For decades Hello Kitty has been an icon throughout Japan, where the idea of the cartoon kitten began. Since then, however, she's grown in popularity everywhere, from surrounding Asian countries to the U.S. Time magazine pointed out that Hello Kitty is now even more well-known in Hong Kong than she is anywhere in Japan. Nothing proves this to be more true than the new Hello Kitty dim sum restaurant opened in the heart of Hong Kong.
The dim sum eatery, Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine, is the first Hello-Kitty themed Chinese restaurant to open in the world. In addition to the stuffed versions of the familiar cat seated at most of the tables, everything from the decor to the mouthwatering dishes feature the feline's face and whiskers to satisfy fans of the beloved character and good food.
You'll also see her face on all of the plates, bowls, utensils, walls, wine bottles, lanterns and nearly every other object in the restaurant. In fact, she's even engraved into each dining table so diners get the true Hello Kitty experience. The interior of the building is primarily decked out in shades of gold and red, which are known to be lucky colors in the Chinese tradition.
Hello Kitty dim sum-shaped platters are available for hungry guests. How does the owner of the eatery, Man Kwong, create these delicious and creative meals? Kwong told Time that he creates Hello Kitty's skin with high-quality flour, her eyes with squid ink and decorates her bow with beetroot so that every part of her is made with natural ingredients. Kwong's commitment to healthy cooking is reflected in every meal offered on the menu.
Oddly enough, Kwong didn't know much about Hello Kitty before starting his restaurant. He got the idea to open the uniquely-themed eatery more than a year ago, but ran into trouble getting the creator of Hello Kitty to approve. When Sanrio, the creator, gave permission to start the restaurant, she provided courses for the chefs on how to create the character. She even told Kwong and his staff about Hello Kitty's family tree and how she likes to look to ensure that the chefs get it just right.
According to CNN, Kwong experimented with hundreds of popular dim sum meals, trying to figure out how he could best incorporate the famous cat character into each dish. There are now 37 to choose from, including noodles, dumplings and shrimp buns. The menu is affordable, depending on what you're craving - visitors will find meals ranging from $5 to $30.
"The hardest part was getting the proportion of Hello Kitty's features right," Chan Kwok-Tung, an expert dim sum chef who cooks for Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine, told CNN. "Otherwise, it'll easily look like a knockoff."
There are 17 steps involved in making the buns, which are among the easiest of the foods to cook. As a result, it generally takes double the time to make the Hello Kitty dim sum compared to traditional dim sum meals. Kwong also ensured that his staff had measuring tools that were specially made to keep the quality of the food to his standards.
The restaurant was opened part-time in April and will officially open in June. The eatery has already attracted a lot of attention and is expected to welcome travelers from all over the world. Whether you're looking to try some fine dim sum in Hong Kong or are an avid Hello Kitty fan, consider adding the Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine eatery to your list of must-try restaurants as you travel.