Rubin Verebes is the managing editor of Foodie and is very opinionated. Transforming his hobby of eating and drinking into a career, he shares his account of Hong Kong’s F&B scene and the worldwide state of dining in Rubin’s Take, a monthly opinion column.
Please read the title of this opinion column carefully. I don’t cook in Hong Kong, even though I’ve been living here independently for three years after returning to the city from studying and working abroad. I’ve cooked many meals in my life, some that tasted terrible and others that were life-changing.
But here’s the question I want to ask you, the reader, another Hong Konger like myself: am I lazy for not bothering to cook or is this conundrum simply because our city environment makes it ridiculously easy to avoid using our spatulas and pans?
Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a crisis for me. I’m not rejecting the life skill that our mothers taught us to survive on our own. Is it too simplistic to blame it on my Hong Kong lifestyle?
I recently moved into a cosy studio flat in Sai Ying Pun. The apartment is spacious, but it doesn’t have proper cooking facilities. My oven and stove work fine, but they are located in the living room/kitchen area, and without an exhaust fan, my sofa would soon smell like soy sauce, steak, and rice. I don’t have space for a microwave or electric stove.
I don’t work long hours like my friends in the finance and business industries, but I’ve trained myself to look for “easy” options for dinner after work, when I’m not eating out. The neighbourhood has many cafés that serve rice with two sides, cha chaan tengs, a budget-friendly McDonald’s, and takeaway places for char siu. You can even find cheap salads.
If you go to any Wellcome, city’super, Market Place, or PARKnSHOP, you’ll see that cooking for one person is undeniably expensive. The cost of carbs, proteins, veg, fruit, and basic ingredients adds up.
One could argue that eating at (or getting takeaway from) restaurants every night would harm my credit card and diminish the enjoyment of dining experiences with friends and family. But in a city with over 18,000 restaurants to choose from, I prefer to trust the skill of a professional chef for dinner, rather than struggling to create a decent stir-fry.
So, here I am. I don’t know if I’m lazy for not cooking at home and neglecting this important life skill or if it’s a consequence of living in Hong Kong, where prices dictate our actions and habits. I’ll let you be the judge.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author’s and do not represent or reflect the views of Foodie magazine.