Feb. 28, 2024

The Protest Restaurants of Hong Kong



Published May 10, 2023, 8:40 p.m. by Monica Louis


As a teenager in Hong Kong, there are few things more exciting than venturing out into the city to explore new restaurants. The city is constantly buzzing with activity, and there's always something new to be found.

But while Hong Kong's restaurant scene is always bustling with life, there's also a palpable sense of political protest simmering beneath the surface.

Since the 2014 Umbrella Revolution, when thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand universal suffrage and an end to Beijing's increasingly authoritarian rule, restaurants have become a popular way for people to voice their opinions.

In recent months, restaurants have become an important staging ground for the city's ongoing protest movement.

On September 28th, for example, thousands of people descended on the central business district to rally against a controversial extradition bill.

The following day, protesters took to the streets of Kowloon to demand the release of two pro-democracy activists who had been jailed on political charges.

And in December, hundreds of people turned out to rally against a proposed bill that would have allowed police to search individuals and vehicles without a warrant.

While these protests may not always result in tangible change, they're an important way for Hong Kong's residents to voice their opinions and share their thoughts with the rest of the world.

And while the protests may be sporadic and often chaotic, they're also incredibly fun and exciting to participate in.

Restaurants have become an important part of Hong Kong's political landscape, and they'll continue to be a central part of the city's protest movement for as long as there's still resistance to Beijing's rule.

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[Music]


oh


amber foods is a little hole in the wall


restaurant that opened on an


infamous day in the history of hong


kong's pro-democracy movement


the anniversary of the first big police


crackdown


sounds good


okay really good it's very


creamy like um kind of sweet and what


that's honest


oh okay very light and airy and the


cheese


adds a nice bit of umami everyone who


works here is a protester


including mandy she's a chef in training


and didn't even know how to cook before


she started here


so it's gone


[Music]


foreign


in hong kong yellow is the chosen color


of the pro-democracy movement


last year protesters hoisted yellow


umbrellas and don yellow hard hats to


protect themselves against pepper spray


and tear gas gels


yellow has now become shorthand for


whether an individual establishment


supports the protests


blue stands for the other side the


police who crack down


and of course china which passed a


national security law this year that


basically criminalized dissent


between kova 19 and the sweeping new law


street protests have become


[Music]


scarce


the drink name in english is stan with


hong kong


the cayo literally means add oil


but in cantonese it's sort of this cheer


that is very commonly heard and


throughout the protest


it's become a rallying cry by having a


drink called that


they're giving people the excuse to


actually say it


multiple times a day amber foods isn't


the only protest restaurant


it's part of the so-called yellow


economic circle


a network of businesses that consider


every bite and every dollar spent


an opportunity to resist growing the


yellow economy


is all about linking up yellow customers


with yellow shops


that's where matt lau steps in the picky


dot hk app lets customers order from


yellow restaurants in other districts of


the city


lao delivers for free complete that one


later


on website


[Music]


lao's business is his former protest and


he's betting that other hong kongers


will help it grow


but for now his service is helping


yellow restaurants more than his own


bottom line


[Music]


oh


[Music]


chinese government would prefer


businesses care about profits


the city's in a historic recession and


china's accused yellow businesses of


trying to


quote kidnap its economy but hong kong


relies on china for its food


ninety percent of hong kong's food is


imported and most of that comes from the


mainland


less than five percent of the territory


is devoted to farming


one of the few farms is run by wong


[Music]


demand for wong's organic produce has


gone through the roof since the protests


and a pandemic that's raised the price


of food from china


[Music]


hong kong


[Music]


tourists from the city even come help


out on saturdays when the other workers


get a day off


pretty clever having your paying


customers do your weeding for you


i must say


[Music]


um


[Music]


though his small organic farm may seem


removed from the city and its problems


to him it's all connected


[Music]


[Music]


foreign


you


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