With more time to stop and think about what, where and how we eat, it’s no surprise that the last twelve months have seen a huge rise of interest in the area of mindful eating. It’s also an ethos that pervades the dynamic food scene in and around Wan Chai and Admiralty, where a vanguard is leading a conscious approach to food production, service and consumption that’s better for the planet — and the diner.
While the key concepts — think fresh, local produce, better management of food waste and materials, and zero-waste eating — are not necessarily new ideas, there’s an art to adapting them to the local environment and our unique combination of cuisines.
Elephant Grounds, for example, sources much of its fresh produce, such as kale, cucumber and salad greens, from hydroponic farms in Yuen Long. That means dishes like the Yard Bowl — a healthy combination of quinoa, cherry tomatoes, avocado, kale, cucumber, dill yogurt and lemon vinaigrette — can stay tasty while seriously keeping the food miles down. ‘With small farms, we can buy up their produce quickly and keep it fresh. It’s also a long-term initiative for us, in which we help them with their efficiency so they in turn help us with our supply chain,’ says founder Gerald Li. ‘As for packaging, we’ve always had a conscientious approach — we use recyclable paper products where possible and we changed from plastic straws to potato starch straws in early 2019.’
Elephant Grounds is a pioneer of mindful dining in Hong Kong, emphasising local produce and low environmental impact
Under Li, Elephant Grounds has also cut back on paper use by launching its own app, while the coffee that made its name ‘comes with full traceability back to the farm’, Li says. ‘We work with many types of producers like single-family farms to tackle issues like climate change and education.’ Even the roaster is eco-friendly, reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by re-circulating heat.
Local produce is also a feature around the corner at homey French-Cantonese fusion restaurant Roots, as is as a focus on food waste. ‘Mindful dining to me is controlling what I can control, such as using a lot of local produce,’ says chef-owner Stephanie Wong. ‘The second part is food waste, as we don’t want to throw anything away. We prepare everything fresh every day, and we’re conscious of sticking to three or four very key ingredients in each dish. But we can also use those ingredients in other dish applications that diners may not notice, which minimises food waste.’