These restaurants will cater to your dietary requirements, tastes and choices.
Having any kind of food intolerance or allergy can be a challenge. The good news is that there are now quite a few options for people with varied tastes and preferences (and in some cases, serious health requirements), to eat out without having to worry. Here is a round-up of some local favourites which can offer a wide variety of food options from vegan and vegetarian to gluten, nut, dairy and even shellfish-free.
Founder and Chef, Vivi Cheung is well known for being able to cater for any and all dietary requirements. After struggling with her own health issues (and conscious of her own family medical history), Vivi decided to extensively research both Eastern and Western foods for their nutritional and health benefits. Whatever your diet – gluten free, nut free, low GI/diabetic, low carb, as per blood type, vegan or vegetarian, you can find something truly delicious and nourishing at Dandy’s! I recently tried and loved the chicken and avocado salad that’s served alongside a brightly coloured, delicious liver detox juice (pictured). Also, the desserts are not-to-be-missed!
This is a chef who lives, eats and breathes health – she has even established her own local factory called ViLife which produces therapeutic sauces and super juice powders. A must-visit for both the food, the ambience and also the small shop that’s packed full of healthy organic products!
Dandy’s Organic Café, 32 Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2838 6166, www.dandysorganiccafe.com
If you are after a locally-inspired menu, look no further than the Old Bailey, one of the latest restaurant offerings in Tai Kwun. Old Bailey offers both vegan and vegetarian menu options with over 80% of its organic vegetables sourced from small farms in the New Territories. Even the beancurd is made from preservative-free sheets and the noodles are freshly made in a local factory in Wong Chuk Hang. The menu provides easy guidance for vegan/vegetarian options and some dishes can easily be prepared gluten-free upon request. My all-time favourite is the Vegan Dim Sum selection and if you go, don’t forget to try out the amazing teas on the Plantation and Teakha menus.
This little gem is tucked away on Lamma Island. When speaking to friends with varied food preferences and requirements, they mentioned this Middle Eastern vegetarian delight, so I got in touch with Chef Ayelet to make a booking for her “social dining” experience. Born and raised in Israel, she brings her heritage and her love of home cooking to Lamma island. She offers delicious vegetarian and vegan options influenced and inspired by Arabic food, made with produce from local markets and Ayelet’s own garden. Go for the food, the home ambience and an excuse to escape the hustle of Hong Kong island (if you have time, join one of her cooking classes).
Olive Leaf, Pak Kok, Lamma Island, Hong Kong, 9723 0459 (WhatsApp), www.oliveleaf.com
Indian cuisine offers a great selection of vegetarian dishes and Chaiwala is no different. This unique Indian restaurant offers both small and larger plates of regional specialities and clearly indicates which dishes contain dairy, nuts, shellfish and gluten. Kid-friendly booster seats and a special brunch menu are available on weekends and public holidays.
I remember when Angel Hon, owner and chef of Sweetpea Cafe first announced that she was going to take transform her passion for baking and gluten-free goodness into a fully-fledged business. That was three years ago and now Sweetpea has its own home in NoHo with a dedicated following of customers. The cakes have to be seen (and tasted) to be believed! From gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free to keto, Angel has found a way of catering to everyone’s dietary constraints.
Sweetpea Cafe, 4 Shin Hing St, Central, Hong Kong, 3689 7269, www.sweetpea.com
This restaurant has been founded by Peggy Chan, a chef/local celebrity. She champions clean and green eating and uses that passion to create innovative gourmet plant-based dishes. From the very first Grassroots Pantry which seated only a handful of customers back in 2011, the restaurant and menu has expanded to its current location on busy Hollywood Road. Expect to see a steady stream of customers coming in search of dishes such as Popcorn Chicken (made of mushrooms sourced from Taiwan) and the dairy-free Smoked Burrata Ravioli (made from cashews). When a restaurant menu includes an extensive list of labels such as raw, vegan, gluten-free, Buddhist-friendly and nut-free, you know you are in for a treat!
Places that are worth a mention…Mama San on Wyndham Street, which offers an entirely gluten-free menu, La Creperie (various locations) for its traditional savoury pancakes made with gluten-free buckwheat, and all the Pici restaurants for taking on gluten-free pasta requests. Veda on Arbuthnot Road offers a creative and inspirational vegetarian menu, the simple and sometimes ignored Pure Veggie House in Coda Plaza is always excellent and both Sangeetha and Saravanaa Bhavan in Tsim Sha Tsui are great for authentic South Indian goodness. Talking of going the extra mile – Chef Jerome from local favourite Saint Germain in Happy Valley also promises to do his very best to cater for any dietary requests. Just goes to show that you never know unless you ask!
Some tips while dining out with allergies:
- Always check the menu ahead of time to see what is on offer.
- Call the restaurant to alert them to any serious allergies (nuts/shellfish, etc.) in advance.
- Be kind to the staff and the kitchen – it isn’t always easy to cater to all requests especially given the space constraints of Hong Kong, but most restaurants will do their very best to accommodate!