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


  1. I also get a shock sometimes when I find the mock fish bones. I think they are derived from sugar cane, if I am not wrong.

    Love the research that you do, the amount of detail in your reviews, and your willingness to venture outside your comfort zone!

    Looking forward to the next one.


  2. Hi,
    This store is no longer in KTPH. Was there just not long ago.