Hong Kong’s most famous culinary tradition is dim sum. From Yuen Long in the west to Tai Po in the east, and from Sheung Shui in the north to Stanley in the south, Hong Kongers flock to restaurants to enjoy these “small treats”. The good news is that plant eating locals do not need to miss out on this tradition, with large numbers of Buddhist and other local vegetarian restaurants offering a full range of dim sum delights.
We visited three of these restaurants.
M GARDEN…Omega Place, Dundas Street, Mongkok
This popular vegetarian restaurant is justly famous for its “faux meat” dishes. It also offers an interesting range of dim sum treats.
The head chef, Mr Cheng, is from Nanjing, and he brings his own special touch to Hong Kong style eating.
We started with one of their dim sum specialties, the delicious and subtle “Combination of Three”- tofu, capsicum and eggplant- which is based on traditional Hong Kong street food. The Radish Cake was also tasty, using chilli instead of the traditional dried shrimp paste as the main flavor. The Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf prompted our meat eating friend to comment that it reminded her of the chicken ones she enjoyed as a child. We all enjoyed the way the subtle taste of the leaves absorbed into the rice.
Of course, not all people are fans of “faux meat”, and they can enjoy a range of buns and dumplings, or try the delicious Vegetables Fried in Bean Curd Sheets. This proved the most popular dish at our table.
M Garden is an excellent choice if you are worried that your meat eating friends may not be ready for vegan dim sum.
THREE VIRTUES….4/F, JD Mall, 233-239 Nathan Road, Jordan
Nathan Road, Jordan, is a busy bustling street and this large, popular Buddhist restaurant fits the location well. It is very popular with dim sum lovers, both vegan and non-vegan.
Buddhist statues, posters and decorations adorn The Three Virtues, reminding visitors of the long cultural history of Chinese vegetarianism and its links to Buddhism.
The food is aromatic and there is a good range to choose from. We enjoyed the Beijing Dumplings- “xiu long bao”- which combine ginger, a hot soupy sauce, and mock pork in an original and tasty way. The Bean Curd sheets in Soup combined rich flavours that filled the mouth and used a minimum of oil. The Fried Radish Pastry also combined strong flavours and was not too oily, as these can sometimes be.
Our group agreed that the Steamed Rice Sheet Rolls were the standout item. This was good “comfort food” and its aromas of ginger, needle mushrooms, mock pork and soya sauce reminded one member of our group of family dim sum gatherings.
Three Virtues gives a traditional dim sum ambience and provides food to match while staying true to Hong Kong’s vegetarian traditions.
QUEEN OF THE EAST- 25/F Circle Tower, Tang Lung St, Causeway Bay
On the 25th floor of Circle Tower in Causeway Bay is Queen of the East, the third dim sum restaurant we visited. With its traditional Chinese style painted furniture and the calming statue of Gwun Ying, Queen of the East is a relatively small restaurant with a lovely relaxed atmosphere.
We shared Vegetables and Noodles in Fried Bean Curd Sheets, which our meat eating friend said was like “a very delicious omelette.”
The Fried Buns were aromatic with a nice use of spices which gave each mouthful different flavours on the front and back palate.
The highlight for our group was the BBQ Pork Bun. The bun itself was perfect, with a light and fluffy texture and the filling was a delicious combination of savoury and sweet.
The Queen of the East is a relaxed and intimate venue for a peaceful dim sum experience.
These three restaurants all offer their own take on dim sum and we left each more than satisfied. One piece of advice if you are after a true vegan dim sum experience, some vegetarian restaurants sometimes use eggs in some dishes or to glaze pastries. Remember to say “ M’yew gai dan” and enjoy a vegan dim sum that will touch your heart.