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Where to find Hong Kong’s best Japanese vegetarian food

By Alisa Chau 6 October 2021 | Last Updated 25 August 2022

Header image courtesy of @guusan_hk (via Instagram)

Famed as a nation for its high life expectancy, it comes as no surprise that Japanese cuisine tends to be light, healthy, and wholesome. Aside from being one of the main consumers of fish and seafood in the world, there is also a great appreciation for fresh vegetables and seasonal ingredients that make for some seriously delectable dishes. Without compromising on the signature Nippon style of cooking and traditional flavours, here are the best places in Hong Kong to explore the breadth and depth of Japanese vegetarian food.

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Photo: 素味謀麵 Soulmate Ramen (via Facebook)
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Soulmate Ramen

An element central to a winning bowl of ramen is its broth, and Soulmate Ramen knows a thing or two about packing in the umami. As the first to offer meat-free ramen in the city, this homely spot is a hidden gem in Lan Kwai Fong, lending it an air that rings with visions of Tokyo’s narrow lanes filled with humble roadside shokudō (食堂). Its deliciously thick and gratifying soups are made from several base options, including tomato and carrot (starting from $88), pumpkin and bell pepper (starting from $88), as well as a four-mushroom mix (starting from $98), all of which are vegan and compatible with a Buddhist diet.

Soulmate Ramen’s menu allows you to pick your own favoured combinations, with mouth-watering toppings like fried baby sweetcorn, okra, pickled oyster mushroom, and more. Classic Japanese side dishes and snacks such as Japanese fried dumplings ($45) and edamame ($28) are a few complements to indulge in side-by-side. Lovingly stewed, every heart-warming serving leaves you with a full belly minus that greasy, stuffed feeling.

Soulmate Ramen, 16 Wo On Lane, Lan Kwai Fong, Central | (+852) 6378 8196

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Isoya

Step inside this bright space and find a sanctum of calm alongside refined Japanese eats, evocative of Kyoto-style classics. At the heart of Isoya’s concept there lies an emphasis on using seasonal vegetables and fruits in a manner that honours authentic tastes.

Isoya’s chef takes the lead in this kaiseki (懐石) restaurant, where the offerings are on constant rotation based on the best available ingredients. Keeping dishes simple, the creativity lies in playing around with well-known components and familiar recipes—think sushi topped with plump slices of marinated bell pepper in place of raw salmon, or a cooling block of tofu that emanates the aroma of sesame. You might get a fishy feeling about the familiar food being plated up, but rest assured that its components are certified fish-free!

Isoya Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant, 9/F, 83 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 5500 8812

Photo: @guusan_hk (via Instagram)
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Guu San

For an option that is grab-and-go than sit-and-savour, there is Japanese speciality supermarket Guu San’s very own Kome Korner and Salfee Bar. Kome Korner is a pit stop for delicious and nutritious onigiri, soups, and vegetable side dishes, presenting a whole range of fillings ensconced in pearly grains of rice imported from Japan. As for the adjacent salad bar and café, you will find nine different types of salads that change every day, making for a refreshing bite that will not weigh you down during the dreaded afternoon slump.

Guu San, Shop 01–02, 15 Middle Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2892 0868

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That’s It (純粹食所)

Hong Kong’s café boom has brought with it a broad assortment of mash-ups in addition to a plethora of quirky themes, and this trend has not seemed to slow down. In fact, neither has our appetite for it! Combining a tasteful dining space bedecked in a well-loved tan and cream colourway, with a menu of set meals alongside a roster of trendy baked goods, That’s It throws together a bundle of popular traits into a tried-and-tested melting pot.

Laced with ideas derived from mindful eating, the menu items have been conceived with the ingredients’ natural goodness and inherent flavours in mind. Although the items mimic popular Japanese dishes visually and upon first taste, there are elevated depths to the flavours. Indulge in the comforting warmth of oden ($108) or a yaki miso onigiri with fermented bean curd mushroom ($98), and revel in the plant-based deliciousness. On a good day, a visit will earn you a run-in with the resident cats Mr Barcode and Ghosty.

That’s It, Unit Q, 10/F, Phase 4, Kwun Tong Industrial Centre, Kwun Tong | (+852) 6512 1088

Photo: Mum Veggie Café (via Facebook)
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Mum Veggie Café

Having experienced its fair share of moving around the city, this beloved diner has finally made its return to San Po Kong. Reflecting the modest and well-balanced food on offer, the furniture of humble wooden desks and chairs give off a nostalgic feeling of being in a school cafeteria, while the one-page menu evokes a fuzzy, satisfying mood. Tuck into a set meal (starting from $100) built from three or four sides of your choice, with hot plates like eggplant in ginger and onion sauce or the zesty yuzu vinegar marinated tomato, all of which are loaded and hearty without hurting your body or the planet.

Mum Veggie Café, G/F, 34 Yan Oi Street, San Po Kong | (+852) 2115 3348

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Alisa Chau

Editor

Always down for an adventure, Alisa’s general approach to life (and anything, really) is to “just go with the flow.” She believes that the most unforgettable moments are the most spontaneous ones. One thing she will always be certain of, however, is her love for the band My Chemical Romance and potato-based food.

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