What chefs cook at home: Chef Philip Leong of Nobu KLGrowing up in his hometown of Ipoh, Philip Leong has fond memories of eating his parents Hakka fare, like steamed chicken with ginger and garlic. But having been immersed in Japanese cuisine for a good two decades now, Leong says even these heritage Chinese dishes have taken on a Japanese slant. Because I have been working in Japanese cuisine for so long, that base is already built inside me, so every time I cook at home, there are some kind of Japanese ingredients involved even though it is a Chinese dish, he says, laughing. Leong is the executive head chef at Nobu Kuala Lumpur, a job that requires total devotion to the craft of Japanese cuisine, an art that he has honed, having spent time working as a sushi chef in New York before he cut his teeth at Nobu Berkeley Street in London, where he stayed for over a decade. When I worked in Berkeley, it took me two years of just making staff meals before I took sections and then worked my way up, he says. Black cod miso is one of the dishes that put Nobu on the map and Leong says that putting it together requires total precision, as one wrong move can result in a failed dish. But that experience proved invaluable in instilling proper work ethics in Leong who pays full attention to various elements like the freshness of ingredients, knife skills and accuracy of measurements in putting together signature Nobu dishes like the velvety, umami-rich black cod miso (that catapulted Nobu to fame) and the intricately-flavoured baby spinach with seared scallops, which combines supple, delicate scallops against the freshness of spinach.
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