Saturday, 5 November 2011

Wang Jiao Vegetarian Food

First of all, I have to thank justiceandequality for bringing this vegetarian food stall to my attention. This is not the first time he/she suggests places for me too write about. Unfortunately, his/her previous recommendations did not match my schedule, so I had to put them on hold for the time being. This time, I tell myself I have to make a trip down to Haig Road Cooked Food Centre, where Wang Jiao Vegetarian Food is.

Haig Road Cooked Food Centre, which is within walking distances from Paya Lebar MRT station, is renowned for housing some of the more notable Malay Stalls in Singapore. As a vegetarian, Halal food is out of question. Walking past these famous stalls nonchalantly, I was focused on finding Wang Jiao Vegetarian. Selling mostly local hawker fare, this auspicious sounding (Wang Jiao literally means prosperous corner) stall has a much longer menu than what is featured on the red signboard. More choices is always a good thing.

The Food

Fish Bee Hoon Soup, S$ 3.00

Fish Been Hoon Soup can be broadly classified into two categories, namely fried fish and boiled fish. Even before I turned vegetarian, I preferred the latter for its cleaner taste. Whenever I dine at hawker centres, coffee shops or food courts, it disappoints me to see the vegetarian stalls there selling only the fried fish version. Occasionally, I requested for the mock fish to be boiled, only to be met with rejection (And sometimes scoldings if I was unlucky). Guess how delighted I was when the stall owner of Wang Jiao Vegetarian told me that she did not fry the "fish" anyway. It might have been laziness on her part, but I was not complaining.

One of the reasons for deep frying the mock fish was to keep its structure intact. Unlike the ones made from yuba (beancurd skin) which crumble easily on biting, the mock fish used at Wang Jiao were a little springy in texture, allowing them to maintain their shape in the boiling soup. Frying also creates the fishy flavor, thus bringing this vegetarian dish closer to the original. Otherwise they taste just like seasoned tofu. At least this was what I gathered after trying the fish bee hoon soup at Wang Jiao. Since I have grown used to a meatless diet, I treat meat analogues as a food product on its own rather than a substitute of meat. Whether the mock fish tasted like real fish or not was of no concern to me, but it might be a big issue to those who simply could not get over with meat.

Due to the clarity of the soup, I deduced that milk was not added. Its artificial mushroom flavor probably came from the mushroom seasoning. Although there was nothing unique or prominent about this S$3.00 dish, I appreciated its unassuming simplicity.

Dumpling Noodle, S$ 3.00

In order to save time and cost, I noticed that many budget vegetarian eateries resort to using store bought dumplings. When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, hence the end result is a cooked ball of dough containing gooey TVP (Textured vegetable protein) over-seasoned with pepper. At least this was what I expected from the dumpling noodles soup which hardly made an impression on its arrival. It did not help that instant noodles was used as the staple (Okay I admitted I chose that because I disliked yellow noodles, the only alternative.)

My disappointment took a 360 degree turn after sampling the dumpling. The gooey TVP still existed in the filling, but its proportion was scaled down to make way for the coarsely chopped cabbages and carrots, thus making the dumplings less cloying. While I could not guarantee that the dumplings were made in-house, there was a homemade feel to it, because the fillings tasted like they had been freshly stir-fried before being wrapped into the dough skin. Instead of the usual strong peppery flavor, the filling derived its flavor from the sweet savory gravy.

Much of the goodness of dumpling noodles soup came from the dumplings themselves. Otherwise, it was no different from the previous dish, which contained the same set of ingredients, namely choy sum, carrots, canned mushrooms and sliced mock meat. Even the soup base was the similar. The heavy use of mushroom seasoning had certainly lent an unnecessary hand in weighing down the standard of dumpling noodles soup dish.


Although I do not consider the food at Wang Jiao Vegetarian Food to be of very high standard, I find it credible enough for the price it is charging. Most of the items cost S$3.00, with the exception of Prawn noodles soup and kway chap, which go at S$2.50.

Address:14 Haig Road #01-35 Haig Road Cooked Food Centre S(430014)
Opening Hours:-
Bus Service:2, 7, 13, 26, 154, 155
MRT Station:Paya Lebar

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Love No Limits - The Fusion Food

Actually, I spotted The Fusion Food on the day I visited Hokkien Vegetarian. Since it was a newly opened joint, I thought it would be a great addition to my blog. Unfortunately the owner and his staffs were too busy preparing food for a large delivery order, hence they had no time for me.

A week later, I returned with the restaurant in normal operation. Apart from being new, what enticed me to return was the international cuisine menu. Diversity is what I hope to achieve for this blog, hence restaurants like The Fusion Food gets me excited. Vegans might want to take note that dairy used in some of their food.

The Food

England Wild Mushroom Baked Rice, S$ 10.00

Baked rice is a dish I tend to associate with Italian cuisine due to the similarity it shares with pizza and lasagne which spot melted cheese on a starchy staple. Being served in an elliptical plate reminded me of the French gratin. Adding to the confusion is its partial match to the description of casserole and Italian timballo. That is why I have difficulties pinpointing its origin. Now what does the English have to do with it? My only means of finding out was to tuck in to the England Wild Mushroom Baked Rice at Fusion Food.

Contrary to what the name suggested, the wild mushrooms were not baked together with the rice. Instead they were saute with ginger as a separate side dish. Despite their shimmering appearance, the mushrooms were not very oily. The flavor of these succulent mushrooms was just right without being over-seasoned. What took the place of these wild mushrooms to join the rice in the oven were chunks of mock meats. Thanks to them, the rice was infused with their savory sweetness, which was further accentuated by the bits raisins and diced pineapples. Together with the top layer of resolidified melted cheese, they made a decent combination. As someone who was not big on most dairy products, I was glad that the cheese was mild tasting.

Frankly speaking, I had trouble figuring out why the dish was considered English, because the general flavor bent towards Chinese cooking, especially the mushrooms. It might have something to do with the use of cheddar cheese, that is if I was even right in identifying the variety used in the baked rice. Nevertheless, I enjoyed England Wild Mushroom Baked Rice on the whole, except for the greasy aftertaste. At a price of S$10.00, the set includes salad and cooked cabbages. On that day, it was featured on the special menu, hence I paid only S$5.50.

Taiwan Cedar Shoot Noodle, S$ 6.00

Chinese Cedar, more commonly known as Xiang Chun, is a perennial hardwood native to many parts of Asia, particularly mainland China and Taiwan. Due to its onion like flavor, the young leaves of Xiang Chun find many culinary uses. As an added bonus, Xiang Chun leaves contained high amounts of vitamins and antioxidants.

In Singapore, Xiang Chun based sauces are usually used in stir frys. Hence I was surprised when the waitress told me that Taiwan Cedar Shoots Noodles was a soup dish. Its onion flavor was a little undermined by that of mushrooms in this brothy soup thickened by minced mock beef. Though lacking in any outstanding factors, the soup was still considered pleasant. In my opinion, using spaghetti as the choice of noodles was a mistake as it did not absorb the soup very well, rendering it a bland discrete entity. Neither did I appreciate the “oil slick” on the soup.

Even at a discounted price of S$ 3.00, the small portion size felt unjustifiable. If it remains this way after the promotion is over, then it is a serious ripped off.


To be honest, the dishes featured in this post were not my top choices. On both occasions of my visits, The Fusion Food was plagued with the problem of under-staffing, hence many dishes on their menu were unavailable. Otherwise, I would rather picked the relatively more exotic dishes that represented countries like Mexico, France and Vietnam. I am keen to return to The Fusion Food to try out what I had missed. On the other hand, I did not want my trip specially down to Bugis to end up a wild goose chase.

Anyway if you intend to eat at The Fusion Food, do try their American Spahagetti (S$8.00 or S$10.00). One of the customers who ordered this dish as a takeaway returned for more because he and his colleagues found it delicious.

Address:190 Middle Road Fortune Center #01-06 S(419720)
Opening Hours:Mon - Sun
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Bugis

Monday, 24 October 2011

Hokkien Vegetarian

Writing this blog gives me the opportunity to pay extra attention to the details about the food I eat, hence improving the quality of my meal experience. Rushing work related deadlines, though necessary, does deprive me of this luxury. For the past few weeks, my lunch and dinner were forgettable fares in forgettable places, since filling up the stomach and getting back to work was my priority.

During the weekend,  I managed to squeeze out some time from my busy schedule, only to be met with crowds at Bugis. Wandering to and fro in that area finally landed me in the basement of Fu Lu Shou Complex, where Hokkien Vegetarian stall was found. Like any vegetarian stalls in the coffee shops of Singapore, Hokkien Vegetarian sells economic rice and largely Chinese one-dish meals. As a result, Tom Yam Bee Hoon stands out among the generic local dishes.

The Food

Tom yam is a clear soup with hot and sour flavor. Although most foreigns associate tom yam with Thailand, it is also a part of Laotian cuisine. What distinguishes tom yam from the hot and sour soup of other cultures is its aromatic citrusy flavor achieved through the use of ingredients, such as lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice and galangal.

Popular food like tom yam are destined to be commercialized into jars of instant condiment. At least this was what I believed was used in cooking tom yam bee hoon at Hokkien Vegetarian, as opposed to making the paste from fresh ingredients. Although the soup was still considered hot for me, I could feel that the spiciness had been toned down. This dish might not sit well with the veges hater, but the high greens (Especially the cabbages) to mock meats ratio sure scored points with me. I wished there were more tomatoes though, which in my opinion, went very well with the tangy soup when well-cooked.

While authenticity was compromised somewhat, the overall taste was decent by my standard. Afterall, it was unfair to expect the vendor to make the tom yam paste from scratch when I was only paying S$3.00 for a bowl of bee hoon.


In terms of quality, the food at Hokkien Vegetarian was quite all right if one was not picky. What won me over was the portion size. After all these years, I have come to associate vegetarian stalls found in coffee shop and hawker centres with dishes that is packed with processed mock meats, that I make it a point to request for more veges. This time round, I forgot. Nevertheless, the cook at Hokkien Vegetarian did it the way I had wanted. Like I mention earlier, veges haters, shun this stall.

Address:149 Rochor Road Fu Lu Shou Complex
Opening Hours:-
Bus Service:-
MRT Station:Bugis

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

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