Fresh ingredients, delicious meals
Any chef worth their (sustainably sourced sea) salt will tell you that ingredients are everything. You can have all the technique in the world, but if you don’t have quality raw materials, you can’t make quality food. It may seem obvious but in the high stakes restaurant biz this simple fact is often forgotten.
It’s about more than just the quality of the food, though. The food we consume affects our health, and the health of our children. Hormones used in intensive farming can play havoc with growing children, so too antibiotics, and there are animal welfare issues to look at, too.
This is a global issue but it’s good to see restaurants in Hong Kong taking it seriously. Here’s a roundup of the best restaurants in HK that give a damn about where their ingredients come from.
Beef and Liberty
Burger favourites Beef and Liberty, backed by renowned Chef Uwe Opinsky, is involved in all sorts of good practices, from purifying its own water to championing reusable straws. And it’s no different when it comes to the ingredients. The beef comes from Scottish Longhorn Cattle, grass-fed and free from hormones and antibiotics, so you can be sure it’s all natural.
The extensive menu is sure to be a hit with the kids, too. There’s a special deal for under 14s: grab a cheeseburger, fries, side salad and any soft drink or juice for $89!
Questionable as the name may be – an amalgam of fish and hysteria – when it comes to a sustainable catch, this is the place to go. Italian sea bass, Alaskan king crab and Dover sole from southern France are flown in fresh and served up with delicious simplicity.
The casual dining room and friendly service make this is a perfect weekend spot to take the wee uns. If they’re not too keen munching on sea critters, there’s a special child-friendly, three-course menu offering pasta dishes, fish and chips and homemade gelato for $168.
Fishsteria, G/F & 1/F, 111 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, 2343 8111, fishsteria.hk
Head Chef Nate Green takes responsible sourcing to every aspect of Rhoda. The restaurant’s philosophy is built around the quality of the ingredients available; simple cooking over charcoal to bring the best out of top quality produce.
Free-range chickens are flown in from Brinks Farm in New Zealand and sustainably caught wild fish comes mainly from Japan. More interested in the proven quality of the meat than labels like Wagyu or USDA approved, Chef Green gets to know the suppliers and attempts to tell their story through his food.
Hand in hand with sustainable sourcing is a no waste philosophy, after all it would be silly to waste an ounce of an ingredient so carefully procured. Rhoda aims to use every part of the animal or plant. Vegetable trimmings and meat bones go into stocks, offal is used for dishes like ox heart tomato and the famously thick Mangalitsa pigs’ back fat is cured to make lardo.
Rhoda, Upton, 345 Des Voeux Road West, Hong Kong, 2177 5050, rhoda.hk
Fish School is one of the few restaurants in Hong Kong that’s all about local produce. Chef Chris Ma knows where to find the best of what the territory has to offer, personally scouring wet markets as well as ordering from small family-owned fishing boats. Ma, who’s worked at top international kitchens as well as Amber and Cepage locally, is a fish expert and believes wild fish is the last unprocessed food we have left.
“I know the place as if was my back garden,” he says. “I go talk to the farmers, see what’s coming up, what seeds they’re planning to plant, what’s working and what’s not, and how weather is affecting some of the crops. Then I might pick a few things [wild and planted] on top of what I order the night before.”
Fish School, 100 Third Street Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, 2361 2966, fishschool.hk
Blue Butcher and Meat Specialist
Maximal Concepts is serious about sourcing, even employing the maxim “every day is earth day” to describe its overriding ethos. In practical terms this means only sourcing ingredients of which they know the origins and making the most of them.
Its butchery-cum-restaurant concept, Blue Butcher, is a good example, stocking a good range of rare breed, grass fed beef. The Rubia Gallega beef comes from the mountains of Galicia, rich and deep in flavour. It’s pricey, but once you taste it you’ll understand why!
Recently Blue stuck a huge 2kg Blue Ora side of salmon from New Zealand on the menu. The deep pink colour and impressive marbling tell you this salmon lived wild and free and I’m assured that it was sustainably sourced.
Blue Butcher, G/F, 108 Hollywood Rd, Central, Hong Kong, 2613 9286, bluebutcher.com
Ho Lee Fook
Perhaps another for a special occasion, Black Sheep Restaurants’ Ho Lee Fook is another that uses local produce. Executive Chef Jowett Yu is very particular about his ingredients. His cheeky take on Hong Kong’s cha chaan teng culture executed with top notch technique, demands the very best raw materials.
Sourcing locally means that Chef Yu knows exactly where the ingredients have come from and what’s gone into their production. He knows every detail of his ingredients’ provenance: “The chicken we use for our Shandong Chicken Salad comes from Yuen Long, from a guy called Ivan. Out in the New Territories, local farmers rear chickens that are honestly the best you can get your hands on in Hong Kong. Our fish guy, Peter, catches from local waters, and the calamari we get from him comes from between Ap Lei Chau and Lamma.”
Ho Lee Fook, 1 – 5 Elgin Street, Soho, Hong Kong, 2810 0860, holeefookhk.com
Mana’s plant based food is all about sustainability and ethical sourcing, from the ingredients used, to the preparation, to the reusable packaging. Care is taken to ensure the ingredients are grown with the environment in mind: organically, with minimum waste and free from any nasties. The result is delicious, guilt-free Lebanese food such as roasted vegetable wraps and halloumi burgers, all flavoured with Mana’s signature za’atar herb and spice blend.
Mana! 92 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2851 1611, mana.hk
Gough’s on Gough
On the high-end of the scale, Gough’s On Gough is the brainchild of British designer, Timothy Oulton. His passion for quality and authenticity spills over from sofas to salmon, from leather to lamb. Only the finest ingredients will do for Gough’s and a great deal of care is taken in their procurement.
Fish and seafood come from as far and wide as France, the US and Madagascar, with quality provenance at the heart of these choices. Chef Arron Rhodes cooks a modern British menu with a nod to Asian flavours. This is one for a night off from the kids. Tuck them up and head out for some old world ambience with new world flavours.
“We are working with some amazing ingredients here at Gough’s On Gough,” says Head Chef Arron Rhodes. “Which are, of course, sustainably sourced and of the highest possible quality within their respective categories. One particular source is a farm as close as the New Territories, where amazing herbs and vegetables are grown locally.”
Gough’s On Gough, 15 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2473 9066, goughsongough.com
Editor’s note: Did we miss any? If you know of any great, local restaurants that fit the bill, let us know at [email protected]