It’s a new year, and a fresh start to healthy eating as vegetables get nudged again into the spotlight. Chefs embraced veggies in full force this past year, with none being so easy to turn into something equal parts nutritious and delicious as the humble cauliflower. Whole-roasted with an almond pesto, mixed into a creamy and cheesy mash, fried up like rice or baked into cauliflower tots, the versatility of this super-veggie knows no bounds. Just ask these chefs serving up Hong Kong’s best cauliflower dishes.
Cauliflower, walnut pesto, mushroom and parsley at 22 Ships
Bright, bold flavours and inspired ingredient combinations make chef Jason Atherton’s contemporary Spanish tapas joint a perpetual favourite. We wouldn’t blame you for digging into the platters of Iberico ham and suckling pig, but surprisingly one of the biggest hits on the menu is a strictly vegetarian dish, composed of grated fresh and pickled cauliflower complemented by a combo of nutty walnut pesto and bright green parsley puree (HK$88). An amalgamation of textures, tastes, and the winning contrast of creamy and crunchy bits makes this one dish you can go back for again and again without sacrificing your waistline.
22 Ships, 22 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2555 0722, 22ships.hk
Roasted cauliflower hummus at Tivo
It’s easy to make cauliflower taste good when you fry it up like tater tots or slick it in oil and roast it in the oven, but for a truly healthy yet appetising approach to the everyday veggie, we’re handing it to casual eatery Tivo and its addictive roasted cauliflower hummus (HK$78). The bright yellow dip comes loaded with turmeric and ginger powder for an exotic Middle Eastern bent — mixed with plenty of chopped coriander, coriander seeds, tahini and lemon juice, the chunky hummus is delicious devoured on its own or spooned onto warm pita bread.
Whole-roasted cauliflower at Maison Libanaise
One bite of Maison Libanaise’s flavour-packed whole-roasted cauliflower (HK$88) will make a believer out of any non-veggie-lover. Teeming with Middle Eastern spices and stained an appealing burnt orange hue from a coating of spicy harissa, this vegetarian dish is hefty enough to serve as a main, providing all the pleasures of carving into a thick steak at the table without the calorie count. Chef James Harrison serves it up on a bed of zhoug labneh (herb sauce mixed with a thickened yogurt), garnished with dry lime for a zesty pop.
Maison Libanaise, 10 Shelley Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2111 2284, maisonlibanaise.com.hk
KFC at Yardbird
Yardbird’s short but sweet menu of sides to accompany their delicious yakitori leans heavily on the fried side — there’s sweet corn tempura, garlic fried chicken with kewpie, and these clever KFC bite-sized snackers (that’s Korean fried cauliflower for the uninitiated) which are battered, served piping hot, and littered with sesame seeds (HK$110). There’s not much in the way of nutrition when more than half the dish is fried batter with a sweet and sticky glaze, but who cares when you’re polishing off a plate with a cold round of beers on a Friday night? As the immensely popular and always packed yakitori joint gets ready to move house to a much larger space in Sheung Wan (it’s about time), we’re hoping these crispy hot snackers remain firmly planted on the menu.
Yardbird, G/F, 33-35 Bridges Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2547 9273, yardbirdrestaurant.com; new location coming soon
“Blue Lagoon” at The Ocean
Elegance and artistic flair accompany every dish breezing out of The Ocean’s seaside kitchen, and the cauliflower interlude in the eight-course degustation (HK$1,088) is no different. Deemed the “Blue Lagoon”, this visually captivating plate features paper-thin cauliflower shavings mimicking a coral reef, with a tender slow-boiled lobster tail nestled inside. A vanilla veil adds a sweet note, while a daub of homemade hazelnut paste lends an earthiness to the dish. In case the arrangement is too delicate for your liking, there’s also a crispy fried lobster claw on the side to crunch on.
The Ocean, Shop 303-304, Lobby A, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2889 5939, theocean.hk
Cauliflower risotto at Locofama
Known for championing sustainable, organic ingredients sourced from local farmers, Locofama whips up a bit of culinary wizardry in the kitchen when it comes to turning vegetables into delicious, satisfying mains. A standout is the cauliflower risotto (HK$138), a vegetarian’s dream that substitutes rice for cauliflower while imitating the creamy component of risotto using the yolk of a sous-vide egg. Fresh grilled asparagus and assorted wild mushrooms top off the ultimate farmhouse veggie dish.
Locofama, 9-13 Fuk Sau Lane, Sai Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2547 7668, locofama.com