Adele Wong on HK’s Retro-lution

Adele Wong | A retro-lution of sorts of afoot in the city’s F&B scene, what with eateries like Dragon Noodle Academy, Little Bao, Bao Bei, Ho Lee Fook plus a handful of others mining Hong Kong nostalgia for inspiration. Naturally, we sought one of HK’s most authoritative food critics to weigh in.

Adele Wong on HK’s Retro-lution

Adele Wong was the resident dining columnist of HK Magazine and the Editor of Where Hong Kong. She’s now Publisher of lifestyle portal, The Loop HK. She has recently added another feather to her cap – award-winning author of “Hong Kong Food & Culture – From Dim Sum to Dried Abalone” (HKD360, order HERE).

The sweeping tome, tagged ‘all you ever need to know about Hong Kong food, in one big book’, is acclaimed by Michelin-starred chefs Alvin Leung and Richard Ekkebus. It has chapters ranging from traditional Chinese medicine, herbs and spices, Cantonese sauces, dim sum, and wet markets. It also contains fascinating anecdotes from local noodle makers, ceramic bowl painters, dried seafood sellers, and more.

In June, the book earned a nod from Gourmand International, an award-giving body that honours books, chefs, and TV hosts.

To fully imbibe the retro-lution spirit, we picked The Woods as venue of our interview with Adele. The underground bar is decked on one side with an accordion-type gate with floral shapes, ubiquitous on shop houses during the 60s and 70s. On another side is a mural of a tree by The Woods’ founder, Victoria Chow.

“Generally speaking, it’s a great thing that there’s renewed spotlight on nostalgic or retro Chinese cuisine,” Adele shares. “It’ll give a new generation exposure to some classic dishes that may have been lost or fallen out of favour over the years.”

But retro-lution also has a side that tends to skate toward gimmickry, which Adele cautions against. “There’s a fine line between making something become a cliche and a trend, rather than just highlighting what makes that classic dish so special to begin with.”

Asked what classic Hong Kong dish she’d like to see turned into a cocktail, Adele gamely responds:

“Maybe the ku lu yuk – the sweet and sour pork. That’s the dish that everybody kinda knows. It’s savoury, but it’s got some tangy and sweet elements to it. I think a really good mixologist can do a really good job turning it into a drinkable cocktail!”

Imagine this as your weekend tipple. 🙂

Calling HK’s top mixologists. Anyone up to the ku lu yuk cocktail challenge?

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James Gannaban
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