Friday, 30 September 2011

Loving Heart Cafe 3

Instead of returning to the good vegetarian eateries as promised in the conclusions of my posts, I ended up covering Loving Heart Cafe for the third time. Apart from the pragmatic reason of being within walking distances from my office, it had a revamp recently. Spotting an entirely new menu, it has finally shed the image of being a mere copycat of its neighbor, Kwan Im Vegetarian. The most significnt change is the total removal of their economical rice section. For a blogger like me, this means new material for my posts.

The Food

Ignorance is bliss best summarized my experience with the pumpkin mee jawa at Loving Heart Cafe. Throughout my meal, I was under the impression that I was eating mee rebus which had "mee jawa" as its other alias. For the information of people who are not familiar with mee rebus, it is scalded Chinese yellow noodles mixed with a curry like gravy that contained a sweet undertone from mashed sweet potatoes. Had this been all I knew, I would have easily accepted this dish as not too bad a replica of its non-vegetarian version, which contained shrimps. The use of cheap ingredients like yellow noodles and bean sprouts allowed the vendor to serve generous portion without incurring additional cost, hence keeping the price fairly low at S$ 3.00. Further improvements could be made by adding more pumpkins so as to give the gravy more "pumpkin flavor" as promised in the dish name.

Unfortunately, my habit of going in-depth into the dish after comsumption had unearthed some facts which altered my initial opinion. Despite sounding like "Java", mee jawa does not originate from this Indonesian island. On the contrary, it is considered a Malaysian dish. More importantly, mee jawa is not another name for mee rebus. What distinguished the two is the use of tomato based sauce on top of mashed sweet potatoes in the case of mee jawa. Although I was alright with replacing sweet potatoes with pumpkins for a little twist, the omission of tomato sauce made the dish underserving of its name. I had to admit that the latter feeling arised from knowing a little too much.

Then again, I did not think the pumpkin mee jawa from Loving Heart was a total failure. It was flavorful enough for me at least, but I would definitely not recommend it to anyone looking for authentic and high quality mee jawa.

Several posts ago, I revealed my intention to populate my blog with different kinds of Indian breads. Even though I did not state it explicitly, roti prata was not on my list. Due to my preference for writing about the less common types of food, the relatively ubiquitous roti prata failed to garner my interest. It was a different story when an eatery got innovative and decided to add a little more value to the usual plain prata. While wrapping raw vegetables with roti prata was not exactly an ingenous idea, I did not see any food establishments selling it other than at Loving Heart Restaurant.

Being a fan of raw greens sandwiches and wraps, salad prata instantly clicked with me. Comprising of basic vegetables like lettuce, carrots and cucumbers, the cruchiness of this salad combination complemented well with the roti prata, reminding me of eating a garden salad tortilla wrap. Sweet chilli sauce dominated salad prata with its sweet (duh!) and slighly hot taste, but upon paying a closer attention, one could detect a hint of plum sauce. If the latter flavor was not a figment of my imagination, I might request for the chilli sauce to be left out should I order salad prata in future.

My greatest fear concerning roti prata was being served one that was too soggy and greasy, like the ones sold in my primary school canteen many years ago. Thankfully the roti prata at Loving Heart showed little signs of oil. The characteristic charred sweetness of roti prata was definitely there, which separated it from tortilla and of course the other Indian breads, but it could be better with a crispier exterior and fluffier interior. This S$3.00 dish made a decent side dish, but do not expect it fill you up for a proper meal.


Overall the standard of the food here does not make this eatery a must-visit, even if you live on the other end of Singapore like Jurong or Boon Lay. However for the people nearby in Geylang or Aljunied, it is definitely a viable place have a meal.

Address:Blk 134 Geylang East Ave 1 #01-219 Singapore 380134
Opening Hours:Mon - Sat, 10.00 am - 10.00 pm
Sun 7.00 am - 10.00 pm
Bus Service:2, 13, 21, 26, 40, 51
MRT Station:Aljunied

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Eastern Highland Healthy Cake House

Behind every traditional festival, there is at least one legend. Celebrated by the Chinese on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, mid-autumn festival is often associated with with the story of Hou Yi and Chang Er. It was believed that there used to be ten suns in the past. Needless to say, the Earth became unbearably hot. In order to to cool things off, the Emperor commanded Hou Yi, a skilled archer, to shoot down nine of the suns (If only Global Warming can be easily rectified this way). Let's just say Hou Yi successfully completed this task and the emperor rewarded him with the pill of immortality. For the effect to work properly, he was instructed to pray and fast for a year before taking the pill. One fine day when Hou Yi was away, his wife, Chang Er, discovered the pill he had meticulously hidden and guess what? She swallowed it! Instead of killing the cat, this curiosity sent her flying to the moon where she lived for eternity, never to return.

Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon, did not mention about meeting a Chinese lady during the expedition, hence the entire Hou Yi and Chang Er episode is a myth. Nevertheless, stories as such have added richness to the Chinese culture. Tall tales aside, mid-autumn festival approximately coincided with the autumnal Equinox, when the moon appears the brightest and roundest to us. On this day, the Chinese admire the moon in its full glory under the beautiful illusion that Chang Er is still residing on it. While doing so, we snack on mooncakes, a Chinese pastry consisting of a thin a layer of skin wrapping a dense cake of sweet filling.

In the past, lard was used as the source of fat for baking mooncakes. In fact the Chinese believe that lard generally makes food more fragrant. As the population grows more health conscious these days, lard is replaced by vegetable fats, usually peanut oil, much to the delight of vegetarians. For the mooncake to be truly vegetarian, there are other stringent qualities to be met. First of all, egg glazing is omitted. Then whole salted egg yolk, which symbolized the full moon, is usually not added. Although not all vegetarians have issues with eggs, it does not hurt to be on the safe side. Therefore I was mildly surprised to find salted egg mooncakes sold at Eastern Highland Heathy Cake House, a confectionery famed for its eggless cakes.

Eastern Highland offered the two most common types of mooncakes, namely the traditional baked crust (Reddish brown ones) and the more contemporary snowskin (The colorful ones). Apart from the obvious difference that one is baked whereas the latter is served chilled, the type of flour used also varies between the two. Snowskin mooncakes do not go through the baking process, therefore fried glutinous rice flour is used for the pastry layer. All-purpose flour suffices for the traditional baked mooncakes.

The Food

Cranberry Snowskin Mooncake, S$ 2.00

Even as I was cutting the mooncakes to prepare them for the photo shooting session, I could feel their softness on the blade. The first thing I noticed was the thick pastry layer of all the moonckes. Such a property would have been disastrous for the baked version, whereby good quality is defined by a large depth of filling versus thickness of skin ratio. On snowskin mooncakes, a thick pastry layer is less of a concern because the skin usually carries a flavor of their own. It's not that baked mooncakes have tasteless crust, but rather their semi-sweet flavor is not the focal point of the food as compared to the filling.

Unlike most people, I happened to enjoy snowskin mooncakes with a thick pastry layer more, as it helped to offset the overly saccharine and somewhat caramelized lotus paste filling. What I had here were cranberry, durian and strawberry flavored snowskin mooncakes. In this type of mooncakes, the flavor referred to that of the skin. Lotus paste was used as the filling in all of them.

As expected the mooncakes were very soft, like they were freshly made. In fact I could almost feel the skin and the lotus paste blending into one entity during the chewing process. Durian was my favourite because its strong aroma harmonized well with the filling. On the contrary, the sweetness of lotus paste was so domineering that I could hardly taste the fruity flavor, if any, of the cranberry and strawberry ones.

Despite being a little disappointed with the lack of a distinct flavor from the more novel cranberry and strawberry mooncakes, I was generally satisfied with the almost melt-in-your-mouth texture of all three of them. Most vendors stopped baking new supplies as the festival drew nearer, so if you bought mooncakes at the eleventh hour like I did, most likely they were not freshly made. Thus the freshness left me impressed and blessed at the same time.


Prior to writing this post, I had tried the products from Eastern Highland more than a couple of times. Perhaps the bakery items were small relative to a complete meal, so the food always ended up in my stomach before I took the pictures. Regardless, I finally blog about this vegetarian bakery. Just like the previous times, I had enjoyed the food by Eastern Highland Healthy Cake House.

Before I end off, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Chinese a Happy Mid-Autumn festival.

Address:1 Rochor Road, #01-51, S(180001)
Opening Hours:-
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Bugis

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A1 Padmini's Restaurant Pte Ltd

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

Just when I was planning to explore vegetarianism in Thai cuisine, Yuan Yuan Thai Vegetarian Restaurant ceased operation in Geylang Lor 27. To make things worse, the new occupant is no longer a 100% vegetarian eatery. Had this been a Chinese or Western eatery, I would simply give it a miss. However its signboard which bears an Indian name stops me in my track to examine its menu at least. Being a race with a vegetarian friendly culture, many Indian restaurants encompass a selection of dishes specially for the vegetarians. I was glad to see A1 Padmini's Restaurant Pte Ltd being one of such restaurants.

Despite being lunch hour, the restaurant was rather quiet. Even the enticing opening promotion failed to draw a crowd. Could this be a reflection of the standard of their food or mere poor marketing? Let's find out.

The Food

Veg Biryani, S$ 3.50

No one knows for sure the origins of Biryani. Many historians speculate that this dish has its roots in the Muslim kitchen because the name "Biryani" seems to be derived from the Persian word "Birian". "Birian" means fried before cooking, which roughly matches the way Biryani is cooked. As far as Singapore is concerned, we tend to associate this dish with the Indians who usually include it in their restaurant menu. Although there are numerous variations of Biryani, the common ingredients boils down to just rice and spice. Hence biryani can easily be customised for the vegetarians by excluding the animal products such as chicken and mutton.

One of the characteristics of a good biryani is that the rice grains do not stick to one another. A way to achieve this free flowing fluffiness is to use basmati rice. Due to the higher cost of this premium grain, it is substituted with normal rice grains at places that sell biryani set meal at a cheaper price. Thus I was surprised to see it being used in the S$ 3.50 vegetarian biryani set by A1 Padmini's. After eating biryani cooked with normal rice (Mostly at the Chinese stalls) quite a number of times, this was indeed a nice change. Except for the fact that the rice was a little too moist which somewhat offset the aromatic flavor, I could tolerate the standard here.

Out of the vegetables I had chosen, I particularly liked the cucumber and pineapple salad. Judging from the taste, I doubted that any dressing was used. Instead it relied on the pineapple juice that was appropriately diluted by the natural water from the cucumber to enhance the salad. Its refreshing taste served as a counterbalance to the extremely hot curry and the dreadfully saline spinach side dish.

While the use of basmati rice did won me over a little, I still considered the vegetarian biryani here to be average. Until I find something more superior, I still prefer the more expensive vegetarian biryani at Prata Wala (NEX).

Plain Naan With 2 Vegetables, S$ 3.00

Naan is not usually my choice of flatbread when I dined in Indian restaurant, not after a misadventure with a oily and soggy curry naan from Breadtalk several years ago. However my desire to populate the Indian cuisine section of my blog with a variety of Indian flatbreads made me give naan a second chance. One striking difference between naan and other flatbread lies in its relatively thicker volume. Also naan is baked in the tandoor as opposed to being fried on a skillet.

One could go no wrong with food served piping hot, like it was done at A1 Padmini's. I was almost fooled by the crispy appearance of the naan which turned out to be pleasantly soft and chewy. Just as the name suggested, plain naan did not contain any stuffings, hence it stood no chance of being overly greasy. For me, naan tasted better when baked separately from the curry, and the mixing of the two should be done just before they entered my mouth.

It remained to be seen, after trying naan at a few other places, if the naan here could be considered good. Nevertheless it was decent enough to rekindle my interest in this thick Indian flatbread.


The vegetarian food at A1 Padmini's has a mixture of hits and misses. Its problematic areas mainly attributes to the overuse of salt. No wonder the boss kept asking me to buy the drinks. Hmm... smells like a conspiracy here. Anyway, if the actual price of the food is not too far from the promotional ones, I might consider returning due to the proximity between A1 Padmini's and my work place.

Address:45 Lor 27 Geylang
Opening Hours:-
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Aljunied