As more people choose to adopt vegetarian lifestyles, the dining scene has never been more spoilt for choice when it comes to vegetarian dining. This August, Kowloon’s dynamic Tsim Sha Tsui welcomes a brand new vegetarian concept. Whilst honouring traditional Chinese vegetarian cuisine, Veggie Kingdom innovates with their very own renditions of classic vegetarian delights.
Vegetarianism may seem like a modern trend as the world grows increasingly health-conscious and eco-friendly, however the vegetarian diet has a longstanding tradition in Chinese food culture. With a significant history in Buddhism, many in the Chinese community live a vegetarian lifestyle. It is also common practice for Buddhists to go vegetarian on the first and fifteenth day of each month of the lunar calendar.
When it comes to local plant-based food, many may still think of the street-side vegetarian take-outs selling gluten wheat dishes of various flavours. The vegetarian restaurant honours Chinese flavours and classic dishes, with a special highlight on Cantonese dim sum. Instead of using modern food science products, critically acclaimed Chef Dicky Yip stays true to his old-school culinary philosophy, employing traditional plant-based methods and ingredients to add a sophisticated charm to the modern day trend. “Instead of using plant-based meat, I want to let traditional flavours and ingredients shine.”
Using a wide variety of versatile mushrooms, Veggie Kingdom transforms meat-based dishes into vegetarian-friendly delicacies, paying homage to traditional Chinese vegetarian cooking methods, while continuing to pioneer new techniques.
Comfort and elegance intertwine in “home-y” interiors
Just like their culinary philosophy, Veggie Kingdom finds beauty in simplicity with their interiors. The bright and cozy colours within the space are complemented by light gold and wooden finishes, adding hints of elegance and class to the homey atmosphere. The welcoming interiors are a pleasant reflection of the gastronomic experience at Veggie Kingdom — comfortable, yet cutting-edge.
Traditional flavours, innovative methods
Veggie Honey-coated BBQ “Pork”
While honouring simplicity, Veggie Kingdom’s food tastes anything but. Every dish is meticulously crafted and the excellent quality and care put into preparing each recipe is evident in its tastes and textures. Through introducing special twists to traditional cooking techniques, Veggie Kingdom innovates a new pathway in vegetarian-friendly culinary experiences. Though their veggie dim sum remains a focal point in their menu, Veggie Kingdom offers a wide variety of expertly crafted Chinese delicacies, ranging from Cantonese fare to Sichuan cuisine.
A highlight of the menu is the signature Veggie Honey-coated Barbecue “Pork,” a succulent vegetarian rendition of Cantonese char-siu (叉燒), made with wheat gluten marinated in a house-blend vegan "Char Siu'' sauce and smoked with a blend of oolong and pu’er tea leaves. Though vegetarian, the juicy BBQ “pork” replicates the tender texture and flavour of the beloved Cantonese meat dish with its smoky essence and melt in your mouth succulence.
Another soon-to-be-favourite is the Crispy Shredded Abalone Mushroom with a chewy texture reminiscent of fresh Abalone, hand shredded and fried in a light and crispy batter. Each restaurant has its own batter for this dish, and Veggie Kingdom has perfected its batter recipe after rigorous research and masterful experimentation. “I keep innovating and experimenting with different recipes and ingredients to elevate the flavours.” Delicately crispy with a slight pull, the texture of this dish is nothing short of addictive; the perfect light snack to accompany other delightful delicacies.
For those with more daring taste buds, the Veggie Fish Fillets in Spicy Sichuan Soup pack just the right amount of spice to tantalise your palate. We thinly slices oyster mushrooms by hand to recreate the texture of fish, creating a veggie-friendly version of the beloved Sichuan dish that proves to be an ingenious approach to Chinese vegetarian cooking. The hearty, flavourful and peppery soup base is braised with four variations of fungi and uses spices and chillies directly imported from Sichuan, creating the most exquisite veggie-friendly mala tang. Superbly paired with starchy potato noodles, mushrooms and bean sprouts, this piquant dish promises to impress those with higher spice tolerances.
Don’t forget to have dessert at the end of your meal, as Veggie Kingdom provides delightful sweet palate cleansers to end your culinary adventure. Charmingly arranged in a flower pot and served with a mini-shovel, the sweet and slightly tangy Mango Pudding refreshes your taste buds, earning the title as the quintessential light entremet. Accompanied by the soothing house-blend herbal tea and other classic Chinese teas, it is impossible to end the sumptuous meal without feeling content and comforted.
A culinary pioneer: Old-school meets innovation
Renowned for his old-school approach towards Chinese vegetarian cooking, the head chef utilizes traditional methods in each of his dishes. Unlike many modern chefs of vegetarian cuisines today, he opts for more natural alternatives as opposed to mass-manufactured faux-meats. “I'd rather my dishes be named just as it is - as the original vegetable names, because, in my opinion, when naming it after a meat or portraying the dish as a pseudo-meat dish, customers will have a certain assumption about how the food might taste or feel as a meat dish, which may affect the experience of enjoying a vegetarian dish.”
With a background specializing in dim sum, Chef Dicky remains the ideal connoisseur for creating authentic tastes. While the traditionalist chef stays true to long-established Chinese vegetarian cooking traditions in his choice of ingredients, he does not stray from innovating new methods of using these ingredients to replicate ‘meaty’ flavours. Ingenious and masterfully skilled, the head chef is a pioneer in concocting new culinary techniques in the veggie dining scene. His approach to cooking ensures a level of perfectionism that is reflected in the symphony of flavours and textures presented in each of his dishes, elevating Chinese vegetarian food to a whole new level.
The dining experience at Veggie Kingdom is one that sparks both comfort and joy, with its cozy yet classy atmosphere that circumstantiates a hearty and extravagant vegetarian feast. Exploding with flavour and innovating new culinary techniques, Veggie Kingdom does not compromise beloved tastes, but instead refines them for even the most critical taste buds. Enjoy traditional Chinese fare without the guilt, savour delectable delicacies at Veggie Kingdom.