Q&A: Calvin Soh - Malaysian Gourmet Tour


Calling all Malaysian food fans! Whether you go loopy for laksa or crazy for cendol, the Malaysian Kitchen Programme has got it covered and is taking over the City of Dreams Macau on August 20. The programme features a Malaysian Gourmet Tour filled with decadent surprises across the destination’s many restaurants. We chat with Chef Calvin Soh, Director of Culinary Operations at the City of Dreams to find out more…

You’re an expert in Malaysian gastronomy and Nyonya cuisine. What is Nyonya food, and what makes these cuisines unique compared to others found in Southeast Asia?
These dishes were inherited from the Peranakan people (ethnic Chinese who moved to Malaysia). Nyonya cuisine is the result of blending Chinese ingredients with Asian spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay and Indonesian community. There are many regional variations in Nyonya cooking. For example, dishes from the island of Penang in the northern part of Malaysia possess Thai influences, such as more liberal use of tamarind and other sour ingredients. Dishes from Singapore and Malacca show a greater Indonesian influence, such as the use of coconut milk. A classic example is laksa (a spicy noodle soup), which comes in two variants, the sour asam laksa from Penang and the coconut milk-based laksa lemak hailing from Singapore and the southern regions of Malaysia.

How have you managed to get the authentic flavours of Malaysia all the way to Macau?
I believe that City of Dreams and Studio City are home to some of the best foodie destinations in Macau since they offer a wide variety of international cuisines! We have also brought the authentic flavours of Malaysian cuisine right to City of Dreams with genuine dishes being created at Altira.

Personally, what are some of your favourite dishes at Altira Macau?
A couple of my personal favorite dishes include asam laksa – a spicy and sour fish soup with noodles and Nyonya laksa – a seafood noodle soup with spicy coconut broth.

So what really inspires your cooking?
I was born into a Peranakan family with a very traditional food culture. I was inspired by my grandma since I was a little boy. As the youngest son in the family, every day I helped my grandma prepare food from breakfast to dinner for all our family members. After graduating from culinary school my first job was being a cook and I still am to this day. I enjoy cooking as I love eating and I always believe good food will bring people together.

Do you have any useful tips for aspiring chefs?
For me, one of the best tips for inspiring chefs is to take part in food competitions, which are an excellent team building exercise and achievement. It’s not just about the medal and prize; they help to create a very motivating environment, which involves a lot of creativity, tasting, experimenting, energy and emotion.

Malaysian Gourmet Tour City of Dreams Macau, Aug 20-Sept 30. For more information visit cityofdreamsmacau.com or call +853 8868 6688. 

See also

Malaysian Gourmet Tour
Taste the best of Malaysian cuisine at City of Dreams' gourmet foodie tour between Aug 20-Sep 30. Read more



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