Mina Park is no stranger to the culinary world. She may have started her career as a corporate lawyer, but she also ran dining events through her private kitchen Sook on the side, and later, when she swapped the corporate world for the culinary one full time, she went on to found Hawkr, a Southeast Asian takeaway spot established in Quarry Bay, which later expanded to Pacific Place too.
Departing for America’s Golden State in 2018, Park settled with her husband, Korean chef Kwang Uh, in Los Angeles. Here the pair remained in the restaurant industry. “With my husband, we ran a successful pop-up for nine months and recently opened a fast casual Korean concept in historic Grand Central Market called Shiku, which means ‘the people you share food with’. The pandemic in the US was complicated in different ways to in Asia, and so opening Shiku in the middle of it seemed like quite an achievement.”
And the pair have plenty more up their sleeves. “We are still working on settling down our restaurant in Grand Central Market. LA is just starting to open up fully and we will have to see if things go back to some sort of normalcy or not. Then we want to reopen Baroo, my husband’s cult-favourite restaurant, which closed in 2018. And we have a few other concepts in mind that we are fleshing out now.”
Yet Hong Kong still holds a special place in Park’s heart. “Hopefully, we will be able to travel back to Hong Kong and Korea soon,” she says. For now, Park reminisces about the dining destinations she rates in Hong Kong.
What do you miss most on the food and drink front when you are away from Hong Kong or haven’t been back for a while?
There are so many places and foods that I miss from Hong Kong, I don’t know where to begin. I miss the quality and variety of Cantonese food that’s available everywhere you look––the fresh seafood, the cha chaan tengs, the dai pai dongs, delicious char siu in my old neighborhood of Chai Wan, yum cha, chiu chow cuisine, shopping at the wet markets. I miss the Shanghainese clubs where my friends would take me for lunch, Szechuan hot pot, truly innovative modern Cantonese and Taiwanese cuisine. I miss the atmosphere of all these places, the tiny spaces with the classic tiled floors, the history.
What would be the first dish you would eat on your return and where would you go for it?
Claypot rice from Kwan Kee in Sai Ying Pun. I haven’t had a proper claypot rice since I left Hong Kong and I’ve been craving that, and I would have one of my friends who is a regular take us because she always organises the most delicious and fun dinners there.