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Critiquing Hong Kong's Terrible Food With @Shit.Foodie
by: Rubin Verebes
June 20, 2022
Hong Kong’s food scene is premium. Its electric need to innovate and surprise hungry diners with new concepts, refreshing recipes, and chef-driven creations puts the city in the top ranks of foodie cities.
But, when food does not live up to that level in Hong Kong, the food we buy can be really crap, taste awful, smell terrible, and even, be shit.
Uber popular Instagram account, aptly named @Shit.Foodie, has made it their prime mission to document Hong Kong’s not-so-good available for diners: the shit ramen, shit bagels, shit curries, shit noodles, shit rice dishes, and shit snacks.
To uncover the secrets of Hong Kong’s most realistic foodie, The Beat Asia probed the anonymous founder about why he created the page, what shit food in Hong Kong stands for, and why document the shittier food we hate to eat.
Why did you create @Shit.Foodie?
“It was originally for fun really. It started with just a WhatsApp group among my friends where we shared cheap meals we had on a daily basis. Especially when we were university students, we really didn't have much money for fancy meals.”
“Later on, I realized my friends enjoyed my wording of describing the "shittiness" of the meals [I ate] so much that I had the idea to share it with even more people. That's why I created Shit Foodie. It was mostly for fun.”
“But then when things get bigger, my attitude changed and now it becomes a platform for people to share their interesting dining experiences.”
What makes food “shit”?
“A few things: taste, look, and price.
- Food is shit when it tastes super bad.
- Food is also shit when it looks super bad.
- Food is even more shit when it is expensive but not tasting good at all.”
“On the contrary, a nice meal tastes good, looks good and the price is reasonable enough. These kinds of restaurants are rare but when people start to know these good places, it tends to be very popular just through word of mouth.”
What is the purpose for the Instagram page?
“I would say it's to expose some of the larger shit restaurants while helping some smaller nice restaurants. The former tend to have the money for advertising and never worry about not having enough customers.”
“In contrast, the latter struggle to survive in Hong Kong but are worth to be discovered. I want people to stop spending money on shit branded stuff but start to appreciate some local passionate shop owners. In Chinese. we call it "鋤強扶弱".”
“I hope I am doing something meaningful.”
Why do you think it is needed to report when food can be “shit” in Hong Kong?
“I think it is acceptable to be shit but you can’t trap people to buy your shit. Many restaurants would pay to buy a bunch of nice and fake reviews, but some of them are actually shits and this trapped a lot of customers in Hong Kong.
“I don’t stop people from eating shit food but then if people follow those fake reviews and spend a lot, they can be really angry. And that's why they come to shit foodie and want me to speak up for them.”
Why is it important to document the “shit” meals, restaurants, and food of Hong Kong?
“Two things: raising industry standards and creating collective memory for Hong Kongers.”
“I hope eventually restaurant owners will pay more attention to the quality control of their products, so their food won’t appear as shit food on our page. The other thing is a lot of readers can relate to the shit experiences, and it is somehow fun to laugh at our traumatic experiences as well, I guess it's called the "sense of humour".”
“Adding on to this, apart from documenting "shit" meals, we also document under-appreciated good meals. Eventually, we want to be an honest food review platform, no matter good or bad.”
Who are you? Are you a restaurateur? Food critic?
“Technically, you can call me a food critic. I do comment on the food but in a unique way. Most people describe food by their taste and look but I try to take a step further to be more expressive. For example, I do try to incorporate some of my personal philosophy or even social issues.
“And in "real life" I am just another ordinary person working for a 9-6 job in HK. I guess that's why some readers can relate because I am more down-to-earth. I seldom visit those fine dining restaurants that grassroots cannot afford.”
“Now I am gradually switching to a "platform manager" role (trying to sound professional) where I handle submissions from our readers who want to share honest reviews as well. I realized my readers can often provide interesting experiences and would be great if I can share their thoughts as well.”
What is the “shittest” meal you’ve had in Hong Kong?
“I would say it was a HK$38 lunchbox from a fast-food chain with an uncooked chicken fillet, which was also my first Instagram post. The chicken fillet was literally fucking RAW and I felt insulted as a customer.
“If I wanted to get sashimi, I would just go to a sushi place. But then even though the meal was so shit, I still visited the restaurant a lot just because it is cheap, and it is everywhere. I did forgive the kitchen for that one-time traumatic experience.”
What do you think about the food scene in the city? Needs to be improved? Or good enough?
“It definitely has to be improved. I think it is not a problem of not having enough good food. In general, the good food does not receive enough attention from the public, be it traditional cuisine or more innovative dishes.”
“It's not like in Japan where smaller ramen shops can have a bunch of local neighbourhood fans and can survive for years. In Hong Kong, the rent is super expensive, and the smaller shops really need our support.”
“And for shit restaurants, they have to stop being so shit and respect our customers!”
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