Immigrant groups the world over create localised demand for their own foodstuffs, and Hong Kong is no exception. Over time, certain communities expand – the French influx over the past decade has brought with it a dramatic increase in French food items; prices have not, however, witnessed a comparative drop through increased availability. Conversely, should an immigrant group decline in numbers – for whatever reason – unless local tastes have been significantly transformed through contact to stimulate demand, formerly readily available food items become increasingly hard to get. In Malaya and Singapore, as resident European populations sharply declined by the late 1960s in the wake of decolonisation, certain foods (cheese, cream and other fresh dairy products, in particular, along with ham and bacon) became correspondingly harder to find – especially in upcountry areas. In a straightforward business decision, shopkeepers in smaller towns no longer stocked expensive, perishable items unlikely to sell before their expiry date. In Hong Kong, Indonesian food items are a case in point, where changing demand in recent decades has dramatically stimulated supply. From the 70s, small shops known as Toko Indonesia (“Indonesia Shops”) began to appear in locations that housed an emergent Indonesian-Chinese émigré community. Typical customers – then – were people who had relocated to China during the 50s, as intermittently violent anti-Chinese sentiment in newly independent Indonesia developed, and who failed to settle in their ancestral “homeland”. Unable to return permanently, for political reasons, to their real homeland in Southeast Asia, these unwilling transplants settled in Hong Kong, and eventually forged new twice-displaced lives in the half-world in which they found themselves. Nostalgia for the childhood foods of their earlier, tropical lives helped create numerous profitable small businesses. Most foodstuffs sold in these early years were imported from Indonesia dried, packaged, bottled or preserved; little in the way of perishable items was offered, as both adequate local demand, and sophisticated end-to-end transport logistics, simply didn’t exist. Some Toko Indonesia sold locally produced food items on consignment; an Indonesian-Chinese housewife with time on her hands, whose home-made sambal terasi or other condiments were well-known, might make batches for sale. On festival occasions, kueh nanas (“pineapple biscuits”), kueh lapis (“thousand-layer cake”) and other traditional Indonesian cakes might be available by advance order – all of these possibilities existed through word-of-mouth networks. Circumstances began to change in the late 90s, when the Indonesian migrant domestic worker influx into Hong Kong accelerated. Within a few years, a couple of hundred thousand new arrivals, all over Hong Kong, also wanted an affordable taste of home. Demand for the usual imported items, such as sweet soy sauce, prawn crackers, dry spices, palm sugar and coffee, as well as more perishable products, burgeoned. Not just China, Indonesia loves US soybeans too as tempeh booms While some foods – such as fresh fruits and vegetables – come up from Indonesia by airfreight, other manufactured items, such as tempeh , began to be made locally. Found all over the archipelago, this delicious, nutritious semi-fermented soybean cake is a Java speciality; peanuts and mung beans usually accompany this food in traditional recipes. Tempeh provides inexpensive protein for the rural poor in overcrowded, land-scarce Java, from where most of Hong Kong’s Indonesian migrant domestic workers originate; for many Javanese, meat – until recent years – was an expensive, occasional treat. Thirty years ago, tempeh was almost impossible to find in Hong Kong, and like other fresh Indonesian food items, was usually available only on request – and well in advance – at various Toko Indonesia in areas such as North Point, Causeway Bay or Tsuen Wan, with enough resident Indonesian Chinese to make production of occasional batches an economically viable proposition. Now small factories produce this inexpensive, healthy food – much beloved by vegans – and it is widely available across Hong Kong.