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Down on the Farm
Dorothy So hitches up her britches and discovers what our finest local farms have to offer.

By Dorothy So | Sep 17, 2009

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Forget Tuscan vegetables and sashimi flown in from Tsjuki market— food doesn’t come any fresher than when it’s locally produced. From seafood to fresh milk and veggies, it’s all available right here in Hong Kong, and many of the farms have their own restaurants too. Meet our own crop of straight-from-the-farm fresh restaurants.

Hong Ning

Hong Kong’s last locally-produced milk comes from Hong Ning Milk Production. Visit the company’s dairy farm—the only one in the city—and be greeted with bottles of the farm’s delicious cold milk. The New Zealand cattle which produce the milk are raised on organically grown grass and are also fed quality soya beans, corn and wheat, which gives the milk a sweeter taste. Hong Ning has been supplying small, local grocery stores with fresh milk for over 40 years and the small factory still produces 8,000 bottles of the stuff each day. Every morning, crates are layered with thick slabs of ice and loaded onto their delivery truck to ensure the milk is still cold when it reaches the customers. The work and operation costs are considerable, but the end result is more than worth it. The milk is rich, preservative-free, and absolutely delicious.
Man Uk Bin, 81 Sha Tau Kok Rd., Sha Tau Kok, 2674-0282 (for orders), 3580-0404 (for visitor information).

NEWS Bistro

Cheung Sha Lower Village is a hidden gem with its long, never-busy stretch of beach, and the waterfront restaurant, NEWS Bistro, is one of the rare finds that puts you in holiday mood as soon as you step in. Regulars drop by to while away an afternoon on the outdoor patio, which overlooks the surfers and sun bathers on the white-grain sand, and diners can head inside the Chinese-deco red brick restaurant building, which is stocked with magazines, novels and a few board games. Very idyllic. But the best thing about the place? NEWS Bistro is run by the super-awesome Ms. Lo—a vegetarian for 18 years who grows her own crops in her 30,000 square-foot organic farm right next door. There’s rarely a set menu at the restaurant; dishes are decided according to the seasonal harvest, and the focus is on healthy eating and living—all the food at NEWS is completely MSG-free. Our favorites include the vegetable spring roll (piping hot packets of veggie goodness) and the curry sauce made from only the best coconut milk available in Hong Kong and fresh herbs from the farm.
40 Lower Cheung Sha Village, Lantau Island, 2980-2233, www.newsbistro.com.

Fish Farms

Catch your fish and eat it too at the little-known fish farms in Yung Shue O. Located about 20 minutes away from Sai Kung pier, these open-air farms are located above the water and are run by experienced fishers who know good seafood. Call them up and they’ll send a small boat to take you from the Yung Shue O pier to their farm and back. Most of these farms have their own kitchens and one of the most popular of these floating farms, He Yee (2791-0276), even has an adjoining restaurant. Their stir-fried clams, steamed abalone, and garlic-smothered scallops are fantastic, as are their various types of fish—all of which are raised right here, in their very own farm.

Though it’s a bit of a hike, if you want some of the freshest seafood this city has to offer, Yuen Long’s Pak Ni area is the place to go. This area is perhaps most famous for its oyster farms, which lie on the sand bed in the Lower Pak Ni area, and are distributed to almost all the seafood restaurants in Lau Fau Shan. But if you’re looking for something fresh off the hook, head over to one of the many fish-farm-cum-recreational-fishing sites. Hao Jie’s Fishing Site (2471-3508) for example boasts three saltwater ponds, teeming with over 13 types of fish, including stingrays. Visitors can catch any of the fish raised in the farm and, for a small extra fee, the friendly staff at the site will cook up any catch under half a kilo in their home-style kitchen.

Crab Farm

Fish not tickle your fancy? Head across the street from Ho Jie’s to Uncle Bo’s Fishing Site (2472-6134). Though primarily a fish farmer, Mak Bo also runs the only organic crab farm in the Bak Ni area. Mak farms a variety of crabs, depending on the season. The crabby crustaceans are raised in two large ponds and are absolutely preservative-free, living on grass, fish, shrimps, and other natural foods. But what are the differences between these farmed crabs and those imported from China? There’s plenty, actually. For one, without the mass-production and factory operation costs, Mak’s crabs are actually cheaper than those imported from the mainland. But more importantly, Mak only sells fresh, high quality crabs to his customers. The crabs are available for advance order by phone for takeaway but if customers request it, Mak will also bring the crabs back to his fish farm to be cooked in the kitchen and served. We sampled two steamed crabs, which Mak plucked fresh from the pond. No extra ingredients, no condiments—a few thin slices of ginger is all it takes to bring out the deliciously fresh flavor of the crabmeat. “If you have a good crab, you don’t need anything extra to mask the flavor,” says Mak, and the succulent and sweet crab from his farms is a perfect case in point.

Sea Urchin Farm

Creamy, fresh uni is a beautiful thing and, lucky for us, some of the best comes from our very own shores. Mr. Chan’s sea urchin farm just off Tung Ya Village in Sai Kung is a uni goldmine. According to Chan, sea urchins have been living in Hong Kong waters long before he set up the farm, but with the help of a fisherman friend, Chan learned the techniques of sea urchin breeding and rearing, and he has even set up a restaurant by the farm to serve the straight-from-the-sea uni. The bright purple spikes are scooped from the waters, cleaned, and are ready to eat straight from the shell. Cooked items are also available at the farm restaurant, including sea urchin fried rice, steamed egg with sea urchin, and deep-fried sea urchin spring rolls.
2 Tung Ya Village, Leung Shuen Wan, Sai Kung, 6443-8101.

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