Saturday, 21 May 2011

QQ Rice - Novena Square 2

{Note: This is NOT a 100% vegetarian eatery. However close to 50% of the menu does cater to vegetarians.)

Rice is considered plain to most people when consumed on its own. Yet this property, which appears to be a weakness at first, actually renders rice one of the most versatile food around. It can be served plain to complement other dishes, especially the heavily seasoned ones. Alternatively, one can whip up a one-dish meal by cooking the rice, with other ingredients, salt, herbs and/or spices.

An interesting way to eat rice, in my opinion at least, is to knead the grains like a dough into any three-dimensional shape. To achieve this feat, only rice grains with adhesive nature is used. Stuffings can be included for extra flavor. This rice dish is common among the oriental community, for example the Chinese rice dumpling (Zongzi) and the Japanese rice ball (Onigiri).

To stand out in the F & B industry today, novelty is crucial. QQ Rice takes this cue, by incorporating other grains into their rice roll, instead of sticking to the safe tradition of using purely glutinous rice or short grain rice. Its signature product, purple rice, has a glamorous history of being exclusive to the ancient Chinese Emperors, and forbidden for anyone else. Touted to contain high quantity of iron and antioxidants, and blessed with a splash of rich purple coat, it is sure to trigger enough curiosity among consumers to at least try it once. Boasting a non-flatulent technology by adding digestive enzymes to the rice, I can see the zealous effort put in by QQ Rice to target the steadily growing health conscious market.

Follow these steps if you want to try this dish.
  1. Head on to Novena Square 2, the venue of my review, or its other 2 newly opened branches in Jurong IMM and Boon Lay Jurong Point.
  2. Choose your rice from this list: brown rice, mixed grain, purple rice, wheat germ, wheat five, red rice.
  3. Choose 5 fillings. There are 24 vegetarian fillings to choose from.
  4. Unfortunately the sauces may not be vegetarian, so I suggest that you skip this step.
  5. By default, the food here are meant to be takeaways, so do remind the service crew if you want to dine-in in the limited space available in the eatery.

The Food

As I tore open the plastic wrapping, the purple rice roll made a pleasant first impression by charming my sense of smell with a mild peppery aroma that reminded me of five spice powder. On sinking my teeth into the rice, I was surprised that the rice did not have much taste apart from its natural nutty flavor, suggesting that no seasoning was added. Hence the combination of fillings was crucial. If your rice roll tasted horrible, blamed it on your wrong choices of ingredients. What a sly way to shirk responsibility!

Anyway, here's what I had chosen for the purple rice roll: 1) emperor vegetable (premium) 2) burdock 3) seaweed salad 4) sweet corn 5) mushroom. This particular combination had a savory sweetness characteristic of Japanese cuisines, which was within my expectation since the seaweed salad was a food of Japanese origin. After I tested the crunchy emperor vegetable and burdock individually (Both of them new to me, especially emperor vegetable), I realized that they too shared this flavor. The mushroom however was the one that contributed the five spice powder like fragrance.

In a nutshell, chewing on the purple rice roll was akin to eating a grainy version of Chinese rice dumpling. I thoroughly enjoyed my mouthwatering selection of items which had successfully spiced up the subtly flavored rice.

Mixed Grain Rice Roll, S$ 4.30

Broccoli must be a really expensive vegetable. When I asked for this filling, the service crew only scooped up two miserable florets. There was a minute improvement in the quantity of cherry tomatoes, Japanese cucumber and burdock given. Surprisingly she was rather generous with the shimeji mushroom, probably because it was classified as a premium item. 30 cents sure made a whole lot of difference.

Compared to the purple rice, the mixed grain rice roll did a even better job in living up to its name of QQ Rice. I supposed containing a mixture of twelve mostly unrefined grains helped in increasing its chewiness. However, like the purple rice, it also relied on the fillings to enhance its taste. Due to the presence of some raw ingredients and the lightly blanched broccolis in this combination of fillings, the mixed grains rice roll acquired a crisp and natural flavor. If I was lucky to pick up the sparsely distributed cherry tomatoes, there would be an additional tartness. This mixture of light flavors harmonized well with the slightly peppery shimeji mushrooms.

I adored this combination of fillings as much as the one I chose for the purple rice roll. Portion wise, I seriously believed the mixed grain rice roll could afford to pack a few more broccoli florets without falling apart.

Purple Rice Juice, S$ 2.30

Curiosity made me fork out extra cash to try the purple rice juice. Anyway, I got a 50 cents discount since I bought it with the rice roll. It turned out to be a simple and mildly sweet drink. Guess I was paying for the health benefits it provided rather than the taste.


Novelty may be a good way to market a food business in the beginning, but to survive in the long run, taste is still the ultimate determinant. The fact that QQ Rice have gone on to open another 2 branches proves that it does well in the taste department too.

If you are a vegetarian who happen to be around Novena and you need to have a meal, this is a viable option, provided that you are comfortable eating in a non-vegetarian eatery. At a starting price of S$ 4.00 per rice roll (I doubt we are limited to just 5 fillings), I find it affordable enough. It is definitely nice to eat something different from the usual vegetarian dishes once in a while.

Address:10 Sinaran Drive, #01-06, Square 2, Singapore 307506
Opening Hours:7.30 am - 9.30 pm
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Novena


  1. Brilliant review as always Prefer Vege!

    I think these places that are truly 50-50% veg and non-veg are very useful when dining with people who are stubborn meat eaters. So definitely useful to review them! I aim to do that more in the future too.

    Keep up the superb work!


  2. Thanks for your comment.

    I too agree that 50-50% veg and non-veg concept is useful, although I myself is complacent with having 1 item on the menu that's vegetarian. It certainly helps to shed the image that vegetarians are difficult and fussy people.

  3. Had tried twice but find the rice too dry for my liking. Has to eat with a drink.

  4. Is that so? Now that I think back, I did not eat the rice immediately. Being a noob photographer, I usually spent quite a bit of time just to get a decent shot. By then my rice roll was soaked with condensate. Guess I have to take that into account in my future review. Thanks for that reminder.

  5. i love QQ rice! i always get the purple rice and a variety of the vegetarian choices, and the purple rice soya milk~ yum!!

    realized u r a little like me... woooo so there's this term called the flexitarian, i've learnt something new! i'm adding ur blog to my blogroll of foodie blogs, if u dun mind ^^


  6. hi may i know how big is one serving of rice roll?it looks really nice and filling.