Think it’s near impossible to go gluten-free in the 852? Think again…
Whether you’re off gluten to feel less bloated or you seriously just can’t stomach it, we’ve done the research for you (and lots of taste testing) to make finding a good gluten-free meal in Hong Kong easy. This time we’re focusing on the Central/Sheung Wan area, so if you’re out and about in town and need a gluten-free meal, make sure you use this list of our favourite restaurants for gluten-free dining!
1. Mana! Café
This place is a saviour if you’re missing bread with your Sunday morning eggs. There are lots of people sitting on the café’s sunny verandah in their Lululemons (aka as “athleisure” – check out our post on this trend here!), chowing down on the organic gluten free Open Flats – house-made, rustic flatbreads made with buckwheat flour, which is gluten free despite the name (buckwheat is actually a seed). The flats are also available in spelt, an ancient form of wheat that’s not gluten free but can be easier to digest.
The flats are finished off with one of the mouthwatering topping combos before being cut into pizza-style slices. Two thumbs up for ‘The Lennon’ with za’atar, spinach, rocket, black olives, cherry tomatoes, seared haloumi and poached eggs. We love the nutty flavour and deep, almost-purple colour of the buckwheat flat… feels like you’re eating pizza too, sans the gluten and guilt! Share ‘The Shelley’ for dessert, topped with tahini, maple syrup, figs, raisins and dried coconut… a sweet, healthy treat!
Mana! Café, 8 Tai On Terrace, Pound Lane, Poho, Sheung Wan, 2347 8555, www.mana.hk/cafe
2. Grassroots Pantry
Yay for a HK breakfast spot with gluten free toast! Enjoy this with Almond-Pine Nut Butter and Seasonal Jam or Cashew Browned Butter and Raw Honey ($75). For something savoury, there’s the Fried Eggs on Kimchee Pancake with sriracha cashew mayo and nori salad ($118). The raw Banana Crepes are a winner with the littles and also deserve a mention; with almond pastry cream, tropical and Asian dried fruits salsa and spiced cacao sauce, gluten free girls can have their crepe and eat it too.
Later, share An Ethnic Plate to taste the range of gluten free dishes on offer, like the Scrambled Tofu which you can scoop up with the Teff Ingera, a spongy Ethiopian-style gluten free flatbread, nutty and earthy in flavour. A must-try main is the Kelp Noodle Salad with satay hedgehog mushroom, spring rolls, fresh herbs and dehydrated chilli cashews ($178). These low carb, seaweed ‘noodles’ taste like vermicelli but with more chew; this dish is a texture party. Just try to resist (we double dog dare you!) the gluten free cashew Nut Butter Cup for dessert, with banana brûlée, coconut whip, Happy Cow Coconut Ice Cream, toasted coconut and Raiz The Bar raw dark chocolate… you’re welcome.
Grassroots Pantry, 108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, 2873 3353; www.grassrootspantry.com
3. Maya Café Mediterranean Lifestyle
It’s a shame this cute little tiled café is so easy to miss. Apart from the pasta, everything on the menu is gluten free. Try the baked Falafel ($48) with nutty house-made tahini for starters, or a nourishing spiced Dahl of the Day (small $48, large $68). Some great salads here too, like the four-coloured Quinoa Salad with assorted vegetables and cashew cream (small $88, large $115).
For gluten free girls missing their noodles and burgers, check out the raw mains (all $88) for a Zoodle fix or a Portobello Burger, where the mushroom is the bun! Prefer something hot? Take your pick from the range of cooked mains (all $98), like the Organic Tofu Steak with a mixed vegetable medley on organic brown rice. Feel good about your dessert too with a Chocolate or Lemon Tart with a date and almond crust ($48 each).
Maya Café Mediterranean Lifestyle, 173 Des Voeux Road, Central, 2111 4553;www.facebook.com/MayaCafeMediterraneanLifestyle
4. The Restaurant by The Kinnet
A retreat-like city escape in Sheung Wan, The Kinnet is the perfect dining spot for health conscious Hong Kongers with specific dietary requirements. Most of breakfast items can be made gluten free if you swap the multigrain or sourdough for the gluten free toast. Try the the Israeli Shakshuka ($88) – eggs sautéed in white beans, bell peppers and onion, topped off with feta… you’ll be glad there’s gluten free bread to soak up the sauce.
At lunch, check out the gluten free salad counter. The Tofu ‘n’ Kale, Sweet Potato and warm Roasted Eggplant are popular favourites ($88 for three portions). And then there’s revamped, gluten free friendly dinner menu… think Quinoa Sweet Corn Cakes with avocado and salsa fresca ($85), and Braised Chicken Leg Stew with sweet potato, saffron, ginger, fennel and cauliflower rice ($138).
The Restaurant by The Kinnet, The Kinnet, 3/F, 33 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, 3968 7623;www.thekinnetrestaurant.com
Find more gluten-free options in Hong Kong in our 2015 dining guide here!
A go-to lunch spot for team Sassy, we love going here for a clean Vietnamese meal that we can feel good about. Free from artificial additives, flavours and nasty MSG, noodlemi has also created a large range of gluten free options to meet demand. The menu even has a handy ‘what’s what’ key so you can be sure that what you’re eating is wheat free.
Some of our favourites: the signature Beef Pho and the Tuna Avocado Summer Rolls (both $68). We can’t go past the bun noodles (bun vermicelli) either; with toppings like Grilled Five Spiced Pork ($65), Turmeric White Fish ($68) and Vegetarian Curry ($68), there’s something for everyone.
noodlemi, G/F, 2 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, 2253 1113; www.facebook.com/noodlemi
6. Mana RAW! and Mana! Fast Slow Food
One of the few HK eateries where everything is guaranteed gluten free, Mana RAW! is a great choice if you have coeliac disease, (which requires strict exclusion of gluten). From Pesto or Puttanesca Zucchini Noodles ($75), Collard Wraps ($85) and ‘Vushi’ ($85), vegan sushi with brown rice or celery and cashew ‘rice’, the plant-based food here is colourful and creative. There’s only a few bar stools though, so you may have to order your food to go at lunch hour (or keep your bubba strapped to you as you chow down!).
Raw food not your thing? Head to Mana! Fast Slow Food down the road, where everyone’s lining up here for the za’atar-brushed Flats, house-made Mediterranean-style wraps with a lavash-style gluten free option. Build your own with four fillings ($50 for a half, $75 for a whole) or stick to a signature combo like the Bliss with avocado, hummus, cucumber and spinach ($50 for a half, $80 for a full). No extra charge for the gluten free wrap, either.
Mana RAW! Welley Building, 97 Wellington St, Central, 2259 5125; www.mana.hk/raw
Mana! Fast Slow Food, 92 Wellington St, Central, 2851 1611; www.mana.hk
7. 3/3rds Central
We’re so excited that this Wong Chuk Hang joint just opened another location in Central. The 3/3rds team has listened to their customers, catering to the gluten free trend by offering a range of gluten free salads ($60 for a small salad box, $90 for a large).
Our favourites? The Roasted Aubergine with saffron yoghurt and pop-in-your-mouth pomegranate seeds, and the Chargrilled Broccoli with garlic and chilli. For something more substantial, try The Other Wild Rice Salad with dried cranberries and almond flakes… now who said gluten free food was bland?
3/3rds Central, Shop 1, Manning House, 38-48 Queen’s Road Central (Alternative Entrance: Stanley Street), 2562 8805; www.three-3rds.com
8. Monsieur CHATTÉ
You’ll often see Team Sassy here around midday, trying to beat the lunch hour queues! When you walk past CHATTÉ, you may think it’s just a deli, but turns out there’s a steep staircase inside, leading to a super fresh and colourful build-your-own salad bar. Although not every ingredient is gluten free (you’ll see croutons and pasta), there are plenty gluten free options, with everything from grated carrots, juicy cherry tomatoes, crunchy snap peas and capsicum, to corn, quinoa, lentils, tuna, egg and feta.
Top a generously sized lettuce bowl with 3-4 gluten free ingredients ($60 for 3, $70 for 4) and your gluten free dressing of choice – we love the zingy French vinaigrette. There’s also a complementary toppings bar where you can add sunflower seeds, pepitas or crushed walnuts for extra crunch, flavour and nutrients.
Monsieur CHATTÉ, 121 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, 3105 8077; www.monsieurchatte.com
9. La Crêperie Sheung Wan
Legit French crepes that are gluten free? Yep, while the sweet crepes here are made with wheat flour, the savoury crepes, Les Galettes, are made with gluten free buckwheat flour. Nutty, crispy and with more filling fibre than a wheat crepe, these make a healthier lunch option too.
The classic La Brocéliande ($102, or $108 with a lunch set) comes with two kinds of goat cheese, honey, walnuts and salad. There’s also plenty of meat as well as seafood fillings, like the La Gabier ($138) with pan fried lobster meat, fish bisque, homemade tomato sauce, garlic, parsley. For the sweet-toothed, the chefs will happily make a dessert crepe for you on a gluten free galette; get yours with chocolate or salted caramel sauce, or for something lighter, butter and sugar ($5o, or $108 with a lunch set).
La Crêperie Sheung Wan, GF, 69 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, 2679 4666; www.facebook.com/lacreperiehk
This neighbourhood hideout has recently updated their menu, with everything now being gluten free. You can’t come here without trying the Kale Salad with beetroot, roast veg, quinoa and brown rice, along with the chef’s creative salad of the day ($75)… and it’s hard saying no to the Sweet Potato Fries($35, or $55 with truffle). We’re also impressed with reasonably priced Protein Boxes ($60) with your choice of sole or Cajun or herb chicken breast on brown rice.
The lunch set ($98) is also a bargain; start with the soup of the day or the chef’s salad, followed by a choice of three mains, like the Kale Crab Fried Brown Rice. Finish your balanced meal with a digestive peppermint or chamomile tea.
Kale, 13/F, 1301, Cheungs Building, 1-3 Wing Lok Street, Central, 2320 5808; www.kale.com.hk
Featured image sourced from Pinterest.