If Shane Osborn looks familiar, it’s no coincidence. Not only is he the mastermind behind Hong Kong restaurants,and — you may also recognise him from Netflix’s reality cooking show, The Final Table, where he sizzled his way to the finals with fellow Aussie chef, Mark Best.
In contrast to the UK where people meet up in pubs, “the way of socialising here is in restaurants. People like to explore and try new things, and they’re very open-minded when it comes to restaurants. You can get every type of cuisine in Hong Kong and for a restaurant or chef, that’s a very exciting place to be.”
Open-minded is exactly what Shane is, and he loves to visit local restaurants — often with his staff. “Most of the places I go to with my staff, I wouldn’t even know the name because there’s no English translation,” he says. “When I can’t read the menu, I just point my finger and hope for the best. It usually works out really well.”
Like a true Hongkonger, some of Shane’s favourite local dishes include , braised beef tendon in soup and Hong Kong-style French toast with a drizzle of condensed milk. A fan of casual dining, he’s especially intrigued by what the locals are eating.
“The other day, I took the Star Ferry from Central over to TST (Tsim Sha Tsui) and walked all the way to Kwun Tong. For three hours, I just explored the back streets of Hong Kong where all the factories are, along with the restaurants in the back. It took me back to the vision of Hong Kong I had growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s — you know, the steam, sweat and little plastic chairs outside that people sit on while eating a bowl of wonton noodles, slurping away. It’s quite a romantic picture and I like that: the un-shiny, raw side of Hong Kong.”
When he’s not in the kitchen or exploring local neighbourhoods, you can find Shane hanging out at various Hong Kong beaches including Big Wave Bay or Cheung Chau, which he calls one of his “favourite escapes in Hong Kong.”
“You get on the ferry from Aberdeen, get to Cheung Chau, go for a swim with friends and have a nice cold Blue Girl beer. I grew up in Australia, so when you live by the seaside, you go swimming every day. There’s something so relaxing and therapeutic about diving into a sea of salty water. It’s good for the soul.”
Back in the city, Shane walks to work every day from Sheung Wan, a place he’s called home for the last two and a half years. “It’s got a real village feel to it with all the little bars, cafes and art galleries,” he says, calling it the “creative part of the city.”
So what’s next? “We’ve got two restaurants now, and we still have plans to develop and grow in Hong Kong in the next couple of years. The community built around us — our staff, network of suppliers and regular guests — have really made Hong Kong my home,” he says.
Having lived here for the past eight years, Shane says he plans to “stay in Hong Kong for as long as Hong Kong will have me.” And judging by the city’s insatiable appetite for Arcane and Cornerstone, we’re betting he’ll be here for the long run.
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