|Steamed crab at The Chairman|
Note from the Editor: Every Tuesday, TFT HK will bring you a post or article from/about one of our local or global food heroes. These are people who inspire us, and whose visions align with the values that TFT espouses and promotes. This week's post is an interview with Dorothy So, serious eater and food editor for Time Out Hong Kong. Dorothy, who has also written for HK Magazine, South China Morning Post, and Fodor's Travel Guide, was generous enough to share her thoughts about the recent evolution she's witnessed in the Hong Kong dining scene . Dorothy, we at TFT HK salute you!
Being a food writer has its obvious perks. You get to eat (a lot) and, more importantly, you get to meet great people who are talented and inspiringly passionate about what they do. And in just the few short years since I’ve moved back to my home city, it’s been exciting to see how the community of food artisans has grown. I’m not saying that this is a completely new thing for Hong Kong, but when I was a weedy highschooler, there definitely weren’t as many organic farmers, eco-conscious restaurateurs or indie chefs.
I see this change when I think back to some of the more memorable meals I’ve had in the past few months. The standout dishes aren’t just good; they’re crafted by folks who are trying to make the dining scene a better place and the effects of their works go far beyond the physical plate. I remember the insanely delicious steamed crab at The Chairman, its succulent meat enhanced by the sweet nuances of aged shaoxing wine and chicken oil. It didn’t ask for any fancy flourishes because the fresh ingredients spoke for themselves. It was about as real as any dish could get and it was ample proof that good food doesn’t need to be masked by MSG and other store-bought additives. When I tucked into the bacon and date sandwich from The Library Café, I marveled at how comforting a simple swipe of almond butter could taste when paired with cured ham and really great bread. An awesome meal really doesn’t have to be fussy.
I’ve also enjoyed fantastic dinners at Linguini Fini. After all, the chefs here could have easily saved themselves some time by just serving their fazzoletti with regular ragu. But Vinny Lauria and his team take the extra effort to make a chunky sauce from pork cheek, veal shoulder and oxtail. It’s one of the best things to eat with his homemade pasta sheets and it’s taught me the important "waste-not" ethos of nose-to-tail dining. It’s the same thing for the team behind Mana! – a "fast slow food" joint that’s become one of my favourite spots since it opened in February. Their signature flatbreads (or "flats," as they call them) are baked with plenty of TLC before they’re topped with locally sourced organic produce. Throw in the fact that they use eco-friendly, biodegradable containers and cutlery, and you’ve got a pretty good reason to eat there more often.
At the end of the day, the food industry may still be a business but for some people, it’s that and also so much more. These people add so much flavour to our city’s dining scene and I’m grateful to be here to enjoy it all.