Vegetarian cuisine has never been more in vogue – and it’s no longer the domain of committed non-meat eaters only. More and more of us are looking at how farming and meat production impacts our planet, and how clean eating can simply make us feel better. With this in mind, we put some proudly vegetarian-only restaurants in Hong Kong to the test! Read on to find out our favourite dishes for vegetarians and where to go for vegetarian fine dining in Hong Kong.
Woodlands – fresh and friendly dining
Woodlands serves up authentic Indian vegetarian cuisine in a bright and airy space with vibrant green seats. The freshness of the design is the perfect introduction to the feasts on offer here. On our visit, there was a wonderful buzz in the room with Indian families chatting away and sharing colourful dishes together. The restaurant champions vegetarianism as a long and widely established way of life – one that helps to create a healthier and more compassionate society. And all of this clearly comes across in each dish.
Light and crisp with a rich potato filling, the Samosa ($58) is a perfect start. We also loved the Pakora ($78), crispy fritters of potato, onion, cauliflower and green chilli. And the Tandoori Aloo ($108) is a truly outstanding sizzler of spiced new potato roasted in the tandoor. Manchurian Gobi ($98) is a new one on us; the cauliflower florets tossed in a spicy, sweet and sour sauce hit all the right taste notes. Paper Masala Dosa ($148) is yet another Woodlands triumph. It’s a paper-thin lentil pancake with potato chaat filling. There’s also a Family Dosa that’s a whopping four feet long!
The main dishes for vegetarians are reassuringly familiar and excellent too. Dal Makhani ($98) is the ultimate comfort food – perfect when scooped up with nicely charred Garlic Naan ($32). Vegetable Jaipuri ($98) is medium spiced and ideal with Vegetable Biryani ($88). And the Bhindi Masala ($98), heavenly okra in tomato masala, is our winner of the night.
Woodlands offers food for thought. Many meat-eaters would love these wonderful clean-eating creations – classic Indian favourites that hit the spot reassuringly after a long day at work. The restaurant is spreading the word of a healthy way of life in a very exciting way.
1/F, Dennies House, 20 Luard Road, Wan Chai
Treehouse – clean-eating options
We’d heard great reports about Chef Christian and his fast-growing restaurant chain Treehouse and were excited to find out more. Hailing from a fine dining background, his vision was to create a sustainable, ethical, modern and fast-dining casual restaurant. First, he sources the best local and organic ingredients he can. Then he crafts plant-based menus free from refined sugar, preservatives and trans fats. No nasty UPFs here!
The restaurant’s interior is light, welcoming and modern with dine-in seating and plenty of bins to separate your waste. Ordering is super simple on the touchscreens. You can also pre-order online with each restaurant directly and pick up your food for takeaway or dining in. First up, we tried the Forest Burger ($98) – no soya or meat alternative here, just wholesome veggie goodness. The umami-rich roasted mushroom patty was perfectly complemented by the sweet roasted bell peppers and eggplant caviar, all encased in a lightly toasted sourdough bun. A fabulous start.
The list of wraps and bowls is tempting, with Chef’s fine dining expertise and flair very evident. We opted for the large falafel-based Willow bowl on mixed greens ($128) and added a topping of halloumi (one of the few non-vegan options) and some roasted beets. Simply delicious. You can also create your own, which is where the fun really starts. You begin with either bread or bowl, then choose your base, add one of three nutritious blends, one of four toppings and a choice of nine sauces. I defy anyone to tire of dining here!
There’s also a selection of sides from $50 – and don’t miss out on the Fried Cauliflower, super value at $65. The Falafel Box ($65) is arguably the best falafel in the city – crunchy exteriors and perfectly seasoned soft interiors, served with a tomato salsa, mixed pickles and a super delicious tahini sauce. Drinks include a range of organic coffees with plant-based milk options as well as teas, cold-pressed juices and a thirst-quenching Treehouse kombucha ($45).
Last but not least, there’s a choice of six vegan desserts. It’s almost impossible to choose between the Double Chocolate Walnut Brownie ($45) and the Macadamia Chocolate Chip Cookie ($40). Both are rich and deep in flavour, despite the simple ingredients.
On a subsequent visit (yes, we were soon back!), I devoured a large Snowdrop bowl with chargrilled cauliflower, grilled tempeh and fried eggplant on the four-grain mix. Next time, we’ll be trying the pizzas and creating our own bespoke bowls. All the dishes for vegetarians at Treehouse are made freshly to order and delivers consistently on taste, quality, quantity and price. There are endless options and even the most hardened carnivore could be tempted to embrace these plant-based yummies.
Various locations including Shop 1, G/F, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central
Veggie Kingdom – loads of dishes for vegetarians
This quiet and cosy restaurant occupies the 7th floor above busy Canton Road. The Chinese menu is 100 percent vegetarian – somewhat rare in a city known for its love of pork and seafood! The chefs have cleverly recreated classic dishes with vegetables and plant-based proteins resulting in an exciting and unique clean eating menu. We arrived just before 7pm and within a few minutes, the restaurant was bustling with hungry diners. A pot of jasmine tea was quickly served.
There’s a superb choice of reimagined staples from Sichuan and Guangdong here. Of course, you’ll also find HK favourites BBQ Pork, Veggie Beijing Duck and Veggie Goose.
Our portion of Smashed Japanese Cucumber ($48) proved a refreshing and tasty start to the meal. Next came Stir-fried Flat Rice Noodles with Veggie BBQ Pork ($98). They really hit the spot: perfectly cooked with a slightly chewy bite, and the veggie pork was convincing. An ideal dish for non-meat eaters craving those tangy and sweet flavours.
From the sizzling casserole list, we chose the Chef’s Recipe Curry ($148) which is served with Toona Bread – excellent when dipped in the rich sauce. Fried Long Beans with Pickled and Minced Veggie Meat ($68) was our standout dish, a perfect match of crunchy beans with a little sharpness from the vinegar and nuggets of savoury goodness. If you visit at lunch time, there’s an appetising menu of dumplings, rice noodle rolls and snacks, so it’s well worth a return trip!
7/F, VIP Commercial Centre, 120 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
VEDA – vegetarian fine dining in Hong Kong
Veda comes from the Sanskrit word “vid” meaning “to know”, and it represents knowledge and wisdom. This restaurant’s mantra is to “celebrate the vegetable”. Their dishes, they say, are not centred on the “without” but rather focused on the “with”. The result? An exciting Mediterranean-inspired Indian fusion of flavour, colour and texture that feels akin to vegetarian fine dining in Hong Kong.
From the list of “Small & Chaat” starters, we order the Pani Puri ($88). These delightfully crisp hollow dough balls come filled with potato chaat then crowned with a zingy mint and coriander dressing. The plump Silk Route Momos ($78) feature a homemade ricotta and spinach filling topped with a tangy tomato chutney. It’s Goa meets Genoa! Avo Chaat ($98) is an exciting millefeuille housing a smashed avocado and chaat masala with mixed chutneys – a total showstopper. And Green Pepper ($88) is humbly named but the potato masala with curry leaf stuffing is sensational. In fact, all these tapas are a feast for the senses.
On to the “Bigger to Share” dishes for vegetarians and the Locally Grown Portobello Rice ($208) is an interesting mix of coconut-infused rice pudding in a light crispy outer with organic mushrooms on the side. Veda’s Aloo Gobi ($178) comes with coconut and lentil sauce garnished with cashew nuts. We also enjoyed freshly baked Kulcha ($48).
Two desserts nicely rounded off the evening: Basque-style Chai Masala Burnt Cheesecake ($95) served with confit berries, and Wine Poached Pear ($108) infused with jaggery, with a vanilla ginger cream and pecan crumble. The mains and desserts were good but the Small & Chaat starters steal the show. In fact, next time we come, we’ll order the four we tried this time, plus the Samosa, Aloo Mattar Tikki (potato and pea patty) and Shiso Tempura (crunchy shiso leaves). This was a night of clean-eating enlightenment and it’s fair to say Veda does indeed “vid” – they truly know what they’re doing!
2 Arbuthnot Road, Central
WOW Burger – meat-free patties
This meatless fast-food joint in situated in BaseHall 01, which means – true to form – the ordering is simple and the food is freshly cooked and delivered quickly. The all-vegetarian burgers are made in-house from plant-based proteins. There’s a great selection of “beef” burgers ranging from a WOW Classic ($58) to the more sophisticated WOW Truffle ($78) with mushrooms and a house-made truffle sauce. I chose the Classic, keen to taste the patty, which was well seasoned, juicy and satisfying. You’ll also find a couple of Chick’n burger options. We tried the tasty Chick’n nuggets that came with a honey mustard dipping sauce (four pieces, $55).
There are two sides on offer – crinkle cut fries and Tater Tots (both from $35), and these are customisable with a delicious house-made cheese sauce or a shaker spice to add punch. Our portion of Tater Tots with cheese sauce didn’t disappoint. Finally, don’t miss out on the vegan-friendly WOW Shakes ($55). Made with dairy-free ice cream and oat milk, the Vanilla Shake was rich and creamy and real treat. This is a great find for those on a dairy-free diet. We’ll be back to try the Hong Kong milk tea flavour!
BaseHall 01, LG/F, Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Central
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2023 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.
Looking for more clean eating options, places for vegetarian fine dining in Hong Kong? Or perhaps some recipes and dishes for vegetarians? Check out our Wine & Dine section.