Header photo credit: metabrilliant
We know that the restaurants implementing changes like saying no to single-use plastic straws are but a drop in the ocean of plastic, but we also hope that by getting people to do away with straws, it will get them to think about doing even more to help the environment, acting as a sufficient symbol for the movement towards changing the way in which we all think about waste.
Hopefully by championing all the one-off restaurants and groups doing good, it will encourage the big chains to follow suit, and then we can celebrate adding them to this list. When we start affecting change in the big names, we will really be doing good.
With this in mind, we were very disappointed to hear of McDonald’s shareholders’ recent decision to reject a plastic straw study, the first step towards eliminating plastic products in all their restaurants – if the vote had gone through, the positive repercussions would have been HUGE.
On other hand, IKEA is in our very good books lately following the announcement by the Swedish retail giant that they will stop selling and using single-use plastic products (such as straws and disposable plates) at its shops and restaurants worldwide by 2020. IKEA’s goal is to become “planet positive” by 2030, aiming to purchase 100% renewable energy by 2020, achieve zero-emission delivery by 2025 and start using only renewable and recycled materials in its products. We can rejoice knowing that those mega-packs of rainbow-hued plastic straws that are often an sale at IKEA in Hong Kong will be a thing of the past.
We know that there are many more out there who are acting with the environment and sustainability in mind, so if your restaurant, bar or hotel is one of these spots, please tell us about it and we’ll add it to this list lauding those in the F&B industry that are doing better.
With shops in Central and Wanchai, 12NOON bills itself as a healthy fast-food option. Cold-pressed juices, vegan salads, sugar-free desserts and low-calorie, preservative-free cup noodles are the draws. On the environmental front, all its food and beverage containers are made from recycled materials, including 100%-recyclable PET juice bottles and paper salad boxes. 12NOON has also partnered up with local company HK Recycles to aid in its bottle-recycling scheme and works with charity Feeding Hong Kong to redistribute surplus food to the needy.
Africa Tea & Coffee (ACT)
Hot new café ACT in Wong Chuk Hang supports female farmers in Africa and maintains a relationship with everyone they source from in order to ensure that everything they sell is ethically produced and traded. Their takeaway packaging includes biodegradable wheat straws, and they also have a complimentary water tap on the bar, which is a small thing, but one we love.
Black Sheep Restaurants
Prolific restaurant group Black Sheep (including Osteria Marzia, Soul Food Thai, Carbone, Motorino, Maison Libanaise, La Vache!, Chôm Chôm, Stazione Novella, Buenos Aires Polo Club, Burger Circus, New Punjab Club and BELON) partners with the Hong Kong Correctional Services to provide young offenders with work experience. This initiative helps those youths who’ve got off to a difficult start in life to develop a work ethic and gain the skills and confidence to send them out into the working world.
The Butchers Club Burger
It’s bold when an eatery that’s whole stock and trade is meat based starts embracing the plant based, and that’s what The Butchers Club Burger has done. The Beyond Classic ($120) is a play on The Butchers Club Burger’s original Michelin-listed dry-aged beef and bacon cheeseburger and the Beyond Wu Tang–Style ($120) is a vegan alternative to the Korean-inspired original. They’ve further extended their care for Mother Earth by banning plastic cutlery and straws and completely replacing them with reusable and biodegradable products.
Cali-Mex has signed the Green Pledge with Jane Goodall Institute, which means they’ve made a commitment to being an eco-friendly shop, saying no to plastic products by reducing the use of one-off cutlery and plastic straws and encouraging customers to recycle any takeaway materials. They use sugar-cane bowls and recycled brown-paper napkins, as well as cutlery made of wood, glass bottles and PET drink bottles. They offer vegan alternatives for all their Tex-Mex dishes, including in the form of THE IMPOSSIBLE by Impossible Foods, a flavourful plant-based meat alternative, and they source sustainably certified seafood.
Banning plastic straws as of 1 July 2018, Classified Group are taking a real stand, with their 11 outlets (10 Classifieds around town and The Pawn in Wanchai) in HK making a huge environmental impact.
Global food-delivery pioneer Deliveroo is also delivering on the sustainability front with its promise to offer non-plastic, biodegradable, compostable and recyclable packaging options to all its restaurant partners around the world by the end of 2018. There’s a new “opt in for cutlery” feature on the Deliveroo app, giving customers the option of nixing the plastic cutlery – here in Hong Kong, 94% of customers choose to opt out. Going even further in HK, they are providing 100,000 paper straws to all local restaurant partners – completely free – on a first come, first served basis, with a total of one million straws given away across all of Deliveroo’s markets.
From 1 July 2018, all four of DiVino Group’s Italian restaurants (Carpaccio, DiVino Patio, DiVino Wine Bar & Restaurant and Spasso) will be plastic straw free. Bravo, DVG!
Eaton Hong Kong
In addition to some excellent yet under-the-radar dining options, eco-friendly Jordan hotel Eaton has removed all plastic straws and single-use plastic cutlery from its restaurants and has also partnered up with the local Water for Free organisation to offer complimentary water dispensers for those with their own reusable water bottles.
Feather & Bone
Boutique butcher and steakhouse Feather & Bone has launched a loyalty programme where an optional percentage of customers’ points can be donated to charities in Hong Kong. Customers can choose from three charities, including Plastic Oceans, a foundation that encourages the public to rethink plastic use, HELP for Domestic Workers, a non-profit organisation that provides employment, education and advocacy assistance for foreign domestic workers, and Variety, a charity that helps physically, mentally and socially disadvantaged children by providing resources. They also give customers 10% off when they buy a coffee and bring in their own cup, and all their packaging is made from sugar cane.
This sweet little seafood place is renowned for its sustainable seafood. Fishsteria’s commitment to buying ingredients daily rather than in bulk ensures freshness and also cuts down on food waste. Any ingredients that are left over are then used to make broths.
Our fave Chinese tea salon Flamingo Bloom offers $2 off all drinks when customers bring in their own 600mL cups and is currently in the process of replacing all its plastic straws with paper and stainless-steel alternatives, while the takeaway drink lids have been designed to eliminate the use of straws altogether. Flamingo Bloom also offers smoothies and teas in hollowed-out pineapples, melons and watermelons rather than plastic bowls.
If you’re in the mood for classic French, French Creations is where is it’s at. Head to one the restaurant group’s 10 eateries (Café Claudel at Tai Kwun included) and rest assured that any straws used (which are only offered upon request) are of the potato-starch variety and thus completely biodegradable.
Hong Kong’s favourite plant-based eatery, Grassroots Pantry sources plant-based drinking straws, unbleached napkins and Vegware takeaway packaging that is fully biodegradable. They work with Green Glass Green, a government-funded initiative started by the Hong Kong Dumper Truck Drivers Association, to recycle their glass bottles and use a waste-disposal scheme (in partnership with Baguio Green Group) to recycle food waste, plastic, aluminium and paper. They give a leg up within the local community by saving up all their boxes for the elderly gentleman across the street from them who supports himself by scavenging for cardboard. Chef-owner Peggy Chan has also introduced a menu and colouring booklets to promote healthier eating for little ones. Dubbed Little Sprouts, the kids’ menu items include BBQ popcorn “chicken” made with faux meat and coconut-amino BBQ sauce and the vegan- and gluten-free duo of ice-cream profiteroles, served with dairy-free Happy Cow ice cream and raw cacao sauce.
Ho Lee Fook
Popular modern Chinese fusion restaurant Ho Lee Fook has completely eliminated single-use plastic.
Hotel ICON is really making waves in the sustainable sector. The eco-pioneer’s Thinking Green initiative includes Asia’s largest indoor vertical garden, which uses ORCA (organic refuse conversion alternative) technology to turn food waste into water that they then treat and reuse to irrigate the garden. They have paperless check-in, are vigilant recyclers and all surplus edible food from their kitchens is donated to Food Angel, which provides healthy food for local families in need. They’ve also just further reduced their carbon footprint with the launch of their fully electric transport fleet, consisting of Hong Kong’s first electric hotel shuttle bus, three Tesla Model S and a BMW i3 for a 100% electric and emission-free service.
Up-and-coming catering company Invisible Kitchen is devoted to the environmental cause in almost all aspects. They source grass-fed, hormone-free Red Tractor-certified meat, which ensures humane animal welfare and food traceability, and organic or locally-grown produce. They’ve also made the switch from plastic to biodegradable or compostable packaging. Executive Chef Tom Burney works closely with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to promote sustainable seafood and partners with local charities such as Food Angel and Feeding Hong Kong to reduce food waste. 2018 is looking to be an even greener year, as The Invisible Kitchen is growing their own organic herbs in a indoor garden, implementing reusable chinaware and bottles, and working on new vegan recipes – include one for vegan cheese!
This prolific F&B group has a lot to be proud of. Group Beverage Manager James Barker has eliminated plastic straws in JIA Group’s many acclaimed venues (208 Duecento Otto, 22 Ships, Aberdeen Street Social, Chachawan, Commissary, Duddell’s, Ham & Sherry, Mak Mak, Meen & Rice, Potato Head, Old Bailey, Rhoda), instead using stylish metal or bamboo straws. Fruit and veggie deliveries come in the group’s reusable burlap sacks instead of wrapped in plastic, as is usually the case in Hong Kong. The group is also dipping its toes into the Food Savior app at 208 Duecento Otto and Commissary, allowing customers to buy leftover food from the restaurants’ daily services at a reduced rate.
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental
In partnership with Sweden’s eco-friendly filtered-water specialist Nordaq FRESH, luxury hotel The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Central has rolled out its own in-house filtered bottled water – still and sparkling, darling – in all its guest rooms and suites and at all F&B outlets (Amber, MO Bar, PDT) and The Oriental Spa. The sleek glass bottles are reusable, and single-use plastic water bottles have now been completely eliminated at the hotel. Guests can fill up their own bottles for free at the water dispenser in the hotel’s lobby. Since 2016, The Landmark MO has replaced plastic straws with bamboo varieties.
Last Straw Movement
Organisation Last Straw has a list of all the places in Hong Kong that have done away with plastic straws. There’s a counter that adds up how many straws have been saved in order to raise awareness on the damage that simply sucking your drink through plastic can cause. Venues currently on the list include MO Bar, Hemingway’s, Mavericks, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Hebe Haven Yacht Club, Kowloon Cricket Club, United Services Recreation Club, Hong Kong Football Club, Aberdeen Boat Club, Why 50, The Globe, Hive, The Beach House, Koh Tomyums, Solera, Café Sausalito, Little Cove Espresso, Artichoke [Canteen], Fugazi, Café 8, China Beach Club, Ilan Cafe Bar, Island Bar, Lamma Grill, The Blue Goose Tavern, Banyan Bay Cafe, Shoreditch, Casa Fina, Awtar, Padstow Restaurant & Bar and Knead.
A large number of the restaurants on the list can be found in Lamma, Sai Kung, Pui O, Discovery Bay and Mui Wo and at the various boating clubs, presumably because the owners of these place see first-hand the destruction that straws do to the waters and beaches around Hong Kong. Don’t bury your head in the sand just because you don’t see it – get your restaurant on this list! It’s the very least you can do.
Le Garçon Saigon /Le Petit Saigon
Le Garçon Saigon and Le Petit Saigon’s executive chef, Bao La, has negotiated with his suppliers to ensure that the least possible waste is created in the sourcing process. Fresh fish, for example, is delivered by cooler and transferred directly to the restaurant’s own fridges, with no plastic allowed.
Locofama and Sohofama
These restaurants – Locofama and Sohofama – serve up modern Chinese cuisine using all chemical-free, locally grown, organic ingredients and were founded to support local farming, manufacturing and consumption. You can gain inspiration from these long-standing eateries for your own home-growing dreams as you dine beside the organic mini farm and drink from the hydroponic cocktail bar and see exactly what you’re putting into your body to make it work. They also use recyclable packaging for takeaways.
Of course Hong Kong’s first zero-waste restaurant, MANA!, has to feature here – they’re an inspiration! They’re truly ZERO waste and save more than two tonnes of food scraps every month to donate to Hong Kong’s community organic farms. Pretty amazing.
Marks & Spencer
Leading retailer Marks & Spencer has launched a plant-based range of food, Plant Kitchen, that appeals to not only vegetarians and vegans, but also those committed to achieving a flexitarian lifestyle. The range of more than 20 meat- and dairy-free meals includes tempting global dishes such as Thai green curry, roasted mushroom stroganoff and lasagne. Tofu blocks, veggie mince and snacks are also part of the plant-based range.
Available at the M&S Central flagship shop, G/F–1/F, Central Tower, 22–28 Queen’s Road Central
Stalwart of the restaurant scene Maximal Concepts (Limewood, Brickhouse, Blue, Mott 32, Stockton, Roomsbar, Mercedes me Store) has adhered to a sustainable approach since they launched back in 2012 with their farm-to-table ethos and practice of establishing relationships with their suppliers so that they know exactly how their cows are fed and what process their produce goes through before it reaches their restaurants. They have also pledged a plastic-free promise at all their outlets, and with a host of hotly anticipated openings to come from the restaurant group, this compassionate effort will make a real difference.
Pei Ho Barbecue Restaurant
Owner Ming Gor has been distributing free rice boxes to the needy in Sham Shui Po – at least 100 meals each week – since 2011. His strong social conscious is inspiring to us every single day.
Potato Head Hong Kong
Potato Head Bar Operations Manager Tom Egerton is spearheading a movement within the mixology crowd in Hong Kong to create conscious cocktails that maximise ingredients whilst minimising waste, using only bamboo straws for his drink menu that is updated every four months, with each successive menu utilising and minimising the waste generated by its predecessor. He is part of a newly formed group dubbed the HK EnvironMentalists, dedicated to exploring sustainable practices and environmentally friendly bartending.
Pret A Manger
UK-based international sandwich-shop chain Pret has unveiled a purposeful vegetarian range that’s proving popular with punters, signalling to them to think twice about choosing a meat-free option more often. The baristas also give customers $5 off any hot drink as an incentive when they bring in their own reusable cup. Now we just need for them to tackle all that plastic packaging…
This is a big ‘un for global coffee giant Starbucks: from 4 July 2018, all disposable plastic utensils at Starbucks’ condiment bars in HK will be completely eliminated. Staff will also stop providing plastic utensils unless specifically requested by customers. Even better, Starbucks have just announced they will ban plastic straws by 2020! Recyclable strawless lids will be used instead. For Frappuccinos, paper straws will be offered. Way to go!
São Paulo–inspired eatery Uma Nota is committed to helping out, and the whole restaurant staff participate in beach clean-ups every quarter. They also source sustainably made chopsticks and only use takeaway containers, utensils and bags that are made from recyclable materials.
Chic bar The Woods has a founder, Victoria Chow, who is passionate about its eco-practices. From using locally sourced seasonal ingredients, to repurposing items that are normally discarded (like eggshells) and making them into artwork, to only using plastic alternatives for their cool cocktails, The Woods is as at one with nature as its name proclaims.
Trailblazing Zuma Hong Kong stopped using plastic straws in February 2017, and all their international locations followed suit earlier this year, with support from Azumi Group CEO Sven Koch. They now use a combination of paper and potato-starch straws. Zuma Beverage Director Arkadiusz Rybak kick-started the movement after a stroll along a straw-strewn beach and has since helped to establish the HK EnvironMentalists, comprised of F&B staff and insiders who are making a difference by holding events like beach clean-ups with free beer.
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