In a city of a gazillion restaurants, it’s already difficult to try and agree on one choice. But when you throw special dietary requirements into the mix, it gets even harder. No one wants to be stuck eating salty fries or side veggies when out for meals, right? Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up some of the best restaurants in Hong Kong with a menu dedicated to those who are vegan, vegetarian, suffering from celiac disease (or simply choosing to be gluten-free!), and more.
Photo courtesy of @thisgirlabroad
David Thompson’s much-hyped Thai fine-dining establishment Aaharn understands the need for rich flavours on greener plates. Here you’ll find elevated versions of your favourite pan-Thai classics—unsurprising when you consider that David Thompson was awarded the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Lifetime Achievement Award for his expertise on Thai cuisine.
The real star is the Vegetarian Set Menu ($788), featuring Aaharn’s signature dishes, but made meatless. We love the rarely seen amuse-bouche Ma Hor that Chef David brought over from his old restaurant Nahm, traditionally made with caramelised minced meat, but served at Aaharn with a vegetarian twist of caramelised onions. The canape of ginger, peanuts, toasted coconut, and lime wrapped up in a betel leaf was fragrant and refreshing, and we couldn’t get enough of the grilled silken eggplant salad main dish. If you’ve got your eye on a meaty dish, ask the friendly staff for recommendations on how to get it made without.
Aaharn, 1/F, Armoury Building, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 2703 9111
Photo courtesy of @nchatenier
Richard Ekkebus’ Amber holds a revered position in probably every local and international gourmand’s heart. Ranked 21st in the 2019 edition of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and holding two Michelin stars, this Mandarin Oriental stalwart is constantly evolving their menu to be more personable and more progressive. Each dish is meticulously crafted and lets the clean taste of ingredients and fine cooking techniques shine. Ingredients are sourced as sustainably as possible—there’s even a garden on the hotel rooftop that produces herbs and small vegetables for the restaurant!
In that same thoughtful vein, Amber’s revamped menu has done away with dairy and gluten, and the full Vegetarian Experience is available during both lunch and dinnertime. Calling it an experience is apt: some courses are prepared tableside, with in-depth explanations of the composition of each bite, and one course is even served to you by the head honcho himself in the massive open kitchen. Though not the wallet-friendliest option on this list, Amber is definitely worth the splurge for a memorable meal and a special occasion for those with diverse dietary needs.
Amber, 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central | (+852) 2132 0066
Photo courtesy of Cynthia Loh
Although he’s been an authority of Hong Kong’s fine-dining scene for almost a decade, Australian chef Shane Osborn has really found a second wind of success after his appearance on hit Netflix show The Final Table. His quietly brilliant eatery (maybe not so quiet, as they do boast one Michelin star) Arcane is tucked away in a corner of Central, offering simple, healthy, yet phenomenal food, and one of Hong Kong’s first fully vegan tasting menus.
The fare is mainly contemporary European, drawing from Shane Osborn’s experience of running the Michelin-starred Pied à Terre, with heavy East Asian influences. Both the lunch and dinner set menus can be made vegetarian or even vegan upon request. Available options change by the seasons or even by the day, as the menu utilises locally-grown produce. Special ingredients are flown in daily from Japan.
The culinary team’s love for clean eating and vegetables really shines through, with the meat often playing second fiddle to the light and bright greens. While Arcane is a pricier option compared to some on this list, it’s definitely worth a visit. Try booking a table for lunch for a Michelin experience that’s relatively easy on your wallet. Regardless, Arcane is a restaurant worth a visit for both carnivores and herbivores.
Arcane, 3/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central | (+852) 2728 0178
Photo courtesy of @beefandliberty
Beef & Liberty
Not only does Beef & Liberty love burgers, but they also love the environment. Did you know that they were the official launch partners of the Impossible Burger last year? Leaves & Liberty is Beef & Liberty’s sustainable and plant-based sister brand, and there is a growing variety of vegan and vegetarian items highlighted on every section of the mostly meaty menu.
For starters, we love the Mac & Cheese Bites ($52), which strike the balance between crunchy and gooey, and the rocket pesto dip that keeps it from being too indulgent. For mains, every beef burger on the menu can be made with the Impossible meat patty instead. The signature Falafel Burger ($99) is a solid choice for those who want a veggie burger that doesn’t rely on alternative meats. For every Falafel Burger sold, the restaurant donates $8 to the Nature Conservancy Hong Kong, the local chapter of a global non-profit that serves to conserve the world’s natural and water resources. Eat good and do good.
Café Gray Deluxe
The Upper House’s famed Café Gray Deluxe not only offers stunning views of Hong Kong, but also delectable fine dining. Award-winning chef Gray Kunz designed the Revitalising Menu—a wholly vegan, non-GMO, organic, and gluten-free affair—after embarking on a personal wellness journey that led him to become more aware of the rebalancing our bodies.
Sticking to the restaurant’s modern European palate, the Revitalising Menu changes weekly to ensure that the freshest and most seasonal ingredients are used, and a diverse array of flavours can be experienced. Choose from a two- or three-course meal (being healthy doesn’t mean skipping dessert!), accompanied by rice crackers served with veggie puree, as well as home-brewed kombucha and chocolate mendiants to finish off your revitalisation. Though the menu may seem sparse, the food is very wholesome and hearty, and you’ll leave with a full stomach and heart.
Café Gray Deluxe, 49/F, 88 Queensway, Pacific Place, The Upper House, Admiralty | (+852) 3968 1106
If you love Sichuan food, Chilli Fagara is the place to go. Serving up the full spectrum of authentic Sichuan flavours, Chilli Fagara is very accommodating to their fiercely loyal clientele. Their newly-launched and dedicated Vegan Menu supplements their already long list of vegetarian and gluten-free offerings.
The regular and plant-based menu has three distinct sections: ‘Ma’, highlighting fagaras, the (in)famous numbing peppercorns; ‘La’, which showcases the colourful spicy chillies; and ‘Tang’, the coolest option, which is perfect for those whose palates are not so adventurous.
You’re spoiled for choice at Chilli Fagara, but the new Impossible Dumplings paired with peanut sauce and chilli oil blend are a particular stand-out. The Silky Tofu in Spicy Broth is a plant-based ode to the traditional Sichuan boiled fish, and matches up to the original in terms of flavour and portion. You’re going to want to bring a large group of friends and family here so you can try everything!
Chilli Fagara, 7 Old Bailey Street, Soho, Central | (+852) 2796 6866
Long-standing LKF joint Kyoto Joe not only serves up sumptuous modern Japanese sushi and robatayaki, but they’re also a great treat for the vegetarian food lovers. Take advantage of their very affordable All-You-Can-Eat Deal ($350) on the exclusive vegetarian menu every Monday through Wednesday from 6.30pm–10.30pm. Feast on rolls, tempura, items from the grill, and mock meat dishes are virtually indistinguishable from real meat.
In particular, try the Mokku Yakitori and the Mock Prawn that’s lightly fried with sesame and a tangy sweet and spicy sauce. You’ll also devour the delicious speciality rolls—we especially love the spicy La La Roll made with jalapeños, beetroot, ginnan, avocado, and lotus roots, all wrapped up in bean curd skin and drizzled with a spicy Thousand Island sauce. Who says you can’t enjoy Japanese food without meat or seafood?
Kyoto Joe, 2/F, 1 Lan Kwai Fong, Central | (+852) 2804 6800