The bustling business district of TaiKoo is not the sort of place you would envisage setting up a farmers’ market but Hong Kong residents and self-confessed foodies Janice Leung and Vincent Poon did just that when they launched Island East Markets a year ago.
What began as a four-week experiment has gone on to become a mecca for food lovers from across the city, attracting those searching for a slower, more natural pace of life as well as lead sponsorship from Swire Properties.
It is no surprise that this venture has become the success it has as Janice and Vince are something of a foodie dream team. Janice is considered one of the city’s most successful food bloggers. Launched in 2004, her site e-tingfood.com shares her culinary adventures with thousands of followers the world over. Vince, another avid foodie, is one of the co-founders of Hong Kong’s first restaurant week Springalicious.
Although both are long-term supporters of Hong Kong’s restaurant scene, their travels and upbringing in Australia made them realise that although the city was home to some of the region’s best restaurants and chefs, it was lacking genuine retail food experiences – the sort of places where you could buy great local produce and be guaranteed of its quality and provenance. Surprisingly for such a congested city, there are over 100 working farms in Hong Kong, but only a handful of markets where residents can buy truly local produce.
Twelve months since the launch of the first Island East weekend market, it is now a regular Sunday fixture with over 40 stalls set up along Tong Chong Street. Along with produce from the city’s certified organic farms, there are stalls from local talent and small businesses including Clara Yeung Handmade Skincare, craft beer from Hop Leaf HK, savoury and sweet creations from Tai Tai Pie Pies, artisan bread from Levain Bakery, and crafts such as pieces from Bejewelled Bespoke Jewellery.
The atmosphere is relaxed and refreshing with face-painting for children, regular performances from local bands and education workshops including organic planting and jam making. As well as buying fresh produce from farms located within Hong Kong’s boundaries, food lovers can enjoy baked goods, Boston lobster rolls or book an outside table for brunch at one of the market-side restaurants including Enoteca, The News Room and Grappa’s.
Island East Markets is open every Sunday (except during the summer) from 10am to 5pm on Tong Chong Street, TaiKoo Place, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong. For details on becoming a vendor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.