Chef Nick Kim, co-owner of Shuko in NYC, and Chef Matt Abergel have several things in common. But besides their buzz cuts and similar senses of humor, they also share a mentor in Masayoshi Takayama, Chef and owner of Masa. Nick and Matt worked at Masa before opening their own restaurants, but they haven’t worked side by side since Matt left New York 9 years ago. In collaboration with Taste of Hong Kong presented by Standard Chartered, Nick traveled to Hong Kong for two special pop-up dinners at RŌNIN + a guest appearance at the Taste food festival.
Nick cooked at RŌNIN for two nights. For the first night, the restaurant bar was transformed into a sushi counter for Nick to showcase his modern interpretations of Japanese cuisine. For the second night, Matt and Nick created a collaborative tasting menu. And in preparation for this menu, Matt took Nick to the Aberdeen Wet Market to find the perfect ingredients.
The next day, when the RŌNIN dinners were done, Nick went to Taste of Hong Kong as he was asked to be a judge for the Best of Taste awards. It just so happened that Yardbird placed second runner-up for the best dish (katsu sando) and won ‘Best Dressed Restaurant Booth’. And in a special demonstration during the festival, Nick prepared a scallop, uni, nori, panko dish, and explained how to open a wild scallop.
At a round table discussion with Hong Kong Tatler, Nick talked about his early career at Masa and his path to branching out on his own. He reminisced with Matt about their days in New York and how their experiences working under Masayoshi Takayama shaped both of their careers. The night ended with Nick finally having dinner at Yardbird, trying every skewer on the menu. Talk about coming full circle.