Top 5 Local Artisans
It used to be that Hongkongers never cared about where their foods came from and how they were made, but tide has been changing, slowly but surely, towards artisanal, handmade and carefully sourced foods that you can trace. After all, if you can bother to get to learn about a chef, why not a baker, or a grower? It is these passionate professionals that get me excited about food, and make Island East Markets what it is.
As the market has just celebrated its first anniversary, we’re proud to have been a platform for so many wonderful small businesses, some of which even chose Island East Markets to make their delicious debuts.
Here are five of my favourites that will make an appearance at the Markets these next few months (and for much longer, we hope).
One of Hong Kong’s few sourdough bakeries, started by KC Li, a young, talented and extremely hard-working baker who is unendingly passionate about his craft. He is tireless about educating our city about the virtues of natural yeast and real, crusty bread. His rye sourdough and rose, lychee and walnut sourdoughs sell out almost the moment they arrive at the Markets.
The Conservancy Association
With the help of farmers, this local environmental group has revived an entire eco-system by growing rice in Long Valley, Hong Kong’s largest agricultural wetland. Rice hasn’t been grown in Hong Kong for over 40 years, the paddies abandoned as the city’s demand for labour in service industries grew. This years’ harvest includes Yu Jien and Pearl rice (medium and short grain respectively).
While they don’t make anything in-house, Chopsticks’ commitment and initiative to start a grocery store selling items that are organic and ethical is a feat in itself. They were one of the first shops of its kind in Hong Kong, and they continue to source exciting, artisanal products from the region, such as biodynamic rice from the Philippines, whole white pepper from Cambodia, and locally made cleaning products.
Sour Times Dairy Company
You might have tried making yoghurt at home because it’s free of stabilisers, preservatives, and other nasties that appear in the tubs on supermarket shelves, but not only does it take time to make, it’s also hard to get that creamy texture and just the right amount of tanginess. Sour Times has the same benefits of homemade yoghurt (no additives), and they have perfected the recipe. Plus, they do all sorts of fun flavours you’d never find elsewhere, such as yuzu and black sesame, and red ginger.
Although we don’t grow coffee plants in Hong Kong, we’re getting quite a number of local roasters and coffee educators. CENG, which stands for Coffee Engineering, is one of them. Founder Reeves Chung sources specialty, single origin coffees and sells beans as well as hand dripped and espresso drinks at the Markets, and is only too happy to talk temperatures, grind size, dosage and so on with fellow coffee geeks.