Four years ago, I sat down for lunch in an Australian country pub, my only companions being my mother, the bartender, one sad drunk and a cat with a tube coming out of its face.
It was hardly a bustling, hipster, vegan quesadilla stand in cosmopolitan Melbourne. Yet when I ran my finger down the menu, I found listed a vegetarian risotto. It came with garlic bread.
If the Victorian town of Euroa, population under 4,000, can cater to my diet, why does Hong Kong so often fail to provide me with a single vegetarian option? I can't count the number of times I have walked into a restaurant, sat down and picked up the menu only to discover that what doesn't bleed isn't listed.
Let me clarify - I'm not generally talking about the elite cultural delights of Sheung Wan and Mid-Levels, nor the odd fake-meat bistros hidden in the upper levels of Causeway Bay. My gripe is with Kowloon, my neighbourhood.
Hong Kong food is meat heavy - I've accepted that and resigned myself to the fact I'll never enjoy the tempting street eateries of Yau Ma Tei, and I'm not demanding that every restaurant go vegetarian, although that might not be such a bad idea. But when I enter a Western-looking restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui, or further up Nathan Road, only to discover it's the onion soup or nothing, I just think, "You're not trying hard enough, Asia's World City!"
Do me a favour, my fellow Kowloonites, and look up the recipe for vegetarian risotto - if you don't know how to make it, I know a pub in Euroa that can help.