Survive

Look back

The contrast of our city ranges from skyscrapers to mountains, monotonous grey to colorful neon signs in evening on the old districts. This populated city also has one of the highest concentration of eateries among the world’s cities.

People

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A few of my recent quick bites at our city’s top budget fast food chains made me realize how crappy their food is representing us as a whole. By all means the prices are competitive, not expensive to this day but certainly not that cheap either. Consumers should ask: Are we getting what we paid for? Do you get similar food quality and dining experience with this price range?

I’d paid $56 HKD dollars for a Cantonese BBQ with rice including a drink. For a fast food restaurant, it’s fine. But if you care about what you eat (quality and taste), It was totally not worth it. It’d be a waste of both money and food. It did kill my mood for the rest of the day. Even more so if you see the cook do not care much about your food. That is, treating the serving bowl like a kitchen sink; dumping food into it without zero presentation. Not only it affects your appetite, i cannot see the effort, the heart and the respect for food.

That’s why I’d rather pay for more for the food I deserve. I deserve to feel good when I eat, not only for the purpose of satisfying my stomach.

Farm

I hate to see some of the independent restaurants getting closed down due to the raise in rents and operating costs. It’s scraping off our crowned title as food paradise. We’re getting to a point in most accessible places, restaurants are all operated by restaurant groups and franchises. Long time restaurants got replaced and making all districts the same. The replaced restaurants are either offering average food no matter how well they renovate the shop or at a jaw- dropping price for casual meals.

Concrete Homes

I’m in the food and beverage industry. I hear from our well-informed colleagues over time that the low-mid end restaurants only go for the cheapest ingredients for their food preparation. And they are not competing against their rivals, they are saving costs to survive (longer) until the day they can’t afford the rent.

We do have choice for food, most of the times they’re just not in the most accessible locations. I can’t even find a joint that sells dessert tofu near by, not even a proper Cantonese bakery shop. Steamy buns and egg tarts have been my childhood memory and dessert tofu came in later in my teenage years when my mother used to buy from an old lady underneath a bridge near the market. None of these are fancy, they’re just essential to my knowledge. We have to have them in order to live as a Hong Konger.

This is life, this is Hong Kong.

6 thoughts on “Survive

  1. It’s sad to see good restaurants disappear or lower their standards because of the rising rents. My mom spent part of her childhood in Hong Kong. I remember her telling stories about vendors that would walk around selling their food (like tofu fa) and how delicious it was.

  2. After four months of being in HK, I’ve come to realise that the majority of the eateries and restaurants here do not use quality ingredients and many of them douse the food in salt / oil / sugar / MSG (or all at the same time). Like you, I’d rather spend a little more to support a restaurant or shop that is selling well-made food or quality produce.

    Since our belongings arrived from Belgium, we have also been cooking at home as we have more control of what goes into our stomachs. Sadly, we only have Wellcome and Park & Shop in our neighbourhood and the selection of fresh produce is limited and not that good in quality. There are a few small shops that sell locally grown produce from the New Territories and organic produce (which is significantly more expensive here than in Europe). Which helps with cooking at home, but I wish we could have more quality options!

    1. Sounds like that has been a huge headache for you. Either you cook with the local/China imported produce from the wet markets, or there can’t be any fresher ones available. It’s good hearing comments from people who had traveled around the world. There are small gourmet shops only carry quality ingredients around town (usually in those hard to find streets), prices are usually steep. I think ultimately all the not-up-to-my-standard eateries had forced me to become a picky person. I’m willing to pay more once in a while, but please make me something good. Does that sound familiar?

      1. Now that we know what to expect from the supermarkets and fresh markets (as well as small independent grocery shops), we are getting a better idea where to get what. We try not to buy fresh produce that have been shipped from far away whenever possible, but it doesn’t always work this way.

        Yup, I fully understand what you mean. I’m all for quality over quantity! There is a eatery near my office that I like a lot and eating there always makes me happy. It only sells four dishes every week and each one is tastefully prepared with fresh ingredients, most of which come from their own farm in Sheng Shui. If you are ever in Quarry Bay, check it out: https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/484993455/

        Let’s catch up some time!

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