Tapping in to the times
The refusal of waiters at several Hong Kong restaurants to serve tap water makes us wish a small but growing movement in the United States would extend over here. A few places, including the famous Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, have stopped serving bottled water in favour of free filtered tap water, which they will carbonate upon request. Bottled water isn't even an option at these places.
One reason for serving tap water is the growing worry over food miles - the environmental toll it takes for food to be shipped around the world. There is also the concern that landfills will be overrun with plastic and glass water bottles.
Other restaurants in the US, and in Europe, will serve tap water (in many areas, it's illegal to refuse a request for it) but, because it's an easy way to boost the final bill, waiters can make it clear they'd prefer customers to order bottled water.
Within recent memory Hong Kong diners could easily get tap water rather than being forced to buy 'sparkling or still' - as if bottled water were the only type available. While most of us wouldn't want to drink water straight from the tap, despite assurances it's safe, water filters are affordable and effective. Let's hope at least a few Hong Kong restaurateurs join the trend.