Known for its yak meat, mutton, grains, sweet milk tea and noodles, Tibetan cuisine often reflects its wintry landscape, heavily based on highland barley, dairy and meat products readily available from their farm animals. Since 2005, Zasag, located on Huashan Road, has been offering locals its own unique fusion of the taste and flavours of Tibet and Sichuan. We sat down with Liu Weiwen, the restaurant’s head executive chef and chatted about his journey and what makes Tibetan cuisine unique.
Hi there, thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. How long have you been in the F&B industry?
It’s been 30 years since I first ventured into the F&B industry.
How did you get started with cooking and when did you know you wanted to be come a chef?
I am a local Shanghainese. When I first started practicing to become a chef, I just wanted to learn and be skilled in order to make a living. However, after I entered into the fine dining industry, I realised that a good chef needs to be an artist too. I’ve worked in five star hotels for a long time with creative cuisines, which requires technical skills and continual internal cultivation. I then gradually fell in love with my job, and decided to dedicate myself fully into it and seek for greater achievements.
Foie gras with cheese rice cake
There aren’t a lot of Tibetan restaurants in Shanghai. What do you think makes Tibetan cuisine unique from the rest?
Tibetan food, especially creative cuisines, are usually well-liked in a culturally enriched modern city like Shanghai. I’ve worked in several five star hotels in Beijing and Shanghai for 15 years and I’ve learnt that ingredients are critical to a successful dish. Tibet has natural and high quality ingredients like wild yak, Tibetan sheep, matsutake and morchella which are able to please even the most pickiest eaters!
I’m sure a lot of our readers are unfamiliar with Tibetan culture and cuisine, can you share your thoughts on what makes it special?
Tibetan culture is simple, passionate, genuine and I would describe Tibetan food as simply extraordinary. It’s very different from other creative gastronomy we are used to.
There are a lot of unique dishes at Zasag, how are the Shanghai customers taking and do you make adjustments to adapt to the local’s taste?
Yes indeed, we do have a lot of signature dishes. In terms of cooking methods, we have expanded upon Tibetan cuisine’s values of using natural and organic ingredients, and we strive to continue and bring fresh organic food to our customers. With a diverse city like Shanghai with people from all over the world, we have a lot of different opinions. However, we do listen to all of our customer’s feedback and make suitable adjustments to adapt to the local’s flavors.
Do you ever cook at home?
I cook at home too! I like to make traditional Shanghainese food and seafood dishes.
If you had the chance to invite anyone to taste your dishes, who would it be?
No doubt it would be Terasa Teng (Deng Lijun), I have always been a huge fan of hers.
Yak brisket with carrot in abalone sauce
Tofu with black truffle and crab seeds
Zasag有很多特别的菜, 客户都能接受吗? 你的菜色有没有调整过来符合大众的口味?
Zasag is located at 1731 Huashan Road. To make a booking for private or corporate gatherings, please call 52388087.
Fruity Salmon Salad
Homemade pepper pork chop