Sai Kung’s most prominent Muslim couple is Mohammed Asif Rahman and his wife, Farha Naz Julie, well-known because they own and operate the “main street” restaurant, Firenze. Julie wears hijab, the head and chest-covering veil, while Asif is usually full-bearded in Muslim tradition — except when he isn’t. A mercurial character he may whip out a razor and look quite different.
On Po Tung Rd, their restaurant serves Italian Mediterranean food, but all meat is halal and the place is alcohol free. BYOB is allowed, however, without corkage.
Asif and Julie are Bangladeshis, married in Dkaka 17 years ago. Asif, who had been working in Hong Kong since 1990, returned home to find a bride and their parents introduced them. Now they have two children, daughter Anse, 15, and son Aniq, 7.
Julie said there is no masjid, which means mosque, in Sai Kung or Clearwater Bay, so Asif goes to the Nathan Road masjid every second Friday to worship. Women may go to the hasjid separately, but don’t have to. They are free to pray at home.
Firenze has launched a new menu, slimmed down to 64 dishes. Julie said the previous menu had nearly 200 dishes and because there was so much choice “people were going crazy”. The food is tasty without being rich. Chef Asif does especially good chicken dishes.
Asif says Firenze is one of the few restaurants with a guarantee. If you don’t like the food, you don’t pay. Or you can change the dish.