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Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Hong Kong for 2024

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2 weeks ago

Hong Kong is often synonymous with the staples of Cantonese cuisine: dim sum, char siu, BBQ pork buns and more. And for good reason, the best Hong Kong itineraries will always include stops to experience the diverse dishes of Cantonese dining.

When I first moved to Hong Kong ten years ago, I remember thinking: what on earth am I going to eat here? But I quickly found out that Hong Kong is a vegetarian heaven.

Thanks to Buddhist traditions of abstaining from meat at certain times of the month and a regional surge in vegetarianism (wait until you visit Taiwan), Hong Kong is home to some of the best vegetarian restaurants in East Asia.

My overarching advice to anyone visiting Hong Kong is that many of the city’s best spots are often hidden down small alleyways or high up in towering buildings. And when it comes to eating out in Hong Kong, this guiding principle rings even truer. From the Buddhist vegetarian hole-in the-walls to the international cuisines of Soho, we have curated a guide to the best vegetarian restaurants in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s public transport is easy-to-use and extremely efficient, making quick hops across the city for a meal both doable and hassle-free. For more on getting around Hong Kong, don’t miss our comprehensive guide to everything you need to know before visiting Hong Kong.

Being vegetarian or vegan in Hong Kong

Unfortunately, outside of dedicated vegetarian spaces, it can often be difficult to find vegetarian options, particularly when eating at budget or mid-range restaurants.

If you are looking to eat Cantonese food, your best bet is to stick with dedicated vegetarian restaurants. Most non-vegetarian Cantonese restaurants offer an extremely limited selection of vegetarian options (steamed watercress, or vegetable dumplings if you are lucky).

In saying that, restaurants in Central and Soho (Hong Kong Island) and, to a lesser extent, Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon) often have some understanding of vegetarian requirements.

A note on cha chaan tengs

Cha chaan tengs refer to the old-school ‘Hong Kong cafes’ which emerged in the 1960s with a unique fusion of Cantonese classics with Western staples. Cha chaan teng Asian fusion cuisine isn’t exactly the sweet and sour chicken you’re probably used to, but rather eclectic and affordable dishes like Hong Kong French toast (smothered in butter) and macaroni soup with ham.

Generally speaking, cha chaan teng cuisine is not vegetarian friendly, and more conscientious eaters may want to ask whether dishes are cooked in lard (豬油, zyu jau in Cantonese). If you are good with dairy, some cha chaan teng classics – such as French toast or scrambled eggs – are generally safe bets. But, let’s be honest, if a restaurant isn’t designed for vegetarians, this will unlikely be your most memorable meal.

In saying that, visiting a cha chaan teng is a quintessential Hong Kong experience. For vegetarians, I recommend eating your main meal elsewhere, but still carving out time to experience cha chaan teng drinks such as yuenyang (mixed tea and coffee) or pineapple ice. You’ll find some of my favorite cha chaan tengs in our ultimate 3 Day Hong Kong Itinerary.

The quintessential Hong Kong experience: Yum cha

Before I recommend Hong Kong’s best vegetarian restaurants by neighborhood, I want to address the big burning question most vegetarians have upon arrival in Hong Kong: can vegetarians still experience yum cha?

Yum cha is the Cantonese mid-morning (but, for visitors, it’s often lunch) experience of eating dim sum paired with a cup of Chinese tea.

At this point, it’s probably no surprise to you that your ordinary neighborhood yum cha teahouse will have nearly nothing vegetarian-friendly. The good news is that a number of vegetarian restaurants offer a full dim sum experience that is 100% vegetarian.

Unquestionably, the best vegetarian yum cha is at Lock Cha Tea House in Hong Kong Park. With one of Hong Kong’s best tea menus (the Zhongshan Pu’er is my favorite) and high-quality dim sum staples including siu mai, turnip cake, cheong fan and more. Lock Cha is only a short walk to the Victoria Peak Tram terminus, making this an easy addition to any Hong Kong travel itinerary.

Best vegetarian restaurants in Hong Kong (by neighborhood)

Hong Kong Island

Central, Soho and Sheung Wan

Ahimsa Buffet

We’re all thinking it: the greatest concern with buffet restaurants is quality. The drill is always the same: you’re excited by the huge offering, fill up your plate, and leave bursting at the seams and feeling generally not very satisfied.

Set in the heart of vibrant Soho, Ahimsa Buffet is a gift to vegetarian travelers in Hong Kong. At Ahimsa, you will leave bursting at the seams. However, you will have eaten one of Hong Kong’s best vegetarian feasts. Every time I visit I am taken aback by how clean and genuinely tasty the selection at Ahimsa is.

Budget travelers can take advantage of Ahimsa’s reduced cost late afternoon pricing from 2:30 pm.

With dedicated sections for tempura, salads, proteins and noodles or rice – and not to mention numerous soup offerings – Ahimsa offers an opportunity to traverse the best of Cantonese cuisine in one meal. Even if the weather is hot, don’t miss out on their legendary ginger tea.

Fook Luk Sao

This little spot is hidden in a deadend alleyway of Central and is very much a local secret. You won’t find other tourists – or even an English sign – and will need to locate this restaurant by its Chinese name: 福祿壽健康素食.

Fook Luk Sao caters to the lunchtime rush hour in Central, closing daily at 3 pm and is completely closed on Sundays. This restaurant is entirely vegetarian, but vegans should note that some dishes include egg.

If you’re new to Hong Kong, Fook Luk Sao operates in a very local manner and is often very busy, so it’s crucial that you get the system right:

1. Before you enter the restaurant, take a look at the front window (you may need to hustle through a crowd). You will see 13 dishes set out. Your job now is to choose either two or three of these numbered dishes – they change daily. I would recommend writing down the numbers of the dishes you want – the staff here don’t speak much English and are generally running around.

2. Do not tell the staff outside your dish numbers (as they are preparing takeaway packages). Rather, take your numbers and show them to a waiter inside. Unless, of course, you would prefer takeaway (which is usually about HK$10 cheaper).

3. Once you have told the waiter your numbered order, find a seat at one of the shared roundtables. People in Hong Kong tend to keep to themselves at lunchtime but feel free to strike up a chat.

4. Your meal includes unlimited soup, fried noodles and rice. The waiters will not bring this to you. Rather, head to the back left corner where you will see the bowls and large tubs. Help yourself!

Fresca

If you’ve been traveling through East Asia for a while, you know the feeling – it’s time for something fresh. After days of dim sum, thick rice noodles and heavy sauces, sometimes your body just needs a healthy, recharge of a meal.

Fresca is one of my regular go-to lunch spots in the heart of Soho’s Hollywood Road. The process is simple: you choose your lunchbox size (small or large), select a base (rice, salad or mixed) and select your salad toppings.

Now, it would be unfair to call Fresca a salad bar. Rather, Fresca merges the best of Hong Kong cuisine with a California-style salad bar, and throws in a little splash of regional flavor from Korea, Sichuan and beyond. The result: a completely unique and organically Hong Kong restaurant.

Keep an eye open for Fresca’s specialities including their legendary spicy Korean bean paste tofu and Sichuan veggie mix. Both vegans and gluten-free travelers will be pleased to know that Fresca labels their toppings for all dietary concerns.

Root Vegan

Hong Kong has always been home to a number of contemporary vegetarian restaurants offering a similar menu of pan-Asian specialities and more Western-style menus (vegetarian burgers, pasta dishes and more). Unfortunately, many of the best didn’t survive the pandemic.

Luckily for visitors to Hong Kong, Root Vegan fills that gap in Hong Kong’s vegetarian dining scene.

With dishes such as Mapo Tofu Cauliflower Rice and the Korean Kimchi Burger, Root Vegan’s menu combines the best of regional cuisine with the palate of contemporary Western flavors. One of my favorite things about dining at Root Vegan is that you can get the choices your carnivorous friends have enjoyed for years. For example, Root Vegan’s burgers offer you either a ‘beef’ or ‘pork’ patty (both completely plant-based).

When I eat something excellent, I feel obliged to share it with the Travel Insighter community. Root Vegan’s Northern Thai Curry Noodle dish is an excellent vegetarian take on the traditional Chiang Mai khao soi, complete with soy-chicken drumsticks and fried wonton skins.

North Point

Three Virtues Vegetarian Restaurant

If you have already visited Lock Cha Tea House and are looking for more dim sum, Three Virtues is for you. Hidden in a North Point walk-up building, this huge vegetarian dining hall probably has over 30 large round dining tables. And yet, every time I go it’s teeming with people – usually large families.

Three Virtues is easily one of my favorite places for vegan food in Hong Kong. Beyond the lunchtime yum cha menu, don’t miss an extensive menu of exquisite takes on Cantonese sweet and sour fish, satay skewers and cheong fan (thick Hong Kong rice rolls).

Three Virtues is definitely worth the quick MTR hop to North Point. While you’re here, don’t miss out on the grandiose Monster Building (Yick Cheong Building) in nearby Quarry Bay. This iconic and Instagram-famous housing estate is home to an estimated 10,000 people!

Sai Ying Pun

Po Lin Yuen Vegetarian Restaurant

We’ve all been there – you’ve just landed and need a quick meal. I realize many travellers stay in Sai Ying Pun or close by in Sheung Wan, so I’ve included a handy vegetarian option nearby.

Po Lin Yuen is a classic Cantonese vegetarian restaurant. With a street-facing snack stand and a small interior restaurant, Po Lin Yuen offers an elaborate menu of Cantonese classics including bean curds and seasonal vegetable stews. My personal favorite and regular order is the potato and bean curd Hong Kong-style curry.

Solo travelers will be pleased to know that Po Lin Yuen offers a great ‘value combo for one’. The combo includes a choice of main, served with rice and soup for only HK$69 (US$9).

Kowloon

Tsim Sha Tsui and Jordan

Tsim Sha Tsui and Jordan are full of numerous Cantonese vegetarian restaurants. I’ll be frank: they all offer a similar model of a huge menu and I don’t think any compete with Lock Cha, Three Virtues or Fook Luk Sao. In saying that, if you’re craving a bowl of wonton soup or a plate of cheong fan, check out Light Vegetarian Restaurant or Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant.

But every vegetarian in Hong Kong knows that Tsim Sha Tsui is the holy grail of Indian vegetarian cuisine – and here are two of my favorites.

Branto

On the first floor of a Tsim Sha Tsui walk-up building, you’ll find Branto: my favorite Indian restaurant in the world. I’ve been coming to this pure vegetarian Indian restaurant for a decade. I’ve seen the staff’s children grow up and the bathroom get a glamorous (and very welcome) renovation.

Despite all the changes in Hong Kong, one thing has always remained the same: Branto’s complete and utter deliciousness.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the large menu, the staff will gladly share their ‘picture book menu’. And if you want my advice, here’s what I would order for two (very hungry) people: one masala dosa, the dry Manchurian (a real must), either the palak paneer or paneer tikka masala, one Hyderbadi pulao and a serving of chapati or deep-fried puri (if you’re feeling decadent).

Smrat

There’s no shortage of South Asian restaurants in Chungking Mansion. My favorite here is Smrat, a pure vegetarian Indian restaurant with both a ground floor ‘fast food’ stall and a higher floor restaurant.

I often pop by for a little snack, or to simply sit and watch the chaos of Chungking Mansion unfold. I’ll be candid: the ground floor restaurant is good for a quick samosa, but can sometimes be a little on the grungy side.

To reach the higher floor restaurant, I recommend you ask the staff at the ground floor restaurant. Confusingly, Chungking Mansion is a maze of extremely slow elevators.

If you don’t take the correct elevator, you’ll simply be walking through some of the smelliest stairwells in Hong Kong. And one more thing: the restaurant opens and closes at will; simply ring the doorbell and hope someone is there.

If you do manage to get a table, do not miss out on their homemade aloo paratha, the best I have tasted outside the streets of Karachi.

Sham Shui Po

Years

Years appears as a hipster-friendly, veggie burger brunch offering amid Sham Shui Po’s more famous restaurants and food stalls selling everything from cheong fan and snake soup.

Keeping in line with Hong Kong’s contemporary vegetarian ‘East meets West’ style, Years offers a delicious fusion tom yum risotto and some of the best sweet potato fries in north Kowloon.

Diamond Hill

Chi Lin Vegetarian

If you are visiting Hong Kong for more than a few days, or you’ve just completed the steep climb over Lion Rock, I recommend visiting Chi Lin Nunnery. This extremely pretty and iconic nunnery is home to one of Hong Kong’s more upmarket vegetarian restaurants, Chi Lin Vegetarian.

Set behind an imposing wall of water (you’ll understand when you see it), Chi Lin Vegetarian offers a refined Cantonese experience overlooking the gardens.

Lantau

Po Lin Monastery

Many visitors to Hong Kong will spend a day on Lantau island visiting the magnificently scenic Ngong Ping 360 cable car (make sure to pre-buy tickets). The good news is that once you reach the Tian Tan Buddha, you will find the small Po Lin Monastery which is home to an above-average vegetarian restaurant.

The menu often changes and will unlikely be your best vegetarian meal. But I do love eating here, mainly because the Ngong Ping experience can often feel a little touristy and commercial. When I’m sitting at the monastery and enjoying an elaborate Cantonese feast, I find I’m able to recapture some of the magic of this extremely beautiful spot.

So there you have it, the best vegetarian restaurants in Hong Kong.


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