The perpetual queues outside Chow’s original Little Bao in Central are testament to her genius of creating riffs on burgers that showcase Asian flavours. But baos (steamed buns with fillings) were never going to be enough to contain her energy and talent. Happy Paradise is where she can truly spread her wings. She swaps industrial leavening for sourdough to make local street snack staple egg waffles, and makes noodles out of squid to serve with celtuce and lily bulbs. And it’s not just the food – Chow’s creativity extends to the ’80s-inspired neon-lit dining room and retro playlist, too.
The homegrown chef and former graphic designer has long been known for her ethereal, aesthetically pleasing plating. Since relaunching Tate Dining Room and Bar in Sheung Wan more than a year ago, her cuisine has taken on a new level of sophistication. The ‘Edible Stories’ tasting menu at her one-Michelin-starred restaurant tells the story of the city through heritage ingredients, such as aged kumquat and preserved tofu.
To call Chan an environmental activist is only half the story; she brings an incredible technique to the plant-based, nutrient-dense cooking at Grassroots Pantry. Even for meat-loving Hongkongers, a meal here makes a persuasive case that the vegetable kingdom is better in every way, from its diversity of flavours and textures to its minimal ecological impact. Upgrading to a more prominent space has signalled a progression in her food and how she manages her restaurant (for instance, moving towards zero waste). If Chan seems like an outcast in the world of restaurateurs, it’s only because she’s leading the way.
Alesbrook grew up cooking for herself and her sister from her mother’s scribbled recipes while her parents were at work, and what was once a necessity has become a serious professional pursuit. She was one of the first employees at Hong Kong restaurant group Black Sheep Restaurants and worked her way up the ranks. Her adaptations of her mother’s recipes shone through in staff meals, and she seized the recent opportunity to head up her own restaurant – Hotal Colombo – where she continues to explore her native Sri Lankan cuisine.
A high-flying banker for a decade, Wong traded spreadsheets for spatulas when she joined the Ecole de Cuisine Alain Ducasse in Paris. After working at fine-dining restaurants in France and Hong Kong (including two-Michelin-starred Amber), she tested the waters by doing pop-ups and a lunch delivery service, focusing on quality ingredients and classical French techniques. She builds on those experiences with the addition of local flavours at Roots Eatery, a 20-seat bistro that has become one of the most happening spots in Wan Chai.
An up-and-coming homegrown talent, Hou was part of the opening team at Tate Dining Room and also spent time at Amber before working in some of Britain’s most celebrated restaurants. Now she holds down the fort as head chef at Test Kitchen, where she collaborates with other rising culinary stars – and headlines her first dedicated pop-up in April 2019. ‘People shouldn’t be afraid and feel inadequate because of their gender when it comes to doing what they enjoy and chasing dreams,’ she says. ‘Let the work do the talking.’
Hero Image: Courtesy of Test Kitchen