Wine and Dine... and Wait Just a Bit Longer to Travel: Hong Kong Celebrates its Cuisine and Culinary Influence in Canada

L to R: Jorge Lee, Senior Manager, Marketing & Public Relations, Hong Kong Tourism Bureau, Trevor Lui, chef and author, Evelyn Chick, mixologist, Chef Eva Chin, Avling Restaurant at a 15 NOV Hong Kong Tourism Board event.

One of the world’s greatest destinations is still waiting to fully re-open. But they’re trying to keep themselves top of mind in the meantime.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board put on a fabulous dinner in downtown Toronto on 15 NOV as a reminder of one of the top east-meets-west cultural places on the planet.

Guests enjoy a fine Chef's Table meal at a 15NOV Hong Kong Tourism Board event.

Michael Lim, Director Canada for the HKTB, said Hong Kong recently opened to tour groups, but that there’s no official word on when things might fully reopen to FIT Canadians and other visitors, or to cruise ships. Travellers are no longer required to take a PCR test before they fly to Hong Kong, and there’s no mandatory hotel quarantine. But there are still testing requirements and other rules in place for what visitors can do in the first three days of their time in Hong Kong.

“The HKTB has been actively planning to revive the tourism industry and will launch various initiatives in a timely manner, working with the government, the tourism industry and related sectors, to drive the recovery of Hong Kong tourism,” officials said in a press release.

“We have many new hotels and new attractions,” Lim told Open Jaw. Among them is the West Kowloon Cultural District, home to splendid new museums such as the M+, the first global museum of contemporary visual culture in Asia.

Michael Lim, Director Canada, Hong Kong Tourism Board, at a 15 NOV Hong Kong Tourism Board event.

Lim said he hasn’t been back for some time but longs to sit by the harbour and watch the famous Star ferry roll past, or to watch the Symphony of Lights show, a daily light and sound production that takes place every day at 8 p.m.

Jorge Lee, Senior Manager, Marketing & Public Relations for HKTB, said November marks the Hong Kong Wine and Dine 2022 Festival, with some of the world’s best wineries and top chefs on hand to celebrate.

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Hong Kong has one of the most diverse culinary offerings in the world, with everything from Dim Sum to street food to Michelin-starred restaurants. There are 70,406 restaurants or licensed facilities in the destination today, which is nine per cent more than in 2020, Lee said.

“More places have opened than have closed” during the pandemic, he pointed out. “Many have reinvented themselves. Baristas have opened cafes. Office workers have opened restaurants.”

The Wednesday night event featured a panel discussion by top Toronto chefs and bartenders with Hong Kong backgrounds, and the emphasis was on classic Cantonese dishes with a twist.

Toronto author and chef Trevor Lui shows off his cookbook at a 15NOV HongKong Tourism Board event.

Chef and author Trevor Lui, who runs Bao Bird restaurants and Superfresh night market in Toronto, told fun stories of his father opening up a restaurant in Rexdale many years ago, when there were few Chinese people in the area. The restaurant survived by mixing dishes such as chicken balls and chow mein with banquet burgers.

“But customers would by our family table when we were eating, and they’d want to know about our traditional Cantonese dishes.”

Lui noted that 45 per cent of Hong Kong is farm land, and said local restaurateurs are working with local vegetable farmers, local fishermen and local chicken providers.

The event was held at Avling restaurant on Queen Street East in Leslieville. Avling Chef Eva Chin, former Chef de Cuisine at the renowned Momofuku, laid out an amazing array of dishes. All the courses were supported by craft cocktails created by Toronto mixologist Evelyn Chick, who runs Ahma, a pop-up and event space on Queen Street West.

Jim Byers

Jim Byers is a freelance travel writer based in Toronto. He was formerly travel editor at the Toronto Star and now writes for a variety of publications in Canada and around the world. He's also a regular guest on CBC, CTV News, Global News and other television and radio networks.

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