Tag Archives: organic

SUPAFOOD – Soft Opening!

1Remember when I got a sneak peek into organic Chinese oasis, Sohofama? Well, the team behind Sohofama is back with something new – but this time it’s fast food. Organic fast food – a.k.a. SUPAFOOD2Yesterday I dragged along Molly, a foodie friend who’s been on a BBITES adventure with me before, to check out the first day of their soft-opening. Although the décor inside is still taking shape, the food was in full form – and we had lots of fun eating our way through their lunch menu.4Basically, there are salad box options – including pork, chicken and more – as well as rice box options, where you can substitute the rice with quinoa if you’re feeling extra healthy. Molly and I said “stuff that,” quite literally, and went for the rice instead.

The service was friendly and fast, leaving us ample time over Molly’s one-hour lunch break from the office to dig into the pretty huge serving sizes. Everything tasted fresh and refined. YUM!3Although we knew that we’d get pretty full from the two boxes (yes, we split them 50-50), we couldn’t resist trying one of the desserts on option: organic POWER BALLS (love that name!)supafood1They’re made out of coconut powder, flaxseed, oats and peanut butter. Texture: rich and sable-like; flavour: explosive! Haha!!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my preview of Supafood! BBITE you later 🙂

Bakker x

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In the Shop @ N*ICE POPS

Page_1 copy 2Summer is in full swing, and you’ll be glad you’re reading this because there’s a new kid (one year old!) on the block serving ice cold gourmet popsicles called N*ICE POPS.

I first came across their products at a Foodie pop-up event that I blogged about back in April, and knew I wanted to find out more. They launched in Summer 2014 and their world is only getting cooler (pun intended!).  Page_1 copyYesterday I visited their kitchen-slash-office space in Ap Lei Chau to interview founder Eddie Chan, so please dig in to the scoop below…

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 12.42.00 pmBakker’s Bites (BBITES) : What goes into your pops?

Eddie Chan (EC) : When we first started, we were naïve thinking that we could get all local, all organic fruits in Hong Kong. It didn’t turn out to be the case.

We do try working with some local farms; one of the first flavours we did was an organic beetroot and shiso, both of which we can get locally.Page_5When we see things that are nice and available, we’ll try to get it but for the most part it’s a trip to the fruit market or the wet market. We also have a few international suppliers across South-East Asia, and we’re using some peaches right now from the States.

The whole local thing was nice, but it’s really hard to get anything consistently in Hong Kong – it’s not happening right now.Untitled 3BBITES : I’ve covered Sohofama on my blog before, which also tries to source local-organic whenever possible, but they told me it remains a challenge. Would you say it’s getting easier over time to source locally?

EC : For produce, like most vegetables, it’s actually not too terrible. But we’re more fruit-based, and that’s different.

BBITES : Really? So sourcing fruits is more difficult than vegetables?

EC : Yeah, we can get some local bananas for example, and we’ve done dragon fruit before, although we eventually found the red Malaysian ones to be nicer. There’s some stuff, but sometimes they’re not the best.

BBITES : What do you do when you’ve found something that’s local and organic, but the quality isn’t living up to what you imagined? Would you then source from elsewhere?

EC : Yeah, for sure. We do actually have organic strawberries here in Hong Kong, but last season we kind of skipped over our suppliers to get them from the States because they had a bad harvest and they were tiny and bitter – just not useable. It happens.Page_5 copyBBITES : Ok, so when you’ve found the right produce you bring them to this kitchen. Then, is it a matter of just blending them together for the popsicles, or do you precook some things for the recipes?

EC : We do both. We precook more with our winter flavours or cooler weather flavours. For instance, we caramelised the banana before we put it in the pop for this one really popular one that we had.

We did an applesauce for an apple crumble pop before, too. For things like that we’ll do a little bit of cooking, but for warm weather it’s mostly straightforward.Page_2BBITES : How do you choose which recipes are for cooler weather versus hot weather, does that have anything to do with the Chinese philosophy of “heaty” versus “cooling” foods?

EC : Not really, although we should look into that. It’s more seasonal stuff, like apple sauce with cinnamon, or banana cream pies…art 3BBITES : Tell me more about the artwork in your kitchen. It’s awesome!

EC : Thanks! Well, from the beginning it’s been the branding. We always thought – well it was just me back then – that it would be nice to associate the brand with more of a handmade look and feel versus a corporate, clean-cut look.

Everything we do here, we do by hand and we wanted to have that association with street art, illustration and graffiti. Being a fan of street art myself, I thought it would be a really good opportunity to bridge that gap where it’s food but we can tie it in with that bit of culture.UntitledThe designer that helped me with the initial branding, Tim Wong, who designed our logo, he introduced me to some local artists from the Hong Kong street art scene, and we just went off from there.

Within the studio there’s four different artists’ work, and we actually have an artist – Bao, who’s a finalist in this year’s Secret Walls competition – helping us paint a freezer today in our friend’s studio downstairs, so we can go check that out later if you want.Page_3BBITES : Yeah, I’d love to see that. Do you have artists create images for specific pops, or is it just the workspace or freezer units? How does the artwork come into being?

EC : What we want to do is give the artists free reign, within a certain boundary. We’ve had certain artist friends do something that’s a little more adult than we’d like – we love it, it’s great, but our target audience isn’t just the cool kids and the adults. We have children and families and things like that. artWith the ice pop girl, there’s just a hint of that – a little edgy and borderline, but it doesn’t step over that boundary. I mean we’re selling ice pops at the end of the day.art 2BBITES : Your customer base is across the board then?

EC : In some ways, but we do target adults more than kids – we’re trying to get involved in a lot of parties this summer, for example – although there are more kid-friendly flavours in our menu now.

Some of our competitors are coming out the woodworks now, and they’re targeting the cutesy kids and stuff and that’s fine, it’s a big market, but for us that’s never where we want to go with our image and not with our products.

What we’re offering is a little more sophisticated in terms of taste and palate, with things like our boozy pops where we’re doing our own signature cocktails and not just copying existing recipes.

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BBITES : My flatmate wanted me to ask this question: how many alcoholic pops would it take to get drunk?

EC : I always tell people this when they ask: you’ll probably get brain freeze, or not feel your jaw or tongue before you get wasted on our boozy pops.

There’s about 3.5% alcohol, like a light beer, so unless you’re a complete lightweight you’ll be fine. We want people to be able to taste it, and not be wondering, “where’s the alcohol in this?”Page_3 copyBBITES : How often do you switch up the recipes, is it quarterly?

EC: Generally quarterly, yes. Sometimes it’s performance-based too. Things like our mango pop with watermelon, lime juice and a sprinkle of paprika, that one sells really well so we kept it on our menu.

But, in general every season you can expect a full menu change and even within a season we introduce new ones – so every other month. Now that we have more retail partners, we’re going to do more exclusives, too.Untitled 3BBITES : Favourite pop at the moment?

EC : Surprisingly, a very light one. It’s our green apple-cucumber-iced tea.

BBITES : Favourite pop of all time?

EC : Ooh… of all time? That’s a tough one. It’s a toss up between two pops we don’t do anymore but might bring back: an Old Fashioned pop with fresh-squeezed orange juice, bitters and bourbon; and one with oven-charred pineapples, a dark rum and vegan caramel.

BBITES : That sounds soooooo good!!!!!!!!!!

EC : Yeah, that was a favourite and was running for a long time, but as good as it is – and we do have requests for it – we want to keep things fresh and new. Untitled 2BBITES : Final question: how do you get inspired for new recipes?

EC : The inspiration comes from just loving to eat and drink. Maybe sometimes a trip to the market, you’ll see a fruit and think, “hey, never thought of using that before!” Most of all, though? Being a glutton…

BBITES : Perfect end to the interview, thank you so much!Page_2 copy 2Check out N*ICE POPS’ website or facebook for information on where to find them…

Thanks for reading!

Bakker x

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SOHOFAMA – The Bakker’s Bites Preview

1If you haven’t heard of PMQ yet, you’ve been living under a rock! Located on Aberdeen Street (a.k.a. the steep hill between Hollywood Road and Soho), the former Police Married Quarters has been transformed into a creative hub for Hong Kong entrepreneurs. And this includes an exciting new restaurant concept from local lifestyle brand G.O.D. and LocofamaSOHOFAMA. Bakker’s Bites was there last week for a preview, and interview with founder Larry Tang –  so get ready for a sneak preview of Hong Kong’s most exciting new Chinese restaurant, which will be officially opening its doors soon…2SOHOFAMA is next door (and connected inside) to the G.O.D. store in PMQ. Warmly-lit and decorated with Hong Kong design accents, as well as fresh modern touches, there’s nowhere you can turn in SOHOFAMA without seeing green: there are plants everywhere.Page_04The greenery is an important part of the restaurant’s concept: farming. But more on that later… Page_02 copy 2After sitting down in the cha chaan teng-style booth seats, it’s time to get tasting. Like LOCOFAMA in Sai Ying Pun, SOHOFAMA serves organic food – but here it’s Chinese cuisine. With no MSG, chicken powder or other nasties, it was particularly nice knowing I wasn’t going to be thirsty to the point of no return after eating…Page_06 copyAmong the starters were several “drunken” appetisers. There’s 24-hour drunken chicken as well, but we stuck to egg and prawn. You can tell the prawns are local-caught, because they were damn fresh – and the heady Chinese wine marinade made both of these dishes a real treat. Page_06The plateware is so cute, too! Next on the seafood appetiser front was one of my favourite local dishes: fried egg-yolk prawns. Page_07 copyCreamy with that signature crisp sand texture on the outside, and tender on the inside, SOHOFAMA’s take on this classic was spot-on.Page_10 copyNext, some classy xiao long baos. These were more refined than what I’m used to: with a thin yet flexible skin (i.e. doesn’t break when you lift it up, even if you don’t eat it straight away), the soup filling and meat aren’t overly oily or heavy.Page_08 copyThis is something a lot of the dishes at SOHOFAMA have in common: achieving the same recipes but in a leaner, cleaner way – and with premium ingredients.Page_10Such was the case with the D.I.Y. duck buns, as well. The skin was crispy and meat succulent, but it wasn’t dripping in oil as you’d expect from a Peking Duck, for example.Page_08The last main dish of my evening was a fantastic mud crab, served with sticky fried-rice. As good as it looks! Get ready to get your hands dirty, though – you won’t be able to leave anything behind…Page_09 copyWhat’s a sneak peek without a peek into the kitchen? Well, take a step inside with me 🙂 !Page_13 copySOHOFAMA’s kitchen has all the standard equipment you’d find in a commercial Chinese kitchen: super hot fires for wok-frying, dim sum baskets, all manner of sauces, giant chopping knives of different sizes and more…Page_12 copyPage_13We even managed a snap of SOHOFAMA’s three musketeers: Larry Tang (founder), Head Chef Shing, and mixologist Kit.Page_12And now, time for my interview with Larry Tang, founder of Locofama Group… Page_15 copy Bakker’s Bites (BBITES): Tell us about how you approached the concept and design, especially considering PMQ is a heritage building?

Larry Tang (LT): Well, PMQ in Chinese is Yuen Chong Fong (元創方)

Yuen Chong (元創) means ‘original creation’, and Fong (方) means ‘place’. So for everything we do, we want it to be original: from the interior; to the food and drinks…

PMQ is the first space where we have Hong Kong entrepreneurs doing something; it’s the first of its kind. We want to create something that hasn’t been done anywhere, including Hong Kong.

That’s where our farming concept comes into the picture. A lot of people talk about “farm to table,” but we will have our own farm at the restaurant. So it will be more like, “table to farm,” instead.

It being a heritage site, we have a lot of design restrictions.

BBITES: Can you give us an example?

LT: Everything that you do to the exterior has to be pre-approved. And there a lot of walls inside that we can’t break down, or even drill holes. We just have to work around it.

BBITES: How involved was G.O.D. (Goods of Desire) in the development phase?

LT: It was a pretty close collaboration [with G.O.D.], they were involved in every stage of the project from the beginning. From the interior and overall concept; the food concept. We also went back and forth with the name.

BBITES: Could you give us an insider scoop on one of the name choices before you decided on ‘SOHOFAMA’?

LT: We were playing around with G.O.D.’s slogan in English, “Delay No More.” At the end we are using the Chinese version of that for Sohofama’s Chinese name, which you can see on our logo.

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BBITES: What do the Chinese characters mean?

LT: The first character means ‘ingredient’, and the second means ‘preparation’. The third and the fourth mean ‘farming’. But pronounced in Cantonese, it’s a play on words… a bit cheeky, actually.

BBITES: Did your Chef and Mixologist work together in creating the dishes and original cocktails?

LT: They both followed the philosophy of the overall concept with the restaurant, but they worked quite independently.

BBITES: How would you sum up that philosophy?

LT: First of all, everything we do needs to be delicious and healthy. It needs to be food and drinks that are suitable for Hong Kong people, as well as expats and tourists.Page_15 copy 3BBITES: Please tell us more about the two murals in SOHOFAMA?

LT: The first one in the small dining room is basically a timeline of the PMQ site. It used to be the Central College here in the late 1800s, but it was destroyed by the Japanese in WWII. They quickly rebuilt a police married quarter. It’s thanks to the heritage status that this building wasn’t turned into a typical commercial space, but something more for the community, by the community.

For the second mural, we wanted to do something that was related to the police history of PMQ. My dad was a policeman, so we found a photo of him and we put a warning sign next to it with a message saying, “no pesticides, no junk food”.

The artist behind both murals is a graffiti artist. She’s someone who’s from Hong Kong – born and raised – but she lives in Germany at the moment. We flew her back to HK just for this project.

BBITES: What was the biggest challenge on the SOHOFAMA journey?

LT: Definitely to successfully create healthy Chinese cuisine – without MSG, or chicken powder. I don’t think it’s ever been done. In the beginning none of our chefs thought it was possible; coming from a commercial kitchen background in Chinese cooking, the idea of not using MSG and chicken powder was like not letting the chefs use their left and right hands.

It’s hard to deliver on what you claim, but we’re very proud with what we’ve achieved.

BBITES: You also sourced local and imported ingredients to deliver on your promise of healthy, organic food. Did that change any elements of the food you serve?

LT: It was very challenging to find all the ingredients that we needed: grass-fed beef, organic pork, organic vegetables, and even sauces. For the sauces you use in Chinese cooking, we managed to find a local supplier for that. I don’t think any commercial kitchen used that supplier before.

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Once you have the freshest premium ingredients, you don’t need to use the MSG and other bad stuff anymore.

In the past, when Hong Kongers fell on hard times, chefs didn’t have access to good, fresh ingredients so they had to deep-fry and come up with all kinds of sauces to mask the bad ingredients.

At SOHOFAMA, we could use the best organic pork to do a Sweet & Sour Pork, but we want to show people how pork really tastes instead of deep-frying and pouring sauce all over it. With the organic pork, we decided to strip it down, with a ‘less is more’ approach.

BBITES: What plans do you have for the outdoor farm concept?

LT: We have very ambitious plans for the outdoor farm. There’s already a lot of planters and [soil] bedding in our outdoor space. We have a landscape plan, but we need to get the approval before we can convert it into a farm.Page_15 copy 2We already have an in-house farmer working for us who’s ready to do it, but before we get approval we came up with the solution to build “trolley farms”. We can push them around if they need more sunlight, or when it’s raining we can move them as well.Page_02At the bar we have two hydroponic systems which are growing herbs for our bartenders, who use them for our cocktails. Hydroponic means you don’t use soil but just water – infused with minerals and nutrients – to grow vegetables and herbs.

BBITES: It seems like you’re keen on showing your guests the possibilities of healthy living and sustainability…

LT: Yeah, definitely. That’s why farming was such a big component to our concept. We want to educate, as well. We’ll have a lot of workshops, and teach people how to make their own farms at home if they like.

It’ll be impossible for us to supply all the vegetables we need for the restaurant with our outdoor farm – the main reason it’s there is to teach people when they visit us. I will also learn more, too.

BBITES: Last and not least, are there any more surprises on the menu I haven’t seen yet?

LT: We’ll be introducing some very special soups. Our chef worked with a Chinese doctor to come up with the herbal soup recipes. We’ll have things like The Hangover Cure, The Detoxifier, so stay tuned!

-END OF INTERVIEW-Page_11 copy

On my way out, I couldn’t help noticing the wacky chandelier of water guns. Definitely appropriate for a zombie apocalypse – wouldn’t expect anything less from quirky G.O.D. design…

I look forward to going back for an interview with Kit, to learn more about the original cocktails at SOHOFAMA. He’s waiting on the final glassware, so I resisted posting on the cocktails I already tried out of respect 🙂 After all, details are everything!

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re as excited as I am for this awesome new organic oasis…

Bakker x

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