I found out about this place because one of my Cantonese friends told me about it – initially I thought, what is special about a quirky bookshop? Well there is much more to it, Aco (Art & Culture Outreach) is a non-profit organisation, that runs much more than a little store that stocks English and Chinese language books that cannot be found in mainstream publishing houses.
Aco is much more, it is a cultural space that offers artists small units at a low rent – and what makes me excited, it has a small roof top garden on the roof and in its big unit on the 14th floor of an old, typical Wan Chai building, it offers a vegetarian menu using organic produce.
Currently the menu is only available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Check out the Aco Facebook page to see what the current menu and availability is.
Most of the menu items come directly from its roof top farm that is run by volunteers – but the organisation also work with a few local organic farms around Hong Kong to obtain additional greens.
The menu changes each week – but it always includes a soup of the day with homemade bread, an appetiser/salad, a main and a dessert. There is no set charge for the Aco food exhibitions (that’s what they call it), but as it is a non-profit making charitable art and culture organisation, the idea is that you donate a small amount to support them.
You have to book in advance and I just emailed the team a few days beforehand, asking if it is ok for two mums to bring along two toddlers. They were very happy to accommodate our wish for a bigger table, and when we arrived, we were too early, so they let our eager toddlers explore the rooftop garden first!
We sat down and started with the soup, which was a Fennel and Sweet Potato Soup. It was very refreshing and tasty with the sourdough bread that we picked up from the self-serve corner. The bread came with a fantastic dip, I cannot remember what it included but it must have been some mustard and spinach.
Next, we were served a ‘Sour and Sweet Green Papaya Wires with Rooftop Salad’. The green papaya came from the Mapopo Community farm, but all other ingredients (Tomato, Mint, Strawberry, Kohlrabi and Kale) were just grown above us.
The main course featured seasonal vegetables from Mapopo together with a mashed chickpeas cabbage roll. A great dish, Lina loved the chickpeas in the cabbage roll and I remember how great it is to cook with beetroot and I should do more with this fantastic vegetable.
Finally, a small, but tasty raw banana tart that included dates and coconut sugar. It was yummy, especially with the rooibush tea that I drank after this great and healthy lunch. You can pick and choose your own drinks (water, tea and coffee) – you just help yourself from the side table.
Will I becoming back? Yes, we had a great experience. Lovely food, very tasty and fresh. The mums loved it and so did the toddlers (they loved the soup, chickpeas roll and bananan tart). It was a quiet place, with only very few people and so the little ones could roam around a little but, exploring the different rooms. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, explaining us the different dishes and making sure that our toddlers were well looked after and happy. Lunch took a little longer than we expected, but it was all handmade and fresh and that takes time (there is only one cook, so she has a lot on her hands) – it just meant that we had to push nap time a little back.
The suggested donation was 60HKD but we felt that was not sufficient for such a quiet oasis in the busy district of Wan Chai, with such great and healthy food. It is a cause that we are very happy to support and I am sure we will be back!
Art and Culture Outreach
14/F, Foo Tak Building, 365-367 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
Telephone: 2893 4808
Opening hours: 12 to 7pm, every Tuesday to Sunday