February 2019 Update:
The branches in both Marina & Downtown were closed, so as of now you can only enjoy a dine-in experience in Ibn Battuta Mall. You can still order from them through Zomato or by giving them a call. The last time I went they also didn’t have the Mock Chicken anymore, however all the Tofu & Dumpling options were still available.
After having received several recommendations about the vegan options at Royal Orchid, a restaurant offering specialties from the Far-Eastern cuisines (in this case Thai, Chinese & Mongolian), I finally visited their branch in downtown Dubai for dinner. First of all I want to thank everyone for suggesting the restaurant to me – I had a great night and a delicious vegan meal!
As Dubai finally cooled down a little bit I was able to sit outside right on the busy Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, which turned out to be a little bit noisy but still pleasurable when you’ve been dining inside all summer long. Royal Orchid’s menu clearly marks vegetarian dishes and upon request they confirmed with me that all of these could be prepared without dairy (typically they’re eggless anyways but just let them know about your dietary requirements and they will ensure your food is vegan). Basically that meant that I was able to choose anything from their menu that’s marked vegetarian. As you can probably imagine that left me with quite a lot of choices!
I tried three of their starters: Broccoli & Almond Dim Sum, Crispy Baby Corn and Crispy Tofu in Chili Plum Sauce and two of their mock meat mains: Mock Chicken in Black Pepper Sauce and Mock Duck Rolls with Hoisin Sauce. I could have had several vegetable soups, such as the Tom Kha or Sweet Corn Soup, a choice of Asian salads (e.g. Thai Papaya Salad or “Ten Treasure” Vegetable Salad), Wasabi Water Chestnuts, a Tofu Wok dish or vegetables stir-fries to name only a few other options.
Now about my favorite dishes: out of the three starters I tried I liked the Crispy Baby Corn and Crispy Tofu in Chili Plum Sauce the most. Both dishes were crispy and full of different flavors; while the Baby Corn was accompanied by spring onions, more salty and tasted best dipped in soya sauce, the Crispy Tofu was quite sweet (but delicious) due to being served in a plum sauce. The Broccoli & Almond Dim Sum didn’t satisfy me that much as it was lacking some flavor compared to the other dishes and other vegan dim sum I tried previously (for the best vegan Dim Sum in Dubai please check out my review about Ping Pong Dim Sum).
While being relatively full from the variety of starters I tried already I couldn’t wait to try the mock chicken and mock duck for my mains as this was only the second time since I’ve moved to Dubai that I tried vegan mock meats (first time: Old Wood Village). Let me give you an advice straight ahead: if you never really liked duck, you won’t like mock duck meat either, since it’s made to reflect the real duck’s meat taste. Unfortunately I didn’t really think about that prior to placing my order. However, if you’re a fan of the taste of duck meat, these mock duck pancakes will be a great option for you. As you can imagine, I stopped eating them after my first bite. Last but not least: the Mock Chicken in Black Pepper Sauce. Served with garden peppers and mushrooms this dish was definitely a better choice for me. Both the duck but also the chicken tasted surprisingly close to real meat, but since I had always preferred chicken among any other meat I fully enjoyed this aroma.
Craving something sweet after dinner? Go for one of my favorite vegan desserts: sticky rice with mango or simply a fruit platter. Order from the Royal Orchid if you don’t feel like leaving your house but overall I can recommend you to do it soon as almost everything I tried was great and there are many more vegan options available. Please remember to let the staff know about your dietary requirements so there won’t be any dairy sneaking into your meals. The branch in downtown is only a few meters away from the Dubai Mall and the Dubai Opera and the one in Marina is close to Spinneys.
Royal Orchid Ibn Battuta Mall
Opening hours: 11AM to 11.30PM