The world of dim sum will soon be as adorable as it is delicious — thanks to Hello Kitty. The cute Sanrio character is the inspiration for a new restaurant in Hong Kong, scheduled to open in early June.
The conceptual eatery, aptly called Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine, has a menu of around 40 entries, with prices ranging from $5 (HK$42) to $30 (HK$238). Half of the dishes feature Hello Kitty in some way. Customers can look forward to seeing Hello Kitty's cute face on their dumplings and other types of dim sum.
The restaurant is owned by Man Kwong, a Hong Kong entrepreneur who promotes clean living in his businesses. Through the Hello Kitty restaurant, Man aims to encourage healthier lifestyles among Hong Kong residents and visitors.
Opening the restaurant hasn't been that easy, Man said. He started having talks with Hello Kitty owner Sanrio in the latter part of 2013, but didn't get the company on board until April 2014.
"Hello Kitty is more popular in Hong Kong than in Japan," said Man. It's even home to a Hello Kitty organic farm.
Man emphasized that the menu features locally grown organic ingredients. He uses natural dyes in the dishes, which have low salt and oil content. In the future, he also plans to add more organic ingredients such as coconut oil.
In the custard bun and shrimp dumpling, Man uses beetroot for the pink color of Hello Kitty's bow. Her light orange nose is made of carrot, while her black whiskers and eyes are darkened with squid ink.
All of the dishes and everything else within the restaurant had to be approved by Sanrio. Some of the dishes even went through as many as seven tries before they were finally given the green light.
"The hardest part was getting the proportion of Hello Kitty's features right," said Chan Kwok Tung, a dim sum chef for more than three decades. "Otherwise, it'll easily look like a knockoff."
Compared with regular dim sum, preparing the Hello Kitty version involves more steps – around 17 altogether – and requires more time. The restaurant uses a customized set of measuring tools in order to ensure quality in their dishes.
All in all, the restaurant can accommodate around 70 customers. Some of its dishes come in limited quantity every day.
Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine is officially launching on June 1. Beyond catering to Hello Kitty fans, the restaurant will no doubt become a destination for quirky foodies and selfie fanatics who like to Instagram their meals. It will be interesting to see the kind of hashtags that Hello Kitty grub produces.