Thai chef steams up passion for dim sum in Vientiane

I can feel the honesty in every answer in a curious mix of Lao and Thai during a recent interview with the highly regarded chef at a five-star hotel in Vientiane.
Mr Preecha Jintasuwan, 48, the Dim Sum Chef at the Lao Plaza Hotel told Vientiane Times that before his arrival in the capital he spent much of his life in restaurant kitchens in Thailand but it was here that he learnt to really craft exquisite dishes.
“My friends suggested that I should work here 16 years ago and I thought I would stay for one or two years and then return to Bangkok, which is my hometown but

Chef Preecha explains his dim sum menu at the May Yuan Restaurant, Lao Plaza Hotel, Vientiane.

everything changed when I fell in love with this beautiful country,” he explained.
Chef Preecha is one of the leading chefs at the hotel and specialises in Hong Kong style dim sum. He and three Lao assistants are always in the kitchen preparing fresh dim sum for customers’ every meal.
“I didn’t know I would become a chef when I first started working at a hotel in Bangkok; the Hong Kong master chef there selected me to be a dim sum chef,” he said.
Chef Preecha started working with his knife when he was 16 and since then has racked up about 30 years of experience in a variety of kitchens. However, he became a head dim sum chef at the age of just 20 under the Hong Kong master chef and has since spent half his life in Laos falling in love with the country and its people.
“I never have secrets with my assistants or those working in the kitchen because I want to share and help them to specialise in dim sum skills. I have trained many Lao people how to cook real dim sum,” Chef Preecha said.
Each year, the Lao Plaza Hotel accepts undergraduate students to train in its many sections and the restaurants are a popular preference for those keen to gain professional hospitality experience.
“They come to learn from the chefs here before writing their thesis. Only those that really love cooking can be taught to be good chefs. Many of them start working here and go on to other venues or even start their own business,” Mr Preecha said.
He added with a smile that this was common in hospitality venues and that talented assistants leave when they know how to cook.
There are many dim sum restaurants in Vientiane serving different styles of the popular Chinese snack, but Chef Preecha believes the Lao Plaza Hotel serves up the best Hong Kong cuisine in town.
“High quality fresh meat and ingredients are most important in the kitchen along with real-time cooking to serve hot dim sum dishes to diners,” he explained.
Recently, I was invited to join some friends for a buffet dim sum lunch at the Lao Plaza Hotel and it was a wonderful time for us to chat with one another followed by hot tea.
The hotel’s May Yuan restaurant features over 40 high quality dim sum dishes such as steamed chicken claw, shrimp dumplings, shaomai crab, shrimp, and other popular dishes.
Chef Preecha prides himself in putting all of his experience into every dish. He explained to Vientiane Times that most items were prepared by himself and this started from choosing the meats, seafood and other ingredients through to supervising his assistants in the kitchen before the dishes were finally served up.
“I’d love to welcome all those dim sum eaters who haven’t visited us yet. We hope you will come here to sample our menu, with prices ranging from 190,000 to 230,000 kip,” Mr Preecha said.

By Souknilundon Southivongnorath
(Latest Update September 14, 2018)

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