Monday, 4 April 2011

He Xi Restaurant

This is not the first time I visited He Xi Restaurant. The last time I did I was looking for vegetarian food near Upper Aljunied Lane ( Click here to read ), and was lucky to spot He Xi. Unfortunately this blog had yet to exist then, hence the only medium to record down my experience was my biological C drive, aka my brain. Lets just say my first impression of their food was pleasant enough for me to want to do a proper review, now that I have this blog.

He Xi isn't near any MRT station, so it is better to go there by bus (Services 100, 135 or 155). Despite calling itself a restaurant, He Xi has a coffee shop setting. It might be a mistranslation because the Chinese name sounds less misleading. Whatever it is, do not expect a posh dining place with this one. As far as I am concerned, the quality of the food is the most crucial factor and as long as this aspect is well taken care of, I can forgive other imperfections (With the exception of poor hygiene of course).



During my first visit to He Xi, I ordered yong tau fu. In fact, that was the first time I tried the vegetarian version of this dish. Since then I hardly touch the original version. Well I can't say He Xi serves the best vegetarian yong tau fu in Singapore, because I discover better alternatives elsewhere later on, but I would pick it over any of its meat counterpart any time. Being one of my favorite local dishes, I am intending to feature it in my future posts. Hence the rest of the the "yong tau fu talk" will remain in the KIV section of my mind for the time being. Besides, yong tau fu was not available on the day of my visit. Thankfully He Xi has a good variety of dishes to choose from. It happened to be a scorching hot day, so once again I preferred soupy dishes. Among the few dishes of such nature available, I picked mushroom mee soup, because it was less commonly available in other vegetarian eateries. Hopefully this criteria will make my blog more interesting. Moreover, the image on the the signboard looked really appealing.

The Food

Mushroom Mee Soup, S$ 3.00

While waiting for the food to arrive, I made a mental plan of my photo taking session later on, so I was not paying attention to the food ordering area. By the time I did so, I caught a glimpse of the staff adding something from the economic rice section into my bowl of mee soup. Anyway I went to collect my lunch (It's self-service) and found out that they had taken the fried Chinese black mushroom from the trays of dishes meant for the rice. Not quite what I had expected from this dish. I had hoped for every ingredients to be boiled with the soup. Nonetheless I decided to taste it before making further judgments.

As always, I started with the soup, a habit I acquired after learning the etiquette of eating western food. It was a little too salty, and the lye water taste was a little too strong for my liking. Next up I tried the Chinese black mushroom and found it a little too hard. Although the dish was named mushroom mee soup, I could hardly find any mushrooms among the ingredients, which included:
  • So-so tasting choy sum.
  • Raw carrot which could be improved if cut into julienne.
  • Mushy shredded cabbage. The slightly yellowish coloration made me suspect it was also picked up from the economic rice section, which explained its mushiness.
  • Tasteless mock prawns
  • Shredded mock chicken, the least of the many evils. At least the "chicken" texture was there.
In my opinion, the cook had ruined a dish that had a lot of potential. Mushroom is one of the few ingredients out there that has its own umami flavor, making it a suitable ingredient for brewing soups, especially vegetarian ones. Instead of utilizing the mushrooms to the fullest, the cook chose to take the easy way out by flavoring the soup with lots of MSG. To make things worse, the cook conveniently added some ingredients from the economic rice section instead of boiling them fresh from scratch, which could have added extra flavor to the soup. This dish was definitely not worth S$ 3.00.

Conclusion

I find it a shame that when I want to do a proper review of He Xi, I end up choosing a disappointing dish. However since my very first impression of this vegetarian coffee shop actually ended with a more positive note, I decided that it deserved at least a second chance. Besides there were plenty of other dishes to try out.

Address:Blk 4 Upper Aljunied Lane #01-22 Singapore 360004
Opening Hours:Mon - Fri, 7.00 am - 3.30 pm, 5.30 pm to 8.00pm
Sat, 7.00 am - 3.00 pm
Closed on Sunday, except on 1st and 15th of lunar month
Bus Service:100, 135, 155
MRT Station:Aljunied
Website:-

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