Dinner Theater with Chef Susur Lee
As a young boy, Canadian celebrity chef Susur Lee would attend boisterous Chinese wedding banquets in his native Hong Kong. It was at these banquets where Lee first fell in love with Chinese cooking. The chef, who runs a successful group of restaurants in Washington D.C., Singapore and Toronto, fondly recalls the rush of dishes landing on the red-clothed table: the fresh soy beans, barbecued pork, sea jelly fish, braised tofu, crispy pig skin peeled from the back of a golden suckling pig. Last week, Lee was in the kitchen of New York’s famed Shun Lee Palace, a restaurant that requires little introduction discussing the elegant Chinese dishes he will be serving on May 3rd. For over four decades, chef-owner Michael Tong has gradually taught New Yorkers that Chinese cuisine is so much more sophisticated than what they are exposed to every day and that excellent Chinese food deserves captain service and refined presentation, or as Lee calls it, “an Imperial style of cooking, both classic and simple, without the parsley and cucumber garnishes.” Tong is also credited with introducing crossover dishes like Grand Marnier prawns and General Tso's chicken to New York. How many other restaurants in New York can proudly claim to have been open since 1971?
Lee was in New York to work with Tong on their once-in-a-lifetime collaborative LUCKYRICE Chinese Wedding Banquet Dinner taking place on May 3. The eight- course menu is a collaborative effort between Susur Lee and Michael Tong with his chefs at Shun Lee—the auspicious banquet dishes were selected not only for maximum deliciousness, but also to wish the new bride and groom long life and prosperity.
The bride and groom in this case will be Broadway veterans Dina Morishita (Aladdin) and Welly Yang (Miss Saigon), a real-life couple who fell in love when cast opposite each other in the musical adaptation of Ang Lee’s Wedding Banquet. They will perform musical numbers such as “Double Happiness” throughout the feast. This is dinner as theater, for all the senses. As with traditional Chinese wedding banquets, we’ll have plenty of cognac on hand with which to toast the bride and groom.And about the cooking. Along with “good luck” foods like fish and lobster that are traditionally served at wedding banquets, guests will be treated to off-the-menu delicacies crafted by the chefs. There will be a Shanghai-style baby shrimp and black vinegar dish—crunchy and crystal clear, with a bit of sweetness. There’s a cold-poached drunken chicken, served traditionally with bones and skin on, but topped with an inventive port wine gelée.
And the duck. Of course there will be duck. Lee’s is poached in a spiced stock and served with a dipping sauce of Chinese salted plum, honey and chili—for a union of sweet, spicy and a little bit of acidity.
“I’m very proud of where I come from and my training in Chinese cooking,” said Lee. “There will be something very old and something very new, which is the only way to have it.”
Read more about Susur's impressive and inspiring life story in an interview by our friend Regina Varolli published in the Huffington Post.
Check out this video of Susur Lee and Daniel Boulud at last year's La Fête Chinoise at DANIEL.
Another fun video of Susur joking around in the kitchen of Zentan in the Donovan House Hotel, Washington D.C.
Chinese Wedding Banquet
May 3 7:00pm Cocktails 8:00pm Seated Dinner
Michael Tong's Shun Lee Palace 155 East 55th Street New York, NY
$200 + tax
APPETIZERS - SIX COLD DELICACIES
Drunken chicken with port wine geléeShanghai seitan with gingko nuts, tree mushrooms and Chinese celery
Squid and jellyfish with cucumber salad and sesame mustard
Smoked sweet pomfret fish
Poached duck in spiced stock with chili plum & honey glaze
Fresh soy bean and soya sheets with preserved vegetables and hearts of palm
Stir-fried baby shrimp with gogi berries and black infused vinegar in crispy nest
Hong Kong fisherman's fried lobster with chili garlic and Asian slaw
Shanghai bouillabaisse with foie gras dumpling
Slow-braised short rib served with shiitake mushroom fragrant rice
Spicy "ma po" tofu with steamed fish
DESSERT French and Chinese tong yuen with chocolate, nougat and raspberry