Made in HK, local artisans pop-up market brought to us by the fabulous Green Queen!

Hong Kongers, search your memory banks! Has there ever been an food and drink-centric event 100% dedicated to products that are sustainably made here in Hong Kong, focusing on all these wonderful things: organic/vegan/artisanal/homemade/unprocessed/eco-friendly/gluten-free/homemade? Sure, there is East Island Markets, and I am not putting it down as it is a huge organisational challenge to have this market up and running for all this time.  But when I saw Pizza Express there, I felt that maybe EIM has somewhat lost sight of it’s initial vision. When I visited, I was disappointed. I had been hoping for all homegrown companies, selling interesting products that I would actually want to take home with me, but I left pretty much empty-handed apart from some locally-grown strawberries (which were by the way, incredible).

Anyway, I digress. The point is, last weekend, I think a lot of us Hong Kongers finally found what we were looking for – a foodie market event that actually gave us what we want! And even if you didn’t end up taking something home (which is highly unlikely), then at least you would have had a great meal – there were lots of healthy food choices available, as well as picnic benches to eat them on. By the time  I arrived at 1.30pm, most of the food had sold out!

Made in HK

All of these wonderful, local vendors were at the Made in HK Pop-Up event, including more well-known companies such as Stephen James OrganicsThe Genie Concept and Homegrown Foods, although my favorites were these lesser-known but equally as interesting companies. I look forward to seeing more, and will keep you in the loop as to when the next event will be! Believe me, you will not want to miss out, and it is in our best interests as a community to support initiatives such as this – they add that little bit of colour to our weekend, promote local small businesses,  as well as open our minds to eating and living a healthier lifestyle. Well, just so long as you don’t eat too many cupcakes and ice cream…

Happy Cow (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream

IMG_6352Established in 2012, this fledgling Hong Kong brand makes their ice cream from scratch using coconut cream (instead of dairy) and coconut tree nectar (instead of sugar) to make truly delicious ice creams that are healthy! Dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free and containing no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, they truly taste great! Fact, coconut cream is quite fattening, but a little of this ice cream goes a long way – one scoop is enough to satisfy your ice-cream needs. We tried the Mint Chip and the Piña Colada. Their most popular flavour, Lime in the Coconut, was sold out.

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Both of the ice creams that we tried are the same in appearance, but the flavours were crisp. Love those ocean blue cups too!

Happy Cow ice cream is available by the scoop at Grassroots Pantry, coming soon to JCC Kosher Mart (conveniently located in my apartment complex, woohoo!). Visit their website, http://www.happycowhk.com/, to see all their flavours!

Anything But Salads

Coco drillThe people at this stall were super-friendly and even if nothing had tempted me, I still would have bought something any way because they were just that nice. Luckily enough, PB was there to control me, or else I would have bought everything! Kale chips, organic raw chocolate, raw cheesy nuts (ignore the name, and they are delicious!) I left with a container of living almond butter (all natural, no sugars or additives) and the neatest new contraption in my kitchen, the Coconut Drill.  Because hacking away at a coconut with a big  knife always made me a tad nervous!

You can order their products online, and delivery within Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories is free for orders above $500.

Website: http://www.anythingbutsalads.com/ or Tel: +852 6743 5000

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Tangerine – Thai Tapas and Daily Specials

If you visit the Tangerine Facebook page (like I did), you will be overwhelmed by the number of daily specials there are – quite literally every day of the week apart from Sundays. If that isn’t enough to draw you to this restaurant, then perhaps the super-friendly staff, or the decent food (at a price that is kind to your wallet) will.

Myself and a couple of girlfriends chose to go to Tangerine on a Wednesday – that would be “free welcome drink day” – Thai Mohitos that started us off quite nicely. They carried us through as well – we had two each and both were complimentary. I’m not sure if that was a normal thing, or if they just liked us. Either way, we were off to a good start!

I don’t think I have ever been served an amuse bouche at a Thai restaurant before, but these ones, small cubes of fried tofu topped with a mildly-spiced curry sauce, pleasantly piqued my appetite for more. As an amuse bouche, they served their purpose!

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Amuse-bouche: deep-fried tofu cubes with curry sauce

For our ‘something healthy’, we opted for the sizzling deep-fried tofu with basil and chili (who were we kidding, right? Ha – let’s call it relatively healthy). The portion was generous, a mound of tofu mixed with chilies, fried basil, chopped beans, lettuce and onions, thinly covered in a sweet-sour dressing.

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Sizzling tofu with basil and chilies HK$ 70

The prawns also went down a treat – what can I say, we like things that sizzle! Large meaty prawns served on a sizzling cast-iron plate, mixed in with lots of beansprouts and spring onions.

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Garlic Sizzling Prawns HK$ 88

There are a few dishes that really demonstrate just how good a Thai restaurant is in my book, and I always rate restaurants with their peers according to these dishes: Thai Beef Salad, Tom Yum Kung and Pad Thai. I know there are many, many other dishes that could be on this list, but these are my benchmarks. Why? Because they are dishes that can be made oh so well (and when they are good, they are GOOD!), but can also be very easily screwed up.

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Traditional Tom Yum Goong HK$108

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What’s cookin’ in Shek O

Thank the heavens, we finally had a day of good weather in Hong Kong, and during the weekend as a bonus! The sorely missed sunshine had everyone heading out to get a tan, and enjoy the great outdoors without being rained on, myself included. PB and I hopped on the Monster and rode over to Shek O Beach for the first time this summer. The car parks were all full, and I have never seen so many umbrellas on the beach and people in the water.

To our (well, more my) absolute delight, there are a couple of new places open, serving food and drinks to the thronging masses. There are few good options in Shek O Village, and it really needs an injection of life into the restaurant/café scene. Whilst I didn’t eat any of the food at Coco Café or Ming’s Café, from what I saw it’s definitely worth a trip back for the food.

Coco Café by Cococabana (Shek O Beach – further details TBC)

COCOCABANA IS BACK! Located right next to the shower stalls and public changing rooms on Shek O Beach (location-wise, not much has changed from it’s time in Deep Water Bay!), here you’ll find juices, smoothies and les milkshakes. We stopped by for an ice cold Corona, and sat on one of the high tables on the terrace. Food choice is limited but it looks decent – they had sample dishes on display at the bar to tempt people. The sweet crêpe selection looks good, but the choice of savory crêpes is not as tempting.  I won’t knock it ’til I try it – chili con carne crêpe anyone?

Coco Café opened its doors barely a month ago and is still under construction but they plan to be finished by next weekend. At the moment, they are only open on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Drinks at the bar and food order counter – their old Cococabana flyer displayed

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Public terrace overlooking Shek O Beach

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Bacon Cheeseburger with fries HK$75

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Piri-Piri Chicken

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Dessert Crepe

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Food menu

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Drinks menu

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Non-alcoholic drinks

Ming’s Café (Shek O Road, Shek O – next to the roundabout)

Ming’s cafe used to be a 士多 store selling water, beers and cigarettes, and they very wisely converted the space into a small café serving a basic menu of pizzas, pasta, sandwiches and an all day breakfast, as well as refreshing beverages. It’s completely open facade calls you in, with promises of pineapple and coconut smoothies. Unfortunately, they were sold out of the pineapple, but the coconut smoothie was out of this world, in fact I’m craving one right now. Someone was eating a burger on the next table, and it looks pretty decent.

Service is very friendly and efficient. Try your luck to arrive and grab a table; they don’t take reservations – because they don’t have a phone!

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The open and breezy Ming’s Cafe

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A super refreshing coconut smoothie!

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Food Menu

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Food Menu

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Dinner at Wild Grass

Calling Wild Grass for a reservation is hands down the most amusing telephone reservation experience I have ever had. Stephane, the manager is so wonderfully French!  Imagine a super French accent, then add a slow, sexed up tone to it – you just have to hear it. “Hellooooooo, zis is Stephaaaane. Ooooooh yessss, when would you like to booook ze table?” Don’t take me the wrong way, I am not making fun, I am simply trying to relay to you how enjoyable it was to make that reservation. I was giggling inside while I did it. And I really looked forward to meeting him in person – he is the face of the front-of-house, and the guy to ask if you have any questions about the menu or the restaurant.

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Wild Grass does a good job letting you know what they’re all about …

Wild grass do a very good job of promoting their mission statement and restaurant concept, and I liked how they make it a point to make sure you know exactly what is so special about this restaurant, right there on the front of their menu – sustainable ingredients, OBE beef, bread made in-house, and they can host your parties too! I’m a little skeptical about just how much of their menu uses sustainable ingredients … it’s a term that is easily kicked around, a trendy term.  Also, for a nose-to-tail restaurant, there is not much nose or tail. But one thing I can say for sure – for a well-priced, casual Hong Kong restaurant, it has a truly interesting and enticing menu.

There’s not just smoked salmon, it’s smoked salmon topped with radishes and wild salmon eggs! Baked fennel with creamed onions and gratinated with goat cheese (they like goat cheese on this menu). Roasted bone marrow with anchovy and herb salad. Seafood stewed with saffron and fennel. Roasted wild Iceland halibut.  Banana and marmalade trifle! Lemon curd syllabub – what they heck is that, anyway??!!

I was inspired to order at least 80% of it, which made choosing very difficult.

Although we were there in the evening, I could imagine sunlight streaming through those glass paneled window, shining down on the farm chic rustic home-style decor, and attractively mismatched chairs. At night, the restaurant looks like it could be a great place for a long meal followed (or preceded) by drinks at the bar – but when we went on a Thursday, we were one of 4-5 tables, and in such a big space, we felt a bit lonely.

And now to the food! While we waited, we were served some of that house-made bread (soft and fluffy like a pillow!) with a goats cheese butter spread (dangerously moreish). I really loved how we were given a few radishes (which went great with the goats cheese) and pickled onions to snack on – they made the bread platter look beautiful too.

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A very nice French bread board, with goats cheese spread, radishes and pickled onions

The carpaccio of amberjack was a very generous portion, but it was surprisingly lacking in any flavour other than the strong flavour of the passion fruit.

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Amberjack Carpaccio marinated with passion fruit and green onions HK$138

Goats cheese oozing over crispy puff pastry and that beetroot jelly went down a treat!

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Baked goat’s cheese feuillete with bayonne ham, pearl onions, beetroot jelly, rocket and walnuts HK$ 118

My starter of poached egg, asparagus, clams and crispy toasted brioche was a marvelously constructed dish – bravo to the chef!

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Poached organic hen egg with creamed shelled clams, green asparagus and toasted brioche HK$130

The steak was order medium-rare but was served rare. I am always a bit scared to send under-cooked steak back to the kitchen, as it usually comes back over-cooked, but the kitchen did a good job of rectifying it. While it was a very tasty piece of beef, it was a too thinly cut to be enjoyed as a juicy steak.

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Grilled wild organic rib eye steak with Merlot sauce, avocado and beetroot salad HK$ 380 (or HK$40 supplement for the set dinner)

The pork chop was simply amazing – perfectly cooked, juicy, really flavourful and well seasoned. I really loved that chive pesto too – this is a dish I would order again and again.

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Savory breaded pork chop, cider cream, chives pesto, cucumbers, courgettes and snow peas HK$ 278

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