Bernice Lau with her daughter Yvonne Wong. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
Bernice Lau, who opened Hakkasan restaurant (110-2188 Number 5 Rd.) in 2007 with her two daughters, Yvonne and Stephanie Wong, has been involved in a variety of local restaurants, such as Bill Kee, Park Lane, Wonton King, and Lung Yuen. At Hakkasan, Bernice is in the kitchen with chef Xiong Yang, Stephanie takes care of admin, while Yvonne manages the front-of-house.
Lau is most famous for the now closed Zen Fine Chinese cuisine, which was lauded as “the world’s greatest Chinese restaurant outside of China” by a New York Times reporter. At its opening, Hakkasan was a close continuation of Zen’s upscale approach, but since then, has evolved into a much more accessible bistro, with chic modern décor and a Grab & Go café counter at the back.
The establishment’s name derives from the Hakka, a nomadic Northern Han Chinese people who specialize in rustic, hearty cooking. “It’s to pay tribute to my mom’s roots since my mom is Hakka from Hong Kong’s New Territories. People enjoy Hakka cuisine because it’s very much comfort food,” explains Yvonne Wong during a chat at the restaurant.
Hakka classics can be found among the predominantly modern Cantonese offerings at the restaurant. Favourites include chicken marinated in a salty ginger sauce and poached until tender; as well as rich, and deeply flavourful braised pork belly with mui choy (preserved mustard greens).
The braised pork belly with mustard greens at Hakkasan. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
A particularly lovely Hakka dish is wok-sauteed black bean filet of sole with onion, red and green peppers, onion, and pickled cabbage. The tangy, and still crunchy cabbage cuts through the intensity of the black beans.
Sauteed black bean sole with pickled cabbage, kimchi tofu, Hainan chicken salad, seafood chowder. (PHOTO: TARA LEE)
“We want to transform and challenge the status quo of the typical Chinese dining experience,” explains Wong. Instead of the usual free-for-all gorging typical of most Chinese dining, Hakkasan prides itself on its multi-course tasting menus, and lunch sets that focus on more attentive eating.
A la carte dining is also available, with dishes like slices of roasted honey pork, with caramelized edges and juicy, marbled meat.
Wong said she left her career in fundraising for the pleasure of knowing that diners are relishing their food. She offers a recipe for pineapple, corn, and cashew fried rice for readers to enjoy making at home.
Learn how to make this Hakka-style Pineapple and Cashew Fried Rice.
RECIPE: Hakka-Style Pineapple and Cashew Fried Rice
Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 3 to 4 servings
- 4 cups cooked long grain rice, leftover from the day before or refrigerated for at least 2 hours
- 31⁄2 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 cup pineapple chunks (cut in halves)
- 1/2 cup corn niblets
- 1/2 cup chopped unsalted cashew nuts
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- White pepper
Break up any large clumps of rice and separate the grains with wet fingers.
Preheat a small sized sautéed pan over high heat for 1 minute. Add 1⁄2 teaspoon of oil then reduce heat to medium. Add corn niblets and 1⁄4 teaspoon of sugar and dash of salt then stir until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
Place aside. Preheat a 14-inch wok over high heat for about 1 minute. Swirl in 1 tablespoon oil and heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer. Add the whisked eggs into the wok, and continuously stir the eggs quickly so it doesn’t overcook. Continue scrambling the eggs for about 40 seconds until it is cooked through but still a bit runny, then place aside.
Make sure not to overcook the eggs otherwise it will be tough and stringy. Clean the wok then place over high heat for about 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer then toss in the rice. Reduce heat to medium-high. Continuously stir and toss the rice well using a large wok ladle to break up any clumps so the rice cooks evenly for about 40 seconds.
Next add the scrambled eggs and stir everything swiftly around the wok until the rice and egg is evenly distributed for about 30 seconds. If rice begins to stick to the wok add more oil and reduce heat to prevent scorching.
Add salt and white pepper to taste. Continuously stir and toss the rice well for another 10 seconds. Pour 2 tablespoons of soya sauce around the edge of the wok so it can slowly coat the rice evenly (do not pour soya directly on rice). Stir rice and keep tossing for another 10-15 seconds. Add in corn niblets and pineapple chunks. Continue to stir and toss the rice well so it does not scorch, for another 10 seconds. Add green onion.
Stir everything swiftly around the wok until the rice is well-coated and well-colored (little bits of white here and there is OK) and heated through, about another 10-15 seconds. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Divide the rice among dinner plates and top with chopped cashew nuts. Serve immediately.
Unit 110 – 2188 No. 5 Road, Richmond, BC
Open Wednesday – Sunday
Lunch: 11:00am – 3:00pm
Dinner: 5:00pm – 9:30pm