As more of us start to become aware that we don’t need to eat turkey or lamb during Christmas or any other festivities, interesting vegan food creations pop up like mushrooms.
The Hungry Tapir restaurant in Kuala Lumpur introduced a 4-course vegan festive spread as part of the Christmas celebration. As an adventurous vegan foodie, I wanted to try it. So I asked my friend Colleen the MMA fighter to be my date on the 24th of December 2020 as I knew she would be down for it, too. Such a blessing to have a friend with a can-do-it attitude.
Read on to discover my honest review and prepare to drool at the photos.
AMUSE-BOUCHE: Vegan Pie
For the appetizer, we had this warm pastry with mushrooms stuffed inside. We were surprised at how perfect the pastry itself was. And it’s interesting how there were a couple of blueberries on the side that gave it a slightly sour taste. Surprisingly, they suit very well. There was a bit of beetroot hummus at the bottom but I lowkey wished there was an extra small bowl of it. But no, this was a fancy special Christmas lunch at Hungry Tapir—which by the way the interior was very aesthetically pleasing—so the food presentation must look stylish.
STARTER: Sweet Potato, Spinach & Quinoa Salad
I thought this should have been the appetizer and the vegan pie the starter. Nevertheless, this too was surprisingly good. It had a sweet tinge to it, not the artificial type. And not just from the sweet potato, we thought. They might have added some sweet syrup—maple?—into the mix. Whatever it was, this salad, though plain it may seem, played with our taste buds very well, preparing us for the next course.
MAINS: Vegan Turkey and Steak
There were two options for the mains and since it was the two of us, we ordered both options and had the best of both worlds.
Vegan Turkey on Kabocha and Tom Yum Puree with Cranberry Sauce
I don’t think I’ve ever eaten turkey in my life. It’s not a thing in Malaysia where I grew up. Or it’s just not a thing for my family because we don’t celebrate Christmas. But Colleen loved it! The vegan turkey probably had chickpeas and nuts. It could’ve been a veggie burger for all I know. Traditionally, the cranberry sauce is served with turkey and so this isn’t an exception. There was cranberry sauce on top and I thought it was interesting to eat a fruity condiment with a savoury dish. But it’s considered normal and there are other weirder things in the world. Oh and apparently, kabocha is a type of winter squash.
Vegan Steak on Potato Puree with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
I’m not sure which I liked better: the turkey or the steak. I thought I preferred the turkey but now that I’m reflecting on it, I think I might have actually liked the steak more. Hungry Tapir’s steak was a soft, delicious vegan steak. Even though the texture was not at all like a “real” steak, the taste was superb. Lots of herbs and spices were marinated in it which I loved!
The inside was red and kind of imitated a medium-rare steak, I suppose. I guess that put me off a bit and that might be why I initially thought I didn’t prefer it that much. Having eaten steak for the first 21 years of my life, and now knowing what the poor animals went through, seeing even a near-exact imitation of an animal part lowkey freaks me out. But that’s an irrational feeling so I got over it.
We were slightly disappointed with the Yorkshire pudding that was served with each of the mains. It did look like it but the texture was wanting. It was basically a plain cake. Even the manager of Hungry Tapir admitted that they need to work on it.
Also, I thought that perhaps there should be more gravy to eat with the pudding regardless of the texture. I’m such a gravy person and so the lack of gravy meant that it wasn’t very satisfying. Thankfully, the mock meats and roasted vegetables made up for it.
DESSERT: Christmas Pudding and White Christmas Parcel
Just like the mains, this too had two options. We enjoyed them both!
Christmas Pudding with Cinnamon Vanilla Sauce
This was YUMMY!!! I loved it. Colleen said it was the best Christmas Pudding she had ever tasted. I probably would have loved it better if there was more vanilla sauce (maybe serve in a small cute pot?) or instead, Kelava’s vanilla ice cream. But, I understand, this was a fancy lunch and Hungry Tapir wanted the meals to look impeccable.
White Christmas Parcel with Cherry Sauce
What’s inside, you might wonder? Apples! It was basically an apple pie but with a fancy name. It was delicious. Honestly, both of their desserts were flawless. But I don’t think I’d consider the parcel as a dessert; more like a tea-time meal. So for this round, the pudding won.
DRINKS: Tropical Soda and Hot Chocolate
The soda was served with the appetizer and the hot chocolate just before dessert. Both were nice and suited the course they were on. As a crazy chocolate person, I enjoyed the hot chocolate very much.
OVERALL — 10/10 Recommend!
The 4-course spread was MYR 90++ per person (booked as an early bird price). Otherwise, MYR 110++.
It may seem expensive but I think it’s worth what I experienced in return — a delicious vegan Christmas meal with my good friend.
Pro tip: bring a date or two along so that you can try everything in the menu. Since the mains and dessert had two options each, we ordered both options and shared them!
I felt honoured to be a part of Hungry Tapir’s first-ever Vegan Christmas special and tasted their food which was all made from scratch.
I’m not sure if all of the ingredients are locally sourced (probably not all considering the kabocha) but I’m happy that they were all vegan. Based on a study I read some time ago, the kind of food you eat has a greater impact than where it’s sourced from. So this means a fully plant-based meal that is not locally sourced is better for the environment (and animals of course) than a meat-based meal that is locally sourced.
But of course, a plant-based meal which is fully locally sourced would be better but then we wouldn’t be able to enjoy a typical Christmas meal.
I really hope they keep up this new tradition so that more people may enjoy it with their loved ones without the expense of any animal.
Spoiler: They kept up this tradition! Read the 2022 experience here.