Friday, 8 April 2011

Loving Heart Cafe

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While vegetarian economic rice is quite common, serving plain porridge as an alternative to rice isn't the case, unlike its non-vegetarian counterpart. Therefore to find plain porridge with sweet potatoes added to it becomes even more challenging. Speaking of sweet potato porridge, there are mainly two types in Singapore, namely Teochew porridge and Taiwanese porridge. The difference between them lies in the type of rice used. Taiwanese sweet potato porridge uses short grain rice, which is the staple of the Taiwanese, hence the name. Short grain rice has a high amylopectin content, so it becomes quite adhesive after cooking. In short, the rice in Taiwanese sweet potato porridge is stickier than the Teochew one.



Loving Heart Cafe is one such eatery that serves this rare dish, at least the vegetarian version is. Actually there isn't much differences in the porridge itself, since rice and sweet potatoes are vegan in nature. Basically vegetarian sweet potato porridge is eaten with vegetarian side dishes (Ok I know the description is a bit "duh"). The eatery itself is conveniently located along the main road of Sims Ave. With Kwan Imm See Temple just across the road, Loving Heart is assured a steady stream of vegetarian customers, although it may have to share this customer base with the neighboring and seemingly more established Kwan Inn Zhai. Due to the proximity in location between the two, I can't help but draw some comparisons between the two. In terms of size, variety of food and even cost, Kwan Inn Zhai clearly wins hands down. However Loving Heart does offer dishes that Kwan Inn Zhai does not have, such as Taiwanese sweet potato porridge and roti prata. Apart from savory dishes, Loving Heart also sells traditional Chinese desserts, namely red bean and mung bean soup. Even though there are overlapping dishes, Kwan Inn Zhai does not offer some of these dishes everyday, so one can have them at Loving Heart instead.

The Food

Taiwanese Sweet Potato Porridge, S$ 3.00

To be honest, I had never eaten the real Taiwanese sweet potato porridge before, so I did not have a precedence to compare to. Based on my theoretical knowledge of this dish, the porridge served by Loving Heart was fairly close in terms of texture. There was some degree of stickiness. On closer examination of the rice grains, I spotted some long ones, which led me to suspect that the cook was not using the short grain rice, at least not 100%. Another flaw in the dish was they added too little sweet potatoes, therefore I could hardly detect the fragrance of this lovely root vegetable. Despite the lack of authenticity, I was not totally disappointed because the porridge was cooked the way I liked, whereby the grains were broken and soft, giving it a melt-in-your-mouth consistency.

When it comes to the side dishes, I tend to pick the ones cooked using light methods (Boiling, blanching, steaming, sauteed, lightly stir fried with clear broth instead of thick sauces). Among the three items I had selected, my favorite was the wakame (sea plant) stems. It was the least oily, yet most delicious of the three. I liked its chewy texture and the slight hint of sweet vinegary taste (Not as strong as the one you found in the Japanese sea plant salad, chuka wakame) added a zest to the dish, making it a good appetizer. The stir fried yin choi (The leafy greens that resembled spinach) was not too bad either. The cook added just enough seasoning without overpowering the natural taste of the vegetable. In addition, it was cooked just right, not too mushy or hard. Compared to the other two, the cauliflower and broccoli was rather average. In fact the broccoli was overcooked, but since I was given more cauliflowers (Thank goodness), I did not mind overlooking this weakness.

Despite a little imperfections here and there, I still enjoyed my lunch on the whole. The wakame dish and the porridge simply did it for me, that I could ignore the rest of the faults.

Conclusion

I envy the vegetarians living around this area as they have not one but two 100% vegetarian coffee shops to choose from. Based on what I have read in the blogs under the "Blogs I Follow" section, there is another such eatery at nearby BLK 129, so that comes up to three. Moreover the price range is quite affordable. As for me, I do see myself frequenting this area often since the office I work in is rather near here.

Address:Blk 134 Geylang East Ave 1 #01-219 Singapore 380134
Opening Hours:-
Bus Service:2, 13, 21, 26, 40, 51
MRT Station:Aljunied
Website:-

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