VEDA: vegetarian food filled with love
VEDA is down to be the next hip go-to for vegetarians and plant-based diners of Hong Kong. Soon to be (soft) opening next week at the newly renovated Ovolo Central, we got a sneak peek to the honest and artisanal vegetarian fare by Chef Hetty McKinnon.
The sneak peek 5 course menu started with a thoughtful selection of Australian wines and a plate of Nepalese momos filled with ricotta spinach and served with a smoked chilli and tomato achaar. The dumpling wrapper was simply D I V I N E... a lot thinner than the momos with no added rising agent. The result is a delightfully chewy and slightly sticky delicate morsel reminiscent to a steamed Korean mandoo. The rich filling of homemade ricotta and spinach was well balanced by the sweet and sour tomato achaar. It’s not at all spicy, but more in the tart side.
Then came the soba noodle salad with shredded cabbage, carrot, ginger and shallot dressing. The soba noodle salad was likeable enough, perhaps the noods were slightly overcooked, or perhaps it was the result of being soaked in the shallot sauce. It was an inoffensive dish but lacked the punch that I was looking for.
The crispy rice salad on the other hand was a flavour winner. Crunchy, in small moreish clusters and well covered with the most incredible lemon-kale pesto, I had at least five servings of this one. But somehow I felt something was amiss like it had to be accompanied with something. Which brings us to the next course..
The main was the baked aloo gobi cauliflower with crispy potatoes and lentils. This one was definitely the highlight of the evening, the whole cauliflower is covered in what seems to be three different sauces, of all different colours, with all of them playing a part in the play. The white sauce which remains a mystery, and a pink purplish sauce seemed like a yoghurt-based beetroot sauce, and the "brown" sauce or the lentils, while I wasn't sure if it was covered in sauce, or if it was cooked in a broth, it came in its own earthy nutty flavour profile. The charred cauliflower brought all these parts together, while the hazelnuts brought a bit of texture into the dish. The potatoes were forgotten from my part, and instead, I paired my serving of aloo gobi cauliflower with some of the crispy pesto rice salad-- a combination I was looking for in the course before.
The dessert of orange and olive cake is as homely as it gets. I love this cake, the texture is reminiscent to a southern style cornbread meets blondie square, with just a hint of orange and quite a heavy aftertaste (‘olive” it still though, I do). It’s accompanied with vanilla ice-cream and an oddly thick custard that cuts through the richness.
A sneak peek to Chef McKinnon, she is part of VEDA's charm herself-- as humble and cheerful as her wonderful food. The dishes are honest, thoughtful and made with love- it shows in the way she talks about them, and in the way she chooses her wines. All in all, we’re pretty excited to see the interior of the restaurant once it opens, and also to try her other signature dishes of lentil soup and her selection of avo-toasts. VEDA soft opens in the last week of December, with its official opening on the 15th of January.