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, Victoria Chow—founder of nomadic cocktail bar and creative caterers, The Woods – tells us about her lifetime of memories at Graham Street market and her go-to restaurant for Shanghainese cuisine in Hong Kong.
Tell us about one of your favourite Hong Kong food memories.
I’ve been going to Graham Street Market in Central for as long I can remember. My mom would bring me to shop for our weekly fish, meat and vegetables there, and I feel like I can play a cheesy montage of all the memories I have of it through the years in my head—skipping over puddles along the street, picking tiny green caterpillars from our fresh greens on the way home (before the widespread use of pesticides…), and shopping for live chickens still in their cages (before avian flu…).
My fascination with the sounds, smells and energy of the market continued throughout high school, and I dedicated whole chapters of my GCSE and A-Levels art studies to drawing and painting scenes from the butchers and fishmongers, who became accustomed to me coming by with my camera and sketchbooks.
When I started The Woods, we dedicated our menu to the seasonality of fruits and vegetables, which we could check on daily since the market was only a two-minute walk from our bar; we became good friends with the fruit stall owners, who would always let us know which produce was at its prime. Working late nights on weekends also meant that I was able to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the market in the wee hours of the morning—receiving their deliveries from the farms and their importers, with trucks full of hanging meats and cases upon cases of produce unloading.
So much has changed on Graham Street in the past few years, with buildings getting torn down and streets becoming redeveloped, but I hope the market will always be there in one form or another!