By Chris Dwyer
Mar 16, 2022
IF YOU THOUGHT THAT sourcing produce locally or eliminating food waste and single-use plastic were recent fads, then meet the culinary director at Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, chef Richard Ekkebus. The affable Dutchman who has lived in Hong Kong for years has long embraced being truly sustainable as a pillar of his Michelin-starred cuisine—and certainly long before it became a non-negotiable for all self-respecting new restaurants.
Amber, the brilliant home of what the chef calls ‘essential’ cuisine, has held two Michelin stars since opening in 2009, while this year it added a third in the form of a coveted Michelin Green Star, a recently created distinction “to highlight establishments at the forefront of sustainable gastronomy.” This is just the latest of the accolades rolling into Amber Hong Kong, including the Sustainable Restaurant Award from Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2020.
Courtesy of Amber (2)
“To get the green star, I was as euphoric as when I got two stars because it’s such an important part of what we are now,” Ekkebus says. “It defines us, motivates and fuels us that we’re on the right track.”
These awards have come partly thanks to initiatives they’ve adopted such as developing plant-based alternatives for trashcan liners or utilizing an anaerobic waste digester and water bottling systems. They may not sound particularly sexy, but they deliver serious, long-term positive impact—exactly what the hospitality industry continues to need.
With all that in mind, we figured Richard Ekkebus, a mentor to many chefs across Hong Kong and beyond, would be perfectly placed to select restaurants where being sustainable is a true driving force behind deliciousness. Here are his top six choices.
6 Favorite Super Green Restaurants in HK, according to Richard Ekkebus
The Arcane Collective
“I often eat plant-based by choice, so like to go to places with a good vegetarian offering. I’m a huge fan of Moxie these days and Michael Smith is a great chef. I took my team there a few weeks ago, we sat at the counter and had a fabulous meal. It’s also obviously very influenced by his mentor Shane Osborn’s cooking at Arcane—for me, he’s one of the best chefs in Hong Kong. A pure, delicious cook, using great and truly sustainable ingredients.”
FROM LEFT: Ruby beetroots with Taiwanese mango feta and jalapeño dressing, courtesy of Moxie; Japanese fruit tomato with hibiscus, burrata and soft herbs, courtesy of Arcane
Veda at Ovolo Central
“I’ve long been a fan of Ovolo Hotels and what they’re doing in terms of sustainable dining. They were the first hotel group to go fully vegetarian, for a year, while Veda at Ovolo Central has really been my favorite Indian restaurant, with a great plant-based selection of dishes. With a tagline like Celebrate the vegetable, you know that you’re going to get authentic, complex plates which champion delicious but humble ingredients.”
Courtesy of Green Common (2)
“These guys are a store who helped pioneer plant-based eating in Hong Kong and I do a lot of shopping there as they have all the products that I love to work with, even in Amber, but also at home. I’m a huge fan of their Vegenaise, a vegan mayonnaise with a little bit of horseradish in it, while downstairs you can also pick up lunch or dinner to go. Their founder David Yeung is a real visionary and now even KFC have taken his plant-based New Era nuggets and burger.”
“Middle Eastern food is one of my great loves and the Offe family behind it are very much into sustainability in both their spaces with food from the region: Bedu and Little Bedu. Hong Kong has never had high-end Middle Eastern like London or Paris, but these are flavors which are so in my alley, so I love to eat the food from chef Corey Riches at Bedu. The cuisine of the Levant [the eastern Mediterranean] is already so plant-based and it’s the sort of food I love to cook at home. Give me an eggplant and some spices and I’m happy!”
“Agustin Balbi at Ando is a monster of a chef and I was disappointed he didn’t get a second star this year—I was really hoping he would. All the meals I’ve had from him have been brilliant, while he’s also very active in sustainability through relationships he has built with local farms. He’s very particular about the product he chooses so gets to source some of the very best, all with minimal footprint and waste. His tasting menus highlight them to brilliant effect.”
“I just love the concept at Mana and what the founder and owner Bobsy Gaia does. One of their mantras is Diet change, not climate change, and that’s clear through everything they do. Bobsy is larger than life, a huge voice in the movement and a real eco warrior. Sustainable sourcing, waste management, packaging—he really ticks all the boxes. He lives it, dresses the part, looks the part.”