Fish School: Yenn Wong And David Lai Reinterpret Modern Hong Kong Cuisine With Local Produce, Multicultural Techniques
Yenn Wong, pioneering entrepreneur and founder of the hospitality based JIA Group, is collaborating with fish enthusiast and award-winning Hong Kong-born Chef David Lai to bring a fresh and unique concept to Hong Kong. Fish School, set to open in early October 2015, is an intimate 50 seater restaurant tucked away in Sai Ying Pun’s Third Street that promises to redefine local cuisine.
Yenn Wong, founder of JIA Group
The concept of Fish School grew from Chef David Lai’s lifetime love of seafood and vast knowledge of local produce. “Hong Kong began as a fishing village and seafood continues to be a unique pillar of its local culture,” says David. “From multi-generation small-boat fishermen families, to the markets, to the dried seafood industry and to our dinner plates, we are truly fortunate as a modern metropolis to be still receiving food from our immediate surroundings as nature intended. As a chef there is no better inspiration than these pristine gifts from nature.”
“Inspired by the here and now of Hong Kong, Fish School aspires to redefine what is Hong Kong food today,” says Yenn. “We bring modern, contemporary Hong Kong culture to the plate with a cuisine that reflects the local culture and our resources, but doesn’t necessarily fit into one particular culinary category.”
As stars of the modern dining scene, Chef David Lai and Yenn Wong bring decades of culinary experience to the table. Known for their ample understanding of the Hong Kong market, the duo’s trendsetting successes spawned include On Lot 10 and Neighborhood by David and 22 Ships, Aberdeen Street Social, Chachawan and Duddell’s, among others, by Yenn.
Serving up the freshest seafood primarily sourced from small, family-owned fishing boats, Fish School is the catch of the day, every day. Each dish is carefully prepared with seasonal ingredients from nearby farms growing produce specifically for the restaurant under Chef David’s watch. David’s expert knowledge of fish, personal passion and connections with generations of local seafaring families plated with Yenn’s creativity and business-savvy ensures Fish School is a proudly Made In Hong Kong brand that pushes boundaries of what is conceived to be local cuisine.
Fish School’s Chef David Lai
With nearly a third of the restaurant’s seating surrounding the open kitchen, guests can casually share freshly prepared dishes while watching Executive Chef Chris Ma at work. Chef Chris, who has spent his most recent years working at Michelin-starred NUR, will draw on his local and international experience in kitchens in New Zealand, Sweden, Australia and Hong Kong to bring the best of multicultural cuisine to diners’ plates at Fish School.
Hong Kong designers Paola Sinisterra and Ignacio Garcia bring the fish market to life at Fish School, using raw materials and graphic elements to render a laid-back yet sophisticated atmosphere. As with many of Hong Kong’s treasures, guests must find the almost hidden destination by traversing a side alley leading to an inconspicuous door that opens up to a buzzy, dynamic environment. The focal point of the room is a fish tank that houses the day’s menu of fish, shrimp, lobster and crabs, served up on earth-toned ceramics that make the food the star of the show. Oak finishes will cover many of the walls throughout the restaurant, a reference to the boxes that house freshly-caught fish as well as a backdrop for local artists to draw their favoured sea creatures. In the private dining room, which seats up to 20, topographic maps of Hong Kong’s fishing areas line the walls, a nod to those who sourced the evening’s meal.
In an oyster-shell, guests should prepare to whet their appetites with thoughts of small plates, an array of local fish unbeknown to many and most importantly, when attending Fish School, come ready to explore and be inspired.