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Q&A: Ika Butoni

The Bali-born local designer matches her appetite for fashion with that of food, writes Claire HuiBonHoa

 

Your job involves a lot of travel - what's your favourite cuisine? "I started my label, Butoni, in Hong Kong in 1983 as a made-to-order company. In 1985, I began exporting to Japan and by 1990 had extended to Italy, France and Germany; so yes, I've done a lot of travelling. I did not wish to travel so much but fate took a different path. I've always loved food but don't have a particular favourite. I was recently in Paris for fashion week and ate at a great little French bistro called Pramil run by the chef Alain Pramil. The scallop dish was exquisite. Food tastes better when you're dining with friends. My passions are fashion and food - if I wasn't a fashion designer I'd probably be a chef or a photographer."

You were born in Bali - what does Indonesian food mean to you? "Indonesian food is definitely spicy - comparable to Sichuan food. Hong Kong needs a couple more Indonesian restaurants … we only have a few and my favourites are the Padang restaurant and Warung Malang, both in Causeway Bay."

Where else do you love to eat in Hong Kong? "I go to many places but the Indian fusion restaurant Tamarind, in Wan Chai, stands out from the crowd. I also like the food at French restaurant DAP Modern European Restaurant, on Austin Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. I spend so much time in the office [which is on Austin Road], so I made sure it was located in an area surrounded by food options. I wouldn't work in an area without great restaurants - why would I want to live life that way? It's a balance. I don't live to eat, but live to enjoy life and you must enjoy life to the maximum, which includes food."

Where would you take a client for a quintessential Hong Kong dining experience? "On Hong Kong Island I'd go to the Mandarin Oriental because it has great food and art. I love the Hainan chicken and for something light I love the tomato, mozzarella and basil. And I love the burger!"

Have you any strange culinary experiences to share? "I had one recently in Paris when eating with friends from Nice. When Parisians have cold cuts they eat the entire animal and I didn't realise that I had eaten part of a pig's brain and ear. It was tasty, which made me ask what it was. They said it was the head and the white part was the brain. I just stopped there, not because I didn't like the taste, but because I knew what it was."

 

 

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