A Veggie-ful Pantry in the West End

                     I never knew that Sai Ying Pun (西營盤) became such a neat area, but it has definitely been hanging off the lips of many people lately and I did recently have dinner here thanks to a new friend, Edie’s recommendations. There is a little place in a little corner of Sai Ying Pun called Grassroots Pantry 豆苗居 that may or may not appeal to you because it serves only vegetarian dishes. Peggy, the owner is very passionate about her food with a focus on being plant based and sustainable.  The menu itself is worth a mention where the lovely hand-drawn pictures depicted each element of the each dish and whether it is lactose-free and gluten-free. This menu really makes a difference on how much thought one puts into presenting a dish, but then when we were served the vanilla bean and lemon steeped water, I was pretty pleased to find my tiny tastebuds dance a little in my mouth before even eating anything substantial. 
                  There were 4 of us and we shared the potato tofu croquettes and their Indian Dahl to start. The croquettes were crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, paired with a slightly tangy house-made “ketchup”. The Dahl was hearty and spicy which, opened up my appetite that later allowed me to eat the whole bowl of root vegetable Tagine surrounded with a bed of red and white quinoa. The Tagine did need more salt and cinnamon, in my opinion, and maybe some beets would have completed the root vegetable medley. I had a chance to taste the mushroom, asparagus linguine and that is a signature dish, which really proved itself to be at the acme of this menu.

As for dessert, my eyes lit up as Peggy listed all the lactose-free and gluten-free options as we then decided to share a gluten-free cupcake with a cashew-soymilk frosting along with the lactose-free pistachio ice cream. I think this was my favorite part of the meal since I pretty much landed in a heavenly place where I was accepted peacefully as a lactose-intolerant. Hooray!

I thought the cupcake was moist and the frosting was very smooth. The dehydrated pineapple on top gave the whole cupcake a tropical flair with a bright yellow to magnificently enhance its aesthetics. I do wish it could’ve been crispier like a chip to provide more texture to this dessert.

Pseudo Nutrition Analysis: Grassroots has quite a diverse menu when there are limitations for working with only vegetables. The items do provide many of the nutrients that many vegetarians need and may not have the knowledge to consume, such as protein, iron, and B12. As for the calories, this is indeed a restaurant establishment and the taste should be their utmost concern so there may be slightly less care of low fat and low sodium dishes compared to those in a home-cooked meal. Grassroots have labeled many of its dishes gluten-free and lactose-free, which is very smart to let those with intolerances know to stay away. As for the gluten-free fad, many have misunderstood its beginnings and treatment. I have nothing against staying gluten-free if you have the slightest gluten sensitivity and proven clinically to have celiac disease, but it’s not a way of losing weight and does have consequences that may even cause you to gain weight. The more I hear about their brunch menu, the more I am tempted to make my next trek, will definitely make a next visit.

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