All photography by Yanda.
It’s been ten years since the blog started and also ten years since I last stepped into Hong Kong. Things have changed since. Rental are getting unaffordable. People are probably not as happy. But what I can see in ‘Syut’ is not being pretentious but passion, hope and the desire to make things right.
Yanda: Tell us how did ‘談風：vs：再說 SYUT’ came about?
Thomas Lam: Due to rising rent in HK (it’s been always a problem here), we are forced out of our previous band practice room, which is in fact an instrument shop ‘Battle Stage’ owned by our drummers. Then we found the current factory building with a stunning street view. But it’s too large for a shop and also a practice room. And our chef, Sean, has been working in renowned restaurants in HK for years and he always hoped to open his own restaurant. Then we came up with this idea of half restaurant half instrument shop/band room.
What about the name?
The Chinese name 談風：vs：再說 is derived from our band name tfvsjs. We picked the initial consonants from each letters. SYUT is the Cantonese pronunciation of the word 說.
What are all your backgrounds of the founders?
Besides our chef who is always been a chef, we also have designer, filmmaker and sound recordist.
How do you all juggle or split the roles then?
Depends on what we are good at, or interested in. We don’t have the corresponding background of running a restaurant. Our designer, Adonian, does the design of all our menu and marketing materials. I like coffee and therefore at the beginning I learned to make coffee for the restaurant.
Do you all considered yourself businessmen?
No. Being a businessman is profit-oriented and I don’t think we run our restaurant this way. But of course to make this business sustainable is also important.
Michellin star or good reviews more important?
Both are recognition, and both are important. Michelin star brings fame and business. Good reviews brings us the most direct satisfaction.
Do you think food bloggers are influential?
No disrespect to this profession, I think there are plenty out there who works very hard and write very good and inspiring food reviews. But there was one who didn’t even know what al dente means and complained about her pasta undercooked.
How is it like starting up?
Extremely tiring. We were on a tight budget and we were understaffed. We hardly sleep for the first 6 months.
Are you all profitable?
Do you have a favourite cafe/restaurant?
Sorry can’t answer this one as I’m not the chef. But as far as I know he reads a lot of books some some renowned Nordic restaurants.
Do you all hold gigs in the restaurant?
No. We are too loud to accompany a meal.
Who comes to the restaurant usually?
We expected like-minded people with similar age and cultural background. But surprisingly we saw people from high school age to people in their 60s with their families.
Has anyone famous stopped by?
What are your thought on the current F&B scene?
Quality and specialty come first. Customers are very smart and demanding at this age and culture.
Do you plan on expansion or franchising?
Until we find a place with similar view but not quadruple the rent we have.
There seems to be no imagery of your food on the menu. What was your take on it?
Not only pictures but without the way of cooking either. This gives the chef room to change the way of cooking and also the look of it without changing the ingredients.
Last question. How often do you change the menu?
Syut is a cafe founded by Hong Kong instrumental band tfvsjs. The cafe locates at a lofty industrial venue at Tai Yip Street. The multi function space facilitates not only eatery, but also a recording studio, boutique drum shop Battle Stage and tfvsjs’s rehearsal studio.
The idea of Syut emerges from a discouraging force eviction from our previous rehearsal studio in Kwun Tong. Yet we strongly believe the best way to counteract such damage is creation. For the past few years tfvsjs is fortunateed enough to share our passion in music, and now we are taking a step further to demonstrate our professions in cookery, dinning, design and motion picture production. What is unique about our relocation and the cafe is the Do-it-Yourself spirit, whether it is the Battle Stage recording studio, tfvsjs rehearsal studio, or the dinning area, everything is hand built and constructed by us from scratch.
Syut is located at Unit B,10/F, Gee Luen Factory Building, 316-318 Kwun Tong Road, Hong Kong.
Thank you for reading and find out more of 談風：vs：再說 here.