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Photograph: Courtesy of Foodpanda

Creating communities through food

Stirring conversations with Hong Kong’s F&B innovators

Time Out Hong Kong in partnership with Foodpanda

Talking shop with Hong Kong’s independent, homegrown restaurateurs. These are some of the guys that continue to contribute to the vibrancy that characterises this city's food scene, staying true to their brand and to their community. In Foodpanda's community series, we are shining a light on the culinary creators behind some of our favourite restaurants.  

Meet the restaurateurs

Bobsy Gaia, Mana!

Through Mana!, Bobsy has quietly – although very transparently – been building a movement, pioneering the plant-based fast-casual market in Hong Kong since 2012. A passionate entrepreneur whose mission is to raise environmental awareness and do better for the planet.  

Laura Offe, Uma Nota

Laura is the co-founder of Meraki Hospitality Group, a family affair founded by her and her brother Alexis. After opening the successful Uma Nota in 2017 — marrying Brazilian and Japanese cuisine — they proceeded with Bedu in the same year and now have three restaurants in Hong Kong as well as a Uma Nota in Paris.

Chef Mak Kwai Pui, Tim Ho Wan

Founder of the hugely popular and Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan, the brand began with Chef Mak’s passion to share the tradition of Cantonese dim sum, one intricate creation at a time. Known as the 'dim sum specialist of Hong Kong', Chef Mak's dim sum treasures have endeared themselves to diners and earned citywide praise

Photograph: Courtesy of Uma Nota

A common ground

While they serve different cuisine, they find common ground through making food across cultures accessible to Hongkongers, and as a result, are creating their own communities for different people to come together.

Going on 10 years now, Tim Ho Wan is ensuring that the authentic taste of Hong Kong is never forgotten and widely accessible to modern diners from all over the world. Laura and her brother were inspired by their childhood growing up amongst Asia’s street food culture to share culinary traditions from across generations in a modern and approachable way. While Bobsy maintains a growing, eco-minded community, continuing to raise awareness through a sustainable menu and zero-waste operations.

Photograph: Courtesy of Mana!

The vision

Bobsy: Essentially, Mana! is a platform to raise the strongest message of our time: diet change not climate change.

Laura: The most significant thing about food is that it unites people. As restaurant owners, we get to interact with different people from all over on a daily basis. With Uma Nota, they wanted to create a community and a space where people would feel comfortable, but most importantly, return to time and time again, which remained a core value for our openings that followed.

Chef Mak: From Tim Ho Wan’s very beginning, I wanted to share with people the best ways to enjoy dim sum. I want to share the taste of traditional Cantonese dim sum – so that it would not be forgotten, inspiring me to create this brand. 

Photograph: Courtesy of Tim Ho Wan

Simple beginnings

Bobsy: A full expression of how one could operate a business that really pays attention to what matters for us as human beings, you know. So this led us to evaluate, how can we operate a business that not only raises the awareness of what's happening to our planet and the climate crisis, but can offer a solution. This is how Mana! came about.

Laura: Our father is a chef, he, I think, communicated his passion for food to us when we were very young. Our family as a whole is very passionate about food. 

Chef Mak: At first, being a cook was just a job to me, but then at a certain point, it turned into my passion. I became motivated to think about how to improve my own creations.

Having joined forces with the delivery industry, these guys are able to extend their reach through Foodpanda's platform. More than just food, they bring community, creativity and culture through their restaurants to the city, while Foodpanda delivers their passion and the best of Hong Kong’s restaurants to homes and offices.

Watch this space for part two of our community series. 


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