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

Currently there’s 12 Indian restaurants we know of in HK that claim to be all vegetarian. There’s a gap as big as India in the contrast in the level of the service they provide. This is the run down of those, good and bad.

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. As per the separate article 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 you want inexpensive Indian take away food then this could be the place for you.


Annapurna shop sign

Annapurna – This place is at shop 106 on the 1st floor of Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road in TST right next to Saravana (see Saravana further down the list). Annapurna was recently taken over by new management. Only a couple of visits have been made by us in that short time. Food served to us seemed decent though. There was the usual stuff about having to explain about no dairy products. Ask for the Manager as he has now been through that drill a couple of times. Tsim Sha Tsui MTR exit H. Expect to be somewhat mobbed passing through a bunch of touts and hawkers on the ground floor of Chungking. This applies to all the listings in Chungking. Chungking is for some people but not for others.

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


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 – Get it right much more consistently please.


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 – Covered before in the separate article when Khana Khazana was awarded HK veg Worst Restaurant of the Month award. Khana Khazana don’t verify everything they sell is vegetarian.

monthly-award-2016-04-worst-khana-khazana-elongated

VERDICT – Avoid Khana Khazana.

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS TO MANAGEMENT – It couldn’t be simpler. The fundamental tenet of a vegetarian restaurant has to be that everything sold to customers is vegetarian. Management in Khana Khazana need to take that point seriously. Until then Khana Khazana is not a vegetarian restaurant despite their false advertising.


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)

monthly-award-2016-12-worst-saravana

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. A Worst Restaurant of the Month awardee for this reason.

CURRENT VERDICT – Avoid Saravana in Chungking Mansions.


SB sign

Saravanaa Bhavan – 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.

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.

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. While this was the worst example of his behaviour his unwelcoming demeanor has been pretty consistent.

CURRENT VERDICT – Avoid Smrat at Chungking ground floor.

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


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. One of the waitresses seemed completely disinterested in serving customers going by her face expression and body language.

CURRENT VERDICT – Don’t bother with Smrat at Chungking 5th floor.

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 this could the road to redemption.


Woodlands – This is another place that while the food seemed tasty enough they have plenty 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. The restaurant inspired little confidence they knew what vegan means. This is despite specifically asking 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 it seems there’s plenty people with concerns re the standard of service.

CURRENT VERDICT – Don’t bother.

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


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

  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!

    Like

    • 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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