After living in the UK and Trinidad and Tobago for several years, Mandy Kaur of Mandy’s Caribbean Bar and Restaurant settled down in Sai Kung in 2004. She is now the proud owner of a restaurant, private kitchen and catering business. “There isn’t much hustlin’ in Sai Kung but we’ve still got the bustle.”
Mandy’s passion for food started when she was living in Trinidad and Tobago, a small island country in the heart of the Caribbean. Her mother-in-law and a pot of stewed beef (only the latter is available on the menu, $150) were the source of her inspiration. “There are so many different flavours, influences and ways to cook Caribbean food, it was fascinating.” Living in the Caribbean gave Mandy Kaur opportunities to discover the roots of the dishes. “We grew herbs and peppers on the rooftop and I discovered that everything could be grown inside our house.” Her restaurant operates similarly: most of the sauces and pastes are homemade although herbs are imported from the Caribbean.
When Mandy Kaur first arrived in Hong Kong she was a lady of leisure, but being a hard worker at heart she decided to do something for her future. Business-minded and passionate about cooking, she opened Mandy’s Caribbean Bar & Restaurant as a homage to her days spent living in the Caribbean. “I found that there was a demand for unpretentious, home-style Caribbean food. And that’s exactly what we offer. I wanted to open a restaurant in Sai Kung because of its distinct and relaxed atmosphere. It’s like a country within a country, within a country. It has a different feel than any other place in Hong Kong”, she says. “It’s a good location for people to come in and enjoy a meal.”
Mandy Kaur admits that although opening her own restaurant was a huge accomplishment, it was also one of the hardest things she has ever done. “I had already established a catering business in Hong Kong, but opening a restaurant is very different. It’s a different mentality”, she says. “There are so many elements that I had to consider: hiring contractors, obtaining a liquor license, as well as planning and creating Caribbean dishes to suit Sai Kung and Hong Kong in general. But I’m very happy with what I’ve done”. With success come challenges. Mandy explains that kitchen dynamics are crucial. “We need to make sure the kitchen doesn’t get inundated with orders so customers can always expect us to deliver the best quality food we can offer.” That’s why Mandy has kept the menu simple with a few starters and mains including curried goat ($160) and fire prawns ($170), and she wants to keep it that way, at least for now. “We know what we’re good at and we serve just that. By not offering too many choices, it makes it easy for customers to come and enjoy the food.”
Coming in second place in Best New Restaurant in this year’s Sai Kung Readers’ Choice Awards, Mandy’s restaurant has proved to be a popular choice in the Sai Kung community, which has embraced Caribbean food and culture with open arms.
Open 4pm till late weekdays (closed Mondays) and 8.30am till late on weekends and public holidays. G/F, 24 See Cheung Street, Sai Kung, 2791 2088, www.caribbeanhk.com.