Plant Sifu, Hong Kong’s first locally produced plant-based meat brand, has partnered with Shanghai Lao Lao, a local chain of bistros that specialize in xiao long bao and hand-pulled noodles, for the introduction of a plant-based meat menu.
Plant Sifu’s newest partnership celebrates Shanghai Lao Lao’s foray into new-age Chinese cuisine. Shanghai Lao Lao has selected four of its most famous dishes to be reimagined using Plant Sifu plant-based pork, including xiao long bao, one of the chain’s most famous items.
Transforming traditional Chinese cuisine
The collaboration marks a first for the popular Hong Kong Shanghainese food chain, owned by veteran restaurant group Café de Coral Group, in exploring the world of plant-based meat alternatives.
“Our collaboration with Shanghai Lao Lao represents the first ever plant-based menu for this authentic Shanghainese label under the Café de Coral Group,” Joshua Ng, co-founder of Plant Sifu parent company Good Food Technologies, said in a statement.
“Since the brand is known for its exceptional craftsmanship, authenticity and quality, its endorsement is a major testament for Plant Sifu as the preferred plant-based option for Chinese and Asian cuisines. The debut menu includes a plant-based version of xiao long bao, the globally renowned Shanghainese dim sum staple, which is also Shanghai Lao Lao’s number-one selling item.,” Ng said.
Plant Sifu uses high-quality non-GMO soybeans to create products that it says are rich in protein, and contain no added MSG, preservatives, or colorings. The brand is already popular with Hong Kong’s top chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants for its versatility and mild flavors.
Stanley Wong Yiu Man and Chan Kim Fung, Assistant Executive Chefs of Shanghai Lao Lao, said that they want to popularize plant-based food in traditional Shanghainese staple dishes through this collaboration with Plant Sifu. They say that offering a plant-based alternative to signature dishes gives customers, both loyal and newcomers, a comforting sense of familiarity when trying something “new.”
Asia’s palate transformation
According to a report from the China Cuisine Association, the global meat-substitute market is expected to reach 320 billion yuan ($50 billion) by 2025. Asia, which consumes the most meat in the world, is experiencing a shift toward plant-based protein due to growing health and environmental concerns. Hong Kong’s plant-based market is also seeing a surge in demand, with Hong Kong consumers looking for more sustainable options.
The new Shanghai Lao Lao offerings include steamed vegan pork dumplings, stir-fried string beans with plant-based meat, noodles in spicy sesame and peanut soup with minced plant-based meat, and braised bean curd and minced plant-based meat in spicy sauce. The menu items are available at all twelve Shanghai Lao Lao locations through April 30.
The announcement follows Plant Sifu’s recent collaboration with another of Hong Kong’s mainstays, the based meal kit delivery service, Nosh. That collaboration sees a number of innovative menu items available and also runs through April 30.