Born and raised in Perth, Australian chef Shane Osborn had worked and lived in Sweden and London before moving to Hong Kong in 2012. WIthin nine years, Osborn opened his first restaurant, Arcane, which has retained its one MICHELIN star since the Guide’s 2018 edition, Bib Gourmand restaurant Cornerstone, and most recently, Moxie, an all-day dining venue in Landmark.
Despite having called Hong Kong home for almost a decade, Osborn still finds new inspiration from exploring the city’s hidden gems. As the president of sustainability consultancy Food Made Good Hong Kong, Osborn is passionate about plant-based cuisine and sustainable food sourcing.
“Sustainability and ethical sourcing is at the forefront of our procurements,” says Osborn. “We try to buy local as much as possible, it just makes sense.”
A frequent visitor to his neighbourhood wet market, Osborn shared tips on how to shop like a local during his visit to Wong Tai Sin’s Tai Shing Street Market with host Debbie Wong: “The best thing for me is you find your local wet market, and then you go to stores that you like and try to build a relationship with the stallholder,” he shares. “If the stallholder starts to recognise you, you’ll get better produce and you’ll be able to barter it down and get a better price.”
On his quest to learn about the Chinese vegetarian culture, Osborn ventured out to Chi Lin Nunnery, where a vegetarian restaurant serving refined plant-based dishes is nestled behind a scenic waterfall inside Nan Lian Garden. While vegetarian cuisine is nothing new in Chinese culture, where meat-free diets have been a Buddhist practice for centuries, more locals are choosing plant-based foods for their health benefits.
Championing classic Chinese vegetarian recipes with contemporary twists using seasonal vegetables, mushrooms, and tofu, the restaurant goes the extra mile to make sure the food promotes a healthy lifestyle. ”In Chinese culture, we say ‘food is medicine’, so we use less oil, salt, and sugar in our cuisine,” says executive chef Yan of Chi Lin Vegetarian.
Adjacent to the restaurant is Song Cha Xie, a teahouse where premium teas, including organic varieties, from different regions in China are served in a zen-like atmosphere. Outfitted with wooden corridors and private booths, the space provides a relaxing environment for novice and experienced tea drinkers alike.
Inspired by the tea experience, Osborn returns to Arcane to demonstrate a roasted cabbage salad enhanced by the smokiness of smoked tea butter with his favourite Chinese tea Lapsang Souchong. “As a chef, if you want to do something a little bit off the wall, Hong Kong is the place to be,” says Osborn.