It may come as a surprise to you, but not many Hong Kong-ers fancy vegetarian food. At least, not in my circle of friends. When I floated the idea of having a vegetarian meal, I met with an array of ridicule, from the polite to the downright rude.
“Well, what else do you feel like having?”
“Oh, is that in Causeway Bay? I just know this neat little hot pot place nearby…”
“Why the f*ck do you want to spend your money on rubbery fake meat? Get a life”.
Of course, I am exaggerating. But only just. Vegetarian meat – fake meat, faux meat, whatever you want to call it – is not to everyone’s taste. Though after my experience at Ying Vegetarian, I couldn’t understand why not.
My partner-in-crime for the night was Adaline, whom enlightened me on the story behind vegetarian meat. It was told that in ancient times, Chinese emperors visiting Buddhist temples were welcomed by the monks with such meat, effectively fusing vegetarian practices with the taste of the meat-eating royalty.
Counterfeiting meat? Perhaps. Ying Vegetarian did it with such perfection, it was impossible not to be dazzled by such gastronomical wizardry. Throughout the meal, often I had to take a pause and remind myself that hey, I was NOT eating meat. This piece of delicious looking sashimi in between my chopsticks is not of piece of salmon; it was a piece of non-meat sashimi expertly made from soy, tofu and similar ingredients.
Assorted Sushi Platter (HK$62)
How did they make this? Soft shell crab sushi, with salmon, squid, abalone and tuna sashimis. Dipped in soy sauce and wasabi, I was almost fooled into thinking this is the real thing. I am a fan of sashimis, especially salmon, and I can tell you this is almost like the real thing. Probably better, if you discount the raw fishy smell and the associated calories. Total thumbs up. I could eat this blindfolded with the real thing and wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.
Pumpkin Crab Soup (HK$36)
You can’t see it here, but there were strands of what looked suspiciously like shark fins in this creamy goodness. It was supposed to be crab soup, but Adaline said it was vegetarian shark fins. Well, in principle I detest shark fins, but since this is vegetarian… does it count? All in all, had I known this is shark fin (vegetarian or otherwise), I wouldn’t have had it. But that aside, the soup was a hearty start to the meal.
Tomato Meatball Spaghetti (HK$52)
Meatballs. Just when I thought the chef couldn’t top his sushi creations, in came this plate of tomato-scented goodness. I am not a fan of tomato-based pasta, but in the spirit of food adventure I was game to try. It tasted like… Christmas. And mouth-wateringly crunchy yet slightly moist, the way meatballs should be. I like
Baked Beef In BBQ Sauce With Assorted Mushrooms (HK$62)
For fake meat, presentation is vital. After all, isn’t gorgeous looking food a good part of a dining experience? Especially when the food is not the real thing but had to taste like one. The beef was brownish chunks of sinewy soy (?); just like real beef! It was baked with a sweet BBQ sauce, and the generous portions of mushrooms was enough to satisfy the mushroom lover in me.
Oh yes, but of course this was a Groupon deal. Otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered this place.
I hereby declare myself a fan of faux meat. It isn’t mutton pretending to be lamb. But soy is.
G/F Kamly Court
61 Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei