Celebrity Chow: Spencer Leung on cooking for Chow Yun Fat
Spencer Leung has gone on a culinary adventure not many can boast of.
While in town last Friday to promote his supernatural-themed documentary series Unbelievable - HK Mysteries, the affable 47-year-old TV host met up with M for lunch at Ujong at Raffles Hotel Arcade. There, he shared with us his most precious cooking experience ever.
"About 10 years ago, screen icon Chow Yun Fat got a reporter from Apple Daily Hong Kong to ask me if I could prepare dinner for himself and 12 guests at his house," recalled Leung.
"He had heard from some friends about my cooking skills - I do Shanghai cuisine very well.
"Chow Yun Fat is my all-time idol, so of course I said yes without hesitation."
Memorably, he went to Chow's house and cooked him a Shanghainese meal, and won praise for it.
As we chatted, Leung, also a successful food and beverage entrepreneur, tucked into a sumptuous spread of modern Singaporean cuisine including Hainanese chicken rice, nasi lemak and prawn-flavoured noodles.
Having hosted Unbelievable - HK Mysteries for almost a decade, does he ever suffer from a loss of appetite following his location shoots at spooky mansions and deserted villages?
Leung shook his head. "Initially, I was fearful but I've been hosting this show for so long that I no longer feel this way. Now, I feel that some humans are scarier that ghosts."
The latest season airs on Wednesdays, 10pm on cHK (SingTel mio TV Ch 510).
You own Cong Sao, a renowned four-outlet dessert chain in Hong Kong. Are you a fan of sweets?
Desserts make people happy. It's like watching television. After a bad day at work, have something sweet and it will help to rid you of frustrations and worries. That was my main motivation behind opening Cong Sao: I just wanted to make people feel happier.
What are your favourite Singapore delights?
Including this trip, I've been to Singapore six times. My first time here was 15 years ago. Back then, I was introduced to the amazing Hainanese chicken rice at Chatterbox, Mandarin Orchard Singapore. It's so famous, every Hong Konger knows about it.
I also had stingray at Clarke Quay and loved it. I adore spicy food and this is one dish I cannot find anywhere in Hong Kong.
What is a must-eat in Hong Kong? Any restaurants you'd recommend?
Hong Kong's wonton noodles is hands down, the best in the world. You can find fantastic wonton noodles everywhere in Hong Kong, be it at roadside stalls or in cafes.
It has to do with the way the noodles are made. In Hong Kong, they are all hand-made by pressing the dough down with long wooden sticks, that's why their texture is so good.
As for restaurants, I often go to Above & Beyond, a restaurant serving Cantonese fare at Hotel Icon at Tsim Sha Tsui.
It's on the 28th floor, so you get a lovely view of the city skyline. Its coral crab with glutinous rice is one of my favourite dishes. I'm very conscious of putting on weight, so I don't often eat rice but there, I make an exception.
Any memorable overseas food encounters?
I tried authentic African food once in Vancouver but I didn't like it one bit. I was expecting game meat like venison or quail, but that was not the case. We were served 10 dishes and all of them looked brownish and muddy.
Most of the ingredients used were potatoes and beans. Unfortunately, they were rather tasteless.