Chef’s special : Kwan Yu Lee

Kwan Yu Lee, Head chef, Opium, Hope Street, Glasgow

Located in the heart of Glasgow city centre, Opium specialises in oriental fusion cuisine offering a mix of traditional dim sum and fusion dishes. The menu is inspired by flavours from China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

How long have you been in the catering business?
I started working in a busy restaurant kitchen in Hong Kong at the age of 14. I have been in the catering business for 36 years now.

What’s your career highlight so far?
Being told by tourists from China my dishes are more delicious than what they can eat back home.

Describe your own food?
Our menu is inspired by the intoxicating variety of tastes and flavours from China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

What’s the price of a typical three-course meal (without wine)?

Around £28.

Why should someone visit your restaurant?
Customers who have wined and dined at Opium have said it is like being transported into another place and time, as if all their troubles have been left behind.

Describe your staff
Our front of house staff are attentive and friendly without being overbearing. Our kitchen staff are professional, well-trained and strive to be the best.

What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
Thai green curry.

Is there any food you dislike?
Apart from yam, I am a food fan.

What’s your favourite wine?
Probably a nice Pinot Grigio Rose.

Not counting your own, which is your favourite Scottish restaurant?
Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond.

What’s your favourite Scottish ingredient?
The local beef is second to none.

What makes a good chef?
Passion, creativity, a depth of knowledge, skill, organisation and commitment.

What’s a tip every chef should know?
Get the seasoning and cooking time just right.

Who do you admire in the industry and why?
Hard working chefs who shy away from the spotlight, who are more comfortable just getting on with it.

How do you relax outside of work?
I like pottering around the house or making soup for my daughter.

Who would you invite for your ideal meal and where would you go?
Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader. I am drawn to her fearlessness and defiance to fight for what she believes in.

What makes you (or has made you) laugh in the kitchen?
After work, the kitchen staff like to compete with the front of house staff to see which team can eat the most dim sum.