Sunday, 27 March 2011

Five Sights Hall - Dining Hall

As promised in my previous post, I would review the food found in the vegetarian eatery of Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. To be exact, the eatery has a name, Wu Guan Tang Cha Can Ting. In English, “Wu Guan” means 5 Sights and “Tang” means hall. Please visit their website if you are interested in the significance of this name, because yours truly would rather focus on the food.

Before we get there, allow me to share some information about this eatery. First of all, getting there isn't difficult, since it is within walking distances from Chinatown MRT station. If you do not want to walk so much, then take 80 or 145. Like I mention before, there's no way you can miss the red majestic building. Secondly, 5 Sights is not opened for profit purposes, and all proceeds goes to charity. Hence do bring the exact amount (Or the amount you wish to donate if you are generous) as they do not give small changes. And finally, the most important component of the menu, the food that is, is fully in Chinese. Translation isn't my forte, but I shall try my best here.

(Left to right): char siew pastry, sesame ball, carrot cake, crystal dumpling, char siew rice, mushroom shredded chicken noodles (hor fun), char siew noodle (hor fun), mixed vegetable yi mian, mixed vegetable hor fun, wanton noodle (hor fun).

* char siew - roasted pork, hor fun - flat rice noodle, yi mian - flat egg and wheat noodle *

As I entered the dining hall, I noticed a stark contrast between its contemporary style interior design and the traditional looking exterior of the temple. I especially liked the neatly arranged paintings, which went really well with the simple lines of the brightly colored walls. As if to remind us that it had not totally forgotten its Chinese roots, decorations of oriental nature could be found at appropriate spots of the dining hall.

According to the friendly staff serving me at the ordering area, they also had white rice set apart from the items on the menu. In the end, I decided to order mushroom shredded chicken hor fun, because most of the ingredients inside were either boiled or blanched. More importantly, it was less commonly available at other vegetarian food stalls, compared to the other dishes on the menu. It was at the point of paying that I found out about their “no change policy”. After digging out all my coins, I still fell short of 10 cents. Seeing how helpless I was, the staff told me to insert whatever I had in the donation box and that I could return the rest when I come back the next time. Though embarrassed, I was grateful to be let off.

The Food

Mushroom Shredded Chicken Hor Fun, S$ 3.00

First of all, the portion size of the main dish was large relative to its cost. Furthermore, it came with pickled vegetables, which was rare for a dish that cost only $3.00. As for the soup, I'm not sure if it came with this dish by default or that I requested for it.

I started with the soup. It was clear and a little tasteless. However, one would be grateful for its blandness later on, as it helped to quench the inevitable thirst that occur when eating dry dishes. That's the beauty of Chinese food. A thoughtful cook would pair food of opposing qualities to create harmony in the dish, hence the consumer could experience a sense of balance and health at the same time.

Next up, I tried the pickles. It tasted sweet in a nice way, and I had expected it to be salty. Nonetheless, it had successfully achieved its role of an appetizer.

Now on to the main dish itself. It would be a good idea to stir the hor fun with the gravy thoroughly before eating. Usually, the cook did not do this for you for presentation purposes. During the mixing process, I thought the hor fun felt a tad too dry. On entering my mouth, however, it actually felt smooth and slippery, while simultaneously being enhanced by the gravy that was flavorful enough without being too salty. Another highlight of the dish, for me at least, was the green veges. If I wasn't mistaken, they used Shanghai green, which happened to be my favorite. Shanghai green resembles bok choy, except that it is larger and costs more in the market. Fortunately the cook did not ruin this ingredient for me. He or she managed to get the right tenderness without turning them mushy. The mushrooms were fleshy and because the gravy tasted good enough, they naturally got infected, in a positive way of course. A little flaw to an otherwise well-done dish was the mock chicken. Those shreds of gluten totally lacked the “chicken” element, whether in terms of taste or texture. All they had were the typical gluten taste that was average and forgettable. It's a good thing I asked for less “chicken” in exchange for more vegetables. Speaking of the veges, I wished they had given more of that. Perhaps next time I should asked them to eliminate the mock meat for me. In my opinion, this dish could do without it. Other than that, I still found the dish enjoyable on the whole. Purist of Ipoh hor fun might want to give this dish a miss, since chicken, being an integral part of the original dish, was not very well done.


My personal experience with this eatery is pleasant enough for me to consider visiting again in future. I'm not sure if it is coincidental, but I notice that vegetarian food sellers seem to be more polite and willing to go the extra mile to serve their customers. The staff at 5 Sights is no different. Good customer service does exist in Singapore, you just need to know where to find it.

Address:288, South Bridge Road, Singapore 058840
Opening Hours:Mon - Sun
9.00 am - 3.00 pm
Bus Service:80, 145
MRT Station:Chinatown

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