Dan Hong’s first cookbook, “Mr. Hong” is out this month. I’m a big fan of Dan Hong’s food, so when I heard that he was releasing a cookbook I was excited to see what the end product would turn out like. For those who don’t know, Dan Hong has built up quite the reputation in Sydney over the past few years with his innovative cooking which manages to elevate the simple, pulling off interesting new flavour and texture combinations. Hong switches between dishes that show the utmost respect to tradition and ones that turn traditions upside down.
“Mr Hong” reminds me of David Chang’s cookbook “Momofuku” – Hong has in fact cited it as one of his influences and the style is very similar. “Mr. Hong” is part cookbook part personal memoir, and is split into chapters which span the time from his stint as head chef at Lotus to his current gig as head chef at Mr. Wong via Ms G’s and El Loco.
An entire chapter is dedicated to his formative years and the Vietnamese food cooked by his mother (who wrote the foreward to the book) and this personal insight and genuine openness is a thread that is present throughout the entire book. Hong’s obsession with sneakers even gets a look in – the bookmark ribbon is a red shoelace. It’s the little touches which help make the book different than most. In fact, “Mr Hong” is a good read even if you don’t intend on cooking anything in the book but have a passing interest in food.
The recipes in “Mr Hong” are quite accessible. Sure there are some complex dishes, but the vast majority are things that I looked at and thought “I could cook that for dinner one night” as opposed to “I’m going to need to dedicate an entire day to that one”. Instantly recognisable amongst the 95 recipes are signature dishes from Hong’s career, such as Lotus’ “Lotus Cheeseburger” and Mr Wong’s “Salad of Snow Crab”, as well as a variety of other dishes with influences from all over the globe. There are no rules here, just big flavours and food that’s “delicious and fun”.
Thanks to publisher Murdoch Books I have 2 copies of “Mr Hong” (RRP $49.95) to give away to 2 lucky readers. To enter, all you need to do is subscribe to The City Lane by clicking on the link below. Existing subscribers can also enter.
Sorry to my international readers but this one’s open to those with an Australian postal address only. Entries close on Saturday 25 October and winners will be notified by e-mail on Sunday 26 October.