Looking for a fully-vegan Mediterranean dining experience? We might just have found the perfect place for you
While there are a handful of vegan restaurants in Hong Kong and restaurants with vegan options, Middle-Eastern cuisine and halal restaurants have long catered to vegans and meat-eaters alike. Food culture is changing and diners are finally catching up, and Olive Leaf on Lamma Island by home cook Ayelet Idan is one of the best spots in town to enjoy a lovingly prepared feast. We chose to get our bellies warmed up prior by walking for twenty-five minutes from Yung Shue Wan Ferry Pier from Central, but there’s is also a direct ferry to Pak Kok Village from Aberdeen. Either way, we promise you will be totally satisfied at Olive Leaf Hong Kong.
A visit to Olive Leaf Hong Kong on Lamma Island
Serving vegan Mediterranean food using traditional family-inspired recipes, Ayelet sources seasonal ingredients from local markets paired with imported Israeli items to add an authentic flare to the ever-evolving menu. Combining this with alfresco dining in the covert lush area of Pak Kok Village and transporting one away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong; Olive Leaf proves that plants can do anything meat does, and perhaps even more.
From the minute you lay eyes on Olive Leaf aka Ayelet and her lovely co-host/husband Jack’s house; you will feel at home. Greeted by warm smiles and two beautiful dogs, everything is in superabundance at their home, which includes a spacious outdoor patio. From the light shining through the floral vine swept canopy rooftop where our table was displayed to the extensive menu of vegan, raw options and uber-nutritious dishes that came to cover the table. The primary focus at Olive Leaf Hong Kong is healthful Israeli vegan food with dining available indoors in their home during the summer and as a rain contingency.
Time to sample some good food at Olive Leaf
We began with some home-brewed beverages cooling down with hibiscus rose tea served alongside fresh coffee and hot lemongrass tea. A platter of fresh dates, dried prunes and nuts was set out to nibble on. We had not eaten much knowing we were about to take on over ten dishes. As we sat down in our seats, a plethora of food was displayed and described in detail by Ayelet herself. Her innovative thinking is what heightens a boring salad into an explosion of dynamic and flavourful dishes.
Our tasty vegan menu included: vine leaves cake cooked in date syrup and pomegranate molasses, flatbread with sesame seeds to complement staple Israeli dish: hummus in olive oil along with a delicious raw vegan labneh, typically a tangy Levantine cheese spread made from yogurt. Two eggplant dishes were served; one hot topped with tahini and one cold with coriander and walnut pesto. Pomegranate – a Middle Eastern favourite – adding a healthy crunch was a key ingredient of the day.
My favourite was the cauliflower and lentil salad along with two forms of Kubeh; a dish with widespread tradition across the Middle East. An array of towering salads was served, boasting carefully-selected fresh vegetables from Hong Kong’s market including the zesty fresh fennel and grapefruit salad to the pesto leafy salad made with coriander and walnut dressing.
We finished with Ayelet’s vegan raw desserts which were sweetened with natural ingredients. The indulgent bite-size chocolate with nuts was decadent yet not overbearingly sweet. Other treats included the crunchy rose-infused vegan baklava along with a delicious-yet healthy coconut pudding with pistachios to aid digestion. Turkish Coffee capped off our brunch paying tribute to traditional Middle Eastern feasts.
Will we go back to Olive Leaf?
Combining over thirty years experience as a vegan and drawing culinary inspiration from Egypt, Israel and across the Mediterranean; the food at Olive Leaf is something else. Ayelet takes care of the time-consuming tasks of meal planning, shopping before prepping for days prior to the meal itself. With a keen understanding of technique, precision and application to create food that is good for the soul, body and mind; at HK$480 per person, including a bottle of sparkling rose and drinks, there are few private or intimate group dining experiences that can be beaten in value for money.
A testament to the love injected into the food timed perfectly with plant-based dining on the rise; Olive Leaf’s weekend brunches are booked out until end of March, 2019 – take just one bite and you will see why – and we can’t wait to go back.
Aside from social and private dining events; weekend Middle Eastern vegetarian cooking classes and dessert making classes are also available along with evening Whiskey and Middle Eastern tastings available for their homely offerings. We think we found a little slice of paradise at Olive Leaf Hong Kong.
Olive Leaf, Pak Kok, Lamma Island, Hong Kong, p. 9723 0459, 南丫島北角村
Can’t wait to try out Olive Leaf Hong Kong and looking for more healthy dining options? Read our guide to healthy eating in Hong Kong, learn some tips from Hong Kong-based raw food chef Tina Barrat or indulge in vegan comfort food at Confusion Plant Based Kitchen.