The ‘green eating’ trend has finally seized Hong Kong. Not only have multiple raw ‘juiceries’ come onto the scene, they have actually managed to secure loyal streams of customers from a decidedly economical community, which would not normally care for puréed vegetables costing HK$70+ per bottle. Vegetarian and vegan eateries have also become much more prevalent, and one particularly successful restaurant located in the heart of Central is Mana! Fast Slow Food.
Mana! does not simply offer a ‘green’ menu – they strive to be eco-friendly and ethical in all aspects of their operations. Their utensils and packaging are completely biodegradable and made from recycled materials, they source fair trade, organic ingredients from local farms (yes, those exist in Hong Kong), send leftovers and food waste to local organisations to be used as compost, fitted their stores almost entirely with recycled furniture, use their cooking oils to make soaps… Overall, Mana! is certainly a model start-up subscribing to the ‘green eating’ philosophy.
So why is the popularity of these eating habits spiking now in a society that is otherwise perceived to be preoccupied with efficiency and more material luxuries (a sweeping generalisation, I acknowledge)? This inclination towards a healthier and more sustainable diet seems to coincide with a general increased tendency to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle. The milestones on the road to tackling climate change during the 2015 Paris Conference are a testament to our growing awareness and willingness to amend our destructive habits. Perhaps, in addition to a generation seeking to reverse the impacts of fast-food chains spread by globalisation, there is an underlying selfless desire to contribute to the international fight against global warming.
As for the actual food, Mana! wraps (the company calls them ‘flats’) continue to occupy the top spot in my ranking of wraps, probably because of the Lebanese Za’atar (a mixture of thyme, sumac, sea salt and sesame seeds) baked onto the bread. Their salads are just as appetising and filling, and make raw kale not only digestible (a miracle in itself), but actually delicious. And although I had walked for over half an hour under the scorching Hong Kong summer sun immediately before eating, I still could not finish their ‘small’ salad.
The menu is almost entirely vegan, with the sole exception being the option of adding an omelette to your flat. Gluten-free flats have also been added to the menu (though I have yet to try them), so coeliacs can rest assured. I cannot vouch for the rest of the menu, however, because I have not been inclined to buy their juices, burgers or fries. But I am sure that the latter items offer guilt-free alternatives to an otherwise grease-laden meal. I have also never visited Mana! Café because their open flats (envision healthy pizzas) do not especially appeal to me. Mana! Raw sells fresh juices and vegan sushi, but because I have heard that the latter is not as filling as their flats and salads, I doubt it is worth the HK$80-90 price band. Do comment if you think it is!
Photographs by Christy Lau.