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.