Friday, 24 June 2011

Healthy Vegetarian Handmade Mee Hoon Kueh, Ban Mian, U Mian

Sometimes one thing leads to another. While I was at the Vesak Family Day Funfair, the boss of Healthy Vegetarian was distributing the flyer promoting his food stall. Just like the way I deal with email advertisements, flyers given to me usually end up in the nearest trash can. On that day, I managed to hold back this reflex. Otherwise I would have missed this vegetarian stall. Instead of me having to actively search for relevant places to blog about, it's definitely more convenient for the mountain to come to Mohammad.

Initially I planned to visit this stall a week after my post about Vesak Family Day Funfair. However I was distracted by other vegetarian eateries, either because they are newly opened or they serve what was considered exotic to me, a.k.a. foreign cuisines. At this point you probably guess that Healthy Vegetarian sells local dishes. Yes, the stall sells local Chinese food in Berseh Food Centre along Jalan Besar. Going there by bus is the easiest since the nearest MRT, Farrer Park Station, is at least a bus stop away.

Instead of selling a medley of cooked foods, which has become a typical style of vegetarian hawker vendors in Singapore, Healthy Vegetarian more or less focuses on handmade noodles. As the name suggests, handmade noodles are crafted by a human’s hand, as opposed to mass production in factories. Somehow there's this belief that food made by bare hands has a more superior texture. Nowadays, in order to speed things up, most hawker vendors invest in machines to speed up certain processes, hence handmade noodles are seldom 100% handmade. It seems like as long as the vendor prepares the dough from wheat flour in-house, he or she is eligible to carry the name "Handmade noodles" name on the stall. In a typical handmade noodles stall, one gets to choose Ban Mian, U-mian or Mee Hoon Kueh. The shape of the noodles determines its identity. Ban Mian (Board Noodles) and U-mian (Fine Noodles) are strands of Mee Pok (Or Fettuccine) and Ramen lookalikes respectively. Mee Hoon Kueh (Flour Cake), the odd one out, are hand-torn from the dough and flattened into pieces of distorted squares.

The Food

By now a reader who has been following my blog will notice that I have a habit of deviating from the traditional way of having my dish. Even though the result may not always be positive, I enjoy the experimental nature of it. Mee Hoon Kueh is a soup dish, but I requested for the dry version, despite the boss' warning that it would not be as nice.

The major difference between Healthy Vegetarian's mee hoon kueh and the ones I used to know was the extreme flatness of each piece of flour cake. I could not help feeling that I was eating chopped up pieces of hor fun. Then again, making mee hoon kueh this thin might not be a bad idea after all. At least I did not get the sick and bloated feeling characteristic of eating too much of thick starchy dough.

My primary reason for having dry mee hoon kueh was to try the sauce, which the boss revealed was a blend of Chinese sweet sauce and ketchup. Not exactly a one-of-its-kind of formula, but the hint of ketchup flavor instantly won me, a tomato lover, over. At the same time, I discovered why mee hoon kueh is typically cooked in soup. The dry version became dehydrated and sticky after a while. I managed to salvage it by adding a few spoonfuls of the accompanying soup. Actually the mixture of soup and the oil from the sauce rendered the mee hoon kueh smooth and slippery. Of course the boss attributed this positive quality to his excellent noodle making skills. Well, as long as I enjoyed the dish, it did not really matter.

With the exception of economic mixed rice, hawker food tend to be lacking in vegetables. Therefore I always make it a point to ask for more. In order not to pay extra, I exchanged the mock meats, especially the deep fried ones, away for more greens. As with most vegetarian vendors, the boss of Healthy Vegetarian was more than happy to accommodate. He even added that he used locally grown chye sim, hence it was fresher and healthier. I definitely agreed with the fresh part. The health aspect was questionable. Locally grown and organically grown did not mean the same thing. Nevertheless, I am someone (Probably the only one) who like blanched greens, so the chye sim was the first to disappear from the bowl.

Due to the omission of mock fish maw, which happened to be one of the deep fried items, the soup was not as brothy as it should. Thankfully, the presence of seaweed and mushrooms provided some seafood flavor to the clear soup. Since my palate is light and it happened to be a scorching hot day, this would do for me.

Time and again, I complained about mock meats. More specifically, it was the gluten variety that I detested. At Healthy Vegetarian, they used the soy based ones, which was slowly growing on me. In fact I like the way they tasted more like tofu rather than meat. The vendor from the neighboring vegetarian store retorted that non-fried soy based meat tasted awful when I asked if they served steamed chicken rice. Well taste is subjective. As far as I'm concerned the soy based fish cake found in this bowl of soup was delicious.

Rojak is a traditional fruit and vegetable salad dish commonly found in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. The non-vegetarian element of this side dish lies in the dressing which contained shrimps. Even before I adopted a predominantly plant-based diet, I seldom took rojak because I did not like shrimp paste, due to its stale flavor that arises from fermentation. Thus I had less reason to try the vegetarian version. However, rojak seemed to be one of the signature item of Healthy Vegetarian, I decided to sample it.

In my opinion, the most outstanding point of this side dish were the red and green apples. Being a non-traditional ingredient in rojak, I was amazed at how well they complemented with the sweet peanut sauce. Apart from the apples, the rojak contained cucumbers, turnips and you char kway, pretty much the usual stuffs. Ironically the absence of the shrimp paste flavor in vegetarian rojak made me a convert of this Southeast Asian salad.

I have to admit that the boss is not lying when he boasted about the popularity of his rojak. However I do not consume rojak regularly, so I am not sure if his rojak is really phenomenal or this is the typical standard you get from every decent vegetarian rojak vendor.


Very much like its non-vegetarian counterpart, handmade noodles are generally considered the relatively healthier dishes in hawker centres. Generally clean flavored, Healthy Vegetarian deserves its name if you do not compare it to the more expensive Organic cafes.

On a sidenote, the neighboring vegetarian stall has a greater variety of richer and deep fried dishes to offer. I remembered the vendor raving about her deep fried char siew that tasted like the ones from Hong Kong. Then again, which businessman would insult his own product? Well, if that kind of food is your cup of tea, you may want to try it.

Address:166 Jalan Besar #02-35 Berseh Food Centre S(208877)
Opening Hours:11.00 am - 8.00 pm
Closed on Sat
Bus Service:23, 64, 65, 66, 67, 130, 139, 147, 857, NR6
MRT Station:Farrer Park


  1. I think we have similar food interests! Rojak has never been something I have appreciated. And I am with you 100% on the gluten mock meats, they're absolutely terrible!

    Good post, seems like an interesting eatery.


  2. ? Luke , I thought you liked mock meat such as Gopal's tandoori chicken/platter?

  3. Hi Luke and Anonymous,

    Thanks for dropping by. I don't speak for Luke but this is what I guess. When Luke says that gluten mock meats are terrible, he is referring to the negative health aspects of it, rather than the taste.

  4. Hi. I like rojak and not many places sell nice one. Do they sell other food beside the one on the pic? Your blog is very nice, in future will be good to have more menu pic so that we can see what are the food the stall sell.

  5. Hi Anonymous

    Thanks for your compliment.

    If you are referring to the picture of the sign board of their stall, then yes, that's all they sell. However right beside this stall is another one selling quite a variety of vegetarian dishes. I only remembered the chicken rice and their mock char siew because the vendor was boasting about them.

    I agree that having menu pics will add value to my posts. In fact I always make it a point to include them in my shots. However certain eateries, particularly the more expensive ones, do not permit me to take pictures of their menu. Thinking back I should have invested in a good camera phone instead of a digital camera, which looks so conspicuous.

    As for rojak, I certainly enjoy the one from this stall. Even my non-vegetarian sister thinks it's nice. However taste is subjective.

  6. I saw there is one which is the same as this in circuit road hawker centre. Is this no more or they open another branch?