Think of a Hong Kong dish that you can imagine eating every day for the rest of your lives. Now imagine it as a sandwich.
That’s what Bread & Beast founders Chris Cheung and Justin Yeung had in mind when creating their eatery’s signature sandwich, the Ngau Lam Wich, inspired by the cha chaan teng staple beef brisket noodles.
The pair founded Bread & Beast in 2014 with a mission to promote local cuisine and give the humble Hong Kong sandwich a much needed make over.
Like most good ideas, it began over a drink with friends, Cheung told Coconuts recently.
“We were chatting about how there were no good sandwiches in Hong Kong, that people’s perceptions of sandwiches in Hong Kong – despite being a culinary capital of Asia – is so limited to cold triangular white bread sandwiches.”
While most people can probably name their favorite sandwich place in Hong Kong, most of them are either Japanese, American, or Vietnamese-inspired.
There are very few sandwich places that are Hong Kong-inspired. And so Bread & Beast was born in a bid to make a Hong Kong sandwich that would rival the classic BLTs and bahn mis.
“In addition to doing a good sandwich, we wanted to do one that belonged to Hong Kong,” said Cheung. “I think we’re not paying enough attention to what’s good here, and people who are in the restaurant business are also not paying enough attention to what we have available in our cultural heritage, and how do we modernize it.”
The pair have clearly taken a lot of inspiration from Roy Choi, the Korean American chef who championed Korean and Mexican fusion food with his bulgogi tacos, and who can be seen featured on David Chang’s Netflix food documentary Ugly Delicious.
One example of this modernisation at Bread & Beast is the lap cheong mac and cheese. For the naysayers, Yeung asks: “You can’t imagine a lap cheong mac and cheese, but can you imagine chorizo mac and cheese?”
Despite the quirky combinations, the emphasis has always been to focus on the flavors and the culture of Hong Kong, and to remind people that although Hong Kong is a culinary capital and home to a number of Michelin-starred French restaurants, you can still find a decent Hong Kong-style sandwich in Hong Kong.