The Tatler 10: Pearl Shek of Apinara Hong Kong


November 10, 2017 | BY Christian Barlow

The co-founder of Apinara Hong Kong tells us why a strong team is her business's best asset

When you first meet Pearl, it’s hard to believe that someone so petite could love to eat as much as she does. A graduate of London’s Imperial Business School, she’s the beauty and brains behind Apinara Hong Kong, the first Hong Kong restaurant of Yuki Srikarnchana’s popular Nara Thai Cuisine that she co-founded with her business partners.

In our latest edition of the Tatler 10, where we pose 10 questions to Hong Kong-based entrepreneurs about their businesses, we asked Pearl about the importance of surrounding yourself with the best people and why passion can at times trump profit.

What does Hong Kong mean to you?

Hong Kong will always be home to me. I was born and raised here so Hong Kong is filled with many wonderful, life-changing memories and people who have made me who I am today.

Summarise your business in one sentence.

My restaurant Apinara is a narration of authentic Thai cuisine. Taking inspiration from age-old recipes and the essence of simple ingredients, Apinara expresses a profound appreciation for culturally influenced cooking through every dish.

See also: The Tatler 10: Stephnie Shek

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Bringing Nara and Apinara, my childhood favourite restaurants from Thailand to Hong Kong.

What do you love most about running your own business?

As cliche as this sounds, it’s doing what I love every day. Dedicating myself to something I have so much love and passion for.

What advice can you offer budding entrepreneurs?

I recently read a book called “Setting the Table" by Danny Meyer, where he mentioned the importance of surrounding yourself with competent, loyal and trustworthy colleagues whose skills and strengths compensate for your own weaknesses. It really resonated with me because this is something I truly believe in and think anyone who is starting or running their own business should be conscious of.  

As an entrepreneur, what do you think sets you and your business apart from the competition?

It’s not always about profit, as it’s the people that really make my business. It’s really important to me that my employees and partners feel valued each and every day

Who inspires you and why?

My mentor Tony Cheng, a very successful but humble restaurateur. He’s always been patient in guiding me every step of the way. And of course, my mother, whom I see as wonder woman—someone who truly does it all.

Looking back do you wish you had done anything differently?

I’m not one to regret anything because I see everything as a learning experience, be it a win or a loss. It’s important to learn and strive to be better.

See also: The Tatler 10: Christy Liang

What's your end goal?

To make Nara and Apinara known to be a go-to restaurant in Hong Kong and potentially to have a location in China sometime in the future.

What are your words to live by?

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

See other Tatler 10 interviews with Cynthia Mak, Kayla Wong and Harris Chan.

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