Core Prin­ci­ples

Dur­ing his brief ap­pear­ance in Hong Kong, work­ing with two of the city’s best chefs, Korean-amer­i­can culi­nary provo­ca­teur Corey Lee showed Char­maine Mok why fine din­ing de­serves a new def­i­ni­tion

Hong Kong Tatler - - Life -

When it comes to the new gen­er­a­tion of chefs, par­tic­u­larly those hail­ing from be­yond the borders of Europe or North Amer­ica, there’s a disin­gen­u­ous ten­dency to pre­scribe a cer­tain type of nar­ra­tive to their jour­ney. As for Corey Lee, the Korean-born, Amer­i­can-raised chef be­hind the three-Miche­lin-starred Benu res­tau­rant in San Fran­cisco—where items on his 20-course tast­ing menu in­clude chal­leng­ing in­gre­di­ents such as cen­tury egg and fer­mented foods— it’s tempt­ing to try to siphon a cer­tain essence from his words and his work. But Lee is adept at dodg­ing the ob­vi­ous an­swers, and has the verve and tone of a culi­nary in­tel­lect: a true thinker who takes his craft as se­ri­ously as phi­los­o­phy.

Lee was in Hong Kong this spring to carry out an am­bi­tiously brief two-night job, with each evening as dif­fer­ent as chalk and cheese. First, he hosted a stand-up snack­sand-booze party with Matt Abergel at the lauded Yard­bird. The fol­low­ing night, it was a multi-course feast in the clas­sic en­vi­rons of The Land­mark Man­darin Ori­en­tal with the as­sis­tance of culi­nary di­rec­tor Richard Ekke­bus. We met the morn­ing af­ter the lat­ter din­ner, with Lee look­ing re­mark­ably fresh­faced de­spite a sup­pos­edly de­bauched night with both chefs at Un­der Bridge Spicy Crab, fea­tur­ing mul­ti­ple bot­tles of John­nie Walker. We would spend the next hour with Lee and

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