They Belon To­gether

In just three years, Chris Mark and Syed Asim Hus­sain have cre­ated a culi­nary king­dom boast­ing Ho Lee Fook, Car­bone, Chôm Chôm and a string of other foodie land­marks. The en­ter­pris­ing pair tell Madeleine Ross about their lat­est ven­tures

Hong Kong Tatler - - | Life Food -

hen chris mark and Syed Asim Hus­sain an­nounced plans to open a Chi­nese restau­rant in Soho in 2014, they were ridiculed in the lo­cal me­dia. “‘Why would you open an­other Chi­nese restau­rant in Hong Kong?’ we were asked time and time again,” re­counts the high­oc­tane Asim, who goes by his middle name. “One pub­li­ca­tion even re­ferred to us as Beavis and Butt-head. I’m still try­ing to work out who’s who—i mean, am I Beavis or Butt-head?”

But they had the last laugh. Ho Lee Fook, their buzzy Chi­nese fu­sion restau­rant on El­gin Street, is now a mag­net for hip­sters, bankers and out-of-town­ers. Ask for a ta­ble be­tween 7pm and 9pm and you’ll be met with a friendly but in­vari­ably frus­trat­ing “that will be a one-and-a-half-hour wait.”

“There’s a les­son in that,” says Asim. “If you re­ally be­lieve in some­thing, it’s im­por­tant to stick to your guns and stand by your con­vic­tions. Things of­ten seem for­eign to the crit­ics and con­sumers, but we’re okay with that; we’re okay with rat­tling the cage; we like to do that.”

Ho Lee Fook is just the tip of the ice­berg that is Black Sheep Restau­rants, the din­ing em­pire the pair founded in 2012. Chris and Asim have cre­ated some of the city’s most pop­u­lar venues, in­clud­ing bold New York-style Ital­ian restau­rant Car­bone in Cen­tral, Viet­namese bistros Chôm Chôm in Soho and Le Garçon Saigon in Wan Chai, and the steak-frites sen­sa­tion La Vache!, also in Soho. This year they’ve added two more gems to their trove of food con­cepts: Belon, a neo-parisian bistro on El­gin Street, and Mai­son Libanaise, a Le­banese restau­rant ad­join­ing the es­ca­la­tor in Soho.

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