Scarlett is a gemstone located in a not-well-visited part of Tsim Sha Tsui. With a great menu, spot-on execution and a very ranged wine-list, I’m just glad that I can come more often than just the normal wine-and-dine evenings. For a Saturday early afternoon, there were only a few of us. We need not line up frustrated as we might have if we had gone to some of the other brunch places in town. 生蠔 dried oysters are plump ones from Japan and Korea. Our biweekly podcast delivering news & inspiration from nature’s frontline.
Hong Kong’s oceans: amazing but threatened
It is time to break the preconception that oysters are only good for nighttime sampling. The Sheraton hotel has brought back its oyster and champagne brunch. “Extensiveness” is the key to the hotel’s oyster offerings. Instead of focusing on one region, they propose a wide selection of oysters from all over the world. In an effort to highlight their oysters, the restaurant provides a diversity of dishes to be sampled alongside them to complement the flavours of the different regions. From Campania through Amalfi and Puglia to Southern Sicily, each region produces individual flavours that speak deeply of its tradition and culture; and showcases the diversity of Italian heritage.
Damaged by decades of human activity, Hong Kong’s rich marine ecosystem requires concerted conservation efforts if it is to recover and flourish. Corals reflect the condition of the entire marine ecosystem, and their decline in Hong Kong provides a stark warning, says National Geographic Explorer Jonathan Cybulski. Hong Kong – Cantonese for “Fragrant Harbour” – was but a small fishing settlement when British merchants arrived two centuries ago, and realised its potential as a port.
SWIMS biodiversity surveys there found 61 species in the abandoned farms versus just 26 in the neighboring mudflats, and 10 times greater biomass. However, it’s too soon to tell whether the restored reef patches have greater biodiversity than the abandoned farms, according to Thomas. But she adds that horseshoe crab numbers are increasing in the restored soft shore and seagrass habitats.
But in Hong Kong, decades of development through large-scale coastal reclamation, dredging for lime, and overharvesting have decimated the once-abundant local oyster populations. A 2011 study estimates that 85% of oyster reefs have been lost worldwide, making them one of the most endangered marine habitats on the planet. Their efforts have proven remarkably effective.
MEDIUM FINE DE CLAIRE MARENNES OLERON OYSTERS
Their creation has opened up space for horseshoe crabs, an endangered species dating back 475 million years. They stabilize shorelines in a way that both mitigates coastal erosion and allows seagrass to lay root. And, crucially, they act as filters to clean up the water, cutting the high levels of nitrogen that have led to toxic algae blooms in Hong Kong. This shoebox-sized hut specialises in takeaway orders. But its location on a car-less, quiet stretch of Hung Hom also makes it an ideal spot for dining in, and manager Frankie Yu will happily set up an impromptu alfresco dining environment with a few fold-up tables and chairs. They’ve also taken over a small store with several more seats, just a few doors down from their take-out location.
The restaurant sources their oysters from different waters around the world, including Willapa Bay in America, and the waters of South Pacific Australia. Seafood lovers should go for the giant seafood platter for two, which includes sea whelks, sweet prawns, scallops, clams, and an assortment of freshly-shucked oysters. It’s not just those who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods who feel a deep connection to the sea.
With help from local communities, TNC has collected about 36 metric tons of discarded shells and placed about 21 metric tons of them on the seabed in three of its projects. It was identified as a new species in 2003 after DNA analysis. At one site, they are repurposing concrete posts from an abandoned oyster farm that made use of traditional oyster cultivation methods dating back hundreds of years. Conservationists and researchers are teaming up to restore oyster reefs across Hong Kong. The CFS has told the supplier and restaurants concerned to stop supplying and selling the affected raw oysters and is tracing the distribution of the affected product. The industry should also stop using or selling the implicated products.