Header image courtesy of @gaiaveggieshophk (via Instagram)
Originally published by Inés Fung. Last updated by Beverly Ngai.
Hong Kong has a large Buddhist population, as well as an increasing awareness for healthy eating. As plant-based lifestyles become more mainstream, more and more Chinese restaurants catering to vegetarian and vegan diets (that are not opened and operated by religious organisations) have popped up across the city. No matter what your reason for wanting to eat green is, if you’re craving a good Chinese, here’s where to go for Hong Kong’s best Chinese vegetarian restaurants.
Feeling nostalgic for those old school days of yore? Replete with book-lined shelves, desk lamps, and vintage wooden furniture, My Meat Run Laboratory will give you the throwback vibes you’re looking for. Matching its comforting retro interiors, this spot offers upgraded (and vegetarian) renditions of classic Hong Kong and fusion comfort eats like claypot rice, laksa, Taiwanese beef noodles, as well as a salad bar for the health-conscious. Many of the dishes are even served in metal plates and bowls for the full school canteen effect! We’re big fans of the char siu & egg rice ($98) and the Impossible beef loaf & egg claypot ($108)—they taste just like the real deal.
My Meat Run Laboratory, Shop 302, 3/F, D2 Place One, 9 Cheung Yee Street, Lai Chi Kok | (+852) 3619 7581
The serene Chi Lin Vegetarian restaurant is tucked away under a waterfall inside the picturesque Nan Lian Gardens, home to Chi Lin Nunnery. Everything on the menu follows Buddhist vegetarian guidelines and is MSG-free as well as low in oil, salt, sugar, and cholesterol. Go for the very affordable set menus, where you can sample a wide variety of dishes including dim sum, fried rice, and soup. There is a minimum charge per person, but rest assured that all proceeds at Chi Lin Vegetarian go back towards the operations of the beloved Nan Lian Gardens. We recommend making a reservation, as it does get busy on weekends despite its secluded location.
Chi Lin Vegetarian, Long Men Lou, Nan Lian Garden, 60 Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill | (+852) 3658 9388
Gaia Veggie is a longstanding local vegetarian favourite famous for its clever remakes of popular meat and seafood dishes, such as Peking duck ($106), sweet & sour pork ($116), and even abalone sashimi ($86). Its lunch and afternoon tea menu is an absolute steal and features new dishes regularly. Regulars of Gaia Veggie will know that it’s near impossible to be able to try everything on the fun and innovative menu, and the affordable prices keep customers coming back.
Green Veggie is a great lunch spot for those in the know around Wan Chai. The spacious restaurants offer an eclectic menu of dishes ranging from stone pot rice and stir-fries to deep-fried cutlets and even vegetarian sashimi. There is also an excellent eight-course dinner set ($238 per person) for those with a little more time to savour their meal, featuring rich and flavourful Chinese classics made vegetarian, like its signature veggie char siu bao. The traditional soups are made fresh daily and are great for an upset stomach.
Green Veggie, Shop 11–12, G/F, Tonnochy Towers, 254–272 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2338 6179
Kung Tak Lam is another Chinese vegetarian OG in the city, and the only vegetarian Bib Gourmand Restaurant listed in the 2017 Hong Kong & Macau Michelin Guide. The gorgeous Shanghainese cuisine, as well as delectable dim sum, is made meticulously with all the proper techniques as regional chef Lai Chung Man is an experienced vegetarian chef and also maintains a plant-based lifestyle.
Lockcha Tea House has a second location in the ever-popular Tai Kwun complex, but it’s the Hong Kong Park location that really embodies their spirit of slow living. The restaurant itself is in a restored colonial building made to resemble a Chinese scholar’s quarters of years past. It’s best to come early, as their signature vegetarian dim sum choices sell out easily. The selection of premium teas here is unrivalled and makes for an excellent way to pass a lazy day.
Lockcha Tea House, G/F, The K.S. Lo Gallery, Hong Kong Park, 10 Cotton Tree Drive, Admiralty | (+852) 2801 7177
Loving Hut is part of an international chain of vegan restaurants. You’re spoiled for choice at this quick and easy counter service joint, and there are also infrequent weekend dinner buffets. Items on the lunch menu rotate daily, and there’s everything from french fries to lo mien on offer. For those who may be a bit wary of Loving Hut, don’t worry, the New Age religious materials are kept to a minimum, and vegan fast food is at the forefront.
Luk Yung Sin Kwun is a blast from the veggie past. Named after an old temple, you’ll find traditional Chinese vegetarian dishes done right here, without the greasiness that you might find elsewhere. Go for the signature vegetarian abalone ($98), fried taro fish ($78), and sweet and sour pork shrimp ($88). Chinese dessert soups are complimentary during non-fasting periods.
Luk Yung Sin Kwun, 38 Jordan Road, Jordan | (+852) 2730 8665
Refresh yourself from the strenuous walk up and down the Big Buddha (bonus points if you hiked from Tung Chung) with a meal at the Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Kitchen. The vegetarian meals at Po Lin Monastery are the very same that the monks and nuns eat themselves, and are believed to “cleanse the stomach and intestine.”
Portions are adjusted according to the number of people in your party to avoid wastage, and dishes are seasonal, so only the freshest produce is used. A standard meal consists of soup, rice, a deep-fried dish, and a stir-fried dish. Not in the mood for a full meal? The snack shop beside the restaurant offers a silky smooth beancurd dessert that’s made daily by the monastery, in addition to other desserts.
Po Lin Monastery, Ngong Ping, Lantau
Pure Veggie House holds a special place in many hearts. It has gone through several location changes over its 10-plus years of operation, but the impeccable food and service remain. Pure Veggie House is a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant, meaning their food is made without MSG, dairy, alcohol, eggs, and spices. We are particular towards the contemporary vegan cuisine here, but moreover, we love the vegan hotpot set and early-morning vegan dim sum offerings.
Pure Veggie House, 1/F, Ka Wing Building, 27 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2525 0552
Visiting Veggie Mami feels like you’re visiting a friend’s home. They are only open from Friday to Sunday, but you can tell they put a lot of love into their homely, family-style dishes, changing the menu often to reflect seasonal produce—and it’s all organic! There are dishes of all kinds here, from pizzas to traditional Chinese zongzi (粽子), and private dining is also available for those who prefer a little more intimacy. Founder Annie Choi frequently hosts workshops to promote health and wellness, and has racked up a bit of a cult following for her culinary delights.
Veggie Mami, Shop 1, G/F, Beacon Lodge, 338 Shun Ning Road, Cheung Sha Wan | (+852) 9138 4921