperor Sauce, and as with the suckling pig, the meat was tender and juicy. Another of Dai Long’s signatures soon arrived, steaming and juicy. Instead of Shaoxing Wine often used in drunken chicken, his dish is cooked in Moutai, the strong Chinese spirit, and its flavour was prominent and well-infused into the meat.
Baked Wild Mushrooms came submerged in Emerald Sauce, which had been charred to create a sort of covering. A Chinese banquet would not be complete without rice. Dai Long’s delicious signature Emperor Fried Rice contained ingredients such as wild rice, roe and seafood, providing plenty of texture and interest.
Our stomachs were bulging, but we managed to fit in the soft and chewy mango-filled glutinous balls, biscuits, mango sorbet and fruit for dessert. Nothing too heavy – a welcome relief, considering the feast we had just been treated to.
It was a privilege to partake in a banquet cooked by a internationally recognised chef, without having to buy a plane ticket. As a large restaurant with a huge capacity for functions, it will be exciting to see if Secret Kitchen hosts any collaborations with other chefs in the future. If you visit the CBD location, be sure to check out their giant aquarium at the front.
Disclaimer: I was invited to the Secret Kitchen x Dai Long dinner as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time
222 Exhibition St
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9988 7778