Organic and vegetarian restaurants are becoming quite common in Hong Kong but I always tend to get bored of the same rabbit food day in, day out… that was until I discovered Dandy’s Organic Café tucked in the heart of Sheung Wan. The décor is sleek and cosy with a huge green collage on one wall, an open kitchen in the back and tall glass doors that fold back to welcome customers inside. There are also a multitude of newspaper and magazine reviews at the front of Dandy’s… always a positive sign in my opinion!
To say I am a regular here would be an understatement, not only do I eat the warm vegan salad nearly every day for lunch, but the chicken pesto steak and detox juices are pretty much my diet staples… what can I say, I’m a creature of habit! And… if I’m feeling like something sweet, the tofu chocolate hazelnut mousse is divine and practically sin-free!
Vivi Cheung the owner is always on premise adding the finishing touches to her organic, vegan and vegetarian creations that are as healthy as they are tasty. She is something of a celebrity as far as food therapists go and her unique vision to create a one-stop shop (you can buy some fantastic organic products here too!) for healthy living is very inspirational.
The menu is expansive covering everything from detox juices to delicious desserts… it even has an index to explain the long list of ingredients in case customers are unfamiliar with certain items (maqui berry anyone?!).
Nearly every item on the menu includes an exact list of ingredients and nutritional information, so it’s also perfect for little ones with allergies or food sensitivities. They also do a daily special consisting of fresh beautiful soup and a main dish served with coffee or tea. It is always changing and if I ever feel like mixing it up a bit it’s a fantastic choice!
I decided this gem was too good to keep to myself and brought Lauren to try it out in an attempt to turn her into an organic foodie! We started off our meal with the beautiful warm vegan salad that was fresh and filling, with a variety of textures. Pan-fried seasonal mixed vegetables including pumpkin, broccoli and beetroot tossed in a mixture of seeds, and hazelnut pesto sauce all sat beautifully garnished in front of us. I was surprised at the super low calorie count (only 242!) as it was so satisfying. This salad proves that gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian dishes don’t have to be boring!
Next up was one of Dandy’s famous large salads. Typically in health conscious restaurants portion sizes run on the skimpy side but the opposite is true here. Salad lovers – this is THE spot to go to for filling, unique, and wonderful salads. They are very low in fat, loaded with nutrients, have a low glycemic index, and are perfect for people with high cholesterol and diabetes.
The chicken and avocado salad is a firm favourite with all the regulars, but we opted for the famous sea bass and pasta salad for a change. Gluten-free and dairy-free this mixed salad comes dress in maqui berry chia vinaigrette with a large succulent piece of fish perched on top. The brown rice pasta was a little too al-dente for our liking but Vivi explained that the texture softened when served with sauce in the organic pasta dishes on the menu. Apart from this minor detail the dish was perfect and upon further reading I discovered it was super high in vitamin C, protein, dietary fibre, vitamin A, and calcium… (just what the doctor ordered!). We also loved the tangy sweetness the dried figs brought to the dish.
Pleasantly full but looking forward to getting stuck into some organic meat, we tucked into a nicely presented chicken steak pesto. At only 260 calories this generous portion of pan-fried chicken breast steak came with baked potatoes, pumpkins and a green salad with Brazil nut pesto sauce. Full of protein and low in carbohydrates and sugar, this is a perfect option for a lunch or dinner that wont spike your sugar levels or leave you feeling hungry afterwards. The chicken was tender, moist and most importantly well seasoned and flavourful!
With the main courses behind us we decided to try out one of the many detox juices on offer. After reading through colon cleansing, weight-loss, alkaline-booster, liver-flush and many more juices on offer, we decided on the anti-inflammatory juice that claimed to reduce the damaging effects of radiation (an attempt to reverse the effects of our i-phone addictions!). It was pleasant to drink and felt very healthy.
I have always had a sweet tooth, and after researching a variety of ways to curb it, or deal with it in a manner that didn’t make it impossible to squeeze into my skinny jeans, I discovered agave nectar, a natural sweeter that is low in calories. Vivi uses this and xylitol to make her huge dessert menu delicious and guilt-free.
While Lauren was delighted with how the tofu chocolate hazel nut mousse looked, she was skeptical that something vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free could actually taste good too! After demolishing over half of it, her views on organic fare definitely did a 360-degree turn, and I’m happy to say she has been converted to the green side! This is the perfect treat for the kiddos as they won’t be on a manic sugar high afterwards!
Dandy’s Organic Café never fails to disappoint, and the service is friendly and attentive too. The main element that I love about this local Sheung Wan spot is its consistency. The soup is always fresh, the salads vibrant and the specials perfectly balanced… my only complaint is that my secret seems to be out!
Thumbs Up: Dandy’s is the ideal spot for healthy, organic food that you know will be good for the whole family. If you want to guarantee a meal full of vitamins, nutrients and all things good for the kiddos, this is the place to come. It’s close attention to ingredients means that you know exactly what will be in each dish, so mamas who have children with allergies can relax! The little ones won’t even realize that they’re eating such healthy (and often describe by children as ‘yucky’!) food because it’s so delicious. With curries, burgers, rice dishes and pasta, you don’t have to worry about not being able to find anything kid-friendly either… they even do a fish & chip salad! Ok, not quite the greasy chippy you’re imagining, but there are definitely foods here your kids will love.
Thumbs Down: No kids cutlery or crockery. Despite the range of food on offer, if you have particular fussy kids this might not be the best option for them.
Stroller access: Although Dandy’s is an attractive, cosy place to lunch, it is a bit on the smaller side. Strollers can be left just outside of the restaurant (in clear view) but it would be a struggling squeezing them through.
High Chairs: Yep!
Kids menu: No. However, the huge range available is sure to suit them! It’s the perfect place to get your kids hooked on healthier foods, as it all tastes great.
Price range: Expect to pay around $100-$300 per person for a main dish, snacks are $50-$160. Not the cheapest option, but worth it for the health benefits! Dishes are on the large size so could easily be shared between kids.
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday, 11.30am-11pm
Dandy’s, 108 Jervios Street, Sheung Wan, 2815 8221, www.facebook.com/dandysorganiccafe