We had the most wonderful time at Hong Kong’s newest food market Tong Chong Street Market this past Sunday. Janice Leung Hayes, one of Hong Kong’s most prolific and beloved food writers, is the brains, heart and soul behind the newly-launched Sunday market concept she has co-founded with Swire Properties. As organizers of the Made in HK artisanal food events, we really get how much passion and love goes into putting these things together. It can be a thankless job, and it’s certainly not a for-money pursuit- a really fabulous food market in Hong Kong requires persistence, dedication and seriously hard work so bravo to Janice and her team!
For those of us who remain unconvinced about how much of our grocery shopping can be acquired from local producers, Tong Chong Street Market makes a winning case! From artisanal bread from Levain to jasmine rice grown in the paddies of the New Territories from the Conservancy Association to fresh garlic (so you can stay away from China’s ubiquitous bleached variety) to Hong-Kong-made soya sauce from Connoisseur to a smorgasbord of gorgeously-hued farm produce! Green papaya, roselle (hibiscus) buds, pittaya, starfruit, bok choy, French beans, white eggplant, sweet potato, bananas, pumpkin, garlic chives, corn ears, runner beans, lemons and bitter gourd- all grown right here in Hong Kong (from Yuen Long to Sai Kung and in between) and all certified organic by the Hong Kong Organic Resources Centre, our hometown’s very own organic produce label standard. We loved chatting to the farmers about recipe ideas too! One of them taught us about a hitherto unknown ingredient: the Chinese chestnut, also known as the Noble Bottle tree nut, used by locals in healing soups. Another shared her suggestions on how to make roselle syrup (which we did later that day!).
Beyond the fresh stuff, there was also a bevvy of local and imported artisanal food! From what may be the world’s purest coconut oil pressed in the wild Solomon Islands (Coconut Matter) to Profood‘s gorgeous array Italian ingredients to biodynamic wine from the folks at Cork Culture and The Flying Winemaker, there are loads of foods to fill your straw market basket with- bring a big one! Other notable finds: locally brewed craft beer (shoutout to Young Master Ales), Kyoto matcha green tea cookies (made by iBakery’s handicapped & disabled workers), Raiz The Bar raw organic chocolate bars, Bella Sapone non-toxic body and skincare, handcrafted Nice Pops ice pops, coconut amino nori snacks and much, much more!
And finally, there was the perfectly curated selection of food entrepreneurs, all of which are redefining Hong Kong’s food scene. From vegan chef extraordinaire chef Peggy Chan’s Grassroots Pantry to The Woods‘s seasonal & floral cocktails to Bread & Beast‘s nose-to-tail sandwich philosophy to Boomshack‘s focus on local ingredients to 3/3rds‘ creative interpretations of Ottolenghi-style salads to Pololi‘s healthful poke bowls to Common Ground‘s newer-than-new nitro coffee offering to Teakha’s quirky, hand-steeped tea drinks to Via Tokyo‘s matcha-filled desserts to TAP- The Ale Project‘s vintage cha chaan dishes made with locally brewed beer, each of these gastronomic players is making their mark in what is a brand new era for Hong Kong food culture. These chefs, restauranteurs and producers have a vision that is beyond profit- one that embodies values of health, sustainability, seasonality, farmer roots and ancient culinary traditions.
Below, we talk to Janice about the market, its mission and why it’s different from previous events.
What is the mission of Tong Chong Street Market?
The mission of Tong Chong Street Market is to connect like-minded, emerging entrepreneurs, foodies and creative minds in promoting food sustainability. Honestly Green is a social enterprise committed to create a future of food that is responsible and sustainable. As such, we are very glad to be able to collaborate with a responsible organisation like Swire Properties, who shares our same mission. The market works as a platform to connect the best sustainable, ethical, innovative food producers with the wider Hong Kong public, while helping them stay informed about sustainability issues in food.
How is Tong Chong Street Market aiming to be different from other foods events in Hong Kong?
Tong Chong Street Market bears a social mission to promote food sustainability that differs from other food events. All participating restaurants, pre-packaged food vendors and local organic food producers are advocates and supporters of food sustainability. These participants were handpicked by Honestly Green and Swire Properties in alignment with the market’s mission.
Also, Tong Chong Street Market is all about food. The market is a place where emerging F&B entrepreneurs, industry players, foodies and like-minded people can gather and exchange innovative ideas. The numerous signature dishes exclusively crafted for the market are great examples of this. Most of the restaurant partners are young entrepreneurs who share a similar vision to achieve food sustainability, and are ambitious enough tackle ‘start-up’ life and gradually expand their businesses.
What is the biggest difference between the former Island East Markets and the new Tong Chong Street Market?
Tong Chong Street Market is all about food, which differs from the former Island East Markets, which had a jumble of themes. Tong Chong Street Market-goers are expected to experience trendsetting food and beverage, experience and learn about food from farm to table and beyond, and try first-hand some of the most innovative eateries in the city today. They’ll get to see the debut of exclusive signature street foods crafted by ten homegrown F&B brands just for this market, as well as interesting packaged products brought in by other food vendors and fresh produce from certified local organic farmers. In total, there are 40 stalls at Tong Chong Street Market.
How can Tong Chong Street Market help promote food sustainable/eco-friendly living?
With the help of popular and unique restaurant partners, Tong Chong Street Market attracts market-goers who normally may not have thought of food in terms of sustainability. When they arrive at the market, they’ll also see an abundance of produce by local farmers, which will hopefully inspire visitors to start learning more about farming and the cycle of food. The market is a fun way to gradually infuse the public with knowledge about local farming, so that they can make purchasing responsible food a habit.
The market is a great place to talk to stallholders and other fellow market-goers, to directly exchange and inspire innovative ideas. This open platform hopes to raise public awareness towards food sustainability in a fun, engaging way. A couple of central goals are to increase awareness of food issues and help the local farming industry go beyond a niche market and become a commonly available and affordable food source for the community.
What are some of the newer vendors/products that will be launching at the markets?
The market features 10 emerging culinary entrepreneurs: 3/3rds, Boomshack, Bread & Beast, Common Ground, Grassroots Pantry, Pololi, teakha, The Woods, Via Tokyo and TAP – The Ale Project. Each has developed signature item(s) exclusively crafted for Taikoo Place. The market also features other unique food vendors such as Fourth Estate, Cork Culture, Raiz the Bar, Royal Plum Wine and iBakery, who are either new start-ups without a physical retail presence, or new to the market scene. Fresh, local, certified organic produce will of course be available at the market too.
Could you share more about Swire Properties’ Project After 6?
Launched in 2014, PROJECT AFTER 6 is a tenant engagement programme initiated by Swire Properties for its office portfolios. Offering a valuable platform that connects the office community through a series of activities spanning different genres, the programme aims to strengthen connections between office executives by bringing art, music and entertainment into their work environments, unleashing their talents. This is also part of Swire Properties continual commitment to sustainable development, which aims to nurture and provide an attractive working environment for a positive impact on employees’ productivity, contributing to a successful business and happy community.
Following on from the successful TAIKOO PLACE PROJECT AFTER 6 activities earlier in the year, Taikoo Place tenant employees will be invited to unleash their culinary creativity through cooking lessons, site-visits to restaurants, and workshops. The programme will culminate in the public tasting and voting sessions at Tong Chong Street Market in December.
Tong Chong Street Market is on every Sunday from 11am to 5pm until December 27th (inclusive), 23 Tong Chong Street, Taikoo Place, Quarry Bay. Quarry Bay MTR exit A.