Why he killed it in 2015: Ever heard of Southeast Asian charcuterie? Well, that's what Ng is reviving—Singaporean candied pork, Vietnamese meat loaf—at his six-month-old Asian brasserie in Santa Monica. It's the Food & Wine Best New Chef winner's stunning comeback after closing the beloved and highly praised The Spice Table last year. Here at the luxe French bistro, he's giving a new home to old favorites, like funky fried cauliflower and vibrant laksa from The Spice Table and a sprawling playground for his culinary experiments, like the charcuterie.
How would you describe your food? "Southeast Asian brasserie. Southeast Asian, because we are primarily influenced by Singapore and Vietnam. Brasserie, because it feels like one, bustling, and the menu itself takes the framework of a brasserie."
What's your signature dish? "Pot-au-feu. I took the idea of taking a traditional French pot-au-feu, but with the flavors of Vietnam. Instead of a beef-based broth, it's a Vietnamese pho broth, so you get the aromatics with the pho and the charred vegetables."
Do you have a go-to kitchen knife? "Aritsugu that I bought in Japan. It's more of a Western-style knife with a Japanese wooden handle. It's about 10-inches in length and a chef's knife."
What's the dish you could cook for the rest of your life? "It would be for my wife, and she loves it: eggplant Parmesan. Of all the things that I cook, that's the one she loves so much."
What are the three essential cookbooks on your shelf? "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook; it's so intelligent and well written and a classic. Fergus Henderson's The Complete Nose to Tail, because it's awesome prose. You don't think of a recipe as awesome prose, and there's humor, whether it's his or British. This is kind of funny, but I would say the Joy of Cooking. When I was younger, my brother bought me that book, because he knew I liked cooking, and it's one of those books that has a very large breadth and covers a lot, but it's very simple in a way as well."Next Chef