A Million Reasons to Love Hong Kong: Lindsay Jang
Restaurant founder Lindsay Jang vividly remembers the nighttime drive from the airport to her apartment in Sheung Wan when she first arrived in Hong Kong in 2009 with her partner and her nine-month old daughter, Lili. Looking around at the buildings slotted into the sides of the jungle-coated mountains, she thought to herself, “Will I ever know where I am? Is this going to be familiar?” Fast-forward more than a decade and, of course, the answer is yes.
Two years after she landed, the Canadian-born entrepreneur opened the late-night Japanese izakaya Yardbird Hong Kong with her business partner, Matt Abergel, on Bridges Street in SoHo. It was a full-fledged commitment to the city that she had fallen in love with. Soon after, they launched Ronin, Sunday’s Grocery and most recently Roti Tori at BaseHall, which they plan to expand soon. “Hong Kong is a place of opportunity”, Jang says. A place where, for the duo, “the stars just aligned”.
She now lives in Chai Wan in a building that looks out onto the ocean. The Dragon’s Back trail is walking distance from her front door, a juxtaposition that makes her describe Hong Kong as “a mash-up or collaboration between New York and Hawaii. You have this intense city, the hustle and bustle. But wherever you are on Hong Kong Island, you can drive 30 minutes at the most and be at a beach or at least in nature.”
A typical day will take Jang from her home in the east end of Hong Kong Island to Yardbird’s location in Sheung Wan—a space nestled between traditional medicine and dried seafood shops that have been passed down through the generations. It’s here in the heart of the city that she’s surrounded by buildings in pinks, greys and blues, the beeping crosswalks, the ding of the tram, and the jingle of local radio stations being blasted from taxis or shops that she’s come to find iconic of Hong Kong.
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Jang was born into the food and beverage industry—her grandparents left Hong Kong in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, establishing Chinese restaurants in their new hometown of Alberta, Canada. Her father later trained as a civil engineer but ended up buying a restaurant too. It’s almost full circle then that she’s returned to her ancestral home, founding a successful business in the city they fled.
Hong Kong is an exciting place to be a restauranteur. “[Food] is woven into the fabric of people’s lives,” she says. “When you walk around Hong Kong, food is everywhere, people are eating all the time in all kinds of places.” Cantonese cooking has become something a lot of the world is familiar with because of immigration and travel, and “people come here to eat”.
On her days off, she often returns to The Chairman, One Harbour Road and Celebrity Cuisine for dim sum or dinners with friends. She also loves the seafood restaurants in the fishing villages of Cheung Chau and Lamma Island that you have to hike or take a boat to reach. “Cantonese cuisine is still the star of the show here, everyone is passionate about it and where they deem best.”
Hong Kong’s hospitality icons share what they love about the city
As passionate about food as he is about art and design, Alan Lo is committee member of the Tate, SFMOMA and the founding chairman of non-profit organization Design Trust. He also co-founded one-Michelin-starred contemporary Chinese restaurant Duddell’s with his wife Yenn Wong. He believes, “Our city is truly a melting pot of Chinese and international food cultures. You can find anything from delectable local Hong Kong street food to some of the most ambitious Michelin-quality chefs.”
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Combining the French style in which he trained and the flavours of his native Japan, Hideaki Sato is the chef behind Hong Kong’s Ta Vie, the two-MICHELIN-starred restaurant in Central. He says, "I love the diversity in Hong Kong's food and beverage industry. It's not just a variety of cuisines, restaurants and bars but also the people working there come from a range of different backgrounds. In the industry, people are able to express themselves freely, which is what makes Hong Kong food & beverage so attractive and vibrant."
The founder of Oaxaca-inspired craft cocktail bar COA, Jay Khan named his bar after the tool used for harvesting the agave plant that gives the world tequila. The bar’s wide range of mezcal and tequila spirits has won it a spot on the list of Asia’s Best Bars. As someone who was born and bred in Hong Kong, he considers himself “lucky to see how Hong Kong has transformed into a food and beverage mecca”, with “so many unique local breweries, and even distilleries that produce gin. It is sadly overlooked but we have some really amazing local organic farms (such as Zen Organic Farm). They produce a wide variety of ingredients, some of my favourites are their red dragon-fruits and large variety of herbs”.
See also: Acclaimed Mixologist Jay Khan Talks Winning Bartender Of The Year And His Must Have Items For An Impressive Home Bar
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