**THIS RESTAURANT HAS NOW CLOSED**
It is evident that our city is becoming increasingly more aware of dietary issues, and menus catering to these are appearing in more and more restaurants. Until recently, however, there did not exist a single uncontaminated gluten-free bakery in the city. That is, until Choice Cooperative opened its doors late last year in Wong Chuk Hang.
Choice, taking up a huge, light and airy space, is a lovely welcoming café that specialises in gluten-free and sugar-free food that is nutritious and delicious. A lot of places think that replacing the gluten with other processed carbohydrates takes the problem away; at Choice, recipes are made using ingredients that are actually good for us, including many plant-based ingredients, and all of the recipes have been approved by Choice’s nutritional therapist, Louise Buckley.
Owner Ifat Kafry Hindes admitted to me that she used to eat and drink whatever she pleased. Through two pregnancies, she gained a lot of weight, the babies suffered from reflux, and she generally felt rundown and unhealthy. She decided it was time to change her diet and her lifestyle and get healthy. Shortly after doing this, Ifat wanted to create a space where other health-conscious people could come and enjoy guilt-free, nutritious food that complied with all sorts of intolerances.
What makes Choice Cooperative even more special is the huge playroom alongside the café. Parents can come and order some tasty treats in the café, whilst their children can enjoy the games and climbing frame just next door. Ifat is a strong believer in ‘attachment parenting,’ and loves being able to bring her kids to work with her and be near them all the time.
Although it was lunchtime, we couldn’t resist trying the pancakes from the breakfast menu, given that it is often very hard to find good gluten-free pancakes. I look for fluffiness in my pancakes, something that is impossible to truly achieve without full-fat, floury batter. For GF pancakes, however, these were as close as could be to being fluffy and didn’t have that nasty cardboard consistency we had expected.
Ifat’s best-selling salad is the appropriately named Ifat’s Choice Salad, made with quinoa, mixed greens, orange, pear, cucumber, carrot, tomato and pepper. It was a light, refreshing salad with interesting textures, and I particularly liked the sudden bursts of citrus whenever I found a little piece of orange.
Finding decent gluten-free bread in Hong Kong is a challenge. It is either dense and cake-like, or crumbly and tasteless. Choice’s gluten-free bread, however, is some of the best I’ve tasted. We tried a selection of sandwiches (smoked salmon and goat’s cheese, turkey ham and mustard mayo, and roasted veggies and goat’s cheese), all made with delicious lemon and poppy seed or pili nut toast. It is rare for me to eat a sandwich, given my love-hate relationship with bread, so it was a treat to be able to enjoy sandwiches that almost seemed like the real deal. Our favourite was the turkey ham, with the smoked salmon and goat’s cheese a close second, and we in fact loved the bread so much that we each bought a loaf to take home.
For dessert, whilst the chocolate brownie cake itself was a little too dry and dense, the icing, made with creamy avocado and cacao, balanced it out, creating a delicious, guilt-free treat.
Although it wouldn’t have been my first choice, we absolutely loved the orange and vanilla cake. It was wonderfully moist and outshone even some of the best non-GF cakes I’ve tasted.
We couldn’t resist the offer of some fresh-from-the-oven blueberry and chocolate muffins. They looked like they would be delicious, had an amazing texture, but unfortunately lacked any kind of flavour. I understand that they were sugar-free, but so were the lovely cakes we had just tasted, so it surprised me that these gorgeously fluffy muffins just tasted of nothing at all.
Choice also offers fresh smoothies and juices, as well as some interesting alternatives to coffee. The rooibos latte was comforting and tasty, whilst we couldn’t decide how we felt about the turmeric milk.
Prices are very reasonable, with dishes ranging from $45 to $140. All in all, Choice Cooperative is a lovely, welcoming place that’s proving to be a success. People care about what they put in their bodies, and Choice ensures that this is nothing but goodness. We know where we’ll be buying our gluten-free bread, particularly to get me through my wheat-free Lent!
7/F, BT Centre
23 Wong Chuk Hang Road
Tel: +852 2677 7808