Review: The Herbivores
35 Staunton Street, SoHo
Tel: 2613 2909
Open: noon-10.30pm (Saturday and Sunday from 11am)
Price: about HK$300 without drinks or the service charge.
Ambience: the very small room is dominated by a communal table that seats about 16, plus a small table for three.
Pros: while it wouldn't be a good place for a tête-à-tête, being seated at the communal table almost forces you to talk to your neighbours, which, if everyone is friendly enough (and they were for the most part on the night of our visit), can be a nice experience. Our servers were friendly and helpful.
Cons: the food seems overpriced for what it is. Why, for instance, was the Staunton fusilli HK$148 when it was just boxed pasta with a tomato sauce that was almost sickeningly sweet? The same question applies to the grilled Portobello steak - at HK$188 - which consisted of two large mushrooms, a spoonful of mashed potatoes and a few overcooked Brussels sprouts. The Herbivores bomb wasn't bad; although I couldn't taste much saffron, the fried risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella were piping hot, but at HK$198, you would expect more. Two of the four main courses were sold out.
Recommended dishes: the Japanese crunch salad (HK$68) - shredded cabbage, fried bean curd and sesame dressing - was plentiful, refreshing and well-flavoured. Pumpkin carbonara (HK$128) didn't have much pumpkin taste, but it was quite satisfying, with some asparagus spears and mushrooms adding colour and textural interest. The "pocket of gold" apple turnover (HK$78) had nicely flaky pastry and a plentiful amount of tender apples, but it was a bit heavy-handed on the cinnamon.
What else? some of the dishes are marked with a "V", which in other restaurants would indicate vegetarian, but because the entire menu is vegetarian, here it means no eggs or dairy; other dishes are "B" (without garlic or onion).