As part of our series celebrating the vibrancy and community within Hong Kong’s dining scene, we spoke to several of the industry’s leading lights about why they love the city’s unique food culture. Here, JJ Acuna—founder and creative director of JJ Acuna / Bespoke Studio, the design brains behind restaurants such as Miss Lee and Hansik Goo—explains how his first Hong Kong food memory involves pineapple buns and why he loves having hot sauce for breakfast.
Tell us about one of your favourite Hong Kong food memories.
One of my earliest Hong Kong food memories is the first snack I ever had at Happy Cake Shop, from when I moved into my first flat in Wan Chai about 15 years ago, having just arrived in Hong Kong after graduating in New York City.
I’d just got my keys and walked into my empty flat with a couple of suitcases. Hungry, I walked around the corner—and there was Happy Cake Shop, looking very 60s and retro, with bright welcoming lights and yellow colours everywhere from its signage to the tiling inside. Because everything there was so inexpensive and I was shopping on an empty stomach, I ordered a couple of egg tarts, a pineapple bun, coconut tart, cream cone, meat floss bun, and a Vitasoy—I was so hungry! I went back to my flat, plopped down onto the empty floor, spread it all out and finished every last bite.
Happy Cake Shop is a great bakery and still there today. It might not be the healthiest option, but it’s old Hong Kong-style and still worth supporting. I don’t live in Wan Chai anymore—but to this day, every time I pass by, I make sure to grab a pineapple bun, which I still think is one of the city’s best. There’s a reason they’re still around!