Serving quick-grab alternatives to junk food, 12NOON is an ethically conscious eatery in Hong Kong that caters to a growing demand for fast, accessible meals that are good for both your wallet and your conscience.
Breaking through Hong Kong’s highly saturated fast food industry, healthy grab-and-go food concept 12NOON wants to redefine how busy city folk fuel their bodies every day with healthy takes on fast food favourites. Driven by a past dominated by a hectic schedule and unhealthy eating, Co-Founder Pascal de Sarthe’s idea was to change the whole ‘dining at your desk’ daily reality for him and others like him. “Being a workaholic myself and often left alone for lunch, my daily routine for many years was to turn to junk food,” he says. “When I decided to change my lifestyle and eating habits, very little was offered to me in Hong Kong.”
Together with his wife and Co-Founder Sylvie, Pascal set out to tap into a market that he felt lacked genuinely nourishing, healthy options. “Food labelled as low fat, sugar-free, and natural is often processed, chemically treated and genetically modified. These foods are not good for your health and are scientifically proven to significantly increase the risk of illness and disease,” he explains. “What we offer is non-genetically modified, unprocessed food that is well balanced and high in nutrient value.”
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From a location in Wan Chai, a new branch in Central and delivery options via both Foodpanda and Deliveroo, Pascal serves up an affordable menu that aims to change what he sees as a prevalent notion that easy food is not healthy. “We want to redefine fast food and give it a good name. There’s a false conception that healthy food doesn’t taste good,” he says. “Our goal is to educate and promote a culture of healthy eating,” which is why their selection of cold press juices and cleanse packs come with a description of health benefits on their website.
Clearly helping him on his way is a widely-felt cultural shift in attitudes towards ‘clean’ eating and a distinct trend for morally sound consumer practices. “We are witnessing the birth of a new food culture in Hong Kong. A younger generation has realised the importance of a balanced diet and is now changing their eating habits. “12NOON offers that alternative choice,” Pascal explains. Key to targeting these price-sensitive consumers is their highly competitive offer. That’s why at 12NOON, you’ll find a low-calorie serving of their fresh take on cup noodles, brimming with high-nutrient toppings like kimchi, mushrooms and chicken (or even fish balls) for HKD 45. With an array of snacks and “Jar Food” on offer like nuggets and pesto noodles, 12NOON provides options that allow people to enjoy nutritious eats at reasonable prices. “Too often, we see students passing by our place only to grab their lunches at bad fast food places. It’s crucial to teach children how to eat healthy at a young age so that it helps them stay healthy throughout their life,” he urges.
With integrity running through the heart of their company, Pascal pursues best practices in just the same way he’s urging his customers to. They donate any unsold food to Feeding Hong Kong, an organisation that redistributes food items to underprivileged people all over the city and run their outlets as sustainably as they can. “You can’t be concerned with your eating habits and not recognise the seriousness of environmental problems, even though sometimes it’s a business challenge, and we need to balance our desire to have a 100% green concept and the economic reality of our business,” he says. Arguing the case for a way of eating that allows for the best of both worlds – on the consumer as well as the business end – he’s striving for a new approach in his city where convenience and price don’t impact goodness, convincing people with one cup of noodles at a time.