I think my favourite part of Hong Kong was getting vegetarian food. I used to love that back in Canada: entire restaurants where everything was meat-y gluten and mushrooms, manipulated to resemble animal parts. But also the tofu: Chinese vegetarians braise and serve it in a hot pot. So the first thing I did after dropping my bags at the hotel was look for a vegetarian restaurant. The concierge pointed me in the direction of one, which I never found. But I did find a meat place with a picture of braised tofu outside. They spoke no English, but I pointed and, in a few minutes, was served this:
It was hot and delicious. That night after my interview, I walked 45 minutes to a pure vegetarian restaurant. There are a couple of fake-meat places in Seoul that I frequent, but they’re run by the cultish, creepy Ching Hai, the spiritual leader/capitalist who fancies herself an envoy of world peace and who insists on decorating her restaurants with her terrible sketches. So it was a relief to go to a restaurant and not have to watch the Supreme Master’s TV speeches. Instead I had delightful gluten chicken with kiwi:
The thing about Hong Kong is that people know what vegetarian is. Unlike Korea, where you have to explain “no meat, no chicken, no seafood”, and small fish are ground up to use as salt for kimchi (or Russia, where people think you die if you don’t eat meat), it was easy to find. I went to a greasy diner, of which there are plenty, and asked the waiter for something vegetarian. There was nothing on the menu, but he brought me rice, tofu, vegetables and sauce, and it was delicious. Friday night I went to the Light Vegetarian Restaurant – look, a vegetarian restaurant that’s easy to find!
I also ordered shrimp dumplings, which arrived as cabbage dumplings. The waitress tried very hard to convince me that these were just as good, but I dislike having my order switched without being told, so I demurred. She made sure I knew that she didn’t charge me for them. I can’t recommend a place that tries to bait-and-switch diners, but if it was Seoul I’d still go.
Saturday was, as mentioned, Kung Tak Lam Shanghai Vegetarian Cuisine, which provided a great view and perfectly acceptable noodles, gluten chicken, and pumpkin soup:
Bibimbap and soondubu are great, but I really miss Hong Kong’s much-better-developed vegetarian cuisine. Damn, now I want lunch.