As a foodie, sometimes I overindulge on the amazing food that this city has to offer. Sitting at our bamboo desks, we find ourselves on incognito and desperately googling ’10 ways to lose fat fast’, ‘how to lose 10 pounds in 5 days’, or ‘superfoods that boost your health’. Luckily, before I decided to plunge into Gwyneth’s cookbook or do a Beyoncé juice ‘cleanse’, the 3rd Good Food Tour came to rescue. Healthy food – still unfairly associated in some minds with hippy-beardy-types, – is the fastest growing food market in the world. So get with it daddio panda – don’t you know beards are hip and mung beans are the new grain-fed wagyu? As a panda, I love my greens. So I was ecstatic to see the food that each restaurant prepared for us. The menus were full of nutrients, proteins and health benefits. I was looking forward to food that would energize me faster than a battery-eating bunny and cleanse me quicker than Goop detox.
On Wellington Street I met my fellow healthies for our first stop, Mana. I pass by Mana almost daily while heading to work and this snug healthy fast-slow food hub is always buzzing with yogi bears and gym bunnies on the go. Catered to the Central crowd who want a healthy alternative take-out, Mana is what is advertised to be: a food oasis that offers you wholesome food and experience.
Chef Anthony presented us with a mix of their greatest hits, which include their Bliss Wrap, a wrap of hummus, avocado, baby spinach and cucumber, as well as 3 variations of salad; Kale Salad with lemonnaise, Chickpeas Salad and spinach and Pumpkin Salad with haloumi cheese.
First, I took a scoop of chickpeas, red kidney beans and red onions. The humble and robust nuttiness of the chickpeas seemed a great way to start the evening. The way the dressing added a touch of zest brought out surprisingly complex flavors and a smoothness that counterpoised the crunchy textures of the peas and beans.
Next, we sampled the spinach salad. This offered a welcome fresh taste of spring. The pumpkin had just enough bite left in it and was a balanced match with the baby spinach. Things don’t get much better than this, I thought. Then I tried the kale salad. I think I spooked Chef Anthony as he found himself confronted by a wild-eyed panda raving about the kale. Imagine Amanda Bynes on curly kale crack! Their kale is grown locally and has a depth that melds the leaves’ slight bitterness, similar to that of Italian parsley, with a hint of spice. The lemonnaise dressing embellishes the kale beautifully.
William of Wykeham said that “Manners maketh man” – judging by the enthusiastic sounds that were made as we tucked into our next dish, it is a good job we were mainly women and pandas. What bliss it was that day to eat our Bliss Wrap. Starring avocado, which gives the wrap body, with a definite best-supporting actor nod to the hummus dressing, the wrap is satisfying, nutty, and juicy. The cucumbers are fresh and crunchy and offer an aftertaste of coolness and freshness. The earthy tastes of the sampling box definitely made me want to dig right in.
With detox in progress, we did take a leisurely urban hike up to our next pit stop, Be-Juiced on Peel Street.
Rather than take us to a traditional restaurant, our leading good-food-tour-guide, Zane, had arranged our second stop at my all-time favorite juice bar. We all stopped for a juice and their signature in-house acai bowl. Being a huge fan of frozen yogurt, I have recently turned to Be-Juiced, my juice temple, to cure my frozen yogurt cravings, as it is a healthier and tastier option.
If you are unaware of acai berries, you have to try the ones at Be-Juiced. They make their acai berry bowls in-house daily, which is one of the freshest reasons I love Be-Juiced. Acai berries are full of nutrients and antioxidants which not only give you an anti-aging and energy boost, but also provide a lift of healthy fatty acids and healthy fats to our immune system.
Be-Juiced founder, Lena, offered us a juice of our choice as well as their acai bowl of any toppings our hearts desired. Presented with their colorful range of health potions, I felt like Donald Trump at a beauty pageant. Which one to pick? Rather than going with my usual, Bitter Better, a bitter melon green juice mix so finely balanced it could work the high-wires for Cirque du Soleil, I opted for their Pinakaleada, a pineapple and kale juice blend, to stick to the tune of the kale salad that sang so beautifully in Mana.
The juice is freshly cold-pressed each morning as is evident from the taste of each juice. Pinakaleada is surprisingly refreshing and sweet, as I expected a top-note of kale. I tried them all from their sampling bottles (call me greedy, I just couldn’t resist) and who can resist from their cute juice bottles? I am, again like The Donald, attracted to beautiful packaging – although less so to wigs and walls.
On to the acai bowl! We were presented with a rainbow of options, but after pacing back and forth in front of their fridge, I finally opted for apple puree granola, dragon fruit, blueberries and raw honey to go with my acai bowl. The fruits were clearly fresh, the sourness of the citrus and berries matched the natural zest of acai berries, and was bridged perfectly by the sweetness of the homemade apple puree granola and raw honey. I would happily eat that for breakfast every day. I quickly bought another juice and proceeded to the counter as my next day brekkie before we left for the next stop.
When I am happy with food, I just can’t help smiling, and boy, was I baring (bearing?) my teeth as we continued our ride up to Mid-Levels on the Escalator.
Our point of destination was Nosh, located in a space on Mosque Street co-owned with The Meatery. Nosh provides healthy take-outs which give you healthy light meals to satisfy your taste buds and nutritional needs. You cannot miss the vivid yellow door once you get off the Escalator. Despite the small space, Kevin, the executive chef of Nosh, whipped up our sampling meal in a jiffy.
Chef presented us two options of their most popular meals, jerk chicken with pineapple salsa, served with roasted bell pepper with sweet chili vinaigrette and roasted salmon with soba noodles and ponzu and a side of broccoli.
Being a travelled panda, I love any food that has Caribbean and Mediterranean influences, so of course I had to go with the jerk chicken. Their chicken breast is moist and tender, and the sauce is sweet, sour with a little kick of spice. Jerk sauces are usually really spicy which I love (my Jamaican friend’s mom has an awesome family recipe), but Chef has twisted the classic sauce to tone down the burn. With less heat, the juiciness of the chicken and the crisp sweet acid of the roasted pineapple salsa dominate. The overall effect is like a tropical cruise in your mouth. After trying their jerk chicken, I just had to find out what their ponzu sauce is like so I asked if I could try their ponzu sauce on its own. It didn’t disappoint! Their ponzu is tangy and delightful. After trying the sauce, I dipped into my obliging neighbor’s salmon and soba noodles. The noodles were light and thin, and perfect for absorbing the sesame seed dusted salmon and its juices. I thought my evening had reached its zenith with my acai bowl, but I guess they were right, it’s not over till the fat panda sings!
The curtains of our 3rd Good Food Tour sadly fell after an evening filled with sophisticated and vibrant healthy food. We had been introduced some great spots for quick healthy tasty meals and their extensive menus should give all of us enough options for the next two months before the beach season begins!
MANA! Fast Slow Food
Address: 92 Wellington St, Central, Hong Kong
Follow their Facebook page for more info.
Address: Lee Roy Commercial Building, 45 Peel St, Central
Check their Facebook page for more info.
NOSH by Secret Ingredient
Address: Shop B, G/F 23-27 Mosque Street, Mid-Levels, Central, Hong Kong
Visit their Facebook page for more info
- Minnie from @wysminnie
- Yuki from @yukimaryrosel
- Holly from womguide.com
- Hannah from www.afoodieworld.com
- Karen from kfit.com
- Lauren from www.sassyhongkong.com
- Nikita from KFIT, @nikita_ame
- Keshia from @foodiehk
- Rachael from www.sinclairasia.com