Michael Chan, founder of Honbo
‘Before I started Honbo in 2017, I studied in Canada and then worked in America, where burgers are a big deal. When I first returned to Hong Kong, I couldn’t find a simple, classic American cheeseburger anywhere — that’s when I decided to open Honbo. I knew we had to use a potato bun and that we had to grind our beef fresh each day, since these are the two main ingredients of a burger. The thing about burgers is that the recipe for a great one is already out there, and it’s simple, but no one wants to put in the effort to get it right — and I was determined to put in the work.
First, it was the potato bun. The story behind the potato bun is that since there’s such an abundance of potatoes in the States, they have to be used for something! So bakers make mashed potato and mix it with flour to make bread. These make great burger buns because they give a subtle sweetness, and it synergises with French fries. We started to make potato buns ourselves, since we couldn’t find them in Hong Kong. The second thing we focused on is grinding our own beef, as most burger shops in Hong Kong use pre-ground beef. We don’t want that, because you never know what’s inside pre-ground beef, and the flavour profile is hard to adjust. So we started importing our own beef from Wisconsin. We butcher whole cuts of meat ourselves and then grind it fresh every day. And I guess the rest is history!
We’re still here — our five-year anniversary is coming up in March 2022, and I guess we’ve accomplished what we intended to: to bring a good, classic American cheeseburger to Hong Kong.’