When I first moved to Hong Kong, I was excited to try all the street food that I heard was famous here. To my dismay, I soon discovered that most of the snacks grossed me out (intestines, anyone?) and definitely weren’t vegan! Bubble tea stalls did not offer soy milk and the famous “stinky tofu” was fermented with fish and milk. When my non-vegan friends came to visit, I struggled to find snacks that I could actually eat with them. So after much eating and research, I’ve compiled a list of local snacks and street foods that vegans can enjoy.
Steamed Rice Rolls (cheung fun 腸粉)
This is a famous Cantonese snack. Basically it’s plain rice that’s been flattened, steamed, and rolled. You can eat the rolls with sesame, peanut, soy, or sweet sauce. These are super cheap and are almost always vegan, but make sure to ask if the sauces contain any pig fat at some of the older, more traditional stalls. Many street vendor stalls have these, but my favourite place to eat them (along with other street snacks and homemade soy milk) is Veggie Foods, just along the corner of Dundas St. in Mongkok, where all the street hawkers congregate.
Veggie Foods, 124-128 Portland St., Mongkok
Dumplings (siu mai 燒賣 and sui gaau水餃)
Who doesn’t love dumplings? The problem in Hong Kong is that a lot of them are filled with meat, especially ground pork, so be sure to ask if they’re fully veggie. Although dumplings could qualify as both a snack and a meal, they’re delicious when made fresh. My favourites are vegan siu mai (normally “fish” dumplings). If you’re looking for high-class vegan fare, don’t miss the dim sum at Lockcha Tea House. Otherwise, it’s possible to find veggie dumplings in places all over the city.
Lockcha Tea House, Ground Floor, The K.S. Lo Gallery, Hong Kong Park, Admiralty
Red Bean Pancakes (hung dau siu beng 紅豆燒餅)
These mini pancakes are made with glutinous rice flour and smashed red bean in the middle. You can buy them hot off the street in Mongkok or in other bakeries. These chewy, filling, and tasty pancakes are great for breakfast or an afternoon snack, as they are on the sweet side.
Ki Tsui Cake Shop, 135 Fa Yuen Street, Mongkok
Red Bean Steamed Rice Cake (but jai gou 砵仔糕)
This cake is more like a solid pudding eaten off a stick! Made with rice flour, wheat starch, red beans, and sugar, it’s a delicious snack, dessert, or breakfast. It can be brown or white in colour, depending on the type of sugar used. Many takeaway shops and street food vendors will sell this, especially in Sham Shui Po. Check out Kwan Kee Store, a Michelin-recommended street food stall where staff speak English and fully understand what vegan means.
Kwan Kee Store, Shop 10, 115-117 Fuk Wah Street, Sham Shui Po
Banana Roll (heung jiu guen 香蕉卷)
I was skeptical to try these at first, but I quite enjoyed them! Made with banana flavouring (reminds me of the banana marshmallow candies I used to eat as a child), rice flour, and sugar, this simple chewy snack is filled with fake banana goodness.
Mochi (noh mai chi 糯米糍)
A traditional Japanese treat, this is made with short grain glutinous rice which is pounded into a paste and shaped into little treats. It’s easy to find naked vegan flavours like durian, mango, and peanut in Hong Kong, but beware of flavours like chocolate (which usually contains dairy) or added cream. Be prepared to get powdered sugar all over you mouth, fingers, and clothes after eating one of these.
Bubble Tea (jan ju naai cha 珍珠奶茶)
This drink, which originates from Taiwan, is traditionally made with tea, milk, and tapioca pearls or jelly. It’s quite difficult to find milk teas that are vegan-friendly in Hong Kong, however. Flamingo Bloom offers almond milk, and 3Tea offers coconut milk and rice flour pearls. Vegans are safe with the fruit-based teas in most of the takeaway tea shops. Just make sure there’s no honey or milk cap on what you’ve ordered.
Flamingo Bloom (has multiple locations), G/F, Shop B, World Trust Tower, 50 Stanley Street, Central
3 Tea, Shop C87B, 2/F, Kwai Chung Plaza, 7 Kwai Foo Road, Kwai Fong
Stir Fried Noodles (chaau min 炒麵)
I still enjoy watching people walking to work, stuffing their faces with noodles in a bag for breakfast. If you get the very basic noodles, they’re usually accidentally vegan. Very local takeaway restaurants will have these. Add some sesame, peanut, or sweet sauce, and you’re good to go!
“Egg” Waffles (gai daan jai 雞蛋仔)
This famous Hong Kong snack has now spread all over the world, with egg waffle food trucks in places in London and New York City. The waffles themselves are made with a lot of eggs and sugar, and many Hong Kongers like to eat them with ice cream or other sweet sauces. For a healthier, cruelty-free version, try LN Fortunate Coffee’s vegan version, and save yourself a heart attack and/or sugar coma.
LN Fortunate Coffee, G/F, Altro, No.118 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
Egg Tarts (daan taat 蛋撻)
This is another extremely popular snack, originating from Portugal, which have been served widely in Guangzhou for the past 100 years. With a sturdy crust and gooey egg filling, these are hard to find veganized, but still definitely possible. Loving Hut has a vegan version, but order them early since they always sell out! You can also try Jennifer’s handmade version at FaFa Pastry, especially if you want to order a big quantity. These vegan treats are made with a coconut custard and have a flaky crust.
Loving Hut, 2/F, Luen Tai Building, 93-99 Wanchai Road, Wan Chai
Bean Curd Rolls (fu pei guen 腐皮卷)
I had never heard of “bean curd” or “tofu skin” before moving to Hong Kong. Although it doesn’t have the most desirable texture, tofu skin is a versatile vegan staple in my diet now. It’s basically the film/ “skin” that forms on top of boiling soy milk. I absolutely love eating bean curd rolls, which are a slimy, delicious mixture of cooked veggies wrapped in the bean curd skin, which make a yummy burrito-like snack. Try these at Yu Yi Vegetarian Dim Sum Stall in Kwai Chung Plaza.
Yu Yi Vegetarian Dim Sum Stall, Shop 814, G/F, Kwai Chung Plaza, 7 Kwai Foo Rd, Kwai Fong, New Territories
Tofu Pudding (dau fu fa 豆腐花)
Tofu pudding is guaranteed to be vegan no matter where you order it. Served hot or cold, this traditional dessert has soft tofu with a sweet syrup and/or sugar on top. It doesn’t sound very exciting but I absolutely love eating this. Try it at the famous tofu shop Hong Kong Kung Wo Bean Curd Factory in Sham Shui Po — just be aware that this place is extremely crowded (for good reason), with lots of shouting!
Hong Kong Kung Wo Bean Curd Factory, G/F, 118 Pei Ho Street, Sham Shui Po
Glutinous Rice Roll (noh mai guen 糯米卷)
This is traditionally made with dried shrimp and preserved sausage, but it is possible to find a vegan version! A great breakfast food on the go, this has glutinous rice with soy sauce and peanuts, encased in a bun. The bun is steamed and is gooey and full of carb goodness.
Bao Dim Sin Seng (multiple locations) https://www.facebook.com/baodimsinseng/
Steamed White Sugar Rice Cake (baak tong gou 白糖糕)
This cake is extremely simple, with only 4 ingredients (rice flour, white sugar, water, and a leavening agent), but quite good (and filling!) This is also a safe choice for someone who has a gluten intolerance. Find it at local, old-fashioned bakeries.
As you can see, there’s a variety of local snacks and street foods that can be enjoyed by vegans in Hong Kong, if you know where to go. Don’t let the smell of stinky tofu, the sight of intestines, or your lack of Cantonese deter you — get out there and try what the city has to offer.