Bookworm Cafe

  • Veg-options Veg-options
    ( 19 reviews )

79 Main St, Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island, Outlying Islands, Hong Kong, China

Serves animal products, vegan options available. Since 1997, an organic cafe in Hong Kong serving Buddhist followers. Menu indicates diet suitability of dishes. Small library within. NOTE: cheese in the 'vegan' wrap is non-vegan. The feta and cheddar cheeses are non-vegetarian. Open Mon-Wed 10:00am-9:00pm, Fri 10:00am-9:00pm, Sat 9:00am-10:00pm, Sun 9:00am-9:00pm.

Categories: Lacto, Ovo, International, Organic, Western, Non-veg

19 Reviews

First Review by JohnnySensible

Great veggie calamari and cerebral book selection - Edit

After hiking the Lamma trail this is a perfect and friendly spot to rest, read have veggie burgers, great salads, a special treat of tasty crispy veggie calamari rings and organic wine - bring a container for leftovers. Smoothies and other beverages available. They do serve lacto vegetarian fare which includes the popular cheese pizza but many vegan items are available inside a very cool skate board / Island theme interior with a great reading selection that included philosophy, physics, poetry and veggie recipe book oks. Nice to see so many books by Calvino.

Pros: Atmosphere and great veggie calamari

Cons: Serves dairy items

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delicious western style veggie food - Edit

Cozy and quiet, fresh ingredients, good services

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Bookworm Cafe, Lamma Island, Hong Kong - Edit

As reported by other reviewers. The vegan burger contains lacto cheese. Also some of the cheese they use is made with non animal rennet. This seems inappropriate for a cafe that markets itself as a vegetarian establishment.

Updated from previous review on 2016-12-22

Cons: Mislabels non-vegan items as vegan, Uses cheese made with slaughtered animal rennet

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To avoid for vegans - Edit

I had read the reviews before visiting and I expected the cafe to have improved since they seemed to receive plenty of constructive criticism in the past.
This cafe was ageing but nothing that bad. It won't poison them to replace their sticky menu, though, it's really a bit gross by now to be honest. Anyways, the waitress (and maybe the owner, I don't know) spoke impeccable English, that was nice. I asked about the pizzas, if there were any vegan cheese available maybe? (The pizzas were "suitable for vegetarians" which was an odd sentence in a menu of an all-vegetarian restaurant.) I was assured that, sure, the cheese was vegan and consequently the pizzas were as well. So fortunately I had read the reviews below beforehand; hence I wasn't content with this assertion and asked again more specifically. The waitress indeed gave my question a thought for few seconds. Then she admitted that she confuses the words "vegan" and "vegetarian" sometimes. Seriously, WTF? So next I asked about the dish that was indicated as 'vegan wrap'. Cheese was listed among the ingredients. So this was vegan cheese then, right? Guess what, it was real cheese. However, I was offered to get the wraps without the cheese. Very well then. I ordered their draught beer without asking if it was vegan or not, I wasn't in the mood for asking questions anymore.
The so-called wraps turned out to be tacos. There is nothing inherently wrong with tacos, yet it was another surprise. They tasted quite alright, no major complaints. The beer (which was served in a frozen jug - nice!) was, sad to say, fair to middling.
Initially I wanted to ask if there were any vegan desserts on display, but since the waitress had lost any interest in me after I had finished eating and rather sorted books unnecessarily for 15 minutes (!) I had second thoughts.
As much as I want to give this venue a better rating, since I love the many book they have there and furthermore the service was very friendly, I simply can't.
They WiFi connection was good though.

Updated from previous review on 2016-11-18

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Stevie 22 Dec 2016 - Hi Ryecatcher, Thanks for this very interesting info.  

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Not really vegan - Edit

My last visit was one or two years back. So things might have changed since then, but I still would like to warn other vegans of this place!

I ordered the pizza which was labeled vegan on the menu. When it came, it tasted so much like real cheese I had to ask. They assured me the cheese was vegan so I asked for the product name. I planned to get some.
I forgot the name, but I looked it up online and it was a *vegetarian* cheese from Australia. Still full of cows milk, just vegetarian. So I asked them if it was really vegan - they said their supplier told them so - and asked if I could see the packaging. Well, they went back into the kitchen where I could then see 3 people holding a plastic bag in their hand reading. After a while the waiter came back out and told me that they could not find the bag anymore...
It's one thing to make a mistake (even though I think you should know what vegan means when you label your food that way)... but it's another to then lie and try to cover it up.

So this place gets one star only and completely lost my trust in them. I would rate zero stars if happycow would allow me to.

Cons: Label non-vegan food as vegan

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My vegan friend and I were so happy to discover what a vegan paradise Lamma Island is. Of all the cafes that had veggie/vegan options, bookworm looked the best and had the most recommedations. It was totally packed and there was a queue to wait (we went over the holiday weekend). We talked to the woman a little while waiting there and she was very nice but stressed and busy, as might be expected. She was interested in the vegan Happy Cow HK ice cream which would have been perfect there, I hope they followed up and made the call.

When we saw the burger bread on someone else's plate, it looked like it had an egg glaze. No one could tell us. There were several different stories about whether the egg had bread. The burger on the menu, which used that bun, was labelled vegan. Then we found out the bread does have egg, and ordered it on a different bread. It came out on the burger bun wih bread. We got it sent back and finally it appeared on toast, by which time the fries were cold, and they were freezer fries and soft and limp. Not very appetising and I couldn't finish them. The burgers (tofu and bean, we tried both) were okay but nothing special, and after the mix up about the egg neither of us were sure we trusted the cafe knows what a vegan diet does and doesn't include.

The staff were far from apologetic, rather they seemed annoyed and the initial friendliness disappeared fast.

The whole experience left me pining for the Western service industry, where if this had happened would have at least omitted the service charge from the bill. I felt very unwilling to pay what the bill came to.

The one redeeming feature was the soy latte, which was really good. We heard other people complain about the vegan cake, so we didn't try that.

The mix up would have been more forgivable in an omni restaurant, but not one which labelled its food as vegan.

Please take note: if you're going to say you serve vegan food, you need to know what's in it, know that it's vegan, and make sure at least one member of staff knows!

Very disappointed and concerned other vegans may visit and not know.

Pros: Good coffee, Nice atmosphere

Cons: Ignorant staff, Badly labelled food, Bland taste

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A bit disappointed - Edit

The first time I went to this restaurant, in 2010, the service, food and atmosphere were all superb.

I recently went back again, with high hopes, but sadly it has gone downhill. When we walked in, we were told that they only had burgers. So that's what we ordered. The burger was tiny but was in a huge but very aerated bun. It was rather tasteless.
We then had some overpriced ice-cream.

The interior is still very nice, with lots of books to browse and it is quite relaxing. Shame about the food though.

Pros: Gone downhill, overpriced, Small portion and not so tasty

Cons: Nice decor and ambience.

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Cute Cafe With Bland Food - Edit

This is an adorable cafe on Lamma Island with a great ambience but the food deliver.
We ordered the chicken nuggets which were ok and served with a salsa. We then had the tofu burger and I had the beanburger. Both the burger patties were very small. The beanburger was dry and the large bun overemphasised the smallness of the burger. The sunshine shake was more of a fruit juice than a shake but tasted ok.

The restaurant is about a 5 min walk from the main ferry terminal and not currently where shown on the map.

Service was fast and the restaurant busy. Burgers cost about $80 and come with salad and just a handful of fries.

Pros: Cute Place, Ambience

Cons: Dry Food, Bland Food

1 Response
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Stevie 03 Apr 2015 - Hi MrRFrost,

I updated the map marker for all 5 current listings in Yung Shue Wan in November last year. Thus they should all now be pretty good. Also today I have submitted improved map markings for the other 2 current listings on Lamma that are outside Yung Shue Wan.

If you ever want to submit an improved map marker yourself this is the website Eric B recommended to me:-

Thanks as always for your contributions to happycow.


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Lovely Place To Eat - Edit

Cute laidback restaurant and book shop.
Had the veggie burger, I'd been craving one for a while after a month of mostly rice and noodles.
It was a little disappointing, the fries were good, I should have gone for the more nutritious dishes on the menu!
Incidentally, I got a very satisfying veggie burger at Lamma Grill the next night.
Expensive, but this is Hong Kong!

Pros: Atmosphere, Menu, Books!

Cons: Expensive

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Good and fresh - Edit

I've been coming back to Lamma for many years and the Bookworm Cafe is always a great place to stop off for good, healthy food at a reasonable price. It's popularity does mean you have to queue some times during festivals or peak hours but it's worth waiting for. Check out the nearby organic health shop Just Green.

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Slow service - Edit

The Bookworm Cafe is very easy to find when getting off the ferry in Lamma - just follow the Main Road for about ten minutes. I had a bean burger with fries and salad, which was average (but a nice break from the mock meat-heavy Chinese veg food) and a fresh ginger, apple and lemon juice, which was really nice. There is one vegan dessert on the menu, however it was unavailable on the day that we went. The only problem was the very slow service - we waited a very long time for our meals, and our drinks only came some time after our meals. We also saw the waitress turning a number of other customers who arrived after us away, despite there being quite a few empty tables, which seemed a bit odd. So perhaps consider making a booking.

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Highlight - Edit

After arriving with the ferry I saw a sign with a hint to this restaurant. After following the path on the island we almost ran into this restaurant. It's really easy to find. The offered food is gorgeous, they sell used books for very low prices and you also can exchange them.
The atmosphere is really nice. Next to the Bookworm Café is just a small shop with organic stuff.
Really nice place!

Pros: organic, delicious, easy to find

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Nice atmosphere - Edit

I stopped by for some vegan chocolate cake and drinks. The atmosphere was very comfortable and cozy, menu in English and staff spoke English adequately. A bit expensive for my taste, but then Hong Kong is much more expensive than the mainland. I'd come again!

Pros: nice atmosphere

Cons: a bit expensive, not vegan

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Closed on Wed, even though supposed to be open - Edit

I was really sad to find this restaurant closed on Wednesday (13th March) when we travelled to the lovely Lamma Island. There were huge ads of the restaurant everywhere and they were telling the restaurant to be open every day (from 9am to 9 pm) except on Thursdays, but we found it closed at lunch time on a normal Wednesday and there was no explanation for that. But luckily there was this fabulous organic/ecological shop "Just Green" very close to the Bookworm (same street, number 75) and we could buy some picnic food there (vegan cheese and chocolate etc.!).

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Vegan = without milk - Edit

Western food (not asiatic). I took a breakfast and a delicious shake with dates, banana, almonds, spiruline. Be carreful because when it's written vegan it means without milk but it can have egg !!! I was during the chinese new year and i didn't appreciate they charge me 20% instead of 10 because it's open during this period and it isn't written ... I'm not sure it was legal ... in more, it's expensive !

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Lamma Island's hidden treasure! - Edit

I has lunch on a Sunday and it was packed out which was great to see! English menu, friendly staff, cosy atmoshpere and very good food. It is down the end of the narrow street, pretty easy to find past Deli Lamma. I took the ferry from central to sok kwu wan ($25) and walked to yung shue wan (about one hour 15 mins) - this way i built up a healthy appetite and you have more choice of ferries to take home ($20), but it doesn't really matter which way you go.

A bit further into Yung Shue Wan keep an eye out for the charity shop supporting abandoned animals on the island. They have a donation box inside and also a good selection of bargain books and cd's.

As you can see, it was a fun trip!

(Just one more comment on Bookworm: I would have like more asian and vegan options but I was really happy (and healthy)with what I had (large fresh juice, delicious soup and huge vegan salad bowl, I felt good value at $140HKD-organic used where possible)

Pros: healthy, vego on lamma!, english menu

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A portal onto Bolinas - Edit

If you just need to crawl into a hippy cocoon for an hour or two, this is the place. Food is great, portions generous, atmosphere is nice inside or outside.

Pros: Tasty, Ambience, Value

Cons: Indifferent service

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Break from Chinese food and HK island/Kowloon - Edit

Signposted on the right as you walk down the Yue Shung Man Main street path, with further outdoor sheltered seating on the otherside of the walk way.
Casual cafe with a laid back vibe, books stacked on one wall with a couple of the day's newspapers available next to a computer with internet access. Staff are pleasant, speak English fluently and are on top of it but not stressed despite being very busy.
Menu is in English and is quite extensive with breakfasts, salads, burgers, soups, mezze plates, pizzas, substantial dishes such as sheperdess pie, juices, hot beverages...It was so difficult to choose!
Ordered the full veggie breakfast with side of hommos and beetroot, lemon, spinach and celery juice. Breakfast was a massive heaped plate with mushrooms, baked beans, scrambled eggs (possible to get them any way you want), wholemeal toast, "bacon", veggie burger (lentil/bean type) and tomato. Wouldn't recommend the "bacon" and the mushrooms were hydrated dried Chinese ones, but other than that, accurate rendering of what would be in a Western cafe. Hommos was good and juice was great, cold too. Not only that, it is largely if not all, organic!
$94 for more Western, organic food than I could finish, renewing environment and free internet use. Totally worth it!

Pros: Organic, Decent Western food, Relaxing environment

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Great atmosphere - I eat there often now - - Edit

Take the ferry from Central on Hong Kong Island to Yung Shue Wan Harbour on Lamma Island & walk for 10 minutes to Bookworm. The other ferry stop on Lamma is Sok Kwu Wan - this is a 2 hour walk from Bookworm over the mountain. I really like Bookworm - it is a "hippie" style place with a good percentage of vegan dishes on the menu. Super relaxed atmosphere. If you are in a hurry ask the staff which dishes can be prepared quickly. Even the salads take 15 minutes to prepare - they are worth the wait - super fresh & well combined. "Fair Trade" coffee's & teas available to buy. No longer connected in any way with "Life" in Central.

Pros: Happy hippy vibes, My generation, Really nice staff

Cons: Grim toilet outside

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