Creating room for niche dining

(Below) The vegan version of Chicken Gochujang Wrap is a hearty meal on its own.

THESE days, a growing number of people are turning to plant-based diets for personal and health reasons.

Many, who fully adapted to veganism, speak of difficulties during the transitional phase as well as craving for meat dishes when trying to wean off animal protein.

Plant-based diets include legumes, wholegrains, nuts, vegetables, seeds and fruits.

To help new vegans and vegetarians cope better, meat substitutes closely replicating the texture and taste of meat are now available.

Hilton Kuala Lumpur executive chef Kazi Hassan said the hotel was working with a few food companies to serve up plant-based meat versions of the hotel’s popular dishes.

Having plant-based meats on the menu was Hilton’s way of being more inclusive in its food, he said.

“We created special menus from these ‘meats’ and have also partnered with local farmers, whose produce we find are comparable to imports, for better sustainability,” he said, adding that the effort was in line with the hotel’s “Mindful Meals” campaign in raising awareness of healthy eating and responsible sourcing.

Plant-based meat options look and taste like meat dishes, so it is understandable that some diners do think that they are biting into the real deal.

Hilton’s Chinese restaurant Chynna has given new meaning to vegan options in its plant-based meat pau and mapo tofu dishes.

Mock meat is pulled and cooked to make the pau filling while minced “meat” is added to what I would describe as flavoursome mapo tofu — an appetising tofu dish that is cooked with minced meat in spicy sauce.

It was difficult to tell the difference from the way the dishes were prepared.

Even Iketeru has some interesting meatless options in its vegan Chicken Miso Hot Pot and Chicken Katsu Set.

Vegan meatballs instead of chicken slices are thrown into traditional miso hot pot, while the katsu set was so convincing, I thought I was eating fried boneless chicken.

For the uninitiated, in the world of plant-based meats, mock chicken is akin to extra chewy poultry with the satisfying taste of pan-fried chicken.

Vegan meats from the teppanyaki grill are also an option at the Japanese restaurant.

Downstairs at Oro Cafe and The Lounge, one gets to enjoy vegan burgers, Chicken Gochujang Wrap and Teriyaki-glazed Pulled Fable Meat Baguette.

All of these dishes could have fooled a blindfolded gourmet as it is not easy to tell the difference.

Colourful organic produce straight from local farms is what Chambers Grill has for its vegan and vegetarian guests. Here, chefs work with local farmers to showcase their harvest in an elegant way.

A medley of sweet vegetables in the Tray-baked Root Vegetables and crunchy Sauteed Kale Blue Scotch with Garlic and Lemon are refreshing finds in this upmarket steakhouse.

With such satisfying plant-based meals in Hilton, it now makes group dining easier especially when a guest is vegan or vegetarian.Of course, pairing quality plant-based meats with great culinary skills are the ingredients needed for an enjoyable dining experience.


3 Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur.

(Tel:03-2264 2264).

Business hours: Noon to 10.30pm.

This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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