A menu that will have you craving for Japanese and vegetarian tonight

Keep those plates coming.

There are just days when we seem to run out of ideas for our veggies. 🤔

No problem, we might say. We can search for new recipes. Change the cooking method. Try other veggies.

Or order from our favourite restaurant. 😁

Kyoto Joe happens to have a new all-you-can-eat, dine-in Japanese vegetarian dinner menu you might like. The Hong Kong restaurant is serving a range of agemono, robatayaki, sushi rolls, “hot dishes” and more, which you can sample within a two-hour period between 6 to 10pm from Monday to Wednesday.

Kyoto Joe
They're waiting for you

And they look appetising.

“Over the years, we’ve created a few signature vegetarian dishes – thus gathering a vegetarian crowd of supporters to take this momentum to the next level,” states Chef Dow, the executive chef of Kyoto Joe.

“We’ve collected many valuable comments from our regulars – some of them vegetarians, some of them on Keto diets – and these have been useful for me to improve and create more new dishes. I’m so glad that it’s been well-received by our guests.”

No surprise there

As the restaurant stayed true to their Japanese cooking techniques, flavours and style.

“With Japanese cooking, we focus on retaining and preserving the true taste of the ingredients, which is wonderful when we prepare vegetarian dishes,” Chef Dow admits.

“As in some ways, vegetarian dishes also demand the same philosophy: To preserve the true taste of the ingredients, we don’t do many unnecessary seasonings – but we put a lot of effort into creating a good sauce for each dish. This has proven to be successful, as many diners come back for the vegetarian menu or a la carte dishes, as they found them unique and full of character.”

The one revelation, though? “Many were very surprised (at how) Japanese and vegetarian greatly matched, especially for sushi rolls,” he declares.

“It gives us inspiration, and therefore we created a few new varieties and homemade sauces to go with the rolls.”

Appearances can be deceiving, however

In that you may look at each serving, think they’re pretty and tasty, but ultimately believe it won’t fill you up.

“A common misconception among non-vegetarian diners is that a vegetarian meal might not be able to give them the feeling of a full stomach, because there is no meat,” Chef Dow points out.

“However, diners who came for this menu would say the contrary, and they all leave our restaurant with a happy and full stomach.”

It is an all-you-can-eat offering, after all. The sky’s the limit. Here are four dishes that I think would be a great place to start, with a few observations and tips from Chef Dow should we decide to replicate them in our own kitchen. (Good luck!)

#1 Lady Finger Roll

“Okra is the main ingredient of the Lady Finger Roll, and it’s regarded as a superfood that’s become very popular in recent years,” he maintains.

In fact, okra is one of Chef Dow’s favourite vegetables due to its high nutritional value – so much so that they also use it in one of the restaurant’s hero sushi rolls.

Lady Finger Roll, Kyoto Joe
A delectable mouthful

#2 Vegetarian Fried Nagoya Udon

Chef Dow reveals that Nagoya-style udon is “very special” and “uncommon even at most Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong”, especially since you’d probably find Asian eateries using rice noodles instead.

“Diners should have vegetables in an udon while the pot is still hot. The spicy flavour gives the dish an extra kick and stimulates the appetite,” he suggests.

(Meanwhile, can you picture the Vegetarian Fried Nagoya Udon with edamame? Because this ingredient did not make it past Chef Dow’s experimenting stage and onto the final dish. Maybe you should give it a go at home?)

Vegetarian Fried Nagoya Udon, Kyoto Joe

#3 Tofu Teriyaki

It looks simple but is actually quite satisfying. A favourite ingredient of his as well, “The tofu is freshly deep-fried in the kitchen, and not purchased outside,” he assures us. And the first bite is “crispy outside and soft inside”.

Tofu Teriyaki
Just right

#4 Goma-ae Spinach Salad

“For most people, spinach is not an easy ingredient to prepare. If you don’t have the skills to use spinach, it can get bitter quite easily,” Chef Dow explains.

“Our Goma-ae Spinach Salad is sweet and crispy; the sauces are mixed and prepared in-house, so the sweetness tastes perfect.”

Goma-ae Spinach Salad

Get cooking

Inspired? “Be creative. (It’s) trial and error,” Chef Dow asserts.

“Vegetables come in many varieties and colours. If you are creative enough, you can make cooking fun and the people around you will enjoy eating vegetables more, which is also a very healthy way of eating.”

But in case you’re still stumped, he tells us how to incorporate Japanese ingredients and seasonings into our vegetarian dishes to make them tastier.

“Some simple ingredients are quite handy for home use, such as fresh sesame, sesame dressing, dried sakura shrimp, tofu and mirin,” he reveals.

“My personal favourite is a simple vegetable sushi roll using four or five kinds of vegetables and rice, wrapped in seaweed paper. It’s healthy, easy, and not expensive to prepare.”

For more on Kyoto Joe and their terms and conditions, check out their site, Facebook and Instagram. Other choices in the vegetarian dinner menu include the Spicy Vegetable Tartare, Cauliflower Tempura, Mixed Vegetables Tempura (below ↓), Mexican Rolls, Vegetable Curry Fried Rice and Spicy La La Roll, just to name a few.

Find them at 23/F, California Tower, 30-36 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong; tel: +852 2804 6800; email info@kyotojoe.com.

Mixed Vegetables Tempura