Alvin Leung: Pearls of Wisdom

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

Alvin Leung, who will open a restaurant in Mayfair, his first in the UK, later this year
Alvin Leung, who will open a restaurant in Mayfair, his first in the UK, later this year
The chef-patron of two-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation in Hong Kong and self-styled ‘Demon Chef’ is launching a sibling restaurant, Bo London, in Mayfair later this year.

Bo Innovation means two things.​ Bo means treasure in Chinese and the cooking is also bold. I call it ‘X-treme Chinese cuisine’ because it is exciting, exotic and expensive.

Going out for dinner should be an experience​, but it is important to serve a good meal first. You can’t have people thinking ‘that was an experience, and I might have had a meal as well’.

I can get three stars [at Bo Innovation]​. It can be achieved, so I’m going for it.

Bo London will be a tribute to the city.​ I am taking lots of inspiration from British dishes, such as jellied eels, the English fry-up and steak and kidney pudding, but using Chinese ingredients. In the ’80s jellied eels were really passé but it’s time to make them fun.

Fusion has become a bad word because of its reputation​. I’m not going to deny that what I’m doing is fusion. I’m taking the best parts of the East and West and putting them together to try and make something better. I don’t want my cooking to be labelled as fusion if it is seen as a bad word.

Bo London will have 60 (ish) covers and a bar area for 12, serving innovative dim sum​. The décor won’t be stereotypically Chinese.

I did a degree in environmental science.​ Sustainability is very important. It’s always good practice not to be selfish.

Whether you like it or not, I belong here.​ I was born in London, I lived in Brixton, and went to university in London. I’m 100 per cent Chinese, born into the British culture.

Bo London has the same DNA as Bo Innovation but it’s a different child.​ I have the same expectation of that child, but this one’s a daughter.

I don’t reveal too much information about my restaurants before I open them.​ It’s like going to watch a horror or mystery movie – you don’t want to know the ending before you go.

The UK has a healthy Chinese food scene.​ It is now very cosmopolitan. With such diversity here, the food I am cooking has a chance.

I am someone​ who wants to be different.

I don’t expect Bo London to be any less than Bo Innovation.​ It would be disrespectful to my place of birth – an insult.

Losing a Michelin star is hard only if you don’t realise why you lost it.​ When I lost one I didn’t lose any sleep – I just sat down with my team and asked: ‘What the hell did we do wrong and how do we improve?’ It took two years to get it back.

If I want to play it safe,​ why come here and start messing with English food?

Chinese and European cooking is not so different.​ We both roast, steam and boil. The Chinese use a wok and the Europeans use a pan. The techniques are actually pretty similar.

I chose to open [restaurant number two] far away from Hong Kong​. I was looking for a challenge. I hope I’ve made the right choice.

The thing about fusion food is that it fuses two cultures​. You can’t take ingredients from different cuisines and just put them together – more often than not it’s not fusion, it’s repulsion.

I am self-taught​, which means my cooking is pure personality.

Hong Kong is a very fast-paced place​. People eat 14 courses in two hours. In London, people like to savour things – they sit together for three days and watch a bloody cricket game.

I am proud only to get recognition from someone who is credible.​ When you are given an award you feel achievement only if you respect it.

There will be no white tablecloths at Bo London​ – you get to see the legs of the women much better.

Related topics: Venues, People, Restaurants, Pearls of Wisdom

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