Healthy Cooking at Tea Restaurant - KF Café & Restaurant

Speaking of tea restaurants (cha chaan teng), we may think of high-sugar, high-fat foods that are of intense flavours. In recent years, healthy lifestyle has become very trendy. KF Café & Restaurant in Kwai Shing East Estate, Kwai Chung manages to overcome the stereotypes associated with tea restaurants by actively promoting healthy eating.

Mr MA Kin-leong is the owner of KF Café & Restaurant. Being well aware of the importance of a healthy diet, he works tirelessly to promote healthy eating. Apart from rice dishes, noodles and rice noodles, the restaurant also offers a few dozens of Cantonese dishes. With various nutritious menu items, the restaurant is able to attract residents and students nearby.

Making Creative and Healthy Dishes

Mr TSE Kwok-chiu has served as the head chef of KF Café & Restaurant for three years. Affectionately known as Brother Chiu, he upholds the same vision for healthy eating as Mr MA. “Many friends around my age have been diagnosed with ‘three highs’ (high cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high blood sugar) and related illnesses,” said Mr TSE. “This has strengthened my belief that healthy eating plays an important role in our life.” He added that many customers of the restaurant are elderly persons residing in housing estates. They prefer a simple, light diet and may request at times that their dishes be cooked with less oil, salt and sugar. When receiving such requests, the restaurant is happy to oblige.

Mr TSE likes to instill new elements into traditional recipes in attempt to deliver healthy and creative dishes. He mainly relies on the use of broth rather than seasonings when bringing out the flavours of steamed eggs, steamed fish and blanched vegetables, etc. The restaurant also offers plenty of fruit dishes, such as braised beef dices with peach and fried rice with apple dices and mixed vegetables. Spinach with Chinese wolfberries and dried longans in chicken broth, one of the restaurant’s signature dishes,was the winner of the EatSmart Restaurant Cooking Competition organised by CookSmart. In addition, the restaurant includes fruit salad in many of its afternoon tea sets.

Giving back to Young and Old in Neighbourhood

While KF Café & Restaurant provides an inexpensive menu, Mr TSE never compromises on food quality. He is meticulous about choosing the best ingredients. His homemade sauces are made with fresh ingredients. Mr TSE and Mr MA also regularly discuss providing brand new healthy dishes and developing strategies to promote healthy eating.

KF Café & Restaurant adheres to one motto: “What is taken from the community should be used in the interests of the community.” On the 15th of every Lunar month, the restaurant gives away 100 sets of free breakfast to elderly persons aged 60 or above. This arrangement has already been in place for eight years. According to Mr TSE, the restaurant gives key consideration to the elderly’s health when preparing the free breakfast, which consists of oat bread and oatmeal. His hope is to give the elderly a full and wholesome meal. Last year, meal vouchers were also awarded to academically excellent students of nearby schools. All these heart-warming acts are hints of the restaurant’s unique emotional ties with the neighbourhood.

From time to time, Mr TSE shares his vision for healthy eating with his co-workers, who in turn promote healthy dishes to customers. He also hopes that his co-workers can develop a good eating habit and help spread healthy messages to their family members.

Mr TSE Kwok-chiu is the head chef of KF Café & Restaurant. He has over 30 years of experience in cooking. He worked for various western restaurants before joining KF Café & Restaurantthree years ago. Mr TSE very much agrees with the restaurant’s vision for promoting healthy eating. He likes to combine western cooking elements with Hong Kong-style meals.

Extract from CookSmart, Issue 28