Steak Guru Jonathan Lam Brings Supreme Beef to HK with Super Farm Foods
October 23, 2023
Steak is big business in Hong Kong, and Aussie-Hong Konger Jonathan Lam knows that. Born in the city, but raised in the sunshine of Sydney, Jonathan traded his career in accounting to join his wife’s family business, Elite Fresh Food, one of Hong Kong’s largest meat importers.
Working with his wife and her family at Elite Fresh Food, the four-decade-old company is the biggest importer of Japanese Wagyu in Hong Kong, and imports a range of South Korean, British, American, and Australian beef cuts to the city. As the pandemic hit Hong Kong, Jonathan founded Super Farm Foods, a fresh and innovative retail arm of the three-generation-family company.
Video content uploaded on Super Farm’s Instagram page - trending with his popular tagline “Hey, it’s Jon from Super Farm” - have turned heads in Hong Kong for Jonathan’s unique education and appreciation of steak. Teaching Hong Kongers the importance of certain cuts, grading, and history of steak is central to Jonathan’s mission to become the city’s leading steak business.
The Beat Asia caught up with Jonathan on a Teams interview to quiz the steak guru on how Super Farm Foods seeks to dominate the Hong Kong market, providing farm-to-table steaks at honest prices, with a unique selling point.
What drew you to Hong Kong to enter the steak business, Jonathan?
My family is originally from Hong Kong, but I grew up in Australia. I met my wife previously on a trip to the city. In 2019, I moved back from Sydney to be closer to her. I was an accountant by trade, so it was easier to relocate.
After working for 10 months as an accountant in Hong Kong during 2020, my wife's family asked me to join their family business, Elite Fresh Food. With knowledge of the meat produce supply chain and existing relationships with farmers in Australia, I was ready to join.
The amount of meat we can find in Hong Kong is crazy. We are blessed here to sample any meat from around the world. Working in the industry has opened my eyes to an interesting side of beef trading in the city.
From working as a wholesaler and importer in Hong Kong, why did you set up online butcher company Super Farm Foods?
Two years ago, we set up Super Farm Foods as a retail arm of the business to counter the effects of the pandemic. We wanted to connect with people and educate the masses, online and offline, on what types of meat you can cook and eat in Hong Kong.
People may be familiar with strip loins, ribeyes and tenderloins, but we tell you what oyster blades, rump camps, deckles, and briskets are. From what was a steep learning curve to study the industry and the variance of beef, I taught others about lesser-known cuts of beef, which are sometimes better than the popular cuts.
In 2022, I began to upload reels speaking to the camera on our Instagram page, promoting mega deals to our customers and connecting the brand with my friendly face. Hong Kongers loved the reels. My education of different steak cuts and honest pricing of farm-to-table steaks attracted the tones of people.
Why is education, Instagram entertainment, and quality so important for Super Farm to beat your competitors in the market?
People like entertainment, they don’t want to be bored. I wanted to give people a show when educating Hong Kongers on Instagram and selling product. We are not intent to sell first, but to teach others about the differences in quality and strength for our products, and in turn, generate interest to reach new steak-loving customers.
Fifteen years ago, we were selected to be the first importer of Japanese Wagyu in Hong Kong. Our legacy in the city's meat space and collection of unique products that our competitors don’t [have] give us strength in the market. We stock Snake River Farms, Japanese Wagyu Beef (JA), AMG, Security, Hanwoo Korean Beef, and more.
In the future, where do you see Super Farms in the market?
Within three years, we aim to be one of Hong Kong’s leading online and in-store meat suppliers. We have strong competition in the city, catering mainly for the expat market, but we want to compete for pricing, quality, and service.
In late 2023, we will open an in-store retail location in Sai Wan, providing an elevated steak experience to our customers to experience beef in person. The importance of people getting to sample our product in person, reaching out to our butchers, and connecting with me is vital to show our quality.
With a whole new experience for our customers, we want to offer a space for selling takeaway steaks, sampling cuts, hosting daily specials, and experiences to [joining] cooking classes and demonstrations to showcase our products.
What is the best way to prepare a steak?
My favourite way to prepare and eat a steak is over charcoal. I like my steak on the rarer side with a bit of salt and pepper. People dump a lot of sauce on their steak, you won't taste the meat flavour.
If I’m dining out, it depends on the way the beef is prepared. I want a nice Japanese A4 or Korean beef for grill and barbeque. If eating whole steaks, I prefer grain-fed American or grass-fed Australian Beef. I have had a lot of steaks over the last two years, more steaks I have had in my entire life [laughs]!
Which restaurants in Hong Kong do you recommend to find great steak?
Fireside in Central is a great restaurant for steak. Chef Jaime [Ortolá] is a skilled master and amazing guy. It is one of the only places in Hong Kong that has a license to cook steaks on a charcoal grill. The Grand Hyatt Steak House also has a good selection of cuts. The Steak House at the Regent Hong Kong is a good one too.
If you are hungry for some great steaks and even better customer service, stock your basket full at Super Farm Foods.
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