Late December last year, Adrian Cheung opened traditional Shunde cuisine restaurant Stellar House in Wan Chai. Opening a traditional Cantonese restaurant for this 27-year-old first-time entrepreneur is no easy feat, but luckily enough Cheung is no stranger to the cuisine itself. With years of exposure to good food and a passion for discovering his own, this young entrepreneur is kicking into high gear as Stellar House continues to impress food lovers.
With strong influence on food from family, the eldest son of cardio-thoracic surgeon David Cheung and jewellery brand founder Michelle Ong-Cheung, Adrian grew up with food. He moved to the UK for boarding school and spent his university years on training to become a lawyer. Upon returning to Hong Kong, he decided to pursue his true passion to food and opening a restaurant.
Stellar House opened late 2016. It focuses on traditional Cantonese cuisine, where technical dishes are revered for the chefs’ discipline in knife work, knowledge in ingredients and the dedication to create the best dishes. The restaurant has no a la carte menu, as guests form their own party and discuss with the chef on customizing a special menu for every table.
My family definitely helps to groom my appreciation to good food. We eat out regularly, especially my mother is keen on the cuisine side, and my father is knowledgeable on wines, so I dabbled on both since I was little.
I love food to an extent that I want to explore the how-tos and methods that transform ingredients into good food. I don’t think you need to be an excellent cook to appreciate good food but it certainly helps if you do practice.
Stellar House has no set menu. Think of it as Omakase in a Chinese way, allowing a little bit of flexibility to select with the chef.
Working in a restaurant allows me a glimpse of how to run operations. I spent some time working at Angela Hartnett’s Murano back in London, a brief stint in the kitchen and floor to let me understand how things are done.
It’s all about compromising with a chef as your partner. Chinese chefs can be quite reserved, but they are not so conservative they won’t consider what you think. You just need to show them your point of view, and occasionally you put yourself in their shoes.
My role at Stellar House lies in the setting up of the restaurant. I also handle the front of house service wth my team. Everything else I leave with the chef.
One of the many challenges of running an independent restaurant is being afraid not knowing enough about everything about the business when you’re in it. I’d say it always helps to have a good background information of all things, but you can also learn along the way.
If you have a strong passion for food, you will not settle with only eating it, but also knowing more and trying to understand the science and art of it.
I wouldn’t say I understand all about good food. I certainly am getting there but to understand all about it there is a long journey ahead.
I hope the future of food lies in the younger generation. Having them gathered together at the table is more difficult than anything. I hope they will find the time to sit down and have a chat, relax and try this special cuisine and appreciate the company they have.