Street Talk: Hello Kitty Chef Master Law
HK Magazine: Were you a Hello Kitty fan before taking the job?
Master Law: To be honest, no. I didn’t really have much knowledge of Hello Kitty. It wasn’t part of my generation.
HK: What did you think when they approached you?
ML: At first, they made it sound like the job was a simple task. I only realized how difficult it would be to make Hello Kitty Chinese dishes after I started corresponding with Sanrio [the brand owner]. If I had known, I don’t think I would have wanted the job. It took us five months to design dishes and tweak the ingredients.
HK: What’s so tough about it?
ML: I have to submit my dishes to the Sanrio headquarters and let them decide, in their subjective opinion, whether my dishes were good or not. But we’re definitely more experienced with cookery and ingredients—they’re not from the industry.
HK: Has Sanrio ever axed one of your designs?
ML: My first month was pretty difficult, as I didn’t know what Sanrio’s management wanted. When I first submitted steamed eggs, they weren’t satisfied because they wanted the surface to be completely smooth. That’s hard to achieve because we use strong heat to steam eggs, causing them to crease. For another dish, Sanrio wanted Hello Kitty’s eggplant whiskers to be thicker. But I thought it looked ugly, especially on a girl, and later they compromised.
HK: So what ingredients do you use to make the Hello Kitty dishes?
ML: We make buns as usual and simply add on eyes, nose and whiskers using corn, eggplants and other vegetables. But that takes craftsmanship—I need to think of ways to hold up a certain shape.
HK: Where do you find inspiration for your Hello Kitty designs?
ML: Let’s be real, I’m from an older generation. Hello Kitty fans, and our potential customers, are all pretty much young people, so I take photos of my dishes and ask my children, who give me suggestions. With Hello Kitty’s nose, I initially used yellow pepper, but my children suggested that I could use a piece of corn instead.
HK: You lived in Japan for a few years. Did that influence your work?
ML: I went there in the mid-80s, and stayed for six years. Japanese cuisine is simpler: The essence is in the cutting. If I had to pinpoint one thing I learned, it’d be a knack for dish decorations. They can be very delicate and crafty.
HK: What have you learned about Hello Kitty that most people don’t know?
ML: Sanrio actually sat us down to introduce the Hello Kitty family to us and explain their characteristics and preferences. Hello Kitty likes apples, so instead of making sweet and sour pork the traditional way with pineapple, our dish is complemented by apple and candy floss.
HK: Do you feel accomplishment having created the dishes?
ML: I wouldn’t say we’ve succeeded yet, but I am quite proud to have been part of creating this restaurant. It has done better than we expected, but there’s still a lot to improve on.
Try Master Law’s creations at Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine: Shop A-C, Lee Loy Mansion, 332-338 Canton Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 8202-8203.