Sunday, 29 May 2011

Honzen Cafe

Now that I think back, I was thankful to the day I signed up for the VSS E-newsletter. Hence I get to know about Honzen cafe at the convenience of just reading my emails. This cafe is another addition to Bugis, which was already crowded with vegetarian eateries. However, it is located in North Bridge Commercial Complex (Opposite Bugis Junction), away from the rest of its competitors in or near Fortune Centre.

Despite an upmarket style of interior design, the service crew were actually quite down to earth, so were the price of the main course in general. Rice dishes, especially fried rice, dominated the menu. Apart from that, there were a few soup ramen and spaghetti dishes to choose from.

The Food

Fruit Enzyme Vinegar, S$ 0.00

Before my food arrived, I was given a small cup fruit enzyme vinegar. It was basically a mildly sweet berry flavored drink. Even if it was not free-of-charge, I would not complain about its portion since drinks of this nature was never meant to be consumed in large quantity.

Honzen Special Rice, S$ 6.90

Old Cucumber Soup (Comes with Honzen Special Rice), S$ 0.00

So what is the X-factor behind Honzen special rice? Here's the answer: the rice grain was shaped into a cone. Sealed its fate by flattening the mound with the cutleries as one began to tuck in, all that was left was plain brown rice. It did not help that its portion size was dismal. The accompanying ingredients, however, were the showstopper of this self-claimed special dish.

Flanking the surrounding of the rice, these ingredients not only appealed visually with their array of colors, but also treated ones taste buds to a range of flavors. Starting with the gelatinous black fungus, the tangy undertone attributed to the use of vinegar was a great appetite stimulator. Next up, the crunchy assortment of well-roasted cashew nuts, seeds (pumpkin and sunflower) and dried fruits (Cranberries, sultanas and goji berries) was like a fantasy to any tidbits-loving individual. Tossed them into the raw alfalfa sprouts and lettuce, and a lovely sweet and savory salad was created. Moving on to the traffic lights trio of bell peppers, they were probably lightly sautéed since their natural sweetness was retained. The same could be said for the green beans although the flavor was more subtle.

A typical Chinese habit was to have a small bowl of clear soup at the side of relatively dry main course. The soup of the day was brewed using old cucumber, which was believed to have cooling properties. According to the waitress, the main ingredients used for the soup of the day was determined by the weather condition. Seems like this cafe adheres to the Chinese yin-yang system, which I am a recent convert of. Red dates, wolf berries, ginger and carrots were added, both for extra herbal flavor and nourishments. Although it was on the verge of tastelessness, it harmonized well with the main course.

With so many food items to keep my stomach busy, I could easily forgive the cafe for the minor misrepresentation in the naming of this dish. The lack of something “special” in Honzen rice, was adequately compensated by the value-for-money factor. However the S$6.90 was only a promotional price. I was told that the price would increase to S$8.90 in future. Hopefully they would at least serve more rice when that happened.

Citron Tea, S$ 3.00

Citron tea is a Korean traditional tea made from thinly sliced citron with its peel and combined with honey or sugar. Since no tea leaves is used, there is hardly any bitterness typically found in tea. In Honzen cafe, you could choose whether you want to have this drink hot or cold. I chose the hot version, which turned out to be lukewarm, but I would not complain in this case. Being scalded by a piping hot drink did not sound pleasant to me anyway. This sweet citrusy drink was a nice thirst quencher. I also hoped the peel found in the drink was edible since I had eaten some of them.


I wonder if the rising number of organic eateries in Singapore accurately mirrors the increase in number of health conscious locals. It will be great if it does. Instead of worrying about the medical cost that keeps heading north with no sign of turning back, why not keep ourselves healthy so that we are less likely to use those services? I believe our ex Health minister, Khaw Boon Wan, was trying to bring across this message but I don't think most Singaporeans appreciate that.

Hence I am grateful to Honzen cafe for providing me another choice of healthy and delicious vegetarian food. My real complaint for this cafe is that it is closed on Sundays and Public holidays, when I am more free to explore food outside of my work place near Aljunied MRT station.

Address:470 North Bridge Road, #01-01
North Bridge Commercial Complex, S(188735)
Opening Hours:Mon - Sat, 11.00 am - 9.30 pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
Bus Service:7, 32, 51, 61, 63, 80, 145, 175, 197, 851
MRT Station:Bugis

1 comment:

  1. I think we are seeing a gradual rise in organic eateries in Singapore. These new establishments have been coupled by the re branding of Green Room Cafe to now be not only organic, but 100% raw. Exciting!

    Organic is not something that I see catching on in peoples homes on a daily basis though, the prices of organic vegetables in Singapore is quite staggering.