A few months ago, food writer Benny Li Shun-yan revealed in his Headline Daily column that the famous Hangzhou restaurant Zhang Sheng Ji was coming to Causeway Bay.
I checked again recently, and found that the shop has already opened. It has also recruited local catering veteran Jack Wong as managing director to offer authentic Hangzhou dishes with local flavor.
Hangzhou cuisine is famous for being fresh and not heavy. After establishing itself in Hangzhou, the shop has expanded to major cities like Shanghai. And as Hong Kong is a dining capital, the shop naturally makes a foray here.
Zhang Sheng Ji's most famous dish is old duck soup and people used to have to make a trip to the mainland to try it. Now that there is a Hong Kong outlet with mainland chefs, we don't need to travel a long way to eat at Zhang Sheng Ji anymore.
While the restaurant has a famous Hangzhou menu, it also knows the importance of local preferences, so they spared no resources to hire Wong, who has worked at the Celestial Chinese Restaurant at the Sheraton Hotel and the Greater China Club.
Dedicated to his career, Wong works more than 10 hours every day. He didn't even take a break when he switched jobs this time, exemplifying the hallmark diligence of Hongkongers.
Having had experience at successful eateries, I asked Wong the secret of maintaining good business in a highly competitive market. He thought for a moment, and told me: "In the end, it's about the food."
Ambience and service are, of course, equally important, he said, but if a shop can have only one of these qualities, it must choose food. If the customers like the food, he observes, they will come in droves even if service is unremarkable.
With delicacies available everywhere, locals all have a keen food sense, he says. That is why Zhang Sheng Ji sources top-quality ingredients from Hangzhou every day to ensure that its food is really delicious.
Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily