Hong Kong Shisha Battle 2023. Interview with Galax Poon


Galax Poon, Shisha Guru/Mixologist, has been within the Shisha/Hookah industry in Hong Kong since 2016. Honing his craft from working in Earl’s Court Hookah & Morokok, to creating his own brands that include; Mono Shisha (Mono Dark, Mono Light, MonoLab). He now owns Mokumoku Lounge and is the central founder of Omakase Shisha, incorporating fruit heads and his most recent work, a fruit hookah pipe being shared to the public in Hong Kong. And this year, organising the first official Shisha Battle, under the guidance of Hookah Battle.

Q1 What is shisha to you?

There’s two parts to it, ideology and reality. Reality it is my livelihood and a way for me to make my living. For ideology, it stems from my passion. Shisha itself is like a multiverse, where different countries that have a prominent Shisha culture are like universes, and types of tobacco can be different planets or stars.

The point is that I am able to dive into every part of these universes that can stem from the types of hookah, where there is the history and culture behind it to how different countries have their own packing method and style for the public. Curiosity is the key that allowed me to create my own discipline and have a self-discovery mindset. Even now, Shisha is the one thing that drives me to have the constant discovery.

Q2 Why now, organising the first official shisha battle in Hong Kong?

Looking back at myself for the last seven years, starting as a staff at Earl’s Court Hookah, I could see how it was a place for me to learn and how essential it is of having the theory, knowledge, and practical application to make a good shisha.

During those first few years, I was able to witness first hand how they were able to create a style that was specific for people in Hong Kong. Earl’s Court Hookah was the place for constant research and development for people to enjoy the various styles of Shisha.

Although the Shisha industry is growing within the last two years with more lounges opening in various parts of Hong Kong, the quality of Shisha seems to be stuck and not excelling. I am referring to how Hong Kong doesn’t have a community where research and development is made and just seems to fall into a form of commercial entertainment, as if Hookah is being used a add-on instrument.

In Hong Kong, most customers don’t have the basic knowledge or fathom the “standard” of what is defined as a good or bad shisha. There isn’t a mindset or even a measurement for customers to understand a lounge that may focus on using traditional packing methods or the choices of tobacco being used for the specific Hookah pipe. That hinders the quality of not only the Shisha Mixologist/Packer, but the Hong Kong Shisha Industry as a whole.

The point of I am referring to is having visited different Hookah Conventions such as; The HookahClub Show & John Calliano. Their community is vast and there are all different disciplines and backgrounds of people wanting to show new research, development and technology.

Hong Kong is such a unique city and I still believe that this city has the potential and being one of the top ten places in the world to enjoy a breathtaking Shisha.

Q3 What do you think is the biggest issue currently in the shisha industry, especially in Hong Kong?

Before talking about the issue within the Shisha industry, let’s take a step back to Hong Kong’s culture and how people use their past time. For most people who live in Hong Kong, the use of past time leans more to meeting friends at a bar and gather for a drink. When we take a closer look through a magnifying glass on the structure of Shisha lounges in Hong Kong, the business structure leans more towards customers spending on beverages than actually on the Shisha itself.

In which, a majority of emerging Shisha Mixologist/Packers will use the choice of words to present the Shisha as a refined art piece.

The matter of this issue is that customers themselves may not have their own measurement of “standard in quality” to distinctly interpret difference of a Shisha made of breathtaking, satisfactory, or even poor quality. As a result, this creates a problem of self proclaimed Shisha Packers without any sort of knowledge or practical application, simply stuffing a bunch of random tobacco and presenting it as a “mind-blowing» Shisha.

I am not saying Shisha Packers need a certain type of qualification to label themselves as Shisha Mixologist/Packer, it is how much knowledge and understanding is put into the hookah bowl, from the use of shisha tobacco, type of bowl, type of hookah pipe, water level, use of diffuser and much more factors to take account of, in order to present it as a art piece for the customer.

Q4 As a Shisha Mixologist, do you think you would land on the right feeling every time when making a shisha to the customer? If not, how?

Yes, I do. In order for any Shisha Mixologist/Packer to create the ideal Shisha for the customer, one must first have the grasp of which category and feeling that correlates well with the flavour of the tobacco that is ideal of what the customer requires. In a metaphoric sense, a cowboy throwing a lasso, to tie down what is needed. If not, it falls into not receiving the right or enough information from the customer, and simply make another one that certainly lands a bulls eye of the customer’s requirement.

Q5 What do you think the public eye will see and what do they learn from this battle?

In this Shisha Battle, the public audience will gain a clear understanding in deciphering a high quality Shisha. They will be able to read and look through the criteria, which is also given to the judges to evaluate the contestants that day. In any typical Hookah/Shisha battle, the criteria is strictly confidential and the public will not be able to read it. My intention of having the criteria to be public is to allow the audience to use it as a reference, to determine a quality Shisha whenever they visit any lounges around the world.

Q6 What do you think the future holds for the Shisha industry in Hong Kong?

If there wasn’t a official Shisha Battle being organised, the future of the Shisha industry will not excel with new achievements and may lose it’s trend and fall under the radar. In which will create more poor quality Shisha being made to the public of Hong Kong. I hope with this Battle, it can elevate the Shisha community. Creating a new wave of self-cultivation, whether being a Shisha Mixologist/Packer or a Shisha lover.

Q7 What would you like to say to the Contestants who are participating Shisha Battle 2023?

Passion, Knowledge, Practicality. Those all the three words I would like to give to the contestants.

Good luck.

Edited by Kevin Kan

#hong kong
#Hookah Battle
#shisha battle


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