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Food & Drinks

Hong Kong’s Grassroots Pantry offers spicy vegetarian burger in bid to get people to eat less meat

When Peggy Chan tried the plant-based Beyond Burger, she was impressed, and decided to make a spicy version to tempt Hong Kong carnivores away from meat. The resulting Sichuan Mala Burger is available until January 2018

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 October, 2017, 1:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 October, 2017, 2:24pm

Grassroots Pantry chef owner Peggy Chan loves autumn, and the cornucopia of root vegetables that are available. She had no problem coming up with a new menu for the vegetarian and vegan restaurant featuring Asian-style dishes that pay homage to the local market, but it was a challenge for her to come up with a delicious burger.

That’s because she went to Green Common to check out their products and was curious about Beyond Burger, the first plant-based burger patty that many swear tastes like beef. It’s distributed by Green Common, the brainchild of David Yeung of Green Monday. Not only do they have similar goals of getting people to eat less meat, they both started their ventures in 2012, but have never collaborated before.

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“I hadn’t eaten meat in 17 years so it was quite surprising to me. When I had the first bite, I thought this is so scary because it was so real,” she says.

The patty has a lot of protein, but it’s processed with some preservatives, which is something that doesn’t fit into Grassroots Pantry’s philosophy of fresh produce. Nevertheless, Chan appreciates Yeung’s goal of replacing every beef patty with a vegetarian version.

“I think that’s the way to go and if that patty can be just as good and provides just as much protein if not more, we need to start thinking let’s eliminate as much meat as possible. I understand people aren’t going to be vegan and vegetarian overnight, so we do what we can to substitute and replace those ingredients,” she says.

Q&A with Peggy Chan, owner of Grassroots Pantry and Prune Organic Deli

Although Chan admits she’s not a burger fan, she took it on as a challenge to make it as delicious as possible to encourage people to think they may not need to eat beef any more. As a result it called for her culinary skills to create a Grassroots burger and not just another Beyond Beef burger.

It took her over a month of trial and error to put it together because she didn’t want to disappoint customers. The result is the Sichuan Mala Burger with a Sichuan peppercorn numbing spicy kick, and the patty has a meat-like texture, with cordycep and maitake mushrooms to give it more filling. There are more layers of flavours from pickled Chinese vegetables and smoked Roma tomatoes, as well as a spicy mayonnaise.

The Sichuan Mala Burger costs HK$138 with lotus root fries and will be available at Grassroots Pantry for three months from October 24.

Grassroots Pantry

108 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan, tel: 2873 3353