In the world’s first Hello Kitty restaurant in Hong Kong, the kitty does not purr; she inspires hot dim sums—in various shapes, sizes, and colours.
Often, there is not much hoo-ha over the looks of a cat.Certainly, not in a restaurant. However at this Hong Kong diner, the chef hunches over for hours to get her looks right:The pink bow coloured with beet root, the eyes painted with blackest squid ink, the skin molded out of rice flour,and every whisker tidy and crisp. So much toil over a kitty that is not even a real cat—it is a dim sum served piping hot in a wicker basket. The cat is so cute that you would think twice before picking her with chopsticks, but that’s what you do in the world’s first Hello Kitty restaurant in Hong Kong—chomp down the famed fictional character.
Inside the 70-seater restaurant, she is everywhere and on everything—standing at the door as a cut out,on tea pots,on pink sauce bottles, framed on the wall, and of course, on the platter. The restaurant has nearly 20 varieties of dim sum and 40 main course dishes, including Hello Kitty Ribbon Platter, Stir Fried Egg White and Swallow’s Nest, and Hello Kitty Fried Rice with Braised Abalone.
Options galore, but Man Kwong, the restaurant’s founder, has a favourite dish: Hello Kitty Bombing Rice, a rice dish plated as kitty’s face served with a sprinkle of popping candies that explode in the mouth. “The candies add a rare fourth sensation to food: sound,” says Kwong, who runs a magazine on traditional Chinese medicine and believes in ‘good food practices’.
The good-food mantra is followed here too. Flour is flown is from the United States, jasmine rice from Thailand, and all colours are derived naturally from vegetables. In the kitchen, Chef NG Keung works long hours to get the kitty to look appetising on the plate. “Making Hello Kitty dim sums is more painstaking than the regular ones. It takes more than 17 steps to create the big sweet bao; the hardest being the facial proportions of the kitty,” adds Keung who is constantly making new cat-faced dishes.
The day they opened, a mighty typhoon lashed Hong Kong.The furious wind, however, did not deter foodies who created mile long queues—just to hold the kitty with a pair of chopsticks. In Hong Kong, this cat who wears a bow is toothsome.