Hong Kong is a great place to import food. And it’s an exciting place for chefs to experiment with ingredients from all over the world. However, as we become more conscious of waste, sustainability and our carbon footprint, we need to consider whether constantly importing goods is the best way to move forward.
Executive Chef Yuet Faat Li of Michelin-starred Ming Court has recognised the importance of supporting local communities and has sourced some of the highest-quality locally grown ingredients for a new seasonal menu. Located at Mongkok’s Cordis hotel, Ming Court is renowned for its sophisticated Cantonese classics. For this new menu, it’s partnered with Green Monday to create an exciting series of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
If you’ve attended and followed our Food’s Future Summit, you’ll know all about with the award-winning social enterprise Green Monday. Founder David Yeung was one of the speakers at our inaugural summit in 2017, and last year he kindly provided us with samples of JUST scrambled egg. Green Monday is committed to creating a better food’s future through the philosophy of going meat free just for one day a week. This is something even the most hardcore carnivores can get behind! It’s also responsible for bringing many popular alternative proteins to Hong Kong such as The Beyond Burger, Omnipork and more.
Yeung joined us for dinner at Ming Court, where we sampled the vegan and vegetarian items available both as part of the seasonal á-la-carte menu and the vegetarian set menu ($788). Here are some of the tasty green dishes you can expect:
Served chilled, this Gardein “chicken” with celery and enoki mushroom was a delicious starter. The thinly shredded “chicken” very impressively mimics the texture and taste of real chicken. The floral flavours and overall lightness of the dish made this an ideal summer menu item.
Omnipork has taken the HK food world by storm. The company has recently collaborated with popular cha chaan teng chains Tsui Wah and Fairwood. Yeung spoke passionately about how Omnipork has offered a sustainable solution towards the growing African swine flu epidemic in Asia. Omnipork has a rich flavour and fatty texture, but it’s actually 71 per cent lower in saturated fats and 62 per cent lower in calories than real pork. Our pork of the future was served with locally grown fuzzy melon from Tai Po, spinach and a moreish mushroom sauce.
Ming Court’s soups usually feature a whole lot of meat and seafood, but for the vegetarian menu, Chef Li has designed a vegetable consommé with shiitake mushroom, loofah and winter melon (grown locally in Fanling). Personally, we found the soup a little bland, but there were others at the table who asked for seconds. It’s certainly difficult to create the same level of flavour and richness that a meat broth boasts, and we do love our hearty bone broths. But knowing that cutting out even just a little bit of meat could potentially save the environment definitely makes us think twice before ordering a meaty counterpart.
Our next plant-based “meat” came in the form of Gardein chicken with asparagus, peppers and organic pink oyster mushroom. The way in which this “chicken” was prepared tasted and felt less like real chicken than the shredded version, but it was still very flavourful and one of our favourite proteins on this menu. Another highlight of this dish was the organic pink oyster mushroom (also grown locally in Tai Po), which was truly delectable, with an undeniably meaty texture. We would have preferred more mushroom and slightly less asparagus.
One of the original superstars of the plant-based movement is the Beyond Burger. Beyond is surprisingly easy to cook with, and while meat connoisseurs can certainly taste the difference, the texture is very similar – and it tastes pretty fantastic. For this dish, we were served Beyond Meat crusted with peppercorn ($238). These little meatballs – or perhaps meat squares? – melted in the mouth, and we loved the crispness that the peppercorn crust added.
Our second soup of the evening was a vegetable consommé with locally grown (from Tai Po) Chinese amaranth, garlic and wild mushroom. All these mushrooms were beautifully cooked and showed off the versatility of wild mushrooms, however, this was the third dish to feature mushrooms, and by now, the flavour was a little overpowering.
Now for some carbs! We loved the fried rice with black olive, salted lemon and Beyond Sausage ($238). The saltiness of the black olives had us licking our lips. The Beyond Sausage was not very prominent; we found it had more of a subtle flavour than the burger. But if it helps us to feel less guilty about our fried rice (just a little), we’re all for it!
We were excited to try the Omnipork char siu bao ($68/3). Apparently these bao are very popular, along with the Omnipork xiao long bao, which had already sold out. Opening up these bao and seeing that familiar sticky goodness, you’d never know that these aren’t made with real pork. These bao were just as fluffy, sweet and indulgent as any other char siu bao on the market.
For dessert, we were served traditional fried sesame balls and mango mochi, both of which were a wonderful way to end a truly unique meal. The mango mochi were gone in no time, and we quite literally had to be torn away from the sesame balls in the end.
Ming Court has shown an incredible initiative towards a better future for food, and Chef Li continues to create menus that reflect a sustainable and green philosophy. Although after multiple courses some of the flavours felt a bit repetitive, there were a few dishes that really stood out, and each dish was clearly prepared with love and passion. As for Green Monday, it’s taking over Hong Kong and the rest of the world with its accessible philosophy and tasty alternative proteins. We’ll be eagerly waiting to see what comes next... and we’ll be sure to keep you updated!
6/F, Cordis, Hong Kong, 555 Shanghai Street, Mongkok, 3552 3028, book online
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation.The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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