HongKong

Five of Hong Kong’s best sustainable restaurants


This article is part of a guide to Hong Kong from FT Globetrotter

Hong Kong is far from being one of the world’s more eco-friendly cities. Plastic packaging is used for nearly everything, and recycling policies lag far behind comparable cities in the region. In 2021, just 31 per cent of the city’s 5.67mn tonnes of waste was recycled. Food waste accounted for 30 per cent of total waste that year.

When it comes to food, there are myriad challenges in the city, with its lack of space for farms and reliance on imported ingredients. But a growing number of restaurants are embracing more sustainable practices by re-evaluating supply chains, reducing food waste or crafting menus around seasonal produce.

“I think the main misconception is sustainability is all about just using local produce. It’s not true,” says Ashley Salmon, head chef at Roganic, a farm-to-table concept under the purview of British chef Simon Rogan.

Pineapples growing at one of the local farms used by Roganic
Pineapples growing at one of the local farms used by Simon Rogan’s Roganic restaurant

Roganic chef Ashley Salmon looking at crops on a farm visit
Roganic chef Ashley Salmon on a farm visit

“[It’s about] utilising everything that’s in season to try and make it stretch as much as possible,” he says, whether that’s pickling excess vegetables or composting food waste. “Everything gets used. Coffee grounds — we upcycle as compost. We also grow our own micro cress.” 

Dining out is an integral part of the city’s culture, and chefs such as Salmon are hoping that their actions can help educate consumers and inspire other restaurants to follow suit. Two Hong Kong restaurants, including Roganic, have already received Michelin’s new Green Star, introduced in 2021 to award restaurants for sustainable practices. Social initiatives like the consultancy Food Made Good HK, a local branch of the world’s largest food sustainability programme, now works with more than 80 restaurants and food suppliers in Hong Kong.

But at the end of the day, to win over Hong Kong’s discerning diners, the offering must be delicious too. Below I’ve highlighted five restaurants that are changing the landscape of sustainable dining here, while serving delectable food.

Mora

40 Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

  • Good for: A truly unique meal that leaves you feeling satiated

  • Not so good for: Impressing clients with a dazzling experience. Chef Vicky Lau’s two-Michelin-star Tate Dining Room is a better option for something spectacular

  • FYI: Don’t be fooled by the faux antiques on Cat Street — head to nearby Hollywood Road for genuine Chinese treasures

  • Website; Directions

Mora, a 28-seat restaurant hidden behind an antiques stall on Cat Street, which is famous for its market, is the latest offering from Asia’s culinary legend Vicky Lau. The restaurant is a homage to the chef’s love for the simple soyabean — the menu focuses on this single ingredient.

A metallic bowls filled with soyabeans at Moya
Chef Vicky Lau’s Mora is a homage to the humble soyabean . . . 

Soy milk being poured from kettle into a bowl
. . . which in its various forms is the star of the restaurant’s ‘Characters of Soy’ menu

Lau transforms soyabeans into tofu (ubiquitous in Chinese cuisine and one of the most sustainable protein alternatives to meat), bean sauce, soy milk and other ingredients, to pair with locally sourced produce in an effort to reduce the restaurant’s carbon footprint. While Mora is not a vegan restaurant by any measure, Lau seeks to change the way diners consume soy and to become more environmentally conscious. Most of Mora’s soy-based products are made in the chef’s own dedicated factory.

A bowl of udon noodle with soy milk, lobster bouillon and bean paste at Mora
Lau’s menu includes udon noodle with soy milk, lobster bouillon and bean paste

 Dark-wood tables and chairs in a corner of Mora’s 28-seat dining space.
Mora’s 28-seat dining space

Lau’s French influence blends beautifully with local Chinese flavours for a truly exciting fusion experience. The menu, which changes seasonally, explores variations of soy through different textures and flavour combinations. Lau’s innovative “Characters of Soy” menu was a journey from velvety smooth tofu paired with caviar and Chinese condiments, to a stunning mapo tofu stew with lobster. Another highlight was cold udon with bouillon, soy milk and bean paste — subtle in flavour though creamy, rich and crunchy all at the same time. Each dish was a dynamic textural experience, and elegantly presented in Lau’s signature style.

Roganic

Sino Plaza, UG/F 08, 255 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

  • Good for: Compelling seasonal dishes that deliver outstanding flavours

  • Not so good for: Diners who are a little salt-sensitive: the seasoning is generous

  • FYI: Try the soft-pairing — a non-alcoholic option — that synchronises innovative mocktails with each dish 

  • Website; Directions 

Four members of the Roganic team sourcing produce from a local farm
The Roganic team source produce from local farms

Roganic, from British super-chef Simon Rogan, was one of Hong Kong’s first farm-to-table restaurants when it opened in February 2019. It earned a Michelin star less than a year later. The restaurant’s zero-waste philosophy means the team aims to use every ingredient in its entirety. Every part of an animal is used, and meat is dry-aged or cured to preserve it, while vegetable and fruit scraps are used by mixologists to create phenomenal drinks that are then perfectly paired with each dish.

A dish of chickpea wafers and smoked cod roe at Roganic
Chickpea wafers and smoked cod roe at Roganic

Roganic’s main dining room, with vegetation covering the ceiling
Roganic was awarded Michelin’s Green Star for sustainability in 2021

Chef Ashley Salmon’s menu revolves around freshly foraged and seasonal ingredients from several local organic farms. “The growing season is usually between November to around May. We tend to use Hong Kong produce but sometimes it gets too hot,” he said. When crops are out of season, Salmon looks to organic farms in Taiwan.

When I visited, a highlight was the roast scallop dish, sourced from a local supplier, served with peas and white asparagus that were in peak season. Another favourite was free-range pork loin from local Wah Kee Farm, drizzled with a pork sauce (made from offcuts of the pig) and mustard seeds, and served with locally grown carrots basted in fermented local honey. And while the menu changes depending on what’s available, diners can always look forward to the restaurant’s signature soda bread with cultured brown butter, a Roganic staple.

The restaurant’s signature soda bread and a knob of cultured butte
The restaurant’s signature soda bread

A bowl of bee pollen and camomile cake with meadowsweet cream, strawberries and pickled roses at Roganic
Bee pollen and chamomile cake with meadowsweet cream, strawberries and pickled roses at Roganic

Through building relationships with local growers and the restaurant’s unwavering commitment to reducing plastic and waste, Roganic was awarded the Michelin Green Star in 2021. The staff here are clearly passionate about the menu, and more than happy to explain the concept of each dish and how it underscores the importance of sustainability.

Moxie

Shop 203, Alexandra House, 18 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong

  • Good for: Those with a sweet tooth. The desserts really stood out

  • Not so good for: A private meal. The restaurant is in an office building, so plenty of people walk past during lunch hours

  • FYI: A good option for early-morning meetings, it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner

  • Website; Directions

Moxie, a sleek restaurant that belongs to Australian chef Shane Osborn’s hospitality group, focuses on what it describes as “conscious dining” — encouraging people to rethink their relationship with food through ingredients sourced locally from farmers and suppliers. Dishes come and go depending on the season, with an emphasis on plant-based offerings or sustainably sourced seafood.

Pavlova with yellow peach and passion fruit at Moxie

Light-wood tables and chairs with black cushioning in Moxie’s dining space
Moxie focuses on plant-based offerings and sustainably sourced seafood © Mike Pickles (2)

Local farms provide head chef Michael Smith with ingredients such as pears, okra and pumpkin, but limited variety from Hong Kong producers means that at times he sources from around the region. Dishes such as the Japanese leeks wrapped with nori were complemented with a purée made from local beetroot, and the Tasmanian white asparagus with a local sweet potato and salted egg yolk. The star of the meal was the pavlova for dessert, with the sweetness of honeyed cream coupled with the fresh tartness of the passion fruit.

Chef Michael Smith dolloping a spoonful of green purée over a plate of fruit at Moxie
Chef Michael Smith at work in Moxie © Mike Pickles

A plate of Japanese leeks with nori at Moxie
Smith’s repertoire includes dishes such as Japanese leeks with nori

Smith, a firm believer that healthy soil produces nutritious crops, works with Farmhouse Productions, a local sustainable agriculture organisation that focuses on regenerative forms of farming. The restaurant hands over food scraps, coffee grounds and other organic waste twice a week to the collective for compost.

Amber

The Landmark Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong

  • Good for: A special occasion — there are private dining rooms

  • Not so good for: Those on a budget. It’s eye-wateringly expensive 

  • FYI: After dinner, head to Sevva for a late-night cocktail and a sweeping view of the city skyline

  • Website; Directions

During a four-month hiatus to renovate Amber in 2019, its culinary director Richard Ekkebus made a decision that many classically French trained chefs would be shocked to hear: to go gluten- and dairy-free, and cut back on meat. But it’s served him well: since doing so, his restaurant has maintained its two Michelin stars, while his new philosophy also earned it a Green Star for sustainable gastronomy last year.

The main dining room at Amber
Two-Michelin-starred Amber also has a Michelin Green Star for sustainable gastronomy

The restaurant’s eco credentials go beyond sourcing produce from organic, local and regional farms. Still and sparkling water are filtered in house, eliminating all plastic, while proceeds from every vegetarian menu sold go to a local environmental non-profit that works on rewilding initiatives. Cooking oil is recycled into biofuel, leftover sourdough is sent to a local craft brewery to be turned into ale, and trimmings of meat or free-range poultry are used to make stuffing, sausage casings and jus.

Medai fish garnished with dried wakame, oyster leaves and accompanied by a leek coated in a leek ‘ash’ at Amber
Medai fish garnished with dried wakame, oyster leaves and accompanied by a leek coated in a leek ‘ash’ . . .

A dish of sea urchin with caviar and cauliflower at Amber
. . . and sea urchin with caviar and cauliflower are among the offerings at Amber

Ekkebus’s progressive take on French cuisine means finding ways to replace butter and cream, former staples in his kitchen, with natural alternative ingredients such as nut milks and vegetable oils. The updated menu was exquisite. Highlights included medai fish garnished with dried wakame seaweed and oyster leaves (a young leek coated in a leek “ash” gave an aromatic smoky note that cut through the umami flavours), and the aka uni (sea urchin) starter with cauliflower, a generous scoop of caviar and seaweed tapioca-flour crackers. The culinary journey finished with petit fours and “Ambershu” — Amber’s version of a classic Hong Kong yuenyeung, a popular drink mixed with coffee or tea, and umeshu, a Japanese liqueur made with seasonal fruit.

Ma . . . and The Seeds of Life

Shop 11, 1/F, H18 CONET, 23 Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong

  • Good for: An introduction to plant-based food

  • Not so good for: Those looking for a light meal

  • FYI: Visit Crafts on Peel, a charitable organisation that showcases Hong Kong’s traditional craft and contemporary arts, just across the road on Peel Street

  • Website; Directions

Chef Tina Barrat took a gamble opening a restaurant during the pandemic. But her concept filled a gap in Hong Kong for vegan fine-dining, with a menu that showcases highly creative plant-based dishes encompassing the elegance of her French heritage. Being completely vegan is at the core of Ma . . . and The Seeds of Life’s philosophy, and making every component of each dish from scratch requires a passion and thoughtfulness that is imparted with each bite of Barrat’s creations.

Melon and Rawcciutto, a thin rice crepe marinated in sun-dried tomato paste, smoked paprika and extra-virgin olive oil, at Ma . . . and The Seeds of Life
Melon and Rawcciutto — a thin rice crepe marinated in sun-dried tomato paste, smoked paprika and extra-virgin olive oil — at Ma . . .  and The Seeds of Life

The menu offers an array of Mediterranean-inspired dishes and each plate is bursting with taste and creativity. Her innovative melon and Rawcciutto, a thin rice crepe marinated in sun-dried tomato paste, smoked paprika and extra-virgin olive oil, had the taste and texture of real prosciutto. The Starlight risotto, black wild rice topped with a foam made from home-fermented black garlic and silver varak (a thin edible foil that is often used in south Asian desserts), was so flavourful that I forgot I was eating entirely vegan cuisine. In the kitchen, every part of the raw ingredient is used to ensure zero waste is produced — a perk of working with vegetables, Barrat says. Peels and scraps that aren’t used go into a vegetable broth.

Tables and chairs in an industrial decor in the dining room of Ma . . . and The Seeds of Life
Ma . . . and The Seeds of Life filled a gap in Hong Kong’s restaurant scene for vegan fine-dining © Ronnie Yeoh

Vegan cheese at Ma . . . and The Seeds of Life
Vegan cheese at Ma . . . and The Seeds of Life © Hoey Leung

Barrat has also made a name for herself in the vegan community for her homemade dairy-free cheese, which is available to order at the restaurant and to buy at her shop Le Fromage. Growing up in France surrounded by dairy products, she experimented endlessly until she was able to produce a range of vegan cheeses, made from cashews and almonds, with taste and texture approved by her French ancestry.

Share your sustainable Hong Kong dining recommendations in the comments

Follow FT Globetrotter on Instagram at @FTGlobetrotter

Cities with the FT

FT Globetrotter, our insider guides to some of the world’s greatest cities, offers expert advice on eating and drinking, exercise, art and culture — and much more

Find us in Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, London, Paris, Rome, Frankfurt, Singapore, Miami, Toronto and Madrid

 





READ SOURCE

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.