It doesn't take an expert to realize that Kermit the Frog made his point in the song titled here. Yet, I find it extremely agreeable of a title for the age-old joint like 公利. 公利 primarily makes profit out of the rawest form of sugar... speaking of simplicity at the core and at its best. Sugarcane juice's liquid greeness is indeed paradise for ones with sweet tooth (myself included). I never for one second doubt the health benefits, but on my front I have visited 公利 for the joy and satisfaction at its simplicty, and I can dare say that its status can never be doubted as one of the most loved local joints in Hong Kong.
Exactly how does 公利 ties in with the song?! It's certainly not easy being green, and as much as our city has changed its looks over the years, and however much our perception of something green and liquid may look like something from an experiment's test tubes, we make room for sugarcane juice, sold here at $7 a cup, filled to the rim of the paper cup. In the midst of summer sugarcane juice quenches our thirst for liquids and extinguished the drought within, yet while served slightly warm in winter it hugged us from inside out, warmed us through. The juice is a uniformly no-mistake green, in a shade between chartreuse and an olive gone fluorescent.
"And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water Or stars in the sky" (lyrics of the song)
The colour may be unadorned, but the taste cannot be undermined as 'sweet' alone. It has depth and a pleasant whiff of fragrance, not to mention a mellow aftertaste to finish.
"When green is all there is to be, it could make you wonder why. But why wonder why? Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful, and I think it's what I want to be " (lyrics)
公利 has every reason to celebrate its popularity of sugarcane juice, and its 'sugarcane pudding' ($10), which is made by combining waterchestnut flour with fresh sugarcane juice and stirring over low heat. Then the batter is steamed in porcelain bowls and served warm, slightly sweet and jiggly on the texture, glowing slightly yellow and green. The grassy taste of sugarcane has diminished undetected, but sugarcane is still the star of the show, only when served in a different form you will find yourself appreciating it more than just its greenness, instead it allows us to embrace the versatility of the sugarcane and its individuality that's uncommon in uses across the board. For the ones who prefer the alternative, you are more than welcomed to try the herbal turtle jelly, pictured here. It's slightly sweeter than the ones you get elsewhere.
Next time when you pass by Central, and while thinking about blending in old practices with new values, or protecting aged buildings yet developing new landscapes for another form of the city, think about how 公利 has stood by the years with something simple as sugarcane juice, and how it has satisfied souls that embraced it back. If you don't believe it, go there, order one, and drink up, hoping for the best that the flow of jade greenness (sugarcane juice) will take you back along your memory lanes to retrieve the best of your good old days.