In Hong Kong Food Diaries, we ask notable locals and visitors to tell us exactly what they ate and drank over the course of a few days, and where they did it.
After launching her ready-to-wear label S.Nine by Susanna Soo in New York in 2009, fashion designer Susanna Soo felt it was only right to return to her roots and design for the local market in her native Hong Kong. Since then, Soo has steadily climbed the ranks to become one of the top names in the local fashion scene, a model for successful women entrepreneurs not just in fashion, but across all industries.
Her coveted brand S.Nine mixes romance and functionality, with a chic East-meets-West aesthetic and her signature draping technique that’s appeared on runways from Shanghai to New York. But her jet-setting, cosmopolitan tastes extend well beyond her inspired fashion designs — she also boasts a global palate when it comes to epicurean indulgences, spending her days snacking on everything from beef tongue skewers to Thai Wagyu boat noodles and many, many packets of salmon ochazuke (a souvenir from a recent trip to Japan).
As she gears up for the launch of her latest collection in Shanghai, Soo takes us through her daily food routine, including unveiling one of her favourite hole-in-the-wall spots. Read all about it in her Hong Kong Food Diary below.
MONDAY, 5 MAR
Bright and early to start the day! There’s less than three weeks to go until the Fall/Winter 2018 launch of my collection in Shanghai, and nowadays how I deal with stress is basically to treat each day as just a normal day of work and shove all the worries behind. As experience has shown, stress or no stress, all will turn out fine… and if not, well, I’ll just have to deal with it as I go! One of the meals I look forward to the most is breakfast. Today I opt for a raisin wheat bagel toasted with cream cheese (what used to be my regular breakfast order back in NYC) at Pacific Coffee just next to my showroom, and a tall iced Americano. This definitely fuels me up for a long day of work and meetings!
Since last April I’ve slowly developed a fitness and wellness routine, and part of it is to try to bring lunch everyday to work. It usually includes 100g of white rice (I just don’t like brown rice), some meat item (optional), some green vegetables, and sometimes leftover soup from the night before. Today, I have all that plus a packet of salmon ochazuke that I’ve brought back from my Kyoto trip. I love ochazuke so much that I don’t think I could ever get sick of it! This one has an individual packet with a slice of salted salmon (cooked)… the umami flavour with the seasoning is just to die for. Happy lunch in less than 30 mins, now back to work.
This week is packed with bday celebrations. I booked dinner at Kinjo’s for my college buddy Jen’s belated bday dinner. Kinjo’s is my new favourite Japanese izakaya in my neighbourhood, it’s got a nice vibe with many Japanese regulars which is a good sign of authenticity of the cuisine! We order beef tongue, okra and mushroom skewers, tofu salad, chicken meatballs, and the chef-recommended grilled fish. Lastly, we end with the LeTao cheesecake I brought over, so creamy with a gentle cheese flavour, love!
TUESDAY, 6 MAR
At 7am, my hubby and I head to HKFC for our BBG (“Bikini Body Guide” by Kayla Itsine) training. We try to do it three times a week before going to work, which is not always possible. Usually we’ll have breakfast at the club as well, but today we have a visiting relative to tour the showroom, so I head back to Pacific Coffee for my trusty bagel with cream cheese plus Americano combo.
Fittings with client, interviewing for staff, arranging new collection in the showroom… time passes by in a snap. Continuing with good habits, I have my quick yet joyful lunch at my showroom: 100gm white rice, some boiled green beans, a packet of salmon ochazuke, and an extra ajitsuke tamago (seasoned soft-boiled egg). Yum!
Another fun bday dinner with my high-school bestie Sam Sam at Feather and Bone in Happy Valley. I picked this place as it is dog-friendly with alfresco dining. So excited as I will also meet Sam Sam’s dog Oppa (Shiba Inu) for the first time! We order a bottle of French red, some steamed clams with wine sauce, seafood pureed soup and grass-fed sirloin steak. What a perfect dinner with great friends, some nice wine, fresh food cooked in a simple style, and a dash of fun with Oppa. Life is wonderful in this moment.
WEDNESDAY, 7 MAR
Since it has been hard to take off during the weekends with traveling to my China workshop for the new collection, I’ve decided to take a half day break at home. I take a quick look in my fridge and decide to have some pandan cake for breakfast (why not?). They taste so good lightly toasted in the oven, alongside a bowl of fresh strawberries, blueberries and a double shot of espresso. Some pampering me time!
I am never productive at home so I have pretty much stopped taking work home. I like to organise the house, put on a mask, do some readings or watch some YouTube videos (my current favourites are the travel vloggers such as Mark Wiens, Strictly Dumpling, and The Food Ranger). I always develop certain food cravings after watching these videos, and this time it’s for fried rice. I like my fried rice on the dry side, with eggs, carrots, onions, ham or char siu, chopped beans or other green veggies, seasoned with salt, pepper and seven spice powder for an extra kick.
I head to the showroom later in the afternoon for some work. My friend and S.Nine muse Ankie Beilke drops by the showroom for a bit, then I meet up with another bday girl Coco at Runway for happy hour and a long overdue catch-up. Two vodka tonics and some pretty deep conversations later, I’m headed home with my hubby for a super simple dinner — a big bowl of carrot soup to fill us up. This week is filled with a lot of dinner dates so we need some stomach downtime.
THURSDAY, 8 MAR
This morning we decide to skip the gym, as my hubby has injured his back. Instead, I do 30 mins BBG at home with minimum equipment (4kg dumbbells) and feel fresher instantly. I make myself a big superfood smoothie: 1 bag of frozen berries from M&S, 1 banana, 1/2 tablespoon of Tropeaka Acai powder, 1/2 tablespoon of Tropeaka green powder, 1 tablespoon of Tropeaka Lean Protein and some cold water to blend. We go for a second breakfast at Capital Cafe before going to the chiropractor, as we both love their scrambled eggs with toast! To me this is the best version of the classic Hong Kong-style breakfast.
Headed to Apple store as my MacBook Air is not charging properly. Such a pain. I try to zen out and treat myself to a sushi lunch at Sen-ryo. It’s not Sushi Sase, but it definitely hits the spot (I love their California hand roll and seared engawa sushi).
After taking a meeting regarding my next jewellery collaboration at Cipriani, I head back to the showroom again for some client appointments. Randomly Gene and I have decided to have a date night, so we walk over to try MEATS, as we’ve enjoyed many of the restaurants by Pirata Group (namely Pici and TokyoLima). I immediately like the vibe, the ambience of the bar/restaurant is hip yet curated, perfect for happy hour and dinner dates with friends and lovers. We order the octopus which is incredibly tender, the cut-of-the-day rump steak, bone marrow with the most delicious bread, and lastly, the fried rice with the perfect sunny-side up egg on top. No alcohol tonight, just good vibes, good food, and a lovely date.
FRIDAY, 9 MAR
Another busy Friday with collection prepping, client appointments, meetings and filming at the showroom. I skip breakfast today as I know that dinner will be a feast. Prep myself a very simple lunch with rice and veggies, just add the ochazuke package and hot water, and voila!
At the showroom, I do some more editing to the new collection before the model fitting later in the afternoon. I am not doing many winter jackets this coming season, as we’ve barely worn anything thick in winter these past few years! But I have been obsessed with adding some gorgeous bling on leather and velvet.
Dinner time comes and I’m headed to the restaurant at Queen’s College Old Boys’ Association for a family gathering. It is a private kitchen that only takes reservations from alumni from Queen’s College, and one of my cousins is an alumni there. Apparently, booking is always at least 1-2 months full, and sometimes needs to be booked 3 months in advance. It’s definitely a big feast: “Buddha Jumps Over the Wall” soup, king prawns, crispy chicken, and a 2kg steamed grouper. Everything is delicious and in gigantic proportions. I guess I’ll need to work harder on my BBG training over the next week!
SATURDAY, 10 MAR
Saturday morning is usually for a massage appointment. But this past week has been so intense that I’d rather sleep in. It’s a luxury to have a slow morning at home. For a late breakfast our helper makes us some tomato and tofu soup, and stir-fried vermicelli with garlic and scallions.
Before heading over to the showroom for some more work and appointments, we have one of my favourite comfort foods: the Thai-style boat noodles at Boat Noodle 666. The heavy pork blood-infused broth balanced with mixed herbs tastes heavenly with the al dente rice noodles and mixed pork intestines and meat bits. I like to season it with loads of chilli vinegar and chilli powder. There, my secret hideout is revealed.