Christian Mongendre is one of the most important figures in Hong Kong’s plant-based movement. Having co-founded beloved vegetarian restaurants like MANA! And Founded Home – Eat to Live, Christian has always been ahead of his time creating restaurants that offer healthy, sustainable, and delicious food with a conscience. In 2019, Christian opened TREEHOUSE, a quality-focused vegetarian restaurant offering natural, unprocessed, healthy options for Hong Kong food lovers. Proving that U.S. ingredients offer so much more than only meat products, we chatted with Christian to discuss how American produce fits into an eco-friendly space such as TREEHOUSE.
What plant-based food trends are you seeing in Hong Kong at the moment?
I’ve been in Hong Kong for about 10+ years with plant-based restaurants and I’ve seen a big change in terms of the approach to the market. America has a lot of vegetarian and vegan restaurants that are very popular but when I first came to Hong Kong there weren’t restaurants where I could eat as a vegetarian. So, I decided to start my own which is how we eventually got all the way to TREEHOUSE. Hong Kong is catching up in terms of the awareness and the understanding of the vegetarian movement and also the quality of the food, and how important it is to eat plant-based food for personal and planetary health.
What are some of the most important ingredients for someone who is just starting to eat a plant-based diet?
Some of the key ingredients, which we get from the U.S., are nuts which are a very important part of any vegetarian diet. Leafy greens like kale and collard greens are really wonderful products that can be included in your diet and are very healthy.
What are some of the most popular plant-based items in Hong Kong?
We use a lot of collard greens which we get from the U.S. Sweet potatoes are another item that we love using. We really focus on whole foods.
You grew up, partly in the USA. What are some of your favorite food memories of America?
I think about my mother cooking pancakes for me, that’s a very nostalgic food. Waking up in the morning with a really nice stack of pancakes and high-quality maple syrup. In terms of what impacted me to do what I do today, the food culture in New York and LA has a strong presence of incredible vegetarian and vegan restaurants that are exciting, that people like, and that appeal to a wide market. That is a big source of my inspiration, to bring this to Hong Kong.
What are some of your favorite U.S. ingredients?
As I mentioned, collard greens, kale, and different tree nuts. For us, it’s all about looking for high-quality, organic ingredients from sustainable farms. America supplies some wonderful, high-quality products in that range.
A quality-focused vegetarian restaurant with four outlets around Hong Kong.
Treehouse ORDER NOW TREEHOUSE is a progressive, technology- and chef-driven restaurant that focuses on quality food delivered quickly and responsibly. The restaurant is full of thoughtful design features and uses 100%-recycled plastic furniture, reclaimed wood, and lead-free eco-cement, and has composting facilities for any remnants of the locally sourced and organic vegetables used to make its signature menu items. Gluten-free…