MCDONALD'S and Pizza Hut shared the awards in the specialised restaurant category, which might come as a surprise, since most people consider McDonald's as the leading fast-food restaurant. However, the Urban Council's health education sub-committee chairman, Wong Siu-yee, explained McDonald's was included in this category because it basically served hamburgers and its kitchen use was limited when compared with other fast-food shops. ''Obviously, we are pleased that we have done well in this competition and throughout the years,'' said Daniel Ng, McDonald's managing director. ''In the United States, in the 1950s, hamburger outlets were classed as 'greasy-spoon' restaurants, but when McDonald's opened, our high standards upgraded the hygiene level of other smaller restaurants.'' McDonald's quickly acquired a reputation for cleanliness here. Several years ago, when there was a cholera scare in Tsuen Wan, there was a distinct increase in McDonald's business, because customers trusted their hygiene standards. Mr Ng said hygiene was an integrated effort, going back to the initial design concept and choosing wall tiles with a low porosity because they were easier to keep clean. Curved tiles are used where walls and floors meet for the same reason. Although Mr Ng is pleased his restaurants have done well, and the staff are proud they have won an award, the achievement is being treated as confirmation of the restaurant chain's high standards. ''It is another source of pride to know we serve the customers well, but it is the next hamburger that makes your reputation,'' said Mr Ng. ''We are very pleased and our aim is to continue improving. I think the competition is a good way to get restaurants more hygienic for the benefit of Hong Kong people. ''It must be having some effect, and I think things are improving year by year.''