Hong Kong Meats

Phi Truong started his working career at Australia Post before making a 180-degree life change – becoming one of Footscray Market’s best-known and longest-serving butchers. 

Since 1984

“Hong Kong Meats has been open at the market since 1984, and it was one of the first Asian butcher’s shops in the area. My brother-in-law owned it with a business partner, but in 2002 his partner decided to leave. I was working as a mail officer and didn’t know anything about butchery, but my brother-in-law asked me whether I wanted to take on the partnership. 

“At first, it was just a way for me to earn a living. But as my skills developed, I realised that I really enjoyed being a butcher! As well as offering fresh produce, I get to see a lot of people, and I always have time to chat with my customers.”

Phi’s journey to Footscray Market echoes similar experiences of South Vietnamese families fleeing the country’s post-war Communist regime in the late 70s. 

“One of my sisters and I left on a boat and we stayed in a Malaysian refugee camp for three months before moving to Australia. We landed in Sydney in 1978 – but as one of our other sisters had moved to Melbourne, we joined her in Melbourne in 1979. 

Stayed in the migrant accommodation

“We stayed in the migrant accommodation in Napier Street Footscray, across the road from the Station Hotel. My wife and I bought our first home in Yarraville. Now we live in Melbourne’s east because it’s halfway between Footscray Market and my wife’s work – she’s still at Australia Post in Dandenong.

“That means that my day starts at 4am with a coffee. Then I leave home by 5am to be set up and ready for customers when the market opens at 7am. ”

Clientele are Asian

While neither Phi nor his brother-in-law are actually from Hong Kong (that was the old business partner), they do stock a lot of cuts that particularly suit Asian home cooks. Seventy per cent of their clientele are Asian – who are more likely to prefer pork over beef or lamb products – with their best-selling cuts including pork ribs, neck, belly and even suckling pig on request. 

Taiwanese sausage

“One of our unique products is the Taiwanese sausage,” Phi explains. “It’s a fresh pork sausage made in the Taiwanese style with pork, liquor and spices. It’s a little bit sweet and cooks quickly and easily in an oven. I always encourage my customers, especially Caucasian customers who may not have come across Taiwanese sausage before, to try it. Once they do, they always come back for more!”