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.
An ex-tennis-player-turned-entrepreneur, John Hui is the owner of The Fleming, the newly renovated boutique hotel outfitted in an old-style Hong Kong maritime theme. When he’s not researching steampunk dials and picking out nautical patterns, Hui leads a cosy life at home with three kids and a wife who can whip up anything from scratch — Ethiopian food included.
With a busy schedule following the hotel’s relaunch, Hui takes us through his weekly diet, from trying ‘Nipo-Brasileiro’ cuisine for the first time at Djapa, to sweating it out at Sichuan restaurant Hero Shu, and partaking in a fun family tradition with a luck-of-the-draw dinner at home. And of course, starting every day out with green juice. Read on to discover this health buff’s Hong Kong Food Diary.
WEDNESDAY, 1 NOV
Went to the gym this morning and did back and biceps. I always have my usual protein shake after a workout. Nothing beats a protein shake after a good workout! My wife knows that I’m not a big breakfast person, so she makes me a healthy juice every morning. We have a Vitamix juice blender at home and today’s juice consists of green apple, carrot, cucumber and spinach with a tablespoon of hemp seeds. The juice is not strained so it is quite a thick and heavy concoction. It doesn’t taste very appetising, but it definitely gets my body going! I also have my daily supplements of fish oil and glucosamine.
I have a late lunch with my wife, Jackie, at The Cupping Room in Central. We like to go after lunch hours, as it is so packed there! Jackie loves it there and orders the avocado and poached egg on toast every time we go. I order the Full Brekky this time, but stay away from the toast, as we’ll be having a heavy hotpot meal tonight.
For dinner, we try out Hero Shu, which is a new Sichuan hotspot restaurant in Causeway Bay. It’s probably as authentic as it gets for Sichuan hotspot in Hong Kong. Once you step into the restaurant, the aroma of the spices shoot up your nose. The broth is very flavourful and not as spicy as I thought it would be. It’s quite interesting, as the sauce is a combination of sesame oil, coriander, raw garlic and a dab of oyster sauce. Apparently that’s the way they do it in Sichuan. The beef and lamb skewers and the thin potato slices are a must-have there!
THURSDAY, 2 NOV
Had my regular wake-up juice and supplements this morning. Today’s juice consisted of spinach, cucumber, green apple and flax seed. Personally not my favourite, but it’s good for me I hope!
For lunch, I head to CÉ LA VI with a friend of mine from high school. I like eating then as it is quite chilled out and relaxing, a big contrast with the late-night atmosphere they have here. The view is also amazing! We start out with a sushi and sashimi platter, which has a nice assortment and is very fresh. For mains, we share the bulgogi baos and then the miso cod with eggplant and vegetables.
Dinner is with some friends at Osteria Marzia at The Fleming. The staff at Osteria Marzia are fantastic and they make it such a fun restaurant. I love all the Black Sheep Restaurants and especially this one, as it’s the restaurant in my hotel! I have been coming to the restaurant at least twice a week and I still look forward to eating there. All the food is amazing. My personal favourite is the seafood tower, which they toss with pasta when you are halfway through to mix the delicious seafood. Can’t forget the great cocktails they make as well! I decide to treat myself to an espresso martini for dessert and it’s absolutely delicious.
FRIDAY, 3 NOV
Slept at The Fleming last night, as it was a good opportunity to test out the different rooms. Had an early breakfast at Osteria Marzia with my youngest son Alex before he went to school. He loves the pastries they have, especially the chocolate croissants. The coffee at Osteria Marzia has such a strong aroma, which I like, and definitely gets me going after all the vodka martinis I had last night! I have some mixed berries with plain yoghurt, baguette with ham and cheese and finally a chocolate croissant, which I can’t resist after seeing my son devour his in seconds.
Our new guest services manager, Andy, recommends we check out the revamped Amoy Street in Wan Chai for a light lunch. He recommends Djapa, a Brazilian/Japanese restaurant opened by Le Comptoir Group. They only serve set menus at lunch so we both have the bento box. It’s a nice, balanced meal with a refreshing grapefruit snapper ceviche, micro greens salad with a citrus dressing, various meat skewers and two riceballs — coconut and black sesame seafood flavours. I’m pleasantly surprised by the food, as I’ve never had Brazilian/Japanese before.
Am excited to have dinner at home tonight, after non-stop eating out for the past few days. My wife makes a cauliflower and dill salad with seared sockeye salmon flaked on top, a pumpkin soup and Monggo stew, and a Filipino mung bean stew, all served with brown rice pasta. We order all our veg and meats from growsFresh. Their vegetables and meat are sourced from select farms in Australia and are always of great quality and flavour.
SATURDAY, 4 NOV
I had time this morning to go for a long workout…did both weights and a short cardio workout. Had my post-workout protein shake as well as my healthy juice right after. Today’s juice was green apple, carrot, cucumber and spinach with a tablespoon of hemp seeds.
I have to drive around my two boys between wushu and tennis practice during lunch, so I grab a quick sandwich to go at Maison Eric Kayser. I get my usual ham and Swiss cheese baguette. The baguettes are probably the best in Hong Kong. Crunchy on the outside, soft in the inside and the ham and Swiss cheese really compliment each other. I order a latte as well to get me through the day!
Dinner is poolside at the Hong Kong Country Club. I grew up at this club and most of the staff have known me since I was little. My boys had a friendly tennis match against another club tonight, so I go to have shabu-shabu with my wife and daughter, Nicola. It’s nice to catch up with Nicola, as she’s been away at school camp for the whole week. It’s a beautiful time of the year to eat outdoors — you don’t even feel like you’re in Hong Kong! The beef is much leaner than most shabu-shabu beef, but luckily it doesn’t have the rubbery texture. We have lots of veggies as well for a very healthy meal.
SUNDAY, 5 NOV
We start our lazy Sunday with brunch after my boys’ tennis training and also my workout in the gym. My kids are super excited to make me brunch this morning. My daughter Nicola loves to cook and today she’s made me a healthy, organic sprouted-grains pancakes with maple syrup on top. My two sons, Bryan and Alex, chip in with my favourite French-style scrambled eggs. I have this wonderful brunch accompanied by my daily juice: today it’s bitter melon, spinach, celery, capsicum — definitely not my favourite combination! Also I have my daily dose of supplements to keep me strong and healthy.
We have an early dinner tonight. We’ve been doing biweekly theme nights for a while, with everyone writing down their two chosen cuisines and throwing it into a bag. Jackie prepares the meal without telling us what the chosen cuisine is. I put Ethiopian cuisine in the bag, and Jackie tries to make it as authentic as possible. We eat on a mat on the floor without utensils.
We are told to use the injera (sourdough flat pancake) to scoop up the food. She’s also made fossilia (a green bean stew), inguday tibs (sautéed mushrooms), doro wat (a spicy chicken stew) and a cabbage and potato dish. The food is very interesting and really quite good! She’s made the injera from scratch as well, so I have to applaud her effort. My only complaint is my body is a bit stiff from sitting and eating on the floor, but the kids surely loved the experience!