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Chef Tina Barrat, well-known in the Hong Kong plant-based community for her artisan vegan cheese wheels, nourishing plant-based lunch delivery service and sold-out private dinners, as well as her storied history as co-founder of the much-loved Maya Cafe Mediterranean Lifestyle, has just soft-opened her brand new restaurant concept MA…and The Seeds of Life. Located in Central’s bustling Soho district in the Urban Renewal Authority redevelopment H18 Conet, the fine-dining restaurant is a showcase of Barrat’s highly creative vegan creations in which natural ingredients take centre stage.
To the delight of her gourmet fanbase following her former Maya Café success, Chef Tina Barrat has opened MA…and The Seeds of Life on Graham Street, home to one of Hong Kong’s most historic street markets and situated in the heart of Soho district in Central. The 1,800-square-foot space will offer visitors creative 100% vegan and cruelty-free takes on gourmet cuisine classics with a distinctly French flair, from “chiaviar with quinoa blinis” made with energy-boosting chia seeds to replace the endangered sturgeon roe, to beetroot carpaccio and faux-gras pâté crafted from porcini mushrooms and cashews.
All of MA’s dishes embrace whole, unprocessed natural ingredients, and staying true raw preparations, the cooked delights are not heated above 40 degrees celsius, such as the orange and fennel soup or grilled king oyster “scallops”. Menu highlights tested by the Green Queen team include the sans-salmon rillettes, the eggless quiche and the avocado maki sushi.
“Making everything from scratch in the kitchen reveals the true taste of the food and nourishes the body as it was naturally intended to do,” explains Chef Barrat. “I’ve always intended that my cuisine should build a bridge between vegans and non-vegans.”
Barrat’s partner is OBH F&B Group, a wine distributor that started opening restaurants grab-and-go outlets that focus on healthy eating. After tasting her food during a private dinner, the founder felt compelled to lobby Barrat to create MA. The seeds were already planted, as it were. Barrat, who comes from a long line of cooks and creatives, had always envisioned returning to the restaurant world, albeit with a more fine dining approach, and MA is a blend of her maternal lineage: her great grandmother a sought after cook in her native France, her grandmother a talented seamtress and her mother an champion athlete and swimmer who advocated the consumption of organic food before it was a trend.
“I’m confident it will become a destination for today’s smart diners who treasure their health and the environment, and who demand exciting new experiences in a more caring world.”
On offer for those with a sweet tooth are a range of Barrat’s popular raw vegan desserts and cakes including the Classic Tinamisu, a delightful balance between chocolate, coffee and vanilla, and her Cheezecakes made from fermented house-made nut cheeses that come in fruity flavours from passion fruit to lychee rose and even yuzu, and feature essential oils such as frankincense, one of a variety of aromatics she uses throughout her menu.
Making everything from scratch in the kitchen reveals the true taste of the food and nourishes the body as it was naturally intended to do. I’ve always intended that my cuisine should build a bridge between vegans and non-vegans.Chef Tina Barrat
No doubt an offering that will please even some of the hardiest traditional cheese lovers in town, Barrat’s house-made dairy-free cheeses are available to enjoy at MA or to take home from the all-day deli, from her addictively good Shamembert to her herbed goat’s cheese that goes with everything. There’s even a melty plant-based cheese fondue to share if you’re dining in.
In line with the vibrancy of the restaurant’s raw plant-based philosophy, MA’s selection of wines are organic and biodynamic, and the majority are vegan, having not been filtered with any animal or dairy products in the making process. Non-alcoholic wines are also available, as well as a range of sake as an alternative to wines to pair with artisan cheeses or canapés.
MA is the ideal date place and fans of the gone too soon Grassroots Pantry will love this new Central neighbourhood favourite, with appetisers starting at HK$ 100 and mains priced around HK$ 220-280. It’s also worth noting the restaurant also offers a daily set lunch option (starting at HK$ 200+ for 2 courses).
MA…and The Seeds of Life: Shop 11, First Floor, H18 CONET, 23 Graham Street, Central; open Monday-Sunday from 12PM to 10PM. For reservations, Whatsapp +852 6469 4533.
All images courtesy of Chef Tina Barrat via Facebook except as marked.