Tuesday, 30 August 2011

New Green Pasture Cafe

Unless you are a recent convert of vegetarianism, New Green Pasture Cafe needs no introduction. Sophie Teh, the lady behind the helm of this vegetarian eatery, used to be a fashion designer. After being praised time and again for her healthy and delicious cooking, she decided to open a cafe. Aside from business, New Green Pasture also represents Sophie's childhood dream of owning a place where one gets to experience Mother Nature. An organic cafe certainly fits the bill.

Different individuals have different reasons for dining at an organic cafe, with health being the most common motivation. Then there are others who enjoy its down-to-earth and laid-back ambiance. On top of these reasons, organic cafes typically feature unconventional dishes on their menu to amuse my curiosity.

The Food

Cold Charcoal Noodles Salad, S$ 8.50

Winter Melon Soup that comes with Cold Charcoal Noodles Salad

Charcoal is not likely to cross the minds of the hungry ones. In fact its mere appearance which spells filth has already made its edibility questionable. Then again, if charcoal noodle dares to show up on the menu of one of the more reputable vegetarian eateries in Singapore, ingesting it shouldn't land me in hospital. Novel dishes like this one deserves a spot on my blog.

Due to its high porosity after “activation”, charcoal finds uses in numerous absorption and adsorption processes. It is believed by some health enthusiasts that this property of carbon extends to detoxification of our colon. Before you decide to take my word for it and start to binge on the charcoal from the barbecue pit, do note that not all charcoal is created equal. The variety that is fit for human consumption comes from bamboo. When combined with noodles, like what I had at New Green Pasture, the end product resembled squid ink pasta. Other than that, charcoal noodles tasted like any regular noodles. This time round, I considered the lack of any “special” taste a blessing in disguise. After all, I had enough of the burnt coal smell from all the burning of joss papers during our lunar seventh month. On the other hand, the common mayonnaise lookalike sauce was what that gave this dish its own character. Reaching the finishing line first at my tongue was the sweet and tart flavor of the plum sauce. This was the flavor that dominated the entire dish. Occasionally the citrus undertone from the pomelo pulps slipped in to add some tang. Once in a while, there was some umami taste due to the Japanese seaweeds garnishing. Towards the bottom of the dish, I detected a strong menthol aroma which contributed yet another level of complexity to the overall flavor.

Priced at S$ 8.50, I initially complained silently to myself about doing another costly review. When it was my turn to collect my order, the large portion size (Especially the raw vegetables) made me eat back my words. The excellent standard of this cold noodle dish was merely a bonus. Selling this dish at any price cheaper would be doing the chef a disservice, not that I mind.


New Green Pasture Cafe is not the first eatery one will spot when he or she enters Fortune Center at Bugis. If I have not read about it from the other vegetarian food bloggers, I would remain clueless about its existence. In spite of not having the best location, the cafe manages to survive for more than a decade, and judging from the crowd, still going strong. That certainly speaks volume about the standard of the food served. I had a pleasant first hand experience myself. Even if it means climbing all the way to the 4th floor on an empty stomach, I definitely do not mind returning.

Address:190 Middle Road, #04-22 Fortune Centre, Singapore
Opening Hours:11.00 am - 8.00 pm (Closed on Mon)
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Bugis

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Loving Hut (Khoo Teck Puat Hospital)

Exploring cuisines foreign to my Chinese roots has become a newfound hobby of mine. This activity contains an element of challenge due to the limitation that the food concerned must be vegetarian. While I usually love challenges, it does not hurt to have vegan eateries like Loving Hut to make things easier for me by offering food from a diversity of cultures under one roof.

Quoted from its website, Loving Hut claims to be “the fastest growing chain of international vegan restaurants in the world”. In Singapore alone, it has four outlets. Unlike the rest of the branches, the most recently opened eatery at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital occupies a stall inside NTUC Foodfare as opposed to having its own unit. Operating on a smaller scale has somewhat reduces the variety of its menu. On the brighter side of things, such a setting helps to bring down the price a little.

The Food

Nonya Assam Curry, S$ 4.80

Brown Rice And Side Veggie In Nonya Assam Curry Set

Nonya refers to the female descendants of Chinese immigrants who married native women living in the Malay archipelago during the 15th century. To be exact, they are known as the Peranakans. Since the kitchen was considered a female territory back then, their cuisines are sometimes named with a “Nonya” prefix. Choice of ingredients and predominant flavor is region dependent. Due to influences by Thailand, Peranakans cuisines from the northen region (Penang in particular) possess similar spicy and sour flavor. Further down south in Indonesia, coconut milk is widely used thus imparting a rich consistency to their stews.

For people who know that “Assam” is Malay for tamarind, it is a giveaway to them that Assam Curry is a Penang Peranankan dish. Tamarind, a sweet and sour fruit, is the primary source of the tangy flavor in this fish-based curry stew. I might not be a connoisseur of Peranankan food, but I could tell that the chef at Loving Hut managed to achieve reasonable accuracy in the taste department. The additional tartness complemented extremely well with the curry, morphing the Indian creation into a dish with a completely distinct flavor. Its thickness suggested that coconut milk was used. This time round, the patchy redness was a true indicator of the spiciness of Assam Curry. On rare occasions like this, I was forced to sign a peace treaty with the nemesis of my tastebud.

Being a vegan eatery, the fish that was used in the non-vegetarian recipe was replaced by the mock one made of soy beancurd skin. Once again, the chef at Loving Hut emulated the texture of the real fish right down to the “bones”. Upon chewing, I could detect some filamentous entities that awoke my dormant “Beware of fish bones” alert in my brain. In terms of portion size, assam curry might have made a miserly first impression but it turned out that the rest of the ingredients were buried underneath. There was an ample amount of mock fish, which I believed would sit well with Singaporeans, especially those who simply could not live without meat. Personally I would love to have more vegetables, so I was disappointed to see just a few pieces of eggplant although discovering a few tomatoes as I delved deeper cheered me up a little.

Along with the brown rice, stir fried cabbages and soup which formed this set meal, I had a satisfying meal that day. Dishes as such made me wished I could handle spiciness like a true blue Singaporean.


Without a precedence to compare against, I cannot gauge if the Nonya assam curry at Loving Hut is indeed of high standard. Perhaps a meal at Whole Earth can give me an answer. All I can say is I like it on the whole.

If this outlet was situated in another kind of setting, I certainly would not visiting again. However, a hospital is not a place I want to find myself in, not at the moment anyway. Besides Yishun is really far away from where I stay. I can only pin my hope on the other three Loving Hut branches including this dish in their menu.

Address:90 Yishun Central, Tower C Level 1, NTUC Foodfare Stall 8
Opening Hours:Mon - Sun, 7.00 am - 10.00 pm
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Yishun

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Suriya Restaurant Pure Vegetarian

Little India is one place in Singapore that makes me feel like a tourist in my own country. I derive great pleasure walking down its streets and soaking in an ambiance that was nothing like the HDB heartland or the cosmopolitan CBD I am more familiar with. Reading Hungry Ang Mo's blog has given me another reason to pay Little India a visit. Littered with vegetarian eateries, Little India is like the Bugis of vegetarian Indian cuisines. To be fair, one can also call Bugis the Little India of Chinese vegetarian cuisines.

Out of all the vegetarian eateries available, picking Suriya Restaurant Pure Vegetarian was a random decision. Being strategically located opposite Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple has rendered this restaurant a convenient place for Hindus to grab a bite before going for a praying session. ‎From the absence of naan on its menu, I inferred that this was a South Indian Restaurant. Much to my disappointment, close to half of the menu was not available on that day, robbing me the chance of trying the dishes I had never heard of. Dosa and its variations might be a ubiquitous Indian dish in Singapore, but at least I had yet to sample it. More importantly, it was available.

The Food

Paper Masala Dosa, S$ 3.00

Normally what I see on the menu picture is an exaggeration of what I get in reality. As far as paper masala dosa was concerned, it was completely the other way round. At just the price of S$ 3.00, I was hardly prepared for what arrived eventually. Its sheer size and length (Approximately 60 cm) left me astounded, and I lamented my amateurish photography skills for failing to capture its larger than life appearance. Made of fermented rice and urad dal batter, dosa is India's answer to crepe. Since the ingredients are gluten free, they can be safely consumed by Celiac patients as an alternative to its French counterpart. Urad dal, a kind of black lentils, buffs up the nutritional profile of dosa with the much needed protein in a vegetarian diet.

Inside of Paper Masala Dosa

At Suriya, its paper dosa looked deceptively crispy and feathery light. Then again I was grateful to its softness as that made it easier for me to tear the dosa apart with fork and spoon. Like the potato chappati I had at Sam's Budget Food, things got better as I hit the center where the dense masala fillings were. Forming the bulk of the filling, the soft potato chunks could easily qualify as mash potato with spices. Chaperoned by carrot shreds, onion, yellow lentils and curry leaves, I enjoyed this creamy filling despite it having the typical Indian flavor.

From left: Tomato Chutney, Mixed Vegetable Curry, Coconut Chutney

Although the the flanking edges of the paper dosa were not totally plain and tasteless, it did not hurt to eat it with some dips. Ironically, the innocently white coconut chutney turned out to be the hottest. On the other hand, the mixed vegetable curry did not bite as fiercely as it looked. Taking the middle position both in color intensity and level of spiciness, the tomato chutney seemed to have a subtle canned tomato sardine flavor. Either that, or my tongue had been overwhelmed by the mish mash of pungent flavors.

Paper masala dosa had been a fulfilling dish for me and I had nothing to complain about. Thanks to the spices found in it, which were purported to help digestion, the richness of the dish did not leave a heavy and sick feeling after eating.

Tomato Uttapam, S$ 2.20

Like dosa, uttapam is born from the fermented rice and ural dal batter. This is pretty much where the similarity ends, otherwise it is pointless to have a different name. Uttapam is smaller in diameter but relatively thicker than dosa. Instead of being cooked by itself as in most Indian breads, uttapam has the ingredients cooked into the batter. The end result resembles a pizza. Without cheese, do not expect it to taste like one though. For me it is better off that way because I prefer uttapam having its individual flavor to being a copycat of another food.

Chewy on the inside and subtly crispy on the outside summarized the texture of tomato uttapam at Suriya. Due to the inclusion of tomatoes, I could detect some tartness that was easily overshadowed by the accompanying curry and chutney. Speaking of the dips, they were exactly the same as what was given for the dosa dishes.

While tomato uttapam lacked the robust flavor of paper masala dosa, it still made a decent and filling meal. Moreover, it had become increasingly rare to find reasonably tasty and interesting meal at a price of S$ 2.20. Thus I would still consider tomato uttapam as a pleasant dish overall.

Indian Sweet, S$ 0.80

In addition to cooked meals, Suriya also sells Indian snacks for takeaways. Out of curiosity, I bought one of the Indian sweets. Even though it was called a sweet, it felt more like a cookie that crumbled easily on biting. Its overly saccharine taste made it hard for me to tell what other ingredients aside from sugar was used. However I did notice that the so-called sweet was quite greasy. Fortunately the portion size was quite small.


Suriya calls itself a restaurant because of the way it serves its customer rather than the price of the food. Here the waiter walks up to your seat to take your order instead of you having to go personally to the counter area to request for what you need, ala coffee shops, hawker centres and food courts. Yet the cost of the food is cheaper than some of the food courts and they do not cheat by trimming the portion size.

When it comes to the standard of the food, reviews are mixed. I had been told by one lady on that day that she regularly patronized Suriya because the food reminded her of her grandmother's cooking. Another gentleman commented that the food was mediocre and suggested I went to Komala instead for my future reviews. Personally I had enjoyed the dishes I ordered. If ordinary Indian cooking is good enough to satisfy my palate, I wonder how phenomenal world class Indian cuisines can be.

Address:140 Serangoon Road, S(218041)
Opening Hours:Mon - Sun, 7.30 am - 10.30 pm
Bus Service:23, 64, 65, 66, 125, 147
MRT Station:Little India

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Nature's Harvest Cafe

Quite a while back before I started this blog, I read about Yogi House, a vegetarian organic eatery, in Chic Vegetarian's blog. By the time I had the opportunity to check it out, it was no longer around. Reading about that particular location again in Sunny's blog confirmed my suspicion that Yogi House has closed down. All isn't lost since the new tenant, Nature's Harvest Cafe, deals with the same kind of business.

Like several organic eateries in Singapore, Nature's Harvest Cafe operated under the cafe cum retail shop model. If you are into cooking, you can purchase some of the ingredients they used in their cafes from the retail area. They even conduct classes to teach you how to cook organic dishes, but there is no mention if the recipes of the items in their cafe menu are revealed in the process. I have no doubt that Nature's Harvest is suitable for vegetarians, but vegans might want to take note that dairy is inclusive in their menu in the form of yogurt.

The Food

Healthy Rice Set, S$ 7.00

Brown rice, particularly the one I ate at Harvest, reminded me of a colleague who cringed with disgust whenever she saw me ordering brown rice for lunch. Just like how I never understood what was wrong with brown rice, she failed to comprehend how I could tolerate its awful aftertaste. Healthy Rice of Harvest successfully explained my colleagues' hatred for it though. Despite being a seasoned consumer of brown rice these days, I had to admit the brown rice I had here took quite a while to get used to. For once, I detected the musty aftertaste. I could not say I like it, then again it was not exactly a nightmare either. Besides I managed to mask the taste by drizzling some soup on it.

Unlike most brown rice sets I had taken so far, which was accompanied by clear Chinese soup, minestrone soup was served instead. The lack of variety of ingredients was adequately compensated by the generous quantity of the few available, mainly carrots and black-eyed peas. Its characteristic tangyness was a great way to kickstart the meal. Equally as appetizing was the colorful salad made up of beetroots, carrots, turnips and pea shoots. Again the chef here tried to be different by dressing it up with plum sauce instead of the usual Thousand Island or mayo.

In order to live up to its name of “Healthy Rice Set”, the rest of the sides were either blanched or steamed. At least this was what I speculated since there was no sign of grease at all. These methods of cooking worked well with the fungi and cabbage dishes, which were inherently tasty so little seasoning was required. On the other hand, the bitterness of bok choy was sadly retained, and it seemed like the dark brown sauce did nothing to enhance its taste. Personally I was alright about it but I was certain that the bok choy would disagree with the tastebuds of the greens haters. Overall I was extremely satisfied with this healthy and homely tasting rice set, which was hard to come by when one dined outside.

Sesame Paste Noodles (Cold), S$ 6.00

Cold noodles is largely an Oriental dish, with the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans each concocting a recipe to call their own. Putting aside the differences, it is basically a noodle dish that is served chilled, like it is just taken out of the refrigerator. The version I am most familiar with is Cha Soba, which comprises of green tea flavored buckwheat noodle eaten with a soy sauce like dip. My regular trips to organic eateries these days introduces me to a different kind of cold noodles dish. Instead of soy sauce (with fish sauce added), sesame paste is used.

To be honest, before the food arrived, I was worried about the sauce turning out to be some generic condiment with Chinese sesame oil added to it. I may like Chinese sesame oil, but its price of S$ 6.00 heightened my expectation a little. Upon sampling the dish, the nutty flavor of the paste which coupled well with the bouncy ramen rendered my initial apprehension needless. Although the raw julienne vegetables did offset the richness of the gravy a little, they helped to prevent the noodles from drying up too much. Besides they contributed a good amount of crunchiness to the dish. Then there's more crispiness from the rice puffs bits and the sweetness they exuded was a bonus addition to the overall flavor.

Due to my inability to distinguish between peanut butter and sesame paste, I could not vouch for the integrity of this dish. I was aware of the unscrupulous act by some Chinese vendor to substitute sesame paste with the cheaper peanut butter. Regardless, I had enjoyed sesame paste cold noodles by Harvest, hence I couldn't care less.


Browsing through the posts in my archive, I realize my tendency to conclude the ones about organic eateries with a complaint about the price. My recent experience with Barcelos, a slightly more upmarket kind of restaurant that serve mostly non-vegetarian food, taught me that elsewhere is charging more. After going on a plant-based diet for a period of time, I lose touch with the market price of dining in high end areas. Despite calling myself a flexitarian, I keep forgetting that a little meat is allowed in my diet, leading me to subconsciously excluding them totally from my meals.

Anyway, at a typical organic eateries like Harvest, one can easily have a meal at less than S$10. Apart from being served healthier and chemical free food, you get to enjoy a somewhat restaurant like ambiance. Even the service has a more personal touch. So when I am in a generous mood next time, I would head down to these organic cafes instead of the so-called posh restaurants.

Address:149 Rochor Road #02-08/09 Fu Lu Shou Complex S(188425)
Opening Hours:Mon - Sun
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Bugis

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


(Note: This is not a 100% vegetarian restaurant.)

Close to three months have passed since I visited NEX Shopping Mall for my post on Prata Wala. During this period of time, no new pure vegetarian eatery has opened. With the closure of Vege Sensation, a nearby pure vegetarian restaurant, the vegetarian scene of this part of Singapore only gets bleaker. Just when the cloud gets darker, I manage to spot a 1px silver lining in the form of Barcelos.

Famous for their peri peri marinated flame grilled chicken (The real fowl, not the gluten copy of one), Barecelos has recently opened an outlet at NEX. In case you don't know, peri peri, or rather piri piri in Portuguese, is a tiny and extremely spicy chili pepper used in Portuguese and African cuisines. Normally a flexitarian who doesn't take spicy food like me would have given this restaurant a miss. However the “Vegetarian Special” on their “Meal Deals” menu forced my legs to a halt. At Bugis, our local vegetarian haven, a discovery as such doesn't mean much, but it means a pretty big deal to vegetarians (The less strict ones I mean) at NEX and its surrounding area.

Not only does Barcelos respect the vegetarians by offering veggie options (On average of one item per category of the main course), they also cater to customers who do not take spicy food (Tangy lemon as an alternative to the peri peri sauce). The “Vegetarian Special” that caught my attention allowed me to choose one of the three vegetarian main courses. Stir fry sounded like something I could easily find in hawker centres or coffee shops. Veggie burgers was likely to use soy protein patty, which was not something I felt like having on that day. Pita became an obvious choice then.

The Food

Vegetarian Special: Veggie Pitta As Main, S $10.95

Inside of Veggie Pitta

Hawaiian pizza from Pizza Hut was the first thought that crossed my mind when I sampled my first bite of veggie pitta pocket. Maybe this was the end result of baking sweet pineapples with sour ingredients, in this case, tomatoes and the lemon juice found in the marinating sauce. Rest assured that one would not find hams or cheese or even their substitutes lurking in the tropical tasting fillings. Instead the pitta pocket had diced zuchinni to complete the list of "mixed fresh vegetables" as stated by the menu. Since I enjoyed Hawaiian pizza, which I had not touched since the dawn of my plant based diet, this dish brought to me an additional nostalgia.

Another pleasing factor was the huge pile of fresh and crisp lettuce that made up the side salad, that also contained cherry tomatoes and croutons. Although the mildly peppery dressing tasted decent enough, it was pretty much the standard fare you had at any other restaurants, vegetarian or not. Coupled with the fact that this was not a vegetarian restaurant, I suspected that the creamy dressing was not suitable for all categories of vegetarians (Definitely not the vegans since standard dressing, like the one I had, contained eggs and sometimes dairy products). As far as I was concerned, so long that it was not mayonnaise, I was all right with it.

I would very much like to end this section here with a simple "Overall, I liked this dish", but the steep price and 10% service charge made me nitpicked a little more. Apart from the price, it seemed like I got a discount on the portion size of my vegetarian set meal. Perhaps I was too used to being served both halves of the pitta breads, therefore getting only one just seemed too little to satiate my appetite. To make things worse, the corn cob shrivelled upon grilling. In short I could have filled my stomach at a much lower price if I dined somewhere else.


NEX and its surrounding area may be deprived of vegetarian eateries, but I do not see myself returning again to even try its other vegetarian dishes. Even though the tropical "Hawaiian" flavor does win me over, its price and the lukewarm attitude of the service crews deter me from stepping into Barcelos in future. At NEX, it's either Prata Wala or even Subway for me.

Opening Hours:-
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Serangoon