Kevin Lim missed laksa, the spicy soup he slurped as a child when visiting relatives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “It was my comfort food,” recalls Lim, who is an architect as well as a trained chef—he attended Le Cordon Bleu, the now-closed culinary school near Boston, after attaining his architecture degree. Now back in Hong Kong, he’s the co-founding partner of OpenUU with his wife, design director Caroline Chou. The soup and other Southeast Asian dishes conceived by Lim have debuted at their first restaurant, Mean Noodles, the winner of the Will Ching Award for a project by a firm with five or fewer employees.
The 600-square-foot space was a food-production facility when Lim and Chou, who also own and run Mean Noodles, came on the scene. They opened up the kitchen, leveled the concrete floor, and left exposed ceiling pipes to recall the ad-hoc aesthetic of hawker food stalls. Then the pair specified durable finishes in a Chinese jade palette: Green grout runs between the porcelain subway tiles behind the 12-seat dining counter and patchwork wall mosaics “really resemble Asian batik patterns,” Chou marvels, even though the ceramic is from Spain. Meanwhile, the golden canvas upholstering the custom steel-frame chairs coordinates with the glow coming from the bulbs in the above 7-foot-high, stainless-steel letters spelling out mean. The eatery not only draws customers who can’t wait to Instagram the food and interior but also serves as a sales tool for OpenUU’s prospective hospitality clients.
Project Team: Dexter Wong.