Hong Kong isn’t exactly a vegetarian-friendly city. You can find Buddhist menus sparingly, and yes, there’s always the international Loving Hut, but even those restaurants may not cater to a specific type of vegan eating style: raw veganism. In fact, this little niche is largely unoccupied in Hong Kong. One such business that has decided to venture into raw vegan food in this otherwise meat-based city is Anything But Salads – also now one of my favourite cafés!
Let me clarify. I’m not raw vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. I do hate cheese and milk with a passion (cue shocked gasps of “How can you not like cheese?”), but I also have an addiction to eating chicken. But other than my fixation on poultry, I’m pretty much all about the veggies and fruits, which is why I suspect many people in real life and on Instagram assume that I’m vegetarian.
Anything But Salads has been a snacks-based company since 2013, selling healthy, homemade products made right there in their open kitchen on Tai Ping Shan Street. I’ve been to their store to buy their nutritious snacks numerous times, so I was delighted when they transformed their business into a café this year!
I visited Anything But Salads two months after their grand opening as a restaurant. On the hike up from the MTR Station, I was reminded of why I don’t usually visit as often. Long gone are my days of running 10k daily, but for good food and nice photos, I braved the neverending stairs. It was so worth it.
Appearance-wise, the café hasn’t changed much. The colourful mural that had covered the exterior wall has now been painted over in white. Inside, several tables and a bathroom have been added. There are also outdoor seating areas suitable for the cooler autumn days. And as Anything But Salads has always operated, the food is still made right there in their open kitchen.
I was lucky enough to be one of the first to try Anything But Salads’ new menu which they had just launched. Pictured first is the Laughing Buddha Bowl, a raw revamp of the meatless meal with quinoa, fermented Korean vegetables, salsa, avocado, sprouts, nori and other vegetables, topped with the café’s chilli almond butter. Second, and as part of the new menu, is the Rainbow Dan Dan Noodles, made with the same chilli almond butter dressed over a giant pile of spiralised celery root, carrot and zucchini and a mix of bell peppers and string beans.
I insisted on sitting outside despite the sweat trickling down every bit of me because I really liked the photogenic area in front of the café (lol). It was a huge welcome when the raw dishes arrived. My Rainbow Dan Dan Noodles came in a cool metal bowl and the fresh food was deliciously refreshing in the heat.
The first and last time I tackled a whole bowl of dan dan noodles was four years ago, and I didn’t like it then. It didn’t register with me that it was this particular dish I was choosing when I ordered. I’d forgotten how filling dan dan noodles were, and the plate that Anything But Salads had served me was humongous and drenched in addictive, spicy almond butter. That almond butter though! I wasn’t even hungry beforehand, but I managed to devour the whole plate. It was that good. I am not even exaggerating. I don’t normally praise food and I’ve thrown digs regarding tiny portion sizes many times, but man, Anything But Salads was a definite 10 out of 10.
I ended up with the pungent smell of sweat that could be picked up a mile away after my hike to Anything But Salads, but I would do it all over again for the cute seating area and the food. Especially the food. I never imagined I would like dan dan noodles because I never liked noodles anyway – I’m more of a rice girl (so Chinese lol). I mean, I used to order rice dishes in speciality noodle and wonton restaurants… but the Rainbow Dan Dan Noodles I had in Anything But Salads really knocked me out of this world. I assume the Laughing Buddha Bowl did the same to my companion.
Raw vegan food is not easy to find in Hong Kong with only a few eateries that specifically cater to this type of cuisine. And even if you’re not raw vegan, I would still recommend trying out Anything But Salads’ food. Who knows, maybe you’ll be a convert. If anything, combined with the journey up to the café (sorry I keep narking on about it but I really can’t exercise omg), you’ll leave feeling healthy and good that you’ve had a nourishing meal and a great workout. 😉
Anything But Salads
Shop B, Ground Floor, 14 Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
+852 2858 6666
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