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Friday, May 27, 2016

7 Vegetarian Eateries You Must Try In Chiang Mai

Best form of transport in Thailand is your own scooter!
 Over the last 10 years, Chiang Mai has emerged as one of the most popular destinations in all of Asia.  The city is indeed beautiful, with lots to see and do, fantastic fresh fruit, and cool winter weather.  In addition to all these lovely aspect, it does have a pretty decent vegetarian/vegan scene too.  Vegetarian food in Chiang Mai (and most of Thailand, for that matter) can be separated into two categories:-

Category 1
Restaurants opened purely targeting tourists.  These eateries will have a wide range of dishes (including Western), English menu etc.  Take into consideration, you will be paying much higher price to eat at these restaurants, you are not going to find any local Thai people that can afford to eat here. 

Category 2
Traditional Thai 'jay' vegetarian eateries.  These are typically smaller, more humble eateries, which serve a limited menu.  If you want to eat what the locals are eating (I can't imagine why you wouldn't), then these are the places you should be visiting.  Moreover, the prices at these eateries can be literally 1/5th of that in the tourist restaurants.  Two excellent local eateries which don't feature on the list below are Ratsamitham and Ariyasathan Haeng Panya Foundation.

This is the symbol you must learn in Thailand.  The 'jay' symbol may be the only way of identifying if the eatery is vegetarian or not.

Another must try in Chiang Mai is the amazing mango sticky rice.  There are several places selling it, but the most famous is at Manna Best Mango Sticky Rice, I will post my video blog of eating mango sticky rice below:-


Unfortunately the most ugly aspect of Chiang Mai is the tourists.  Most make no attempt to adjust to a new culture, and basically stay on the tourist stretch, going to Western restaurants, getting drunk in a Western bar, and then going back to their Western hotel (why leave your own country?).  This coupled with the copious amounts of 78 year old divorced dirty (borderline paedophilic) old men with their hands in the back pockets of 18 year old local Thai women (I vote for the implementation of mandatory castration for any single white man over 60 visiting Thailand), it does leave a bit of a sour taste in ones mouth.

Nevertheless, we can't allow the aforementioned to lose our appetite can we?  So let us not waste anymore time, and roll through the list of the best seven vegetarian eateries that one can find in Chiang Mai:-


7th Vegetarian Society Chiang Mai
Customers choose their dishes from the trays available
Almost every country has a vegetarian society of some kind, but there are not many that have their own eatery.  This is the case for the society in Chiang Mai.   Vegetarian Society in Chiang Mai seems (from what I gather) to be more of a Thai Buddhist group, who operate a small temple style cafeteria open to the public on weekdays.  In terms of their other activities, basically think of them as a temple group and you will be spot on.  The food is served economic rice style, where you can choose whatever dishes you want.  There are not many options of dishes, but the food I tried was above average overall.

Full Review
HERE
 
Chiang Mai Veg Score
6/10

Vegetarian Society Chiang Mai
Location: 42 Mahidol Rd, T Haiya, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 053-271262
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 6.00am-2.00pm.  Closed on Weekends.

 
6th Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant 
The Crispy Tofu Tamarind Sauce was my favourite dish from Anchan! (THB95.00)
One of the most highly rated eateries in Chiang Mai, Anchan Vegetarian has some of the best reviews for vegetarian food on Happy Cow and Trip Advisor.  It is a restaurant firmly aimed at farangs.  Is the Anchan hype justified? Yes and no.  Most farang's have absolutely no idea about Thai food (or any other cuisine for that matter), so due to the fact that most the positive feedback is from foreigners, it is almost like taking music advice from someone who is deaf.

Having said that, there were some very nice dishes at Anchan, which I could foresee myself returning back to try again.  The owners are very friendly too, and the kitchen (which is open to view) is clean and well organized.

Full Review
HERE
 
Chiang Mai Veg Score
6/10

Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: Nimmana Haeminda (between lane 6 and lane 10), Suthep Mueang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 083-5811689
Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 11.30am-8.30pm.  Closed Sunday & Monday. 


5th Happy Green Restaurant
I think I 'Laab' you (THB60.00)
Happy Green is a vegetarian eatery (with vegan options) located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, on the bank of the Ping River.  Unlike most of the eateries in town, Happy Green does retain some authentic Thai culture in its ambiance and food.  Don't get me wrong, the primary audience here is still foreigners (the place didn't have any locals when I visited), however, I felt Happy Green hasn't sold its soul, and maintains a very 'real' vibe.

The dish you simply must order is the Laab!  Traditionally laab is a meat salad dish, which relies on a myriad of fresh herbs (the key to all great Lao cuisine).  Happy Green uses scrambled tofu to replace the meat, which works really well.  Happy Green also have a daily buffet and a wide a la carte menu.

Full Review
HERE
 
Chiang Mai Veg Score
7/10

Happy Green Restaurant
Location: 4/3 Moo 3 Pa Daet Road, Tambol Pa Daet, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 085-5989010
Opening Hours: Daily 9.30am-7.00pm.  Closed on Monday. 


4th Pun Pun Airport
The delicious and filling Black Bean Burrito from Pun Pun (THB80.00)
Pun Pun has recently received global attention thanks to the incredible TED Talk by founder Jon Jandai.  Pun Pun is not a restaurant, it is a philosophy (see the talk).  There are currently two Pun Pun outlets in Chiang Mai.  The first on our countdown list is their 'airport' outlet - This outlet is not located inside the airport, but named so because it is located relatively close to the airport.

Rather disappointingly this outlet is not 100% vegetarian (some fish and chicken dishes are served).  But there is still an excellent selection of vegetarian and vegan food.  But I would much rather they ditch the dead animals.  The burrito is absolutely incredible, definitely a must try if you're visiting here.  But in terms of the rest of their food, I find the Wat Suan Dok outlet to be far superior (plus that one is 100% veg).

Full Review
HERE
 
Chiang Mai Veg Score
7/10

Pun Pun Restaurant Airport
Location: 97/3 Moo 1 Tambon Padad, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 093-2566727
Opening Hours: Daily 11.00am-7.00pm.  Closed Thursday.

 

3rd Amrita Garden
This may well be the best vegan burger I have ever eaten (THB110.00)
 The food at Amrita Garden was a bit hit and miss for me.  But it gets 3rd on my list simply due to the fact that they sell, in my eyes, the best vegan burger that I have ever tried!  This burger is titled 'No. 1 Vegan Burger', and I must say that is a pretty apt title.  This burger was excellent in almost every aspect.  The sesame bun texture was superb, it was crisp, firm and perfectly designed for burger consumption.  The vegan mayonnaise was great, the mustard was tangy, and the ingredients inside were fresh.  The burger held itself together pretty well also, instead of collapsing pathetically into mangled heap of indecipherable mess.  It is simply an incredible burger.

The burger (which I still catch myself fantasizing about), coupled with the lovely outdoor ambience of the eatery makes this a really serene place to have a meal.  The only downside is the cost, for a meal at Amrita Garden you could more or less purchase a house in Thailand - Ok I'm exaggerating, but the cost is very high.

Full Review
HERE
 
Chiang Mai Veg Score
7/10

Amrita Garden
Location: Samlan Road, Soi 5, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 086-0539342
Opening Hours: Daily 9.00am-8.30pm.  Closed on Tuesday. 


2nd Khun Churn Thai Vegetarian Cuisine
My first (of many) plates from the incredible buffet selection.
As much as I enjoyed the vegan/vegetarian food in Chiang Mai, there are only two eateries that I would truly say are great.  The first of those is Khun Churn, this popular restaurant has been running successfully in the city for over 20 years now.  It is a Thai specialty restaurant, and arguably the most high end vegetarian establishment in Chiang Mai.  Freshly divorced Western grandfathers out there reading this, this place has a lovely ambiance to bring your -just turned 18 yesterday- year old prosistut...wife.

What you must do when visiting Khun Churn is try out the buffet, it is truly one of the best vegan buffets that I have ever tried.  It has countless amazing selections, from a salad bar, dessert table, countless savoury options, khao soi table, on and on...  The staff are fantastic, not like the 低头族  zombies that are slowly taking over the world.  Even the chef can be seen regularly prowling around clearing plates and showing customers to their seat.

At 169 baht per person flat (no surcharge etc) the buffet represents great value, especially for such a high end restaurant.  It will definitely be a regular spot I visit, whenever I'm in Chiang Mai

Full Review
HERE
 
Chiang Mai Veg Score
9/10

Khun Churn Thai Vegetarian Cuisine
Location: Kad Farang Village, Hang Dong District, Chiang Mai, Thailand.*
Contact: 053-270-071
Opening Hours: Daily 10.00am-3.00pm (buffet) & 5.00pm-9.00pm (a la carte)


*this eatery is currently in the midst of moving to this new location, therefore currently it is closed. 

1st Pun Pun Wat Suan Dok
The entire menu at Pun Pun is like a work of art - Homemade Tofu Steak with Coconut Milk & Black Pepper Sauce (THB80.00)
I don't want to exaggerate things, but Pun Pun may easily rank as the greatest vegetarian restaurant that I have ever visit in my life (yes, even higher than Gokul).

Jon Jandai, the Pun Pun founder, abandoned the rat race, gave up the obsession with money and started his own self-sustainable farm in the north of Thailand (about a 90 minute ride from Chiang Mai city).  The Pun Pun restaurants followed from this and place a high emphasis on using fresh locally produced ingredients.  You are not going to find any processed food and mock meats here.

The menu is large, affordable, and every dish is presented beautifully and tastes immaculate.  I am at a loss as to what I can recommend, because literally every dish I have tried from Pun Pun has been excellent.

Luckily this restaurant is in a nice city like Chiang Mai, but even if this restaurant was in a concentration camp in North Korea, I would still be making regular visits there.  The food is an amazing eye-opening experience, which gives you Thai food at its very very best.  I would say honestly that I felt very humbled by the food at Pun Pun, because it showed me just how amazing vegetarian/vegan food can be (and I already had pretty high expectations).  You owe it to yourself to visit Pun Pun once in your life.

Full Review
HERE
 
Chiang Mai Veg Score
10/10

Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: Wat Suan Dok Temple, Suthep Road, Chiang Mai
Contact: 084-3656581
Opening Hours: Daily 9.00am-4.00pm.  Closed Wednesday.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Top 5 Vegetarian Eateries in Ipoh

The beautiful scenery of Ipoh, Malaysia
Out of all the places I visited in Malaysia, I may have to rank Ipoh as the most enjoyable.  The people are incredibly friendly, the scenery is absolutely beautiful and (very importantly for me) it does have some pretty excellent vegetarian eateries.

When visiting Ipoh, one thing you have to take note of is that everywhere is very spread out.  This, coupled with the fact that the public transport infrastructure is dire, makes things quite difficult (in terms of getting around) without your own car.  Similarly with the eateries below, they are quite spread out over Ipoh, so if you want to visit them all, then it would be best if you have your own car.

Without further delay, here is the list of the FIVE best vegetarian eateries that I visited in Ipoh, Malaysia:-

5th Fu Tien Vegetarian Restaurant
Fu Tien Special Fish (RM10.00) - I wouldn't say 'special', but certainly decent.
Fu Tien is a restaurant with a very good reputation in Ipoh.  In fact, prior to visiting Ipoh, this was the eatery that most people were suggesting I visit.  Overall, this is certainly a decent eatery, but frankly didn't live up to the hype of being the 'best in town'.  

The ambiance of this eatery is a very traditional Chinese style, it is a small humble little restaurant with a medium sized menu.  The dish that stood out the most to me was the Fu Tien Special Fish (pictured).

Full Review
HERE
 
Ipoh Veg Score
6/10
Fu Tien Vegetarian
Location: 34 Jalan Medan 1B, Medan Ipoh Bistari,Perak Darul Ridzuan
Contact: 05-549 9098
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am-2.45pm & 6.00pm-9.45pm.  Monday Closed. 


4th Beyond Veggie by Secret Recipe
The delicious Veggie Roll (RM9.90)

Although most people know Secret Recipe, what you might not know is that in Malaysia they are known for something entirely different.  In addition to selling cakes, Secret Recipe also have a franchise of 13 vegetarian restaurants, all of which go by the name 'Beyond Veggie'.  From what I was told, the husband and wife owner of Secret Recipe are both Buddhist vegetarians, and therefore opened these restaurants to promote vegetarianism.

In addition to Ipoh, they have other outlets in KSL City Mall (JB), AEON Mall (Kulaijaya), Sunway Pyramid, 1 Utama, The Curve Shopping Mall, Oasis Square (Ara Damansara), Sunway Giza, Taipan USJ 10, Mid Valley Megamal, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Publika and Tropicana City Mall.  They also recently made a failed attempt to break into the Singapore market at Bukit Timah Rd, which has subsequently closed down.

Beyond Veggie has a large menu of a variety of cuisines.  I particularly enjoy their fruit teas and salads.

Full Review
HERE
 
Ipoh Veg Score
7/10

Beyond Veggie by Secret Recipe
Location: No.18, Tingkat Taman Ipoh 6, Taman Ipoh Selatan, Perak Darul Ridzuan
Contact: 05-546 8298
Opening Hours: Daily 10.00am-10.00pm


3rd Happy Ice Valley
The best vegetarian Curry Mee (RM6.00) that I tried in Malaysia
A lot of my readers were pleading with me to try the famous Penang curry mee (when I was on the island).  The answer to this was, I did!  I ate Penang curry mee at a number of eateries and frankly I was disappointed every time.  The curry soup was often bland and flat, and thoroughly bore-inducing.  Having pretty much given up hope in the dish, I decided to give the Ipoh variant a try at Happy Ice Valley - This curry mee was incredible.  To my surprise, this curry mee managed to be full of flavour.  It was not too spicy, with perfectly cooked ingredients lurking inside.  The fresh mint leaves on top added an ideal freshness, which complimented the rich flavour of the gravy.

The highlight of this humble eatery is the curry mee, but they have several other excellent dishes at this eatery.  Out of all the eateries in Ipoh, this one exceeded my expectations the most.

Full Review
HERE
 
Ipoh Veg Score
8/10

Happy Ice Valley
Location: 31 Jalan Medah Ipoh 2, Hulu Kinta, Perak
Contact: Unknown (anyone who can provide please do so)
Opening Hours: Daily 8.00am-3.00pm 


2nd Yi Shen Su
There were a lot of excellent dishes here, but the Portuguese Fish (RM18.00) was my favourite!
For the vegetarian locals in Ipoh, arguably the most famous vegetarian restaurant in the entire town is Yi Shen Su.  Over the years, the restaurant has franchised out and now has identical outlets in Kampar, Petaling Jaya and Bandar Bukit Tinggi, but the franchise was born in Ipoh.

It is another traditional style Chinese eatery, with a wide (high end cost) menu.   I ate here a couple of times when I was in Ipoh, and I can honestly say there are many excellent dishes on this menu.  My personal favourite was the Portuguese Fish, but they also serve a phenomenal char kway teow, which I highly recommend you order.


Full Review
HERE
 
Ipoh Veg Score
9/10

Yi Shen Su
Location: No. 19-21 Jalan Medan Ipoh 6, Medan Baru, Ipoh, Perak
Contact: 012-453 7246
Opening Hours: Daily 9.45am-2.45pm & 3.00pm-10.00pm 


1st Shi Fang Zai Vegetarian
One of the best dishes that I ate in Ipoh was this Bean Curd in Pumpkin Gravy (RM8.00)
For the number one spot it was a very close decision between Yi Shen Su and Shi Fang Zai, which are both excellent eateries.  I narrowly gave the top spot to Shi Fang Zai, as I felt that the overall quality of their food was just slightly better than Yi Shen Su.  Moreover, price wise this eatery is much more affordable than Yi Shen Su.

This restaurant is close by One Curve and Emas Food Court, and you can access it from the Ipoh Lumut Highway, and inside it is of a traditional Chinese decor.  If you are visiting this place, you must eat the bean curd in pumpkin gravy and the rendang mutton - Both those dishes were absolutely incredible, and I am drooling just thinking about them now.


Full Review
HERE
 
Ipoh Veg Score
9/10

Shi Fang Zai Vegetarian
Location: 6-8 Jalan Mas, Taman Mas, 30100 Falim, Perak
Contact: 016-4229 389/016-5519 389
Opening Hours: Daily 10.30am-3.00pm & 5.30pm-10.00pm

Sunday, May 8, 2016

10 Durians Species You Need To Try In Singapore


My friends, that glorious time of the year is fast approaching.  It is time for that unmistakable smell floating throughout the markets of Singapore and on the burps of any self respecting Singaporean.  The 2016 durian season is coming.  Over the years, I have done a number of reviews of durian sellers (and species) on this blog, and have also posted the highly viewed Trusted Durian Sellers in Singapore list, which I strongly recommend you read if you're not wanting to get cheated in Singapore.  Now although I wrote the title of this post as 'in Singapore' - Lets face it, all these branded durians are coming from Malaysia (although local kampong durians still exist in Singapore, they are not sold commercially).  So, if you do want a much cheaper durian experience, then hop on a bus over the Malaysia and pay literally a quarter what you are paying in Singapore, for much fresher durians.

For this post, I want to go in a slightly different direction.  I have noticed at least 9 out of ten customers buying durian are going for Cat Mountain King (mao shan wang).  This often frustrates me as there are many other durian species out there that are just as good (and much cheaper at that).  This list aims to open some peoples eyes to the varieties of durians one can buy in Singapore. 

10th D100

D100 is a new hybrid species of durian, which has recently come up in the last few years.  Uncle Hee (Lele Durian) is particularly proud of this durian, which he calls 'Super 100'.  The tree which these durians come from is at high elevation, and thus produces the most fruitful crop of D100.

The flesh is extremely thick, with the seed size/shape and texture closely resembling the black pearl durian.  However, D100 has a more pronounced sweetness, compared with black pearl.  This durian should not be refrigerated, as the flesh at room temperature is already so thick, a lower temperature will cause it to become too hard.  Uncle Hee and his son affectionately call this the 'hello kitty' durian, as it often sells out.

Price (highest - lowest)
$12.00/kg - $6.00/kg

Profile
Bitter Sweet, Cloying

Best Place to Buy


9th Hor Lor (葫芦)

Hor Lor (D163) is a durian that is extremely difficult to find in Singapore, but don't underestimate the quality of this durian.  This durian won the 1987 and 1988 Penang Durian Competition (yes, such a thing exists).  Along with red prawn, it is one of the most famous durians in Penang.  Unfortunately, Penang plantations are too far from Singapore, so we don't get Penang durians here in Singapore.  The name 'hor lor' can be translated to mean melon/gourd, which the shape of this durian supposedly resembles.  Upon opening the durian, you will find pale yellow large glowing orbs of flesh staring back at you. 

This is without a doubt the stickiest durian I've ever consumed, it almost like putting a tablespoon of peanut butter in your mouth each bite.  Seed wise, it has a large/medium size seed, but you get a lot of delicious dense flesh in each bite.  The aftertaste of hor lor is woody, with undertones of coffee beans and cocoa.

Price (highest - lowest)
$12.00/kg - $8.00/kg

Profile
Incredibly thick texture, Woody, Cocoa, Coffee, Sweet

Best Place to Buy
Generally hard to find, best to call a few traders and see if they have it in stock.


8th XO

XO represents one of the most bitter durian one can buy.  It is known for being a smaller durian (in size), and having pale (almost white) flesh.  It is a fairly common durian, which you can find being sold by almost every seller in Singapore during the peak seasons.

Let me get this off my chest, because a lot of people are missing the point when it comes to selecting good XO.  For lesser educated durian lovers, wet durians automatically mean one thing - No good.  This is true for some species, but completely false for others.  People seek XO for its alcoholic aftertaste, which can send your whole mouth into a buzzing frenzy.  This aftertaste is only present in XO durians, which have undergone an extended period of fermentation inside the shell.  Harder/Thicker fleshed XO will not have had this extra time in the shell, and thus will not have the aftertaste.  Therefore, if you're looking for a flavourful XO, more watery flesh is ideal.

Price (highest - lowest)
$12.00/kg - $5.00/kg

Profile
Bitter, Milky, Watery, Light, Alcoholic

Best Place to Buy


7th Kasap Merah (冰淇淋榴莲)

I will start by saying this is my personal favourite durian.  However, I have placed it in 7th as it is difficult to find a reliable source, and it is becoming increasingly rare.  This durian has earned the nickname 'ice cream' durian.  There is a lot of speculation as to the reason behind giving it this name.  Some believe it is because the flesh has the aftertaste of vanilla ice cream, others think it is because the flesh is so soft, that one must eat it with a spoon, just like ice cream.  If you are buying/consuming this durian you should not eat it at room temperature.  If you do, the flesh will be too watery.  This durian is at its best after 24 hours in the refrigerator. 

I think kasap merah is probably the most under-appreciated durian there is.  This is really a fantastic sweet durian, that has a lovely refreshing texture, and delicious milky vanilla taste.  Unfortunately, it is a very fragile durian, which often breaks when it falls from the tree, thus the yield is very low.

Price (highest - lowest)
$12.00/kg - $5.00/kg

Profile
Sweet, Milky, Vanilla, Cream

Best Place to Buy


6th Mao Shan Wang (猫山王)

I'm sorry to all the devoted fans of this durian, but MSW doesn't get higher than 6th place on my list.  Is MSW an overrated durian - Yes and no.  Yes, because the price tag is huge and often the quality doesn't match.  The seeds are often big, flesh often watery and flavour often flat.  On the other hand, on that rare occasion when you do get a good one, the flesh is smooth and buttery, the seed is as flat as a Lay's crisp and the levels of bitter sweet flavour are simply astonishing - on the rare occasion you get a good one.  Frankly, for myself, the quality is too unpredictable over the last few years, and Malaysia is over-producing mao shan wang, due to the ridiculous demand (not only in Singapore, but now commonly exporting to China) placed on the farmers.  

Mao Shan Wang lovers (sorry if you fit this description) often remind me of overseas Manchester United fans - Know very little about football and just pick the team that everyone else is supports.  I highly recommend the 2013 blog post 'how to never be sold a fake mao shan wang' by my mate over at Johor Kaki for further insights on this durian.

Price (highest - lowest)
$22.00/kg (王中王) - $12.00/kg

Profile
Bitter Sweet, Silky, Fruity, Pungent

Best Place to Buy
Almost every reputable seller.  But particularly known for the best is Leong Tee Fruit Trader and Uncle Tevin at Wonderful Fruits (Blk 151A Bishan Street 11 - Stall 29).  For luxury brand 'king of kings' you can try Combat Durian.

5th Tawa

This durian can be found only during the 'winter' season (December), and usually only sticks around for 2-3 weeks, before disappearing again. The sheer mystery surrounding this durian made me eager to try it and when I did I was not disappointed.  To put it short, this durian is like an XO on steroids - It has a lot of the characteristics of XO (both in terms of texture and flavour) but everything magnified.  XO will seem like some pathetic joke after trying tawa.

Although this is a mysterious durian, which comes in very low quantities, the price is pretty reasonable.  The flesh of tawa is silky smooth, without any clumps.  The seed is small, long and thin in shape.  If you can get your hands on it, you won't be disappointed!

Price (highest - lowest)
$12.00/kg - $7.00/kg

Profile
Very Bitter, Milky, Very Alcoholic, Creamy, Pungent

Best Place to Buy

4th Red Prawn (红虾)

 I have often criticized red prawn (also known as 'Ang Hei') durian for being too overly sweet, with big seeds and lacking in any bitterness at all.  However, it is important to emphasize that the quality of red prawn can differ drastically depending on the age of the tree and region of Malaysia.  In Penang, ang hei is one of the most sought after durians on the island, and is supposed to be nothing like (much better) the red prawn that can be found in Singapore. Even in Singapore, varieties of red prawn can be very different. 

The best area in Malaysia to get your red prawn from is Muar.  In Muar, they took the seeds from aged red prawn trees in Penang and planted them in the Muar plantations - Although not as good as the Penang trees (which are much older), they are still pretty phenomenal.  A good red prawn should be sugary sweet, highly pungent and with ridiculously small seeds.

Price (highest - lowest)
$12.00/kg - $6.00/kg
 
Profile
Sugary, Very Pungant, Slightly Bitter, Slightly Fibrous

Best Place to Buy

3rd Golden Phoenix (金凤)

 Although one of the smallest durians (in size) you are likely to find (it can be as small as a mango), do not underestimated this sophisticated durian, which has arguably one of most complex flavour profile of any durian.

The flesh is in smaller chunks, and it is a pale yellow colour.  The texture of the flesh is much drier and thicker, compared to MSW. The flavour is like a mildly alcoholic blossoming flower, which is both fruity, zesty and sugary sweet.  The seed size is very small, so you're getting a decent amount of flesh for the price.  This was the most expensive species, but well worth the extra price, as the flavour of this durian is really something special.

Price (highest - lowest)
$16.00/kg - $10.00/kg

Profile
Fruity, Bitter Sweet, Mildly Alcoholic, Pungent

Best Place to Buy


2nd Black Pearl (黑珍珠)

For those who haven't tried black pearl yet, you definitely should.  It has the thickest, most dense flesh that you are ever likely to encounter in a durian.  The flavour is typically mild, depending on the durian you buy, it can range in degrees of sweetness and bitterness.  The name 'pearl' is due to the bottom of the seed resembling a pearl.  Speaking of seeds, this durian typically has very small seeds.

Due to the thick, smooth, cloying nature of the flesh of this durian, it becomes very filling to eat.  I find that the medium size black pearl's offer the most consistent quality of flesh - Bigger black pearls tend to have flatter flavoured flesh and bigger seeds.

 Price (highest - lowest)
$12.00/kg - $8.00/kg

Best Place to Buy


1st Green Bamboo/Tekka (绿竹)

I've had a love/hate relationship with green bamboo.  The first time I tried it, I didn't think it was anything special quite frankly.  The seeds were big, the flavour quite flat.  Then I gave it a second and third chance, and realized just how good this durian can be.  In fact, it was only last year (at Ah Loon's in Katong) that I ate (by my standards) a really incredible green bamboo.  

Legendary durian seller Ah Seng (Steven) ranks green bamboo as his personal favourite, so there truly must be something special about this species.  It is quite a large durian, with a trademark orange 'stem' that goes through the core of the durian.  It is also (along with D2) one of the most notoriously difficult durians to open, with an extra tough shell.

Price (highest - lowest)
$12.00/kg - $6.00/kg

Profile
Bitter Sweet, Creamy, Cloying, Zesty, Floral, Pungent

Best Place to Buy
Ah Loon Katong Durian

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Top 10 Vegetarian Eateries in Singapore


Singapore has been my home for over seven years.  When I first came to Singapore, I heard a lot of people tell me that it is tough to be a vegetarian/vegan in Singapore.  After living here for long enough, I found this simply was not true.  Therefore, I created Hungry Ang Mo to document all the amazing food that can be found in Singapore.

This list below is my unbiased opinion on the best vegetarian food that one can find in Singapore, please consider, I have reviewed literally almost everywhere (around 450 eateries) in Singapore.  This is not one of those lists that people create just to get views, without actually knowing about the subject they are talking about.
 
So without further delay, lets start from 10th and work our way down:-

**Note - Updated as of 6/05/2016** 

  
10th Zen Fut Sai Kai Vegetarian Restaurant
The incredible Kum Loo Wanton ($6.00), served with sweet & sour dipping sauce.

Upon stepping into Zen Fut Sai Kai, customers will get the distinct feeling of being taken back in time.  This restaurant opened in 1953, and the interior design and menu have remained completely unchanged since then.  The wantons are a must.  Crispy, fresh and absolutely delicious - Without question the best wantons in Singapore.  The owners (which are currently the third generation of the grandmother who originally opened the place) are the typical Cantonese style characters, which certainly makes it an experience to eat there.  This restaurant is living proof that Little India doesn't just have great Indian food!

Why go?
Kum Loo Wanton, Sap Kum Sugar Cane Flower Soup, Kwai Hou Loo Mee

Onion/Garlic?
No
 
Full Review
Here

Zen Fut Sai Kai Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 147 Kitchener Road
Contact: 62912350
Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 10.00am - 9.30pm.  Monday closed (unless day is 1st & 15th)



9th Yi Xin Vegetarian Food
The mouth-watering Chili Fish ($7.00) from Yi Xin

Lots of good vegetarian places can be found in Chinatown, but this is by far the best. They have a menu for cheaper priced foods, and one with more expensive dishes. Having tried a lot of them, all are really impressive.  The stable (everyday) meal for most Singaporeans is economic rice and dishes, and I must say the best economic rice (in terms of variety and quality) that I have tried was at Yi Xin.  If you're anywhere near Chinatown, this is a place you should be going to!  Be warned, this place can get feverishly busy during the peak eating times, and seats can be hard to come by!

Why go?
 Olive Fried Rice, Chili Fish, Satay, Economic Rice and Dishes

Onion/Garlic?
No 

Full Review
Here

Yi Xin Vegetarian Food
Location: 39 Temple Street, Inside Coffee Shop.
Contact: 62259026
Opening Hours: 8am-10pm



8th Bespoke Japanese Vegetarian Dining
What a visual display on the table, this is the Green Tea Soba Set ($18.00)

When you feel like trying out a different cuisine, then I highly recommend heading down to Bespoke Vegetarian.  This restaurant is serving exclusively Japanese vegetarian food, which makes it the only one of its kind in Singapore.  I highly recommend their sushi and noodle soup dishes, which are the items I regularly order when visiting.  The ambience and atmosphere of this eatery is excellent, making it perfect for gatherings or special occasions.  Definitely a place you must visit when eating in Singapore!

Why go?
 Avacado Maki, Green Tea Soba, Gai Lan Sesame Sauce, Unagi Maki

Onion/Garlic?
No 
 
Full Review
Here

Bespoke Japanese Vegetarian Dining
Location: 91 Bencoolen Street, #01-50 Sunshine Plaza
Contact: 63377050
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am-3.00pm & 5.30pm-10.00pm  



7th Komala Vilas Vegetarian Restaurant
A fireworks display of food placed on a banana leaf, the Dosai Set Meal ($7.50)
  The Komala Vilas chain of restaurants have occupied Singapore for over 60 years, which in the ever changing landscape of Singapore, is quite incredible. What Komala Vilas offers the customer is traditional South Indian delights, set in an authentic eating ambiance, which makes you feel like you've been whisked away to a side street of India. Fork and spoon hinder the eating enjoyment of this food, simply grab it with your right hand and enjoy!

Why go?
Bhattura, Rice Meal, Kothu Parottta, Medhu Vadai, Dosai

 Onion/Garlic?
Yes 

Full Review
Here

Komala Vilas Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 76 Serangoon Road
Contact: 62943294
Opening Hours:
Mon–Sun: 7am – 10.30pm


 6th Fill-a-Pita
A little parcel packed with flavour, the Falafel Pita ($5.50)
If you're looking for amazing Middle Eastern food in Singapore that is totally 100% vegetarian, then Fill-a-Pita is a must try.  Egyptian-born owner Hassan offers mouth-watering pita's, with the fava bean pita being my particular favourite (especially with the chilli cranked up higher).  Not only is the food excellent, but Hassan manages to make every customer feel like long lost friends.  This eatery usually serves the business crowd (hence the opening hours), but is open on Saturdays as well.

Why go?
 Fava Bean Pita, Falafel Pita, Koshari Rice

Onion/Garlic?
Yes, but NGO options exist

Full Review 
Here

Fill-a-Pita
Locatio
n: 3 Pickering Street, Nankin Row, 01-29
Contact: 98351446
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 8.00am-3.00pm.  Sat 12.30pm-2.30pm.  Sunday closed.

 

5th Tanaka Vegetarian Food
Chicken Rice ($3.00) - The rice is so incredibly fragrant.

Life can be tough for vegetarians living in the West of Singapore.  But you can take comfort in knowing that arguably the best vegetarian stall exists in the West.  Mr Goh has been successfully running vegetarian stalls in Singapore for over 30 years now - But it is his Tanaka stall which is his most successful.  Both Mr Goh and his wife work meticulously to ensure all food served to customers is as faultless as possible.  This stall even gives away free food to all customers on certain days of the year, as they believe giving is far more rewarding than receiving.  One rare occasions they serve their famous nasi briyani, which is probably the best, if not one of the best dishes I have ever eaten in my life!

Why go?
 Chicken Rice, Nasi Briyani, Roasted Meat Rice, Hokkien Mee, Satay Bee Hoon
 
Onion/Garlic?
 No

Full Review
  Here

Tanaka Vegetarian Food
Location: Blk 445, Fajar Road, Fajar Shopping Centre

Contact: 90015798 
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 6.00am-8.30pm.  Monday 6.00am-1.00pm

4th Murugan Idli Shop
The amazing Masala Dosai ($3.60), the potato masala is so amazing I almost cried.

Although you might think that the must order dish at Murugan is their idli - You would be wrong.  Murugan has (in my opinion) the best masala dosai in Singapore, amazing.  Having said that, it is of course worth order their idli, which is what they are most famous for.  The dosai is fermented to the point of being slightly sour, it is crispy yet chewy at the same time.  But what is most amazing is the potato masala in the center - It has the texture of mashed potatoes almost, and is packed with amazing flavour.  I am salivating just thinking about their amazingly sinful food.

Why go?
 Masala Dosai, Idli, Ghee Podi Idli, Medhu Vadai

Onion/Garlic?
 Yes

Full Review

Murugan Idli Shop
Location: 81 Syed Alwi Road
Contact: 62980858
Opening Hours: Daily 9.00am - 11.00pm
 

3rd Nature Vegetarian Delights
Spicy and sour, lip-smacking Banana Leaf Sambal Fish ($12.00)

In third place is this delightful Chinese vegetarian restaurant, 10 minutes walk from Serangoon station. The dish I adore the most from here is the claypot pig's trotter, the blend of vinegar, ginger, sugar is just delightful, and it has one of the best mock trotters that I have ever tried. Their banana leaf sambal fish is also incredible.  This restaurant has recently moved from its old location to Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre. Although prices may seem a little steep, it is well worth it.

Why go?
 Sambal Fish Hotplate, Claypot Pig's Trotter, Olive Fried Rice

Onion/Garlic?
No

Full Review
Here

Nature Vegetarian Delights
Location:
Upp Serangoon Shopping Center, Level 4, #04-01 (new location)
Contact: 62868028
Opening Hours: 9am-9pm Daily. Closed on Monday.



2nd Divine Realm Vegetarian Restaurant
Consistently one of the best Chinese dishes I have ever eaten, the Sambal Petai with Eggplant ($10.00)
 If you want to consume truly the best Chinese vegetarian food in Singapore, then I have no doubt in my mind that Divine Realm is the place you must go.  There are so many excellent dishes to try, that you really can't go wrong.  Although a little inconvenient to get to, I can guarantee it won't be a wasted journey.  Whatever your fancy, whether it be rice, noodles, tze char vegetables, soups etc - You will find it here, and it is almost always excellent quality.

Why go?
 Sweet and Sour Pork, Roti John, Eggplant with Petai Bean, Claypot Vinegar Trotter, Indian Rojak, Olive Fried Rice, Any Noodle Dish

Onion/Garlic?
 No
 
Full Review
Here

Divine Realm Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 501 Hougang Avenue 8, #01-630 

Contact: 63872058
Opening Hours: Daily 7:00am-9:30pm 



1st Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant

The classic North Indian curry Malai Kofta ($8.50)

There wasn't much of a debate as to which was coming first. Since first writing this article back in 2010, Gokul has remained on the number 1 spot consistently for over six years now. It is a place I must have gone to around 50 times, and everytime I am in awe of how good the food is. The menu is vast, and having tried almost everything on it, I can honestly say every dish I have tried is above average - That is quite a feat. What's more impressive, is all dishes are without onion and garlic and 75% of their dishes are totally vegan.  This is not just an Indian restaurant.  The menu has over 500 dishes, from all cuisines such as Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai and Western.  This is one of the best restaurants in the world, you simply must go and experience it.

Why go?
 Chicken Tandoori Tikka, Palak Paneer, Baingan Bartha, Butter Chicken Masala, Malai Kofta, Chicken Kurma, Ayam Mesak Merah, Mysore Mutton, Char Kway Teow, Chicken Rice

Onion/Garlic?
No 

Full Review
Here

Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 19 Upper Dickson Road
Contact: 63967769
Opening Hours: Daily 8.00am-10.30pm.


...Still want more?

Here are FIVE more wonderful eateries that didn't quite make it to the list:-

11.  North South East West Vegetarian Cuisine - Marine Parade
12.  Vegan Burg - Eunos
13.  Miao Shan Vegetarian - Serangoon
14.  Loving Hut - Eunos
15.  Water Drop Tea House - Punggol
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