Smell your way through iconic HK foods like egg tarts and pineapple buns at the Scent and Taste Lab in Tseung Kwan O

By junior reporter Larissa Lai Kei-hei

Local designer Jacqueline Chak has captured the scents of many delicious dishes in a new temporary exhibit at TKO Gateway shopping mall

By junior reporter Larissa Lai Kei-hei |

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The Scent and Taste Laboratory allows visitors to try out different scents that mimics the smells of HK dishes.

There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread. Or perhaps you prefer the aroma of roasted coffee beans, or sweet pineapple buns. Wouldn’t it be great if we could bottle the smells of our favourite food, so we could enjoy them whenever we want? The Scent and Taste Laboratory, a new exhibit at TKO Gateway, has done just that.

The exhibit, which runs until July 21, is made up of five stalls that are dotted around the mall. At each one, visitors can try out different scented candles and aroma essence oils that recreate the smells of 30 tasty dishes.

Each stall has a different theme: Hong Kong Delicacies, Fresh Fruits and Spices, International Cuisine, Signature Beverages, and Sweetie Desserts.

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So why do we react so strongly to smells? “Scent is unique and unforgettable. It links directly to your emotions – more so than texture and [how something looks],” says Jacqueline Chak, the creative mind behind this exhibit.

Chak, a local designer, explains that she came up with the idea of the Scent and Taste Laboratory after passing someone on the street and catching a whiff of their perfume.

The scent was similar to the one worn by her friend in school and, instantly, she was transported back to her teenage years. Chak then realised the power smells have to trigger memories and emotions.

Local designer Jacqueline Chak is the mastermind behind the new exhibit.
Photo courtesy of De Novo PR & Communications Ltd

For the Hong Kong Delicacies stall, Chak wanted to focus on food smells that Hongkongers would recognise, like egg tarts, pineapple buns, curry fish balls, and herbal tea. She also wanted to create smells that remind her of her childhood, like White Flower, a medicinal oil which her grandma used to give to her as a child whenever she was ill.

At the International Cuisine stall, visitors will find scents inspired by global dishes, like pizza and ramen. Coffee addicts should head to the Signature Beverages stall, where there is an espresso-scented candle, while those with a sweet tooth can enjoy the heavenly aromas of vanilla ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, and apple pie at the Sweetie Desserts stall.

Although she studied architecture at university, Chak has dabbled in many different areas of design, from fashion to interior design.

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“There are no limits in design. If you can design, you can design anything. Be curious to learn new things and find ways to improve yourself. That way you’ll be more eager to create more,” she says.

Chak draws inspiration from everything around her. If she spots a stranger wearing a cool outfit, for example, she’s never afraid to stop and ask them about it.

She believes that Hong Kong’s unique culture provides an endless source of inspiration for her work, which is why she disagrees when people say that Hong Kong is not a creative city. “If you are settled with the assumption of what Hong Kong is, you won’t ever explore how creative you can be.”

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge