Hong Kong’s Indian vegetarian restos – some good and some not so good

Currently there’s 12 Indian restaurants we know of in HK that claim to be all vegetarian. There’s quite a contrast in the level of the vegetarian service they provide. This is the run down of those, good and not so good.

Saravana Bhavan thali 2

The background to this article is three very striking plus-points from working in India for three months:-

  • a great winter climate (in the place I was in the South)
  • friendly people
  • really delicious flavour packed vegan food

Indian food is often spicy so to spice things up we give a verdict on each of those in the list below. With this being a pro-vegan website these ratings are heavily influenced by a pro-vegan slant. Decide for yourself on which verdicts you agree with and which you don’t.

Note:-

A) There should in theory be negligible risk of ingesting egg in these places. That is since in Indian cooking eggs are considered non-vegetarian.

B) Use of dairy is heavily entrenched in Indian food and so is the biggest threat to violating a vegan diet in Indian vegetarian restos. None of these below are all vegan. 100% vegan Indian restaurants are very few and far between anywhere on earth. Non-dairy eaters should ask for food to be made without any of milk, cream, butter, margarine, cow ghee, curds, yogurt, cheese, paneer. Getting the vegan passport app may help you.

C) Being pro-vegan we welcome anything in any of these places to:-

  • remove dairy products
  • label dishes on the menu that are vegan
  • label dishes on the menu that can be prepared vegan on request
  • further educate staff on the details of veganism to improve service to vegan customers

Listings are alphabetical:-

Amritsar Express – This place previously used the misleading tag line of “Punjabi Vegan Delicacies”. We say misleading since much of the food contains dairy products. The  signage has finally been corrected following encouragement from us. Amritsar Express is an inexpensive take away place also with a couple of stools for anyone wanting cheap eats.

CURRENT VERDICT – The misleading signage was regrettable. We thank the owner that this has now been corrected. If someone wants inexpensive Indian take away food then this could be the place for them.


Branto – This is a sometimes slightly chaotic place that has been around for a while. If you are vegan take your time to stress the point that you don’t want any dairy products. Like in all of these restaurants some of the staff understand the importance of this better than others. The food tastes fine but staff could be slicker and more consistent in understanding customers who avoid dairy.

CURRENT VERDICT – Branto is fine when they get it right.

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS TO MANAGEMENT – Please get it right much more consistently?


Eskaara (1)

Eskaara – Another newcomer and is located at 19 Sung Kit Street in Hung Hom. It’s managed by a guy named Kumar from Dehli. The food here on both visits was enjoyable. There was the usual situation about having to explain about no dairy products. That seemed to go OK though. We’ll be trying this place again. Competitively priced.

CURRENT VERDICT – Give Eskaara a chance and see how it goes.


Khana Khazana – In November 2015 the pitfalls in alcoholic beverages for vegetarians were pointed out to Khana Khazana. They were also requested to audit the alcohol stock to remove any non-vegetarian products. Since the owners have three meat based restaurants they could move any non-vegetarian products to their meat restaurants. The refusal of the management team at Khana Khazana to do so has been pretty surprising. This leads to questions of trust. When a restaurant takes one liberty with the principles of their target clientele, are they also cutting corners with other products that may also be non-vegetarian?

VERDICT – As long as this issue remains unaddressed it seems inappropriate to support this restaurant.

Update. As at Q1 2017 Khana Khazana were selling Penfolds and Lindeman’s wines. The manufacturers openly state none of the vintages of these wine brands are suitable for vegetarians.

Update. As at Q2 2017 we are hearing through the grapevine that they now stock at least some wine they have verified is vegetarian (and also vegan for that matter). This is welcomed. Whether they still also sell wines they haven’t verified as vegetarian, I am unable to comment. I may update this again if I hear more.

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS TO MANAGEMENT – Please Khana Khazana take this issue seriously. If you do it’s good for everyone.


Sangeetha shop sign

Sangeetha – Part of a Chennai based chain located at Wing On Plaza at 62 Mody Road in East TST. Truth be told on our first visit here a couple of years or so ago we were pretty underwhelmed. The food was massively dairy based and the waiter at the time was only able to offer a tiny number of dishes as dairy free. Then following a recommendation to give it a try again we did so around a year ago. Much, much better. Hanif and Venkat who run this gig were very knowledgeable on what can be made vegan. They make some great tasting Indian food in this place. Tsim Sha Tsui East MTR exit P1. Wing On Plaza is a conventional retail mall without the mob of touts and hawkers you can expect around the ground floor at Chungking Mansions. Wing On Plaza is undoubtedly a step up from Chungking.

CURRENT VERDICT – Sangeetha is one of the top three. Defo worth checking out.


Saravana (no affiliation with Saravana Bhavan below)

Despite claiming to be all vegetarian they have a menu on Saravana premises for their nearby meat based restaurant. They are more than happy to take meat dish orders and have them brought to Saravana to be served there. If you are looking for an oasis where you aren’t in a room with people eating slaughtered animals, Saravana is the wrong option.

VERDICT – As long as this issue remains unaddressed it seems inappropriate to support Saravana in Chungking Mansions.

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS TO MANAGEMENT – Please Saravana take this issue seriously. If you do it’s good for everyone.


Saravanaa Bhavan (no affiliation with Saravana mentioned above) – The Ashley Centre at 23 – 25 Ashley Road in TST has the first branch in North East Asia of this Chennai & Dubai based chain. A big restaurant that opened in Q1 2015. Ask for Heeran, Tripathy, Murali or Deen if any are there to help you out with ordering non dairy. It’s enjoyable food in pleasant surroundings. MTR – Tsim Sha Tsui exit H. Like Sangeetha, Saravana Bhavan is a step up in TST if Chungking Mansions isn’t for you.

SB sign

Update Q2 2017 – We suggested to management they deploy menus that indicate dishes that are vegan or can be made vegan. The first set of these menus are now in use there.

CURRENT VERDICT – Saravanaa Bhavan is another of the top three. Defo worth checking out.


Sharmaji shop sign

Sharmaji – Well established at G/F, Block 2, Hung Hom Garden, 3 Tsing Chau Street (in Hung Hom obviously). Staff are pretty easy to deal with. Mrs Sharma and her team produce great tasting food at reasonable prices. This place would get more of our business if it was nearer the MTR.

Update – In 2016 we suggested to them that they mark dishes on the menu that are vegan friendly. We are delighted to say they did so.

CURRENT VERDICT – Sharmaji is one of the top three on this list. Defo worth checking out.


Smrat (Chungking ground floor) – This largely take away joint on the ground floor is the 3rd listing from Chungking Mansions. At one point I was going into this place quite regularly but then stopped. Then the first time going back after about six months it all came rushing back why I had stopped going. At the counter I asked the guy what food contained milk products. He didn’t like the line of questioning. On trying to clarify to server that I was simply trying to ascertain what food contains dairy products, the server became aggressive. He stood up adopting body language making it clear he was unhappy. An Indian customer stood at the counter intervened to try to calm the server down.

CURRENT VERDICT – It doesn’t seem the friendliest of places.

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS TO MANAGEMENT – Relax a little bit if someone asks which food items contain milk products?


Smrat (Chungking 5th floor) – On visiting here the waitresses were asked for a recommendation. One promptly pointed to the most expensive item on the menu. It seems they have a keen eye for profit. I’d no issues with the food but the previous point didn’t make a great first impression.

CURRENT VERDICT – Maybe it’s improved since then but they didn’t make the best first impression.

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS TO MANAGEMENT – Work on the quality of customer service?


smrat-2

Smrat (Hung Hom) – After negative experiences at the two Smrat venues above, expectations were low in trying out the Smrat venture in Hung Hom. What a pleasant surprise. The waitress seemed knowledgeable of dairy content in food and efficient in assisting. When a couple of chapati were brought brushed in some sort of oil there was a sinking feeling of, “Oh, oh, it’s butter.” Very assuredly the waitress insisted it was soya bean oil. They do a decent lunch deal; a couple of small main dishes such as curried lentils, chick peas or egg plant plus rice, bread and a small very basic salad. Add in a soft drink and it’s 55 hkd. Without the soft drink this unexpectedly came to 50 hkd. On trying to leave a five buck tip each the waitress thought we had misinterpreted the five hkd discount for having water instead of a carbonated drink. She was pretty persistent in trying to explain we didn’t need to leave the 5 bucks. Of course she smiled when we finally got the message through this was a small tip for her. They are at Shop 29L, G/F, Loong King Mansion, 23-25 Ma Tau Wai Road.

CURRENT VERDICT – Give Smrat in Hung Hom a try and see what you think.

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS TO MANAGEMENT – Roll out this service in your other branches and you’re on the right track.


Woodlands – This is another place that while the food seemed tasty enough they have room to improve the service. I rocked along here on a Sunday evening. Despite there being empty seating available I was kept waiting 10 minutes before being invited to a table. I specifically asked for food without dairy products. When a thali was eventually presented one of the small dishes appeared to be yogurt. On asking what it was sure enough it was… yogurt. On having listened to others since, this place seems to attract mixed opinions re the standard of service.

Update – I’ve revisited again more recently. The guy who served seemed to have a better understanding of the importance of the above. He went to the kitchen to check before he answered which dishes contained dairy. This is more like it.

CURRENT VERDICT – Maybe give it a try.


Also…

2016-02-27 15.22.40 - Copy

There’s an Indian (Sikh) temple in Wan Chai we’ve mentioned before who provide all vegetarian including vegan friendly food. This food is provided free as a service to the community. It’s tasty food.


Closed:-

  • Annapurna (Chungking Mansions)

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5 thoughts on “Hong Kong’s Indian vegetarian restos – some good and some not so good

  1. The Saravana doesn’t seem to have an address. Would be generally helpful I guess.

    Other than that, thanks for the article! I really hope Khana Khazana gets their act together soon. Really love their food but it’s less and less acceptable how they ignore the non-vegetarian drinks situation…

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  2. Sharmaji is my favourite. It is near my home, so I sometimes go there twice a week. Smrat (Chungking 5th Floor) moved to Hung Hum about a year and a half ago. Poor customer service. Thumbs up for Eskaara, Sangeetha and Sikh temple!

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    • Excellent question. The answer is regrettably none do that I am aware of. In others if it has been introduced then it’s more recent than my last visit to the resto has introduced this. It’s been suggested to a couple of them. The road you suggest seems to me at least to be the best road to get them to take a step to increased vegan friendliness.

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  3. Pingback: Worst Restaurant of the Month – Saravana (Chungking) |

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