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MOzen Bistro

Shawn Armstrong (Unique Ingredients)

    MOzen Bistro
Executive Chef, Mandarin Oriental Shawn Armstrong Former Executive Sous Chef, MOzen Bistro

TravelsinTaste.com: Do you have any difficulty getting ingredients here? Is there an Asian culinary sensibility you'd like to see here in the States?

Armstrong: Obviously, when I first got here I was faced with the challenges of finding things. A lot of stuff, like very indigenous ingredients, you can find, but they are very hard to find and the quality [is questionable]. Like kaffir lime leafs: There's been a ban on citrus leaves for about six months and we don't get them anymore. It's hard to do Thai food without lime leaves. Pandan leaves or the screw pine leaves you can get, but it’s a frozen variety, which is not so good. Then there are some fruits like jackfruit, durian and lychee, and rambutan and mango sang; you can get all of those here but they are just really, really expensive and the quality is obviously not what it is there. In terms of sensibility and the techniques, it's very relative to the status and the state that you're in. I think that's what makes it so special. If someone asked me the question on the other end, when I was in Singapore -- which I'm sure they did at some point -- it would be at the other end of the spectrum. I think that there are fantastic things about the culinary scene and the techniques we use in the States. They are so diversely different from what they are doing over there, and vice versa, of course. If they were totally in line with each other, the excitement for it and the depth would not be there.

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