We recently visited MANA!’s newly unveiled flagship location in Wan Chai’s Star Street precinct. Hong Kong’s go-to plant-based and eco-friendly eatery, equally popular among the city’s veggie and non-veggie! population, is growing up and with a 1,600 sq.ft. space, the fast ‘slow food’ restaurant chain can finally realise their vision fully, their low-waste, uber sustainable, slow living ethos, brought to life in the locale they deserve.
Eat It Like It Matters
Visiting during a busy lunchtime rush on a recent weekday, we dived into to the signature MANA menu, though Star Street boasts a wider, more personalised (build your own flat, your own burger, your own salad, interactive menu, still mostly vegan save for add-on eggs and haloumi cheese. We opted for the BYO Salad. Our creation? Spinach-kale base with chargrilled broccoli, roasted pumpkin, courgette and aubergine, black bean truffle and alfalfa sprouts, topped with a Spicy Asian chilli ginger sauce. We ordered the Mezze Box, loaded with finger-licking pickled peppers, olives, hummus and their signature babaganoush, not to mention crisped slices of MANA’s iconic flatbread. We also devoured the Babylon! Patty Burger, Rainbow Yams and MANA!’s addictive Garlicnaise too.
V Coffee For The Win
We obviously couldn’t resist trying out MANA!’s brand new V-Coffee menu, with the Bar sure to become a new plant-based coffee destination. V-Coffee is MANA!’s take on coffee, promising to bring the beverage to a ‘new plant-based dimension’. Blended with Oatly’s oat-milk and infused with raw cacao butter, our Honduran-bean coffees were rich, creamy and paired perfectly with the oh-so-satisfying Raw Coconut Cake from their Dessert selection. Cocktail lovers be ready: the Organic Booze Bar is launching soon and will feature fair G&K (that’s gin and kombucha to you) and gluten-free beer.
Green Community Space
Fitted with natural and pre-loved decor (think plants and second-hand Moroccan carpets) and eco-sustainable materials, the 70-seat space is Hong Kong’s largest Western cuisine plant-based restaurant. Part eatery, part community concept, the hang-out space is perfect for hosting environmental talks and green movie screenings.
Michelle, a 30-something Hong Konger and teacher who works nearby, told Green Queen that MANA! is her new go-to lunch spot. Though not a full-time vegan, Michelle says she “enjoys eating plant-based, especially for lunch.” For Michelle, MANA! Starstreet represents “a place to withdraw and reflect.”
MANA!’s catchy earth-forward mantras such as All is one, one is all and Diet change, not climate change, can be found all over the walls and the floors. There’s even a special browsing library where people can chat or flick through a book. It is an open invite to be free: inspiring a yogi to practice and a guitarist to show off his skills.
“This is the space we always wanted to create,” enthuses Bobsy Gaia, the brand’s Bohemian founder. “We’ve been waiting for this moment.”
A Low Waste Mission: Food That Doesn’t Cost The Earth
Another diner spoke about how unique MANA!’s low-waste, compost-forward efforts are for Hong Kong: “So many places in Scandinavia and Europe are a lot further ahead and have normalised the recycling culture. It’s shameful that this concept hasn’t happened sooner in Hong Kong,” commented Kai Lloyd, who works in the city but has spent many years abroad.
Not only does MANA! Starstreet proudly display a hard-to-miss water fountain (water is free and plentiful), it is also home to the 8th version composting station, which took 30 plus years to put into operation. The one-stop-section for composting and recycling is manned by an ambassador who guides visitors on how to properly sort their waste as a part of the company’s mission to educate its customers about plastic-free and low-waste dining. Probably goes without saying at this point that all of the packaging used, including takeaway cups and lids, are certified biodegradable and compostable- for dine in, they have washable utensils, a change from other locations. While waste gets turned into soil, recycled glass gets sanitised and reused until it is ready for a new life as tiling or brick flooring. Throughout, MANA!’s eco-vision shines through, offering a convenient dining experience without sacrificing the planet.
From its zen-vibe to its naturally-lit interior design, Wanchai’s new plant-based hotspot is sure to become a mainstay for vegans and omnivores alike. At the core of the concept is a message about sustainability, community, humanity and the planet – a message that we as Hong Kongers desperately need to start embracing.
All images and videos courtesy of Green Queen.