A yoga teacher’s favourite Hong Kong restaurants, from Mak Man Kee to Brass Spoon to Grassroots Pantry
Jessica Lee was born in Hong Kong and this is reflected in her eclectic choice of restaurants. While staying healthy to teach at Flex, Lemon Drop and Pherform, Lee enjoys the odd indulgence, including a gin & tonic and crisps
Jessica Lee teaches yoga classes at Flex and Lemon Drop, as well as at the female-only gym Pherform. She believes in a healthy lifestyle but still indulges in the occasional treats. She tells us about where she goes for a healthy salad, a great bowl of noodles and to enjoy the best gin and tonic and vegetarian dinner on a night out with her friends.
I don’t follow a diet and I am not a vegan/vegetarian, but I do try to balance my meals with a good amount of greens and some meat. I eat junk food, so most days it’s a tough struggle between eating healthy things that nourish my body while occasionally enjoying a snack like crisps that brings me joy. While I don’t fully practise veganism, I’ll try to go meatless at least one or two days a week, as it still makes an impact.
I was born and raised in Hong Kong, so my palate reflects that. I never say no to soup noodles. Some of my favourite spots include Mak Man Kee (51 Parkes Street, Jordan, tel: 2736 5561) for wonton noodles, Kong Chai Kee (2 Canal Road East, Causeway Bay, tel: 2893 5617) for fish ball noodles, and Kau Kee (21 Gough Street, Central, tel: 2850 5967) for beef brisket noodles. I also really love Tam Jai Sam Gor Mixian (439-441 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2442 2616) as well as Sour and Spicy Noodle (Room 3, 5/F Island Beverley, 1 Great George Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2333 9693) for their hot and sour potato starch noodles. When I crave Western comfort food, the steak and hash skillet at Green Waffle Diner (Kar Ho Building, 35-39 Graham Street, Central, tel: 2887 9991) comes to mind.
I mostly teach around the Central/Sheung Wan area, so between classes I like to pop over to Fresca (54A Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2770 2282) for a healthy salad – they pack their salad boxes to the brim, so you get an amazing amount and selections for a great price, and it’s so hard to narrow it down to just four for the large salad box.
If I’m craving carbs, Extra Virgin (Sun Wise Building, 112-114 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2984 0009) is an inexpensive choice. I also really like the takeaway boxes at Maison Libanaise (10 Shelley Street, Central, tel: 2111 2284). My usual order is the za’atar fried chicken with Syrian salad and cucumber labneh sauce.
Ohms Cafe & Bar (192 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, tel: 5400 4236) is another not-so-secret hideout for when I want to park myself at a spot and work on my laptop while enjoying a guilt-free meal like yuba and kimchi mix with tofu salad which comes with a sprinkle of turmeric – yummy!
When I have yogi friends in town, I like to take them to Grassroots Pantry (108 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2873 3353) for a nice dinner. They do a fantastic job of making plant-based food delicious, plus the staff are so friendly. I still dream about their barbecue popcorn “chicken” and mixed mushroom linguine.
A chill-out destination is at Teakha (18B Tai Ping Shan Road, Sheung Wan, tel: 2858 9185) with a cup of their signature masala chai, which is my favourite chai in town.
I’m a crazy cat lady, but since my own British shorthair baby Faust is in the UK, when I need to fill my cat void I’ll hang out at Mr & Mrs Cat Dessert Café (Flat L, 1/F, Po Ming Building, 2-6 Foo Ming Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 5116 1244). They’ve got a ceiling-to-floor cat tree in the middle of the cafe and loads of shelves for the kitties to hop around. I am also there for their nice kimchi udon in soup and a matcha latte.
I don’t really drink much alcohol but if I do indulge, my friends and I will often end up at The Woods (17 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2522 0281) at some point in the night with an inevitable round of tom yam shots.
My spirit of choice is gin, and so far, my favourite gin & tonic is the Master’s London at Ping Pong 129 Gintoneria (Nam Cheong Lau, 129 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 9158 1584). I order it every time I go.
I am really happy about the growing number of Vietnamese restaurants that opened last year. Pho is one of my favourites and I still regularly go to BEP (88-90 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2581 9992), Pho Bar (24 Li Yuen Street West, Central, tel: 2109 2028), and Brass Spoon (10 Pottinger Street, Central, tel: 2804 1811) when I need a hearty soup noodle fix.
I love a plethora of cuisines, but I think my ultimate favourite would have to be Korean food. Back when I was still working at my corporate job, my office was only two streets away from Kimberley Street – often referred to as “Korean Street” – so I would get soondubu or kimchi jjigae for lunch and take a kimbap as a snack for later in the day. I’m useless in the kitchen but I was determined to learn how to cook ddukbokggi – one of the few dishes I’m now proud to say I can successfully make.