Last Updated on March 4, 2020 by Fiona Maclean
Ken Hom at The Gate, London’s Leading Vegetarian Restaurant Group
I grew up with The Gate restaurant – the original one in Hammersmith, which we reviewed a few years ago. At the forefront of plant-based food for 30 years, the group has now emerged as a leader in one of the biggest food movements of our time. The group’s latest restaurant, in St John’s Wood, played host to one of our favourite Asian chefs, Ken Hom, who developed a nine dish three-course vegan menu especially for them.
With Ken in attendance in person, along with The Gate founder, Michael Daniels, it was a date not to miss. And, as Ken himself says
Chinese cuisine, and most Asian cuisines, naturally lend themselves to vegan recipes, where ingredients such as grains, vegetables, tofu, nuts, noodles are used extensively every day by home cooks and restaurant chefs alike. Growing up in Chicago, we didn’t have much money, meat was rarely seen, and my mother used to send me to school with a flask of hot rice, which other kids always wanted to get a taste of, as it was so different from their burgers. Her food was delicious and I still cook many of her recipes, which were mainly vegan. The synergy with my food and that of The Gate Restaurants was obvious, and I have used my Chinese twists in the dishes I have created.
Now, despite being a committed omnivore, I am always happy when I’m offered a vegan or vegetarian menu where I just don’t miss the meat. This menu was a great example of how to do just that.
After some of The Gate’s own marinated olives, bread and hummus, there was a choice of Daoist Braised Chinese Mushrooms, Stir-Fried Cucumber and Watermelon with a salsa of black beans garlic, spring onions, ginger and chilli
or my own choice of Crispy Rice Paper Asparagus Roll with spring onions, tomato and coriander with chives hollandaise.
Everything was pronounced delicious and we were keen to see what would be served as a main course. Oriental Ratatouille sounded delicious, as did the Vegetable Spring Rolls with Curried Vegetables – but since I’d enjoyed the Crispy Rice Paper Asparagus Roll to start I opted for the Buddhist Casserole with Chinese leaves, courgettes, red peppers, broccoli, yellow bean and plum sauce. The perfect dish for a chilly winter’s day, it came with an umami-rich broth, plenty of freshly cooked veg and a portion of sticky rice.
There was no contest for dessert – I picked the poached banana in plum wine with sweet noodle crisp, black tahini and candied ginger.
I do love plum wine and this particular combination of flavours and textures ticked every box for me. Each of the three desserts though had plate appeal – would you turn down this fresh and delicious looking mango and basil compote for example
Or this intriguing chocolate mouse with Chinese five-spice, liquorice creme Chantilly and spiced orange coulis.
Now it’s a while since I’ve been to The Gate myself and I’d love to return and see what the regular menu has to offer these days. And, I sincerely hope it will include some of Ken’s own special dishes. In the meanwhile, I’m busy reading Ken Hom’s autobiography ‘My Stir-Fried Life’ – which is available from good bookshops or online from Amazon
87 Allitsen Road,
St John’s Wood,
London NW8 7AS
Looking for something different? We’ve also reviewed By Chloe, a vegan restaurant group with branches around the world.