Young and talented, homegrown Chef Shaun Ng is the face and brains behind Hide KL, a hidden speakeasy restaurant that serves a menu inspired by a global gastronomy
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In this interview, we speak to Chef Shaun Ng on the inspiration behind Hide KL.
How did your culinary career start and why did you want to become a chef?
I initially followed my parent’s wishes and studied law. Halfway through, I decided that I can’t do that for the rest of my life, such as doing something purely just for money.
Cooking was the only thing that made me happy and whenever I was free I would watch cooking videos online.
I took the leap of faith and just ventured into the culinary world. Thankfully with the support of my parents, I went to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York to learn from the industry’s top chefs.
Starting a new journey so late in life, I told myself that failure was not an option and pushed myself every day. I think I am one who likes using my senses, whether it be smell, taste, or touch—cooking requires all of this.
If you had to create a menu with one ingredient, what would you choose? And why?
I can’t pinpoint just one ingredient, but I love to experiment with seafood.
There is a fine balance between undercooked, perfectly cooked and overcooked. It’s such a fragile ingredient to handle and it pushes one to be better.
Anyone can cook a steak, but to perfectly cook a fish, takes a lot of hard work, learning and also execution in order to serve it consistently on a daily basis.
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Share with us an interesting chef story you have!
One experience that I had was working at Kato. With only four of us in the kitchen serving up to 80 people each night, no one ever took a single day off.
After we got off work everyday, we would walk behind the row of restaurants and just lay on the road since we were so exhausted.
But in the end, it was all worth it when we received our first Michelin star.
There was even a time where I accidentally burned my hand and I had blisters all around. It took almost four months for the injury to heal because I would still be working everyday.
I think this really showed me what people who are passionate in what they do, really strive for.
Till this day, I still hold a deep respect for every single one of my coworkers back in the day. It is not easy to find such co-workers who are so committed.
You spent time training your craft in New York and LA. While Hide KL strives at incorporating cuisines from all over the world, how did that idea come about in the first place?
I realised that in most places, chefs have no choice but to limit themselves in terms of cooking techniques or even dishes. I wanted to create a place where I can serve my guests whatever I feel like cooking that day.
If I wanted to cook something Brazilian-inspired, why not? If I wanted to cook something inspired by Korean cuisine, why not?
Should I only be focusing on Italian dishes if I started a restaurant based on Italian cuisine?
Being able to fully unleash my creativity is one of the greatest appreciations and pleasures that I have, and in turn I would like to share it with my customers.
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY XERXES LEE / AWESOME IMAGE STUDIO