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Health and wellness

Best vegan dishes in Hong Kong, from dim sum to pizza to hotpot, and where to find them

We’ve spent months trying and testing plant-based meals across the city, and have found six delectable meat- and dairy-free delights sure to excite any herbivorous foodie and tempt any meat eater

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 December, 2017, 6:04pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 December, 2017, 11:49am

Plant-based cuisine – which contains no animal products such as meat or dairy – is all the rage in New York, LA and London, and Hong Kong is catching up fast. High-end establishments like Duddell’s are adding creative vegan dishes to their omnivorous menus, and vegan restaurateurs like Grassroots Pantry’s Peggy Chan and Mana!’s Bobsy Gaia, who were ahead of the trend, have grown cult followings.

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After six months of trying vegan dishes in restaurants around Hong Kong, a handful of delectable delights came up trumps. From vegan dim sum and vegetable hotpot to umami-loaded salads and harissa-roasted cauliflower, here are six delicious meat- and dairy-free dishes that any foodie will love to tuck into.

Yunnan hotpot at Grassroots Pantry

Founder Peggy Chan changed the vegan dining scene in Hong Kong dramatically when she opened Grassroots Pantry on Hollywood Road. She made turmeric chai latte’s a ‘thing’ and had everyone waxing lyrical about her hedgehog mushrooms, from the moment she opened in 2012.

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The newest reincarnation of her ever-changing menu features a hotpot perfect for colder months. She swaps meat with mushrooms, and bone broth with a five-spice tonic broth in her take on the Yunnan hotpot.

Grassroots Pantry, 108 Hollywood Rd, Central, tel: 2873 3353

Tropical garden pizza at Sakti Dining Room

The Sakti Dining Room’s raw-food chefs can craft cashews into decadent cheese and chocolate dishes that taste and look better than the real thing. A newcomer to Hong Kong’s fine dining vegan scene, the plant-based restaurant in the holistic wellness retreat has a raw version of pizza that consists of almond flatbread spread with cashew cream cheese and tomato sauce, garnished with pineapple, avocado and coconut ‘bacon’. It’s a light and intricate dish that gives the heavy, dairy-laden originala good run for its money.

Fivelements, Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy, 81 Tai Chung Hau Rd, Sai Kung, tel: 3187 8900

Asian invasion at Genie Juicery

Mel Barnish and Cara McIlroy created a juicing craze in Hong Kong when they launched their detox business in 2011. Their expansion into raw food was a hit, and they soon had outlets popping up all over the city before settling permanently on the third floor of the IFC in Central. The collard wraps and coconut-chocolate treats are exceptional, but it’s the Asian invasion salad that is the real show-stopper.

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Dispel any preconceived ideas you have about what a salad should look like, and add rice, nori, red cabbage, kale and gluten-free pretzels. Shake them up with some nutritious dressing and you have a perfectly balanced salad that will make you think twice about eating iceberg lettuce again.

Genie Juicery, Shop 2096B, IFC, 8 Finance St, Central, tel: 5111 2041

Harissa cauliflower at Maison Libanaise

Vegetables feature prominently in Lebanese cuisine, so it’s no surprise that this Middle Eastern restaurant in SoHo is a hit with plant-based diners. The sweet potato wedges, tabbouleh, roasted aubergine and falafel are all popular, but it’s the harissa cauliflower that customers come back for (I’m guilty of eating it for dinner five nights in one week). Half a head of cauliflower is marinated in harissa and olive oil, and roasted until tender and crisp. Full disclosure, the dish is not 100 per cent vegan as it comes with dairy-based yogurt sauce on the side, but the team can leave it out upon request.

Maison Libanaise, 10 Shelley St, Central, tel: 2111 2284

Meze platter at Mana!

A plant-based lifestyle is much easier to adhere to in Hong Kong thanks to Bobsy Gaia’s Mana! that serves up slow food, fast around the clock. While it is best known for wraps, salads and smoothies, it’s the meze platter that packs a punch thanks to a combination of delicious dips and accompaniments. Smoky baba ganoush and smooth hummus are paired with pickled peppers, olives and za’atar-spread pita bread. It’s a perfect combination for when you’re craving something tasty and light.

Mana!, 92 Wellington St, Central, Hong Kong, tel: 2851 1611

Steamed bean curd sheet parcels at Duddell’s

This list would be incomplete without a dim sum dish or two. Duddell’s is a favourite spot for elegant lunches and dinners, and the dim sum has been the biggest hit in both branches in Hong Kong and London. Out of the five vegan dim sum items on offer, the steamed bean curd sheet parcels are by far my favourite. Mushrooms, bamboo shoots and fungus are wrapped up in a bamboo sheet that is tied with garlic chives and garnished with sea moss. The delicate bundles are served with premium oyster sauce.

Duddell’s, Level 3, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell St, Central, tel: 2525 9191

Honourable mentions:

Cucumber salad at Yardbird, 154-158 Wing Lok St, Sheung Wan, tel: 2547 9273

Red curry at Soul Food Thai, 26-30 Elgin St, Central, tel: 2177 3544

Vegetarian lunch set at Le Garcon Saigon, 12 Wing Fung St, Wan Chai, tel: 2455 2499

Spicy pomelo salad at Mak Mak, Shop 217A 2/F Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Rd, Central, tel: 2983 1003