Sohofama’s Modern Chinese Comfort Food Honors The Farmer
In partnership with Food Made Good

Sohofama’s Modern Chinese Comfort Food Honors The Farmer

Their thoughtful and dynamic ways of engaging and growing a conscious community make Sohofama well-deserved winners of the Food Made Good Society Award.

Hong Kong’s Sohofama aims to bring the farm to the urban space, not just physically but spiritually. Its food hearkens back to a more holistic time, where cooking with chemical-free, unprocessed food was a natural way of life, when farmers were pillars of society, and food was medicine. The menu is a thoughtful reflection of today’s Hong Kong: familiar Chinese comfort foods, perhaps some favorites from childhood, married with modern creations, inspired by the international diversity of the city. Produce is sourced from nearby farms, and seafood and meats fully traceable, just like in the old days…and boy, could I taste the difference.

Related: How to Cook, Eat and Order Climate-Friendly Meals

Clockwise from top left: xiao long bao, crab and truffle spring rolls, vegetable dumplings. Photo: Debbie Wong

Their xiao long bao is among the best I’ve ever had - not surprising, as Sohofama’s chef is from Shanghai, and has helmed a number of renowned Shanghainese restaurants. Everything about the xiao long bao was spot on, the wrapper was thin as can be, the soup intensely flavourful, and the pork filling tender and pure. 

The veggie dumplings were also a standout, particularly when most vegetarian dumplings tend to be lackluster, with the filling overcooked and the flavors muddled. These were the opposite: the dumpling skin was toothsome, the filling distinguishable yet harmonious.

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Daily Chinese herbal soup. Photo: Debbie Wong 

One of Sohofama’s signature offerings is a traditional Chinese herbal soup. The ingredients of the soup will change as dictated by the seasons, and various wellness needs. If I had to pick my favorite dish of the day, this was it. I can only describe it as tasting like home. Home and a hug. 

There’s a reason why a deeply flavored brothy herbal soup is a staple on the Chinese table; it is a proven natural healing agent. Common ingredients include goji berries, known to nourish the liver and kidneys, red dates, believed to improve cell mutation and moisten the lungs, Chinese wild yam (huai san) for boosting energy and alleviating bodily weakness, and dried fig (wu hua guo) to cleanse the intestine and relieve coughs.

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Delicious local prawns with salted egg yolk. Photo: Debbie Wong 

I should explain the meaning of Sohofama, because it says so much about founder Larry Tang’s essence. Soho (south of Hollywood Road) is the vibrant Central Hong Kong neighborhood where the restaurant is situated; it is a hub inside a hub, where all walks of life congregate. ‘Fama’ is farmer, or more specifically, the phonetic expression of how a Cantonese speaker might pronounce the word. The urban Chinese farmer is Larry’s muse and is at the root of his belief system, his F&B concepts, and social initiatives. 

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Old promotional poster for a pop up farmer’s market in 2020. Photo: PMQ.com 

Locofama (“local farmer”), is the other wellness restaurant under the Fama group, which features global flavors with the same consciousness in sourcing. Famacy was an “ahead of its time” modern holistic destination with Chinese medicine as its foundation - hopefully Larry will bring it back one day. Pet Adoption Sundays were Larry’s natural response to the growing number of stray cats and dogs in Hong Kong, and Famaland - his latest concept, is a space that hosts artists, musicians and other creatives to showcase their work; it also holds farmer’s markets and engaging talks on sustainability and wellness. 

Larry doesn’t make a profit doing this community work, and when asked where his motivation to engage others comes from, he became silent for a minute and said no one had ever asked him that before. After genuinely thinking about it, he finally said “…Karma.” What was most refreshing about his answer was that it did not come from an intellectualized or self-serving space. It was simply his truth. Larry doesn’t just believe that we are all connected, he knows we are. 

Related: Food Made Good HK Awards Shines A Spotlight On Sustainability

With Sohofama founder Larry Tang at the Food Made Good Hong Kong Awards 2020. Photo: Food Made Good HK

It’s fair to say that society was born with the ability to grow food, so it’s quite poetic that Sohofama was the recipient of Food Made Good’s Society Award, an award that, compared to the rest - such as environment and sourcing - might be the most difficult to quantify. This makes Sohofama, and more broadly Fama Group’s efforts in sustainability through fostering community all the more impressive and impactful. Perhaps we can all learn something from the “fama”: plant seeds, watch them grow… and don’t forget to cultivate and nurture that soil so your community will continue to thrive. 

Thank you so much Larry, for sharing your wisdom with me. 

 

Debbie Wong is a professional cook, writer and classically trained actor based in Hong Kong. She is the host of Food Wars Asia, Kitchen Quickies, and her ongoing international culinary series on YouTube - Debbie Wong’s Wok and Gong. Follow her on all socials @ms.debbiewong.

This article was created in partnership with Food Made Good HK. 

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