40 years on, the Kunminger goes for it to make traditional crispy buns
What does a crispy bun mean? For Wang Yunkun, a Kunming pastry chef, a tasty bun means a 40-year effort before the dough-kneading table.
Wang Yunkun started to apprentice in Beijing Hotel at the age of 17, and he has been working with flour and yeast ever since. Now, Wang is almost 60 years old, but he still works as a pastry chef at the Huixiang Xilou restaurant in Kunming.
“Tasty, fragrant, delicious...” These are the key words amid the online comments on Wang's crispy bun.
Before making the crispy buns, Wang Yunkun would arrange his own temporary workshop with patience.
He polishes small pots and other tools for containing and forming the flour. Wang also puts in order the porcelain bowls which are filled with oil, water, yeast, low-gluten flour and fillings.
“This is for eating, and no carelessness in cooking,” Wang would say.
Indeed, you can never spot the slightest error in Wang Yunkun when he is making the crispy buns.
Pouring out the flour, forming a sink in its middle and mixing water with the flour… Wang can knead the dough to a perfect humidity within two handfuls of additional flours.
With all details on his mind, Wang proceeds in order.
The dough is shaped into pieces and smeared with oil... Each piece will be re-folded and pressed into other forms at his will…
The seemingly casual steps actually involve Wang’s dough-kneading skills in the past 40-plus years. As of now, Wang has tried his best to knead the dough in person, whenever he makes the steamed crispy buns.
Wang can make 150 buns per hour, while the restaurant sells 700 to 800 a day. Diners would wait in line at the door for his buns.
15 minutes later, a steamer of buns came out.
“The buns are puffy, soft ones with layers,” said the diners, “And they’re just perfect.”
Many anecdotes about Wang circulate among his colleagues.
“If 40 minutes is required to knead the dough, he will never finish it in 39 minutes.”
“I’ve been his colleague for 12 years, and I know he only asked for a leave of one and a half days.”
In short, the anecdotes show Wang is the one who cannot be invited out of the kitchen.
In this changing era, Wang carries forward the traditional craft in Chinese cuisine, with his own ingenuity and perseverance.
“Yes, I am a pastry chef,” Wang smiled. “It’s simply my job.”
Wang said he will continue making buns so long as he can move.