Leo Fong Tat-yin, a post-80s Hongkonger, has had quite an eventful life.
At his peak, he was a restaurant owner with five outlets, managing working capital of over HK$1 million (US$130,000).
But he was once a drug addict who rubbed shoulders with triads and had messed-up relationships with women.
The failure of Fong’s business struck him hard and led him to ponder the meaning of life.
He figured that the crisis was a gift from God, who wanted him to cut off from his sinful way of living.
Fong is now running a new restaurant — Manna (嗎哪) — in Tai Po Industrial Estate.
Manna was the food the Bible says God provided for Moses and his people during their 40 years in the Arabian Desert.
Leo wants to provide a cozy place and good food for those who come by.
“I once had my own car and flat, but that kind of luxurious life was soulless,” Fong said, recalling the emptiness he felt during that period.
“While I was having dinner with my friends, I could hardly enjoy it, since I had two mobile phones with calls to answer.”
He still owes the bank about HK$300,000, and his business has yet to make a profit, but Fong is optimistic and grateful that he is directing his energy into a good cause.
Fong wants Manna to be a “home” for the community.
It serves as a place for non-governmental organizations or churches to host activities, a gathering place for friends and a quiet corner for individuals.
“I often tell social workers that they can do counseling here and they can take as much time as they need,” Fong said.
Food is inevitably the soul of the restaurant, and its Angus burger is the most popular dish.
“We prepare the beef patties ourselves, and our chef minces and shapes the Angus beef,” Fong said.
“That sounds like something trivial. However, we insist on not using ready-made patties, because you can’t possibly know what has been blended into the burger.”
Another hot item on the menu is Korean-style honey toast.
The bread is toasted twice, and honey is spread on it the second time.
Between the toasted slices of honey are fried egg, cheese, chicken and pickled cabbage.
This specialty is rich in tastes and textures and wins the hearts of many.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 15.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
– Contact us at [email protected]