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Hong Kong offers Pakistan Michelin Star



In the meantime, elsewhere …

This is partly due to old terracotta ovens owned by a restaurant in Hong Kong, Asim Hussain, dreamed of getting his first Michelin star ever granted to a Pakistani restaurant. He hopes this success will put emphasis on a kitchen that is often ignored.

Like many Hong Kong residents in Hong Kong, his family lives there for generations. His grandfather arrived in the outskirts of the British colonial empire during the First World War (1914-1918), where he was governed by the confusion of the Crown soldiers. His father, an entrepreneur in multiple caps and diplomats in his time, also had a kari restaurant in the 1980s and 1990s.

Asim Hussein, 33, co-directed a group that already had about twenty restaurants in Hong Kong in its wallet when it decided to embark on its most pretentious and risky venture: a restaurant serving Punjabi dishes, a birthplace of his family in Pakistan where was sent to boarding school at six. His father suggested that he take two tanders, the furnaces that were used to prepare tandoori dishes, which took dust in his now-closed restaurant. "He is from a generation that does not cast anything," says Asim Hussain. "In fact, we have better results than new stoves, because such things have improved over the years," he adds, in his restaurant decorated with pictures of Pakistani painters.

Source of pride

These ovens, frequent trips to Lahore, the perfect recipes and the employment of Palash Miter's chef, earned the Nev Punjab Club as the star of the Michelin Guide in Hong Kong-Macao, only 18 months after its opening. . This success has made headlines in Pakistan, where it is unlikely the restaurant will achieve such a difference in the near future and where chefs feel long ignored, in the shade of the famous kitchens of neighboring India. . "We are very proud, we are very happy," said Vakar Chattha, head of one of the most famous restaurants in Islamabad. "In the fraternity of restoration, this is a great success. It also sets a new standard for others, he adds.

Asim Hussein quickly emphasizes that his institution serves only one type of cuisine among many regional specialties of his country, spicy dishes and often well-weighted meat from Punjab. The bill is also not air, dinner can cost up to a hundred euros per head. "I am not arrogant or ignorant to the extent that I claim to be the best Pakistani restaurant in the world," he said. "There are better Pakistani restaurants than this in Pakistan," he adds. However, this star is "a great source of pride" for 18,000 Pakistanis in Hong Kong he is. "This is a very confidential personal story that revives. This culture, this kitchen is unknown outside of Pakistan, outside of Punjab, and at our modest level, we place this work at the center of attention, who we are and where we come from, "he says. .

The arrival of Michelin and other western gastronomic guides in Asia was not without controversy. Grief ghosts often criticize critics for putting emphasis on Western culinary standards, tastes and style of service. Daismann McLane is one of those critics. Michelin's landing in Bangkok last year "completely changed the gastronomic scene there, and it's not good," he accuses. It organizes culinary tours in less-selecting Hong Kong institutions, such as dai pai dong – stand in the middle of the street – canteens in Africa and South Asia hidden in the maze of the Chungking Mansion residential complex, or Cha Cha Teng, famous for its sweet teas. She is "thrilled" that Nev Punjab Club has been awarded, but it has its own reserves: "Many kitchens in the world are under the radar in Hong Kong and are not noticed by Michelin or great guides."

It's hardest coming

In the meantime, some people think that every prize is good for Pakistani cuisine. Sumaiia Usmani, a dual British and Pakistani chef, has been trying for years to draw attention to the typical tastes of Pakistani cuisine. When she contacted the publishers about her cook, many hesitated. But in recent years, things have changed, she says. In the West, Pakistani-based restaurants, once described as Indians, proudly announce their true culinary heritage, she says. "It's good that people are no longer afraid to be called Pakistanis," she says.

Asim Hussain explains that the difficult part begins: "I am joking with the guys and say:" We are the first puny restaurant in Pakistan that got the star, do not lose the first. ""

Jerome TAILOR / AFP

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