Favourite Hong Kong restaurants of Bobsy Gaia, Mana! founder and vegetarian dining pioneer
Bobsy splits his time between Lamma, where he enjoys vegan English breakfasts, and Hong Kong Island, where Teakha is his quiet spot and the InterContinental Lobby the place for guests
I have my house on Lamma Island, where I’ve lived for 22 years and have done lots of environmental protection work. When I’m there, I hang out at Green Cottage (26 Main Street, Yung Shue Wan, Lamma, tel: 2982 6934), a chill place that serves good vegetarian fare and great vantage point to watch people and things go by at island pace. I usually have a soya latte or two before tucking into a full English breakfast vegan style.
The alfresco tables in the back are a delightful place to sit on a cool sunny morning and always remind me of why we campaigned so hard to save the Yung Shue Wan bay there that was up for reclamation many years back.
Although it’s not quite what it used to be back in the day, the Bookworm Cafe (79 Main Street, Yung Shue Wan, Lamma, tel: 2982 4838) is an institution and, after all, is Hong Kong’s first organic vegetarian establishment – it’s still standing more than 17 years later, a rare claim for restaurants in this city. This place has bittersweet memories for me, as it was my very first restaurant and it kick-started the organic eatery trend.
It’s a great place for honest, down-to-earth, inexpensive healthy veggie food served in generous portions. Weekdays are less busy; great for a quiet meal while diving into a good book from their bookshelves. Try the vegan salad bowl or any of their burgers.
When I have guests come to town, I take them to the Lobby Lounge at the InterContinental (Lobby, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2313 2323), which still boasts the best view of Hong Kong Island, especially at night, and it’s quite spacious, with very high ceilings and an open plan. They usually have a good live band playing relaxed music in the evenings to add to the ambience, and they do the best dirty martinis. I also recommend the truffle oil fries if you are feeling a little naughty after your first drink.
Teakha (18 Tai Ping Shan Road, Sheung Wan, tel: 2858 9185, and 18 Po Tuck Street, Sai Wan, tel: 3956 9009) is my quiet spot. I’ll bring a book to read and relax over a cup of tea. My favourite is their Keemen tea. Owner Nana Chan is a good friend and is dedicated to helping the environment too, so we always have inspiring chats.
I can always be found at Mana! Cafe (8 Tai On Terrace, Sheung Wan, tel: 2347 8555), which is in the leafy, pedestrian PoHo area just a stone’s throw from my city apartment, and so ends up being a de facto office for me. We made sure to install lots of electric plugs and have high-speed internet, so it’s pretty solid one at that.
I often start my working day with a vegan coffee – The KoKo – and the atmosphere puts me in the right mood for yet another busy day ahead. A must-try is our whole wheat za’atar croissants, which are savoury and soft.