Master-chef Tong Chee Hwee, a pioneer of contemporary Chinese cooking in London as the culinary brains behind the rise of the Hakkasan group, is to launch his own restaurant in the city for the first time. Named Gouqui, it will occupy the former site of Garfunkel’s in Cockspur Street, off Trafalgar Square.
Born in China, Tong moved to Singapore to train in Cantonese-style kitchens, and was enticed to London by Hakkasan founder Alan Yau in 2001.
He was appointed executive chef at Hakkasan in Hanway Place, then group executive chef, and came to wider public notice with the 2012 launch of HKK in Shoreditch, which incorporated the group’s development kitchen. Here he was able to take a more experimental approach, serving multi-course tasting menus that extended the boundaries of modern Chinese cuisine.
HKK closed down after five years, and Tong left the Hakkasan group – by now a global operation under new ownership – in 2019. Since then he has worked as a consultant and launched the Mai Dim Sum dumpling delivery service and pop-up.