(Demo) Destination Macau 2010 : Page 56
酒店新景 resort scene Pride and passion Wynn has teamed up a hot-tempered master chef with a soothing tea sommelier (pictured here) to create an elegantly balanced culinary experience W ynn Macau has introduced another first to Macau: exclusive Tan cuisine, pre- pared authentically by a master chef, who brought his seven best chefs to town to open the Golden Flower, the resort’s most ambi- tious restaurant yet. If Golden Flower’s multi-million dollar décor sparks nostalgia for Shanghai’s romantic age in the 1930s, that’s because design developer Roger Thomas carried out Steve 56 Destination macau APR / MAY 2010 Wynn’s vision of strongly suggesting that era’s aesthetics within an essentially modern space. In the entranceway, the presence of antique-style Chinese objects create the feeling of an old, if sparklingly clean, curio shop. Up above, light fixtures that resemble upturned oversized umbrellas cast a soft amber light over the tables. A long screen embel- lished with the eponymous golden flowers flanks one side of the main dining room, facing a wall with windows open- ing onto a lush green garden.
Pride and passion<br /> <br /> Wynn Macau has introduced another first to Macau: exclusive Tan cuisine, prepared authentically by a master chef, who brought his seven best chefs to town to open the Golden Flower, the resort’s most ambitious restaurant yet.<br /> <br /> If Golden Flower’s multi-million dollar décor sparks nostalgia for Shanghai’s romantic age in the 1930s, that’s because design developer Roger Thomas carried out Steve Wynn’s vision of strongly suggesting that era’s aesthetics within an essentially modern space. In the entranceway, the presence of antique-style Chinese objects create the feeling of an old, if sparklingly clean, curio shop. Up above, light fixtures that resemble upturned oversized umbrellas cast a soft amber light over the tables. A long screen embellished with the eponymous golden flowers flanks one side of the main dining room, facing a wall with windows opening onto a lush green garden.Completing the picture are the flitting waitresses garbed in jewel-hued silk tunics, the fresh flowers in their hair seeming to embody the spirit of the classic Shanghai jazz playing in the background; the latter being another of Wynn’s personal touches. Underfoot, a mosaic of bright pastel-colored flowers continues the garden motif, in keeping with the tradition of the Tan cuisine that is Golden Flower’s specialty.<br /> <br /> All this is a backdrop for the main event, which is ofCourse the excellent food. Authentic Tan cuisine isn’t too easy to find. Wynn has scored a culinary coup of sorts by recruiting a master chef Liu Guo Zhu, who for more than a decade worked closely with a chef from the household of the founder of the cuisine, Tan Zongjun, a late Qing dynasty bureaucrat.<br /> <br /> Tan used Cantonese, Shichuan and Shandong influences to create his superb dishes, many of which are very labor intensive, even taking days to prepare. Most are also complex in texture and flavor, particularly the soups. At Golden Flower, the best of this tradition is represented in signature dishes like braised Jinshan shark’s fin in supreme chicken broth, Imperial dessert, and many more.<br /> <br /> Only chefs who have worked for the Beijing Hotel are considered authentic Tan cuisine chefs, and Liu spent a good part of his 40 years as chef there. He was also head chef at the Beijing Grand Hotel, where he served such illustrious personages as Queen Elizabeth II, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and Chinese leader Deng Xiao Ping. He describes his philosophy like this: “The principle of cooking is to find the best part of a dish and bring it out.<br /> <br /> It’s like pretty make-up on a beautiful girl. That’s all it is.”Liu believes “The basic question for a chef is the concept. You have to really understand the food, what’s good about it and how you can best use that. And it has to be really fresh.” While the master chef loves being challenged professionally, he takes a simpler path in his personal life. “Life shouldn’t be very complicated,” he muses. “It goes by so quickly. I’ve been a chef for more than 40 years; I’ve spent my life doing this”. In his official capacity, he says, “I love talking with customers because they give me a lot of inspiration – but not in the kitchen. I lose my temper there.” The new executive chef brought a team of seven of his best chefs from Beijing to work with him in Macau. While he insists his students are like family, he also admits “They understand when I get angry. After work we’ll go out together and hang out.” An important element in the Tan tradition is tea, but not just any tea. This stuff must be served expertly and gracefully, and it must complement the dishes. For this task, Wynn has come up with yet another first in Macau: a tea sommelier.<br /> <br /> Macau-born and -raised Bettina Ng explains that in many ways, fine tea is appreciated like fine wine. White or light colored tea goes best with fish or seafood, while darker, more robust teas are best with meat or heartier dishes. She helps guests with tea pairing along these lines, considering both the type of dishes they order and their personal preferences.<br /> <br /> Ng learned about tea from her grandfather: “He brought me to yum cha, and I started looking for a teacher about six years ago,” she recalls. She subsequently joined a government-organized class and then the local tea association.“Flower tea and white and green tea are close to natural flavors and are only lightly roasted,” she continues.<br /> <br /> Her personal favorites include jasmine tea, and “the flower fragrances, which can be mixed and matched, like osmanthus, chrysanthemum, and magnolia.<br /> <br /> “After you finish the tea, you can still sense its fragrance. We usually use tea for a purpose, according to the condition of your body, so there is no ‘best’. Every tea has some benefit,” says Ng.<br /> <br /> White tea, she explains, is good for the skin; others are good for weight control. Tea also freshens the breath and soothes the stomach, aiding digestion. Green tea is good for colds and sore throats.<br /> <br /> ‘Pu erh’, with its earthy flavor, goes well with dessert.<br /> <br /> There may be no ‘best’, but there certainly is a ‘most expensive’ tea at Golden Flower: thirtyyear old pu erh tea costs MOP158 for 10 grams (the standard amount for a serving and enough to make several pots). “It’s hard to find, and takes at least three years to age to maturity,” Ng explains.<br /> <br /> Less rare teas are much more reasonably priced, she adds.<br /> <br /> Just like wine, the quality of the tea depends on the vintage; the climate conditions at the time of growing. For serious Chinese tea fanciers, she recommends 2005 as the year to look for. “There was just enough rainfall and moderate temperatures,” she says. And just like fine wine, fine pu erh tea has a market for investors.<br /> <br /> At the end of the meal, guests will be presented with a gift of calligraphy from Wynn’s in-house calligraphy artist; who, we can only imagine, was frantically wielding his brush while they made their leisurely way through one delectable course after another for him to record.<br /> <br /> Master chef Liu says he always encourages his students to go out and try new things. “We never stop learning,” he observes, and with that in mind, Golden Flower is a good place to learn about the elegance and delicacy one of China’s most exquisite cuisines.