Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Prata Wala Cafe Restaurant

(Note: This is NOT a 100% vegetarian eatery. I asked the cashier if they used separate utensil for the vegetarian dishes. She did not seemed to understand my question and only told me the meat and vegetables were served in different trays. What an ambiguous reply. To play safe, I DO NOT recommend this place to strict vegetarians who do not want their cutleries and utensils to be tainted with non-vegan ingredients. Please see here for latest update.)

On Saturday, I went to NEX Mall to perform the mundane task of depositing a cheque. Whenever I stepped into NEX, I always recall reading one blogger's post lamenting its total lack of vegetarian eatery . Sorry for only remembering the complaint, not the blogger's identity. Anyway he or she is right. Despite boasting two food courts, a slew of restaurant Goliaths and of course its huge size, you cannot find a pure vegetarian dining place. Yes, not even a humble food court stall selling the most common vegetarian economic rice or bee hoon. However, for vegetarians who do not mind relaxing the standard a little, they can still find something to eat there. Based on what I read from the vegetarian blogs that I follow, there are some of them who are comfortable about dining in a non-vegetarian eatery, so long as there is a vegetarian item in the menu. In my case, I am not even a vegetarian, therefore this arrangement is more than enough for me. After I left the bank and having loads of time to spare, I decided to explore NEX, paying special attention to the details in the menu (If available for display outside the eatery). That was how I spotted Prata Wala Cafe Restaurant.

In Prata Wala (A cute catchy name there), only the cooking and ordering areas are enclosed in a unit. Patrons have to dine in the open but since everything is housed within the air-conditioned shopping mall, it is not much of an issue unless one needs more privacy. More importantly, I spotted two vegetarian dishes, namely vegetarian white rice set and vegetarian murtabak. That has already made it better than Subway on the second floor. As usual, my camera was not with me and besides I had eaten, so I planned to visit it on another day, but only after much hesitation.

You see, my relationship with Indian cuisine is not a fairytale. Unlike majority of the Singaporeans, I do not take hot and spicy food. There is neither a health nor a religious reason behind it. I simply fail to acquire this taste. My worst dining out nightmare is when a nimble hawker adds a dollop of chili sauce into my food without asking if I want it, just because I am a Singaporean. Therefore I tend to avoid cuisines that are meant to be hot and spicy, sadly missing out on an epic proportion of delicacies. Indian food is one fine example. I have never sampled anything beyond the generic roti prata with sugar or egg. Then again, this blog has made me a little more adventurous in my taste-bud. I am also getting a little tired of Bugis and Aljunied, as most of the places there have received extensive coverage in other blogs. Armed with a large water bottle, I decided to give it a go.

Again, what I had in mind, which was vegetarian murtabak, was not available. I asked for vegetarian white rice set and got the same reply from the cashier. She told me that the only vegetarian dish available was vegetarian briyani set. So there's a third vegetarian dish. In terms of price, I only needed to pay 50 cents more. It was certainly a blessing in disguise that the white rice set decided to take a break that day.

The Food

Vegetarian Briyani Set, S$ 5.00

The vegetarian briyani set consisted of briyani rice, daal, achar, pappadom and 2 vegetable dishes of my choice. I selected potato masala and cabbage side dish, since they were the only ones that were not reddish in color, meaning they were unlikely to be very hot. And I was right.

The potato masala was not totally mashed up, so I could still feel the chunks that easily turned to a smooth paste as I chewed on them. It was also lightly spiced so the original flavor was more or less retained. When taken with the rice, the potato masala enriched the rice with additional creaminess. Speaking of the rice, it possessed the free flowing quality characteristic of basmati. As someone who grew up eating jasmine rice, I found the soft grainy texture refreshing. The rice was not heavily spiced to the point of overwhelming the fragrance of the rice. Instead it was only lightly salted to develop the savory taste. I could eat the briyani rice on its own. Another enjoyable factor of this dish for me was the daal, that tasted like a bowl of viscous minestrone soup. Surprisingly it was not spicy at all. Having more whole beans or lentils in it for the extra bite would make me love it more than I already did.

When compared to the rest of the ingredients, the cabbage side dish could easily fade into oblivion if not for the crunch to remind me of its existence. It was not awful or anything, just average and forgettable. Nevertheless, as long as it was not too hot, I was already grateful. The real sore point was the rubbery pappadom which I had expected to be crispy. Or was it meant to be this way?

What I adored most about this dish was in spite of its sinful appearance, the dish was not too greasy or over-seasoned. Instead it achieved its great taste by a clever combination of herbs and spices. Looks like I have another option when it comes to choosing a dish to feature in my blog.


It is wonderful to see more non-vegetarian eateries offering something for the vegetarians. Doing so actually incurs extra cost on the business as there is a need to purchase an extra set of utensils and cutleries solely for the vegetarian dishes. Therefore I deeply appreciate the endeavors of these eateries.

As for Prata Wala Cafe Restaurant, I am not sure where it stands. While it serves good food, I think it is equally important for them to be a little more precise in their definition of "vegetarian". At this juncture, I shall remain reserved on my judgement while waiting for an email reply from them to confirm the "purity" of their vegetarian dishes.

Latest Update: Click here to see the reply from Prata Wala.

Address:23 Serangoon Central NEX Shopping Centre #02-K5/K6
Opening Hours:Mon - Thu & Sun, 10.00am - 10.00pm
Fri, Sat, Eve of Public Holidays, 10.00am – 11.00pm
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Serangoon


  1. Hi Prefer Vege,

    I think a common misconception is that Indian food is spicy. Frankly for myself, I don't mind it anymore more or less spicy than some Chinese food.

    Also, to categorize 'all' Indian food as spicy is strange as there are thousands of varieties of Indian food from many states within India. For example Kashmiri or Rajasthani curries are sweet and mild, not spicy. You might like those! :)

    Indian food falls under criticism also for salt and oil levels - Which I can't defend, haha.

    Drop me a mail next time your interested in trying/reviewing some Indian food and I will join you!


  2. Hi

    Thanks for correcting my misconception. As a human, I am guilty of this thing call stereotype at times. However doing this review does make me see Indian cuisine in a new light.

    Also thanks for your kind invitation.

  3. Don't worry, I think most people think that. I am pleased that people like yourself have an open mind and check it out though! :)

    I recommend that you try Gokul and Sagar Ratna - These are the best examples of quality not too spicy, oil or salty Indian food in Singapore!

    Keep up all your great work!


  4. Hi both of you just wanted to tell you tht this veg place is horrible. I being an indian can tell you that. I am new to singapore and changed to veg food for the past 7 yrs. i have tried almost a lot of food as I am sailor in merchant navy. And i also love to cook so I can tell both of you tht to have a indian food u need to go to a really proper place. Also gokul was bellow expectations. I had seen youf review Angmo but I was heavyily disappointed. But this place PRATA WALLA SUCKS BIG TIME...... THEY SERVE COLD FOOD HORRIBLE SERVICE