Vegetarian / Vegan Restos for Beginners 2018!
I was recently asked to share vegetarian/vegan restaurant recommendations, most probably because I’ve been advocating a plant-based and meatless diet. Being a super boring person myself, honestly the solution was to go to the same restaurant (Green Common in Harbour City) every day during lunch.
Frankly, I don’t even know why I am eligible to write a post on vegetarian/vegan restaurants 😅 because I am not even a full-time vegetarian / vegan myself. I identify myself as a flexitarian, mostly because life is already too tiring for me and I really can’t afford to spend time and effort to look for vegetarian/vegan dishes 100% of the time. So the whole point of this post is just to make MY life easier :P
Why are these restaurants ‘for beginners’?
I feature chain restaurants that provide decent vegetarian selections because I know beginners can be usually quite skeptical, so it’s less scary for them (us?) to go to restaurants that offers both meat & vegetarian dishes.
For the boutique restos, they are mostly full on vegetarian/vegan. Also I wasn’t too particular on whether they’re vegetarian/vegan because it’s just a bit too restrictive for a beginner. They are also less fancy, more down-to-earth, and more affordable for anyone who wants to try a plant-based cuisine without breaking the bank.
They also aren’t super westernised, not because there’s anything wrong with Western-style dishes — I figured that there are loads of Hong Kong-style ones that missed the spotlight or an English-speaking audience. They are indeed hidden gem around our neighbourhood! These little stores don’t have much budget for PR and marketing because of their relatively more budget-friendly menu, but they are equally tasty nonetheless.
BUT if you’ve tried all of my rec’s already, please check out my friend @socialveganhk for more delicious vegan restos!
I’m going to keep it short, but my reason to go for a plant-based diet was because of the environmental impact of animal agriculture. It’s not about animal cruelty, nor nutrition, though they are very legit reasons. There are a lot of benefits to go plant-based and I’m going to leave it to another post.
I’ve categorised them into mainstream chains and independent stores by location. Because I mainly rely on personal visits & word-of-mouth from friends (mainly Miss @socialveganhk and @real__kimberly), so sadly I don’t have any recommendations in the New Territories :( Do let me know in the comments section!
Green Common - TST, MK, Central, Sheung Wan, Wanchai, TKO
One of the most well-known pioneers in Hong Kong popularising a meatless diet. They also have the most amazing vegan Cantonese milk tea and Hong Kong ‘French’ Toast (so many cultures mixed together :P)! I love their 紫薯杏仁奶 (Sweet Potato Almond Milk??? I’m so bad at this) too!
They are also one of the first in Hong Kong which introduced Beyond Meat in their burgers (they’re good!!), and now extended to Beyond Sausage (Hot dogs & in their All Day Breakfast) and Omnipork in their Tan Tan Noodles and Dumplings. Don’t forget their JUST Scrambled Egg - completely vegan, made with beans (at least I think it’s what it is!)
Definitely a beginner’s go-to option if you’re exploring green options but still want to have a taste of ‘meat’ in your cuisine every now and then.
Don’t forget to visit the store (which usually in the same space) for more vegan snacks (and other home essentials in their Sheung Wan branch). DON’T FORGET TO TRY SO COCO PUDDING (@sococohk / website) and HAPPY COW ICE CREAM!! You won’t regret it. Though you’ll feel guilty about the plastic packaging :(
Jamie Oliver - TST & CWB
Not sure if it applies to all of their stores in Hong Kong, but the one I often frequented is the ‘salad bar’ in Harbour City. I can’t say it’s super budget-friendly, but I really like their vegetarian options ($98 for 3 vegetarian dishes + 1 hot dish). Every now and then I like to indulge in a full on colourful and flavourful veggie meal :) Portion looks small, but actually it’s quite filling. I normally pick the potato salad as a base to ensure I’m not starving in the afternoon.
功德林 Kung Tak Lam Shanghai Vegetarian Cuisine - TST & CWB
I’ve only been there once with my favourite slow fashion brand Cosmos Studio and engaged in a 2-hour long conversation about future of mankind (HAHA). I love that the portions are really filling, and they are nice hot dishes that fits my Chinese palette (I have to have hot food and rice OMG I can’t survive munching on leaves!!!!). Perfect if you’re in a group and are loud :) You know, sometimes with close friends we are always a bit too loud in small cafes.
Tsui Wah Restaurant - EVERYWHERE
One of the most famous Hong Kong fast food restaurant chain. If you’re really desperate, actually they do offer a decent selection of vegetarian dish (surprise surprise!!). The beauty of this is that Tsui Wah is everywhere in Hong Kong. Just don’t expect a gourmet vegan dining experience. To be fair, I love their non-vegan options too, so perhaps reward yourself with a cup of milk tea to go with your veggie meal!
Don’t believe me? See for yourself (http://greenmonday.org/post/team/翠華餐廳-tsui-wah-restaurant/)!
溫野菜 On-Yasai - Kowloon Tong, TST, CWB, Taikoo
I’ve been once and I’m amazed by the variety of veggies (and meat too) even though its a 120-minute-all-you-can-eat buffet hotpot resto! Good for those who still want to have the convivial hotput experience with friends but also want to eat more veggies than meat.
無肉食 Ahimsa Buffet (link here)
All-you-can-eat 90-min vegetarian buffet for $108 weekday / $128 during weekend. Hong Kong style, not your ‘lettuce & rockets’ type of place. They do have loads of yummy Cantonese cold dishes like 木耳 (OMG Google says it’s literally “Wood Ear” / Fungus) and 蓮藕 (Lotus Root), and my favourite 馬蹄糕 (Water Chestnut Cake). They also have Chinese herbal tea, awesome boiled soup, Chinese hot dishes and 喳咋 (Mixed Bean Sweet Soup - what a terrible translation…. but that’s what google told me. Did you know Cha-cha originates from Macau?)
Been there twice. First time was a 10/10 perhaps because I was starving. Second time was a 8/10 maybe because I was a bit full already. NOT ideal if you want to engage in an intimate conversation or date night. It’s literally a vegetarian canteen. Make reservations prior if you’re not planning to visit early.
2DP - Tea & Veggie (link here)
Been there once. Loved the fig salad because it was just A LOT OF FIGS and also beautifully textured seasoned with vinegar. What’s good is that you can opt for a vegan option for vegetarian dishes. Not to mention that their tea cocktail is simply outstanding in terms of creativity and ‘instagrammability’ (is this a word? Haha)
Not so comfortable seating because it was just too cramped. Recommend going there early or you have to make reservations. See menu here.
每日素食 （I guess it‘s “Everyday Veggie”?) (link here)
I’ve been with @livewellbasics & @kimmiekimmiemore to this very instagrammable veggie buffet! Also all-you-can-eat, but a lot more well-lit and slightly bigger than Ahimsa Buffet. Similar type of setting I would say, but it serves a bit more variety in terms of the western style dishes and dessert such as garlic bread, sago pudding and pastries. Also slightly more pricey. Long queue, so be sure to go early!
Leisurely Veggie (see below)
Veggies Sky (link here)
Chinese cuisine. We went there as a group of 10 (?) for @therealfoodiejojo’s birthday and was amazed by the COMPLEX assortment of appetizer dishes. This is the kind of restaurant that celebrates ‘the more the merrier’, because the larger the group size, the more appetizer dishes they will offer. The last time we went, there must be at least 3 tables celebrating birthdays. They have one signature birthday ‘surprise’, with a very keen waiter putting up a unique and VERY memorable performance for the birthday boys & girls. :P You just HAVE to go.
Ovo Cafe (see below)
Veggie SF (link here)
SF stands for San Francisco. This is one of the mainstream vegetarian resto that many people know of. Western style. I quite like this over the other ones because it’s one of the few with larger portions! I’m not really sure if the aesthetics are on-point SF, but the ambiance is definitely coherent, memorable, and one of a kind. Extensive menu, lots of options, love their mocktail and soy shakes! Great for a small (and hungry) group because you can sample different dishes -- can’t have too much food if it’s just a date night between the two.
樂茶軒 Lock Cha Tea House (link here)
Chinese Dim Sum. I haven’t been there but I see some instagram photos of vegetarian dim sum (which is quite rare!), so I thought maybe I should include it in the list. Seems like a tranquil environment judging from the photos.
Ovo Cafe (link here)
Western style. I’ve been there a couple of times and really like the high ceiling and the decor. Great if you’d like a quick meal. Have been to their Sheung Wan branch as well and the menu didn’t disappoint. Refreshing combos and great ambiance. Now that I am looking at their menu again, I realise how much I want to visit again! I love their brown sugar tofu smoothie (which tastes exactly like the Cantonese tofu pudding blended haha!). Great for an intimate catch-up with 1-2 friends.
居素屋日本野菜料理 Isoya Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant (link here)
Japanese. Haven’t been there before but I ran into this when I was doing research online. Can’t promise it’s going to be good but I guess it’s worth a try????? It’s rare to find a vegetarian Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong.
Leisurely Veggie (link here)
“Fusion with Hong Kong characteristics” :P. I’ve been there a couple of times because their food isn’t too oily and it isn’t your typical of Chinese or Western vegetarian food. Maybe you can call it ‘fusion’ without the fancy marketing and ambiance. If you’re used to Western cuisines, you might find the combo quite strange.
But if you’re used to the Hong Kong palette, I think you’ll like it. I usually visit eating the dinner set. It is quite pricey (HKD 200ish) but you will be VERY full after. Recommend making reservations because the CWB branch is ALWAYS FULL.
Veggie Spinner (link here)
Another “Fusion with Hong Kong characteristics”. :P Very cozy space, portion is decent, and they have a selection of vegan cake too. Definitely make reservations prior because it is quite small and gets filled up quite easily.
聰嫂·原素 Cong Sao Veggie Express (link here)
Home-cooked Chinese dishes. Haven’t been there before but dear @socialveganhk recommended this place! I have no doubt that it’s good because she says so! :)
Ahimsa Buffet (see above)
If you’re not in the mood for a proper meal, I also have a few cafes for you!
Lucy Coffee and Food @ Cheung Sha Wan (link here)
I live right round the corner so I was excited to discover this little cafe that serves vegan cakes and coffee with plant milk options! I’ve tried their Almond tart with White Wine Poached Pear (I’m sorry I’m terrible at translating name of dishes…) and it was just right! Not too sweet nor too dry. Yes yes yes it’s not vegan but I am excited to try the other vegan alternatives. I was assured that their vegan options taste just as good!
Habitu (link here)
Of course most of us are no strangers to Habitu. I have had their Green All Day Breakfast no less than 10 times, and they serve a decent range of vegetarian dishes and beverages. I love their Beetroot Soy Latte and Rose Soy Latte (sorry I can’t remember the exact name)!
There must be an app for it…
Yes there is! If you’re super determined, you can try this app 素..邊度有得食... for more local (like, really local) choices! I haven’t used it before so not sure if it’s useful. Let me know what you think about the app!
Or I have been told multiple times after this post is out that Happy Cow is another great alternative. Check out their website & the app!
I’m legit exhausted coming up with this list but I hope it’s helpful! Another observation is that almost all of these restaurants have the word ‘veggie’ in their names…. HAHA Guys, we gotta be more creative in the future!