Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our weekly 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same amount of time it takes to sit through a 2-minute speed date.

Talk about kicking off the new year with a bang. For our first edition of ’27 Questions’ this January, we’re delighted to speak with Eugene Kan — co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of MAEKAN, a platform-slash-publication that tells stories of the global creative community. As Kan himself puts it, “[MAEKAN] is driven by the unexpected connections which span fashion, art, design, tech, music, food and more”.

Culture vultures of a certain age will doubtless be aware of Kan’s work. The 35 year old Chinese-Canadian moved to Hong Kong for a career in professional football, before falling in with contemporaries like Kevin Ma (HYPEBEAST), Alex Maeland (MAEKAN co-founder), and Elliot Faber (Yardbird) — forerunners of an international zeitgeist that now embodies the thriving intersection between food, music, and street culture.

Eugene Kan
“For better or worse, I’ve found inspiration and goal-setting are things which come to me innately. I think that’s because, growing up in a small town, you need to be independently inspired and motivated: nobody around you shares the same interests or has figured ‘it’ out before.”

He’s probably loathe to self-aggrandise, but Kan played a formative part in shaping this now-preeminent discourse around online youth culture (particularly within Asia). Following 8 and a half years at HYPEBEAST — in its earliest days, Kan was the streetwear/pop culture phenom’s first fully fledged editor — he’s turned his incisive brand of content creation on a broader range of issues. From breathtaking footage of Hong Kong’s ongoing anti-extradition protests to long-form discussions about mental health (with Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, no less) his team at MAEKAN appear committed to the ideal of storytelling that offers an authentic perspective and opportunity for dialogue.

In the aftermath of New Year’s Eve, we touch base with Kan for a quick chat — applying his trademark pseudo-intellectualism to our classic 27-point questionnaire. Here were his responses.

Name: Eugene Kan

Age: 35

Neighbourhood: Sham Shui Po

Occupation: Co-founder of MAEKAN; Adam Studios; That Food Cray!!!

1. What is your life motto?

I don’t deliberately think about this, but if I’m paraphrasing it’s something along the lines of “don’t make the same mistake twice”.

2. What is the best meal you've ever eaten in Hong Kong?

I don’t really form strong memories around food like that: I’d say my best meals are probably driven, in some form or another, by company and conversation.

3. What was your first job?

Working at Canadian Tire in the small town I grew up in back in Alberta (Canada). It was a weird job: refilling canisters of CO² for paintball guns and collecting shopping carts. [Laughs]

4. What is your drink of choice?

In the mornings, it’s coffee laced with inulin and collagen. Otherwise, when I’m out, tequila or Coke Zero. Tyler Babowski (Yardbird) took a drink that my friends had made for me in a drunken stupor (combining tequila and espresso) and refined it into something with mezcal and coffee shochu that’s now an off-menu classic at the restaurant.

5. When was the last time you drove a car?

In San Francisco last September. But I hate driving — it’s such a boring, mundane experience.

Eugene Kan

6. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?

The big windows and the amount of light they allow in.

7. Which phone app could you not live without?

I think most people will probably name the usual suspects (e.g. WhatsApp) but if I had to choose something that I find incredibly useful, my pick would probably be Todoist. That isn’t so much an app as it is a to-do service: allowing you to keep track of tasks across multiple platforms like iOS, Windows, your web browser et cetera.

8. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Probably pasta and its various iterations.

“The fact that there isn’t a clean definition of what a ‘Hongkonger’ represents is both a blessing and a curse. It doesn’t create a unified identity, but allows for a kind of very interesting fluidity.”
Eugene Kan, co-founder (MAEKAN)

9. What is your biggest regret in life?

I don’t really have any regrets. At any given moment in time, most people are trying to make the best decision with asymmetric information. Combine that with timing, and you’ll find that when things don’t work out it’s often due to reasons beyond your control.

10. What do you hate most about living in Hong Kong?

I’m not sure if what I “hate” about Hong Kong is actually a phenomenon that’s exclusive to Hong Kong itself. I think late-stage capitalism as we know it is rearing its ugly head everywhere, and we’re beginning to realise that living under many of that system’s pretences is unsustainable. As I’ve previously noted, we work a lot in Hong Kong without necessarily reaping the benefits of a happier more fulfilling life (though admittedly, you could replace Hong Kong with any other major international city and the feeling would be analogous).

11. How often do you prepare your own meals?

Every morning [laughs]. My breakfast consists of oats and powdered peanut butter that’s reconstituted with water. It’s an easy, functional way to get the day started.

Eugene Kan

12. What is your greatest fear?

I don’t really have many fears, but getting hurt to the point whereby I can’t play footy at a high level does scare me.

13. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

A tonne of Subreddits that I can’t share with you, because they’d probably make people question my morals. I also spend a lot of time, for a few months every year, playing Football Manager Mobile — a management game where you organise and control a footy team.

14. What is your typical Sunday like?

I try to sleep in as late as possible (usually til around 11am or so). Make a bit of breakfast and coffee. Do some light work and then head off to football — usually at the Hong Kong Football Club. After the game, my friends and I get drinks at the bar and then grab a bit of dinner.

15. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

I’m pretty content with Hong Kong. If you’re able to get away for work/pleasure with a degree of frequency, then Hong Kong never quite gets old. Every time you come back is effectively a reset.

16. What makes someone a real Hongkonger?

There isn’t really a definition of this is there? The fact that there isn’t a clean definition of what a ‘Hongkonger’ represents is both a blessing and a curse. It doesn’t create a unified identity, but allows for a kind of very interesting fluidity.

Eugene Kan

17. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Brendon Babenzien of NOAH, author Carl Sagan, John C. Jay of Uniqlo/Fast Retailing, and Jason Mayden of Super Heroic.

18. If you could banish someone from Hong Kong forever, who would it be?

[Laughs] I’ve never come across somebody I hated enough to wish this upon them.

19. Where do you go when you want to be alone?

Aloneness is very relative in Hong Kong — I see it more as being on your own without somebody bothering you. In that case, I’d probably say the gym? I don’t need to interact with anybody if I don’t want to. I can just go in, listen to a podcast, and do my thing.

20. If you had to describe Hong Kong in one word, what would it be?

“Dynamic.” Hong Kong changes pretty fast and, in many cases, it’s a clear representation of where we are as a global society.

21. What's your favourite childhood memory?

Probably playing football after school with other kids in the neighbourhood. Looking back, it was nothing short of impressive to get 15 kids in rural Canada to come out, meet at the same time, and play footy for two to three hours.

Eugene Kan

22. What is your favourite scent in the whole world?

Coconut — but not the overly sweet, unnatural renditions of it.

23. Are you a good cook? What is your best dish?

I’m definitely not a good cook. I can ensure a steak is cooked extremely well and the pasta is perfectly al dente, but that’s about it.

24. What is your unique party trick?

Shotgunning beers?

25. Have you ever experienced love at first sight? Tell us about it?

Nah [laughs]. In fact, when I saw pics of my wife Nicole (@thatfoodcray) for the first time I thought she was a bit of a gold digging basic.

26. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? Which do you wear the most often?

Most people expect me to have a lot of shoes but I’ve given away a ton and/or only kept the pairs that I can justify wearing for a week straight. I’d say the shoes I wear most are my HAVEN x Clarks Wallabies and my Birkenstock Bostons.

27. What is the last dream you remember waking up to?

I wish I remembered my dreams more vividly. The most memorable dream I have, but haven’t had in a minute, is me missing a final examination during university and not graduating. It used to happen every few months, but not anymore.

Discover more stories from the MAEKAN community here.

Randy Lai
Watches Editor
Having worked in the Australian digital media landscape for over 5 years, Randy has extensive experience in men's specialist categories such as classic clothing, watches and spirits. He is partial to mid-century chronographs and a nice chianti.