Eating Out: Mastering The Art Of Vegetarian Dim Sum
Many of the purely vegetarian dining options in China are Buddhist vegetarian restaurants, meaning that the strictly vegan diet stems from the Buddhist teachings about minimizing suffering. I learned within days of living in Hong Kong that there is no such thing as "Chinese food," but rather dozens of regional variations and styles (Chinese food in the U.S. is most closely associated with Szechuan food). Although it's not geographically classified, Buddhist vegetarianism is considered its own cuisine in China. And vegetarian dim sum at Pure Veggie House is not to be missed.
When you walk in, there’s a glass case that has exotic mushrooms on display… because that’s the sort of thing that excites vegans.
Perhaps even more impressive than the meal, which is the best vegetarian Chinese food I’ve had, was the tome of a menu that details the restaurant’s approach to cooking. Pure Veggie House says it sources its organic produce from Kang Zhi Yuan Ecological Farm, which is located in the province of Guangdong, a mainly agricultural region (before the rapid urban expansion of the Pearl River Delta) just northwest of Hong Kong.
The farm apparently uses no pesticides, and also raises free-range chickens, ducks and wild organic seafood in natural lakes. Once the produce makes its way to the kitchen, chefs at Pure Veggie House use natural spring water to wash all the vegetables and prepare all the food. The restaurant also prides itself for getting the best quality vegetables so it doesn’t have to use additional spices, MSG or dairy products.
I plan to spend the majority of my cooking time in Hong Kong learning how to prepare dim sum. It's such an inexpensive, accessible meal here but it looks like it requires so much skill and energy... and like it should cost WAY more money than it does. Five dumplings can set you back all of $3 at some spots.
While Pure Veggie House is probably the most expensive vegetarian option around, it is worth it. Happy eating!