Hong Kong throws out around 3,600 tonnes of food waste to landfill daily. That’s the same weight as 200 double decker buses or six Airbus 380 planes. Food waste isn’t the only problem, either. We also trash over 2,000 tonnes of plastic a day and a lot of this comes from food packaging, bottles, straws and the like. But it’s not all bad news, as Hong Kong’s restaurants and bars have some sustainability saints we can all learn a thing or two from.
Lots of restaurants source sustainable seafood but chef Gianni Caprioli, of Fishsteria in Wan Chai, is also committed to several other sustainable practices. Ingredients are bought in daily, rather than bulk, meaning fresher produce and less waste. Any ingredients not up to standard are used to create broths and sauces rather than discarded. The restaurant has eliminated plastic straws, using stainless steel ones instead, and even the decorative ornaments have been upcycled, sourced from European flea markets, purchased second hand or rescued from scrap, culminating in a quirky aesthetic.
Food Savior is the brainchild of founders Liz Thomas, Florent Sollier and Adrien Hay, created to minimise food waste by connecting customers with restaurants and cafés that offer deals on dishes left over from service. Eateries such as SpiceBox Organics, La Cabane, 208 Duecento Otto, Jinjuu, Rummin' Tings, Commissary (pictured), Monsieur Chatté and many more are already part of the scheme, which is free for restaurants to join. For customers, it’s even easier to use. Just type your location into the website to see what food is available and at what price. Pay online, skip on over to the restaurant at the agreed collection time, show them your email confirmation and get your grub. Everyone’s a winner: you, the restaurant, Hong Kong and the planet. foodsavior.hk
Founder Bobby Gaia is one of Hong Kong’s sustainability pioneers. A frontrunner in our city’s F&B industry for more than 25 years, his three Mana venues are eco-conscious meccas. All packaging used at the vegetarian and vegan-friendly establishment is plant based and biodegradable, though diners are incentivised to bring their own container to receive a discount. All rubbish is recycled and patrons are encouraged to help out by using the various recycling bins. Gaia believes in ‘diet change not climate change’ as plant-based food tends to have a lower carbon footprint.
Sustainability and cocktails aren’t an obvious connection, but at Potato Head Hongkongers can booze with a conscience. The bar/restaurant originates from Indonesia and bar operations manager Tom Egerton has been inspired by the country’s ability to maximise ingredients while minimising waste, leading him to develop a drinks menu that uses ingredients that otherwise would’ve been disposed of. All fruit waste is used to create compost to help fertilise herbs and produce that will be used in recipes later on. This concept translates to a continually changing menu. Potato Head has done away with plastic straws, using bamboo instead. Egerton estimates that six bartenders, each making an average of 35 drinks per night would use 250 straws in total, meaning some 23,000 straws in one year. That’s half a tonne of plastic waste that Potato Head has eliminated.
Chef and owner of Tate, Vicky Lau believes the role of chefs is changing as they become more aware of their impact on the environment. At Tate, instead of using flowers, which need frequent replacing as table decorations, staff plant sweet potato leaves to add some vibrancy. Tables are covered with durable eco-leather tablecloths that can be wiped clean instead of laundered. Tate also bottles its own still and sparkling water in-house using a premium filter system. Chef Lau strives to source the best and most eco-friendly ingredients, using seasonal and locally grown produce to cut down on the restaurant’s carbon footprint.