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Okra heads south

Updated: 2016-02-19 09:02
By Mike Peters (China Daily)

Okra heads south

Sweet shrimp and tuna platter [Photo by Mike Peters/ China Daily]

High-flying Beijing chef Max Levy tests the waters in Hong Kong with a proven approach, Mike Peters reports.

There is cod sperm on the plate in front of me, and I'm trying to look delighted.

Delight has been easy to come by this night: I'm in Hong Kong for the soft opening of Okra HK, the much-anticipated new outpost of Beijing-based chef Max Levy. Our opening nibbles of fresh mackerel reflect Levy's famous pickiness about seafood, a legacy of his early training in top sushi kitchens in Japan and New York. A beautiful platter with raw sweet shrimps and several cuts of bluefin tuna complete the picture of the best market offerings of the day.

We're sipping a terrific sake from Okra's extensive list as we nibble. As I eyeball the cod sperm I reach for a refill.

"Cod sperm? You're kidding, right?" I finally ask.

The New Orleans-born Levy, slicing a radish of some sort on a cutting board just a few feet away, grins at my naivete.

"You've eaten it many times in China," he says. "In Chinese restaurants when they say 'roe' they don't distinguish between male and female. You get both."

I defer to his expertise, but I'm pretty sure I've never eaten this brainy looking thing before.

But I do so readily, because like most fans of Levy's kitchen magic, I'm here for the surprise as well as the delight. This dish is chewier than I expect, but quite delicious. Naturally.

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