By Rachel Read
For the founder of one of Hong Kong's most iconic craft beer breweries, there is nothing better than the combination of fuyu and jerk chicken
As part of our series celebrating the vibrancy and community within Hong Kong’s dining scene, we spoke to several of the industry’s leading lights about why they love the city’s unique food culture. Here, Rohit Dugar—founder of Young Master Brewery and several taproom-restaurants including Second Draft and TAP: The Ale Project – explains his obsession with fermented tofu and why one of his most memorable meals involved karaoke in a cooked food centre.
Tell us about one of your favourite Hong Kong food memories.
One of my most memorable evenings in recent times was a meal at Dai Lee in Sham Shui Po’s Cooked Food Centre. In the midst of 2019's protest movement, a sizeable group of us craft beer fans gathered together for a communal feast—with course upon course of quintessentially comforting Hong Kong-style dishes washed down with copious amounts of brewery fresh beers. Every dish there was so on-point, with the roast goose and jiu yim squid being particular stand-outs.
The evening soon turned into a warm bonding event involving impromptu karaoke and dancing in the middle of a brightly-lit cooked food centre. With most means of transport shut down, getting home afterwards was a nightmare—but it didn’t matter.
Dai Lee in Sham Shui Po was the setting for one particularly memorable meal (Illustration: Stephen Collins)
What are some of your favourite local ingredients to use?
I have been obsessed with fuyu (fermented tofu) since the first time our chef used it to make a sauce for pairing with chicken wings—and the crispy Cajun wings with fermented tofu dip have since become a signature at TAP.
My go-to fuyu is the one from Liu Ma Kee; I have made sauces, dressings and aiolis with it to pair with pastas, salads, fried or grilled chicken, and seafood dishes. It lends a pleasing funky complexity to all these dishes and I especially like it when paired with something a bit spicy – purists would probably disapprove, but I really enjoy it with a spicy grilled Jamaican jerk chicken in the form of a creamy aioli (I add ghost pepper powder in the jerk seasoning). The creaminess takes the edge off the heat in-between bites and adds extra depth and umami to the experience.
Fermented tofu and jerk chicken are a perfect match (Illustration: Stephen Collins)
After pondering this for a while with so many great restaurants to pick from, I arrived at a choice that is admittedly biased. Second Draft in Tai Hang brings so many things I love together all in one place. Its food combines bold flavours with flawless execution, and it’s always comforting. The fries are life-changing, the mapo burrata addictive, and the crab pasta always satisfying. It brings together thoughtfully modernised local flavours with the city’s best beer and beverage programme in an unassuming, convivial setting.
If I’m allowed a second restaurant recommendation, I would probably go traditional. While my first introduction to proper Cantonese food was at Fook Lam Moon more than a decade ago when visiting Hong Kong, in recent years that spot has been taken by Seventh Son for me. The roast meats are excellent, and the baked crab dish is reason enough to visit frequently. I am generally a fan of thoughtful innovation and don’t really like the notion of tradition for tradition’s sake, but it’s hard to argue against execution that is so flawless.