Words by Chelsea Green
Photos courtesy of Nicole Fung
I’ll start this Chronicle off by saying that I’M STARVING! This interview made me hungry, Nicole Fung’s blog That Food Cray !!! makes me hungry. I feel the sudden urge to go to McDonalds and buy a McFlurry and an apple pie, then grab a slice of pizza or some fried chicken, and snack on some strawberry flavored Pocky (in no particular order). I’m in a food k-hole, my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and I’m not complaining. That’s basically what That Food Cray !!! will do to you, so thanks Nicole… diet starts Monday. But seriously, the minute her blog pops up on your computer screen, your taste buds will immediately begin melting down in the best possible way. Currently located in Hong Kong, Fung ventures to all the best spots to taste test mouthwatering cuisines, and it doesn’t stop there. She travels all over the world with her camera in tow, and I’m still wondering how she doesn’t weigh a bajillion pounds. Either way, That Food Cray !!! rules – it offers an inside look at cool new restaurants, exotic meals, and all-around amazing looking food for people who may not otherwise have access. Oh, and she also churns out rad DIY recipes that I’ve definitely tried at home. Hello… an avocado with an egg in the middle, anyone?? Read on to learn more about That Food Cray !!! and see how Nicole Fung eats like a queen. This is for the foody in all of us.
What was the initial inspiration behind your site? Did you wake up one day and just decide that you had to start it?
I guess my inspiration is sort of obvious – food, food and food! I love eating and I love discovering new spots to eat at or new food to try. I actually became sort of an accidental food blogger. I started on Instagram, and subconsciously the majority of my photographs were of food. People just assumed I was a food blogger. I’ve always been passionate about two things, food and travel. My dream is to be able to eat and travel for a living. So naturally, I thought it was time to dig deeper in the world wide web on a more official platform where I could share my food experiences.
I’ve always been passionate about two things, food and travel. My dream is to be able to eat and travel for a living.
You have quite a history with food, your parents owned a restaurant growing up. Tell us more about that and how it’s brought you to where you are today with That Food Cray.
Half my childhood was spent in my parents’ restaurant. At first I thought it was super boring because my parents wouldn’t trust me to do anything. As I got older, they started giving me a little more responsibility including helping out with simple prepping tasks in the kitchen. This is where I learned to fold dumplings, roll spring rolls and wrap wontons. I guess that was when my interest with food all started. When I moved to Hong Kong, I fell in love with food all over again. I was eating at so many good spots with such good food. I felt like I needed to create some sort of food journal where I could document everything for personal reference, yet be able to share those experiences with friends/family back home. That’s how That Food Cray !!! all started.
What is it like living in Hong Kong? How long have you been there?
I’ve been in Hong Kong for two years now. I sort of have a love/hate relationship with Hong Kong. More so on the love side, but it can get a little crazy here sharing an island with seven million other people. Hong Kong’s food is amazing, the shopping is awesome, and there’s always something to do, but there are just way too many friggin’ people. It can get really irritating when you have to wait over an hour for a table, especially when you’re starving! All that aside, the food options here are endless. There’s always a new restaurant popping up or a new creative menu chefs cook up. You can essentially find anything in Hong Kong from Chinese Islamic food, to Michelin-starred restaurants, to pick your own seafood spots. It’s one of the best places in the world for food!
Do you have a favorite food or cuisine? If so, what is it?
Hmm, that’s a hard question! I love almost all things raw, which leads me down a path of favorites such as sushi & sashimi, steak tartare (especially the Korean yukhoe version) and anything with a runny yolk (like eggs benedict or Japanese onsen eggs). My favorite cuisine is Japanese food! The Japanese are super meticulous about everything and it’s definitely reflected in their food.
My favorite cuisine is Japanese food! The Japanese are super meticulous about everything and it’s definitely reflected in their food.
Do you enjoy cooking yourself? Any signature dish that you’re a pro at making?
I love cooking, but I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been slacking since moving to Hong Kong. There are just so many places to eat here that we usually feel like going out to eat after a long day of working. It’s a bit depressing when you’re cooking in a kitchen the size of a closet. I wouldn’t say I have a signature dish really. There’s so much diversity in food out there that I find myself trying to make things based on cravings. Since I don’t cook as much as I’d like to, they are few and far between in terms of consistently reproduced dishes. If I’m in a hurry on the weekend, I usually make baked avocados with an egg in the middle.
What are you up to when you’re not scoping out the best meals and restaurants?
I may or may not watch a lot of vampire-based TV shows, small stakes gambling playing Big 2, trying to burn off some of those excess calories via the gym or planning out what to do next with That Food Cray !!!
Do you have any dietary restrictions? Would you ever go vegan or vegetarian?
I’ve been trying this new “diet” that my fiance put me on where I eat clean on the weekdays and eat whatever I want on the weekends. I’m sure some people could definitely abuse this policy, but generally I’m pretty good about not going overboard on the weekends and overeating. By eating clean, I mean avoiding carbs and sugar, not ordering dessert, and no snacking. That way, on the weekends, I can go HAM on whatever without feeling super guilty or having to work my ass off in the gym. I could never go vegan or vegetarian. Humans surely didn’t evolve eating plant-based diets. I love beef and eggs way to much to be giving it up. I’m one of those crazy people that like my meat super bloody too and I love raw beef.
You can essentially find anything in Hong Kong from Chinese Islamic food, to Michelin-starred restaurants, to pick your own seafood spots. It’s one of the best places in the world for food!
Is there a food that you absolutely despise?
Celery, baked beans, licorice, liver (except for pâté and foie gras), and bitter melon. Everything else is fair game. I recently tried turkey testicles and bull penis for the first time at a restaurant in New York called Kenka, but I was not feelin it at all. The testicles tasted like mushy liver stuffed in a chewy rubbery sac. The penis was kind of bland and the texture was similar to tendon, but the urethra really creeped me out. I’m going to have to pass on the cock and balls next time.
You’ve traveled quite a bit, and it shows on your blog. Is there a certain city that you believe has the best food?
Tokyo’s food is amazing. While Hong Kong’s local food is both cheap and delicious, I feel that the consistency isn’t across the board. Once you leave the lower echelons, it can sometimes be hit or miss when you eat up a few levels in Hong Kong. But in Tokyo, the general respect and appreciation for food means whether you’re eating Japanese fare or a Japanese-rendition of foreign food, you’re very likely to get something super on point.
How do you hear about the places you eat? Is there a specific person you really trust with recommendations?
Most of the places that I go to is through word of mouth (especially when traveling), people I follow or other “more official” blogs that do it as a business. The HK professional blogs are obviously up-to-date on new openings, so they’re a good gauge. There is one particular person who I’m confident in his recommendations, Chris aka Crizzarito. He’s such a #hater that IF by chance he likes something, you KNOW that it’s most likely good. Another person I trust is Christina K. She’s a food editor so she goes out to a lot of tastings and generally knows what’s up working directly in the industry. I remember when we were looking for brunch options, she must have sent over like 5-6 spots from e-mails she got in her inbox.
What direction would you like to see That Food Cray go in?
To be honest, my goal at the start was to just document my food experiences. I did get invited to a few tastings within the first month, but I was VERY new to the blogging world and from there I came to realize quickly that free food is never really free food. So, unless you want to come across as the asshole that always shows up to tastings and events to get free food without giving back, you have to be selective. While it’s cool to grow traffic and numbers, at the end of the day I got into this for my own interests rather than that of anybody else. Whether only a handful of people read it, or a ton of people read it, I just want to keep it as something fun and enjoyable. There’s a lot of value in doing something you enjoy, regardless of any money thrown in. I do feel that food is something that is increasingly democratic and universal, and it would be fun to do some random things like t-shirts, hats and collabo sneakers down the line, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.