Friday, October 17, 2014

Mummy Yummy - Kranji

First question you're probably going to ask yourself when you see the address of Mummy Yummy, is what on earth is a vegetarian eatery doing in the Kranji industrial district?  The concept of Mummy Yummy was conjured up back in 2013, but their cafe only launched in July 2014.  Rather than selling vegetarian food for personal profit, Mummy Yummy raises funds to help the needy, which I will explain more about later.  If you're visiting on weekends, you can take a free shuttle bus from Yew Tee MRT - Between 11am-7.30pm (half hour intervals).

Mummy Yummy
Location: #03-01, 62 Sungei Kadut Loop, International Furniture Centre
Contact: 63660180/97250118
Opening Hours: Daily 11.00am-6.00pm

Rather unbelievably everything at this eatery is on sale for just $1 - No there is no catch, the food items will literally cost you $1.  It was put at this price to allow the construction workers in the Kranji area an affordable place to eat, with the focus always being about providing food to those who need it the most.
The name Mummy Yummy is meant to symbolize a mothers love and the joy of home-cooked food.  This cafe was launched by Jeanna (right) and Shanna (left), whose main concept is to give free food to the needy in Singapore.  Shanna explained to me that being that Singapore is a mostly affluent country, one often forgets that desperate and unfortunate individuals still exist in Singapore, so the aim of Mummy Yummy is to provide help (in the form of meals) to those individuals who society can't/won't help.

Mummy Yummy is unquestionably an organization with helping and aiding purely humans in mind - So you might ask yourself the question (like I did), why vegetarian food?  The answer is, Shanna is a born vegetarian and couldn't imagine serving non-vegetarian food to the public.  With that being said, egg is still served here.
On another wall there is the entire list of households that are currently being fed for free by Mummy Yummy (via a delivery style service).  According to Shanna, on weekends up to 5,000 packets of food can be distributed to these households - A quite staggering number.
The menu at Mummy Yummy changes on a daily basis, with each day having two daily specials, all costing just $1.  Complimentary chrysanthemum or herbal tea is also served.  One criticism I must give is that piping hot tea is being poured into styrofoam cups and served - Heating styrofoam at that temperature is going to release a lot of the chemicals from the styrofoam into the liquid, which will subsequently be ingested by the customers (I could literally taste the chemicals as an aftertaste in the tea) - The plates and bowls are also made from styrofoam, which is also quite damaging environmentally.

In addition to the two main dishes, snacks and economic rice is also available.  The Curry Puff from Mummy Yummy was much better than I expected.  A flavourful potato masala in the center, and an expertly fried crust.

Price: $1.00/pc.     7/10
I visited Mummy Yummy on a Friday, and thus Olive Fried Rice was one of their special dishes.  I was pleased to see that no egg was added inside the the rice.  The fried rice isn't going to win any awards, but good enough to fill the stomach.

Price: $1.00.     6/10
Lastly, I got the Char Siew Rice.  This portion was quite small, and was literally just mock char siew and rice.  I selected a couple of pieces of tofu on the side as well, for an additional $0.50.  Once again this is a very simple meal, so there is not much I can say about it.  But the char siew quality was very nice, not the horrid doughy kind that many hawkers use.

Price: $1.50 (additional 50c for tofu).     6/10

Conclusion - I could talk in greater detailed about the quality of the food at Mummy Yummy, but that is not what's important here.  Mummy Yummy isn't pretending or trying to serve restaurant quality food, they are simply trying to help people who need the help, and as long as the food is vegetarian, I will be giving Mummy Yummy my full support.  What Singapore also needs is a non-human version of Mummy Yummy, for the countless stray/wild animals in Singapore, who are not only struggling to find food, but are being brutally murdered by AVA a certain governing authority who I won't directly name - This is a cause I could find myself getting more passionately behind.

Overall Rating
Food - 6/10
Ambiance- 6/10
Service - 8/10
Value - 10/10

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant - Chiang Mai, Thailand

I was considering posting a detailed analysis of all the vegetarian/vegan options in Chiang Mai, Thailand after my recent visit to the city.  However, truth be told, after visiting all the 'so called' best vegetarian eateries in the city, there was only one that stood out as being completely spectacular.  The rest were either average or slightly above.  Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant, though, would easily rank in my Top 3 list of best vegetarian eateries on the planet - It is that good.  Be warned, if you're a Buddhist vegetarian, then you will have a tough time at Pun Pun (and all vegetarian eateries in Thailand), as they don't follow avoiding onion and garlic.  So make sure to specifically ask for no pungent spices when ordering.  Some items also have egg, although most don't.

Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: Suthep Road (opposite Chiang Mai University)
Contact: 086-1816051
Opening Hours: Daily 10.00am-9.00pm 

If you don't have your own transport, then travelling to Pun Pun is a bit of a journey, that can't be achieved on foot (from the main tourist stretch).  There are actually two Pun Pun restaurants along this same road.  One located at the back of Wat Suan Dok temple and one at Suthep Road (at the Base of Doi Suthep).  The latter is the original masters restaurant, while the former is managed by his apprentice.

The setting of Pun Pun is a quiet, peaceful garden setting.  If you're visiting in the evening then mosquitoes can be an issue.  The staff will even give you mosquito repellent.  During the day this is not an issue though.  All the ingredients at Pun Pun come from their own farm, which is located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai.  They encourage and subscribe to the philosophy of sustainably locally grown produce.
The menu at Pun Pun is so vast and amazing I decided to take a picture of every single page.  Check it out...

We first decided to pick out an appetizer, which was the Deep Fried Herbal Spring Roll with Tamarind Sauce.  The spring rolls were nice and crispy, but I couldn't really detect what herbal flavour they had - They more closely resembled the generic style of spring roll.  The advantage that Pun Pun has, however, is their ability to use fresh and vibrant produce, which was used inside the roll.  The tamarind sauce was quite flat and forgettable though.

Price: 60B.      6/10
Easily the most visually spectacular dish I ordered from Pun Pun was the Salad Dok mai.  Long time readers of my site will know that craving salad (or anything green) seldom goes through my mind - Therefore, for a dish like this to 'wow' me, means that it is very special. 
The dish is a beautiful, colourful mix of deep fried edible flowers, raw flowers, chick peas, onion, pomelo, lettuce, carrot and various nuts.  I loved how this felt healthy, yet slightly sinful.  The fried flowers were not too heavyand went perfectly with the fresh leaves. 

Price: 70B.     10/10
Pun Pun also have a limited number of items that are Western, this is the Homemade Tofu Steak with Coconut Milk & Black Pepper Sauce.  Once again the presentation of this dish was faultless, with four triangular tofu slabs literally drowned in a mild coconut based sauce.  For some the sauce could probably have done with an extra kick.  But there is no doubting the quality of the tofu, which was perfectly charred prior to being plated.

Price: 80B.     7/10
The next dish falls under the 'special dishes' category and is called Homemade Fermented Mushroom Sausage.  This is a dish that I think will divide people down the middle, you are either going to love this or hate it.  If you're not used to (or don't like) strong tasting pungent items, then you will detest this dish.  If you are someone like myself, who loves items like petai, Japanese natto, 臭豆腐 etc then you should enjoy this.  The shredded fermented mushroom has a really overwhelming taste, which almost resembles raw garlic.  When matched with the lime, cashew nuts, ginger and raw red onion and green chilli it really becomes something quite delicious though.  This is an acquired taste, that can very quickly become addictive.  I loved it, but order with caution.

Price: 60B.     8/10

One Thai curry that I recently discovered and quickly fell in love with is Musaman Curry.  This curry, also spelt massaman, was original introduced into Thailand by Muslim immigrants - This curry is thick and rich, with distinctive peanut flavour.  Like any good Thai curry, this dish manages to effortlessly balance the essential components to any curry - Sweetness, sourness, saltiness, spice and umami.  There was a lovely array of ingredients inside, and I was ultimately rendered to licking the bowl dry like some starved canine.  Definitely a dish you must order when visiting Pun Pun, one of the best curries I have ever eaten.

Price: 60B.     10/10

Conclusion - Pun Pun wisely utilizes the one key advantage Thailand has over other countries - Fresh ingredients.  The dishes are presented in a quite stunning fashion, and taste just as good as they look.  Truly one of the best vegetarian eateries I have ever had the privilege of frequenting.  If you're in Chiang Mai (or Thailand for that matter) you would be insane not to visit Pun Pun.

Overall Rating
Food - 9/10
Ambiance- 8/10
Service - 8/10
Value - 9/10

Friday, October 10, 2014

San De Green Vegetarian - Yew Tee

I've promised more reviews from the West of Singapore, and slowly but surely I will be delivering on that promise.  The West of Singapore does have some great options, but if you're in the North-West (Yew Tee/Kranji) then vegetarian options become very limited.  If you find yourself in Yew Tee though, a very good vegetarian option is available at the basement level.  The name of the stall is 'Green Vegetarian', but the official Chinese name is 三德 (three virtues).  This stall has been existing here for six years.  Within this food court, 三德 is hands down the most popular stall, with queues forming even during non-peak periods.

San De Green Vegetarian
Location: #B1-17/22, Yew Tee Point 21
Contact: 90921328
Opening Hours: Daily 6.30am-9.00pm.

The owner of the San De chain of outlets is an industrious auntie by the name of Madam Lim.  Mdm Lim's passion for vegetarianism was sparked by attending Buddhist talks, over a decade ago.  After which, she quit her job as a tailor, converted to a vegetarian diet, and entered into the food business.  Mdm Lim really see's F&B as a business, with making a profit as her biggest priority (nothing wrong with that).  Mdm Lim has never attended any formal cooking classes, which makes her accomplishment all the more impressive.
There are a total of four 三德 eateries in Singapore.  The other three being located at:-

Blk 406A Sembawang Road
Blk 747 Yishun St 72, #01-108
Blk 256 Yishun Ring Rd, #01-1005

The menu at 三德 is quite vast, but many of the items are only available in the evening.  If you're coming for lunch or breakfast then mainly the economic rice, soup and a handful of local dishes are available for selection.
The economic rice dishes are served fresh and cooked very well.
The item that I was particular thrilled to try was the soups, which are displayed on the right hand side of the stall in a large glass steamer.  The varieties of soups change on a daily basis, so always ask in advance to see what they have.
The first soup that I selected was the Lotus Root Soup. Many will remember my shining review of the double boiled soup at Onn Vegetarian.  Does this soup come close to beating Onn?  No where near.  The soup at Onn is so good it ranks as an almost spiritual experience for me.  Having said that, the soup at this stall is definitely worth of trying.  The flavour of the soup (while not as fragrant nor powerful as Onn) was still good enough, and the ingredients inside all made for a delicious soup flavour.

Price: $3.20.     7/10
On another visit I tried the Dong Gua Soup.  Dong Gua (冬瓜) goes by the English name wax gourd.  The wax gourd was cooked well.  Also lurking in the soup was red dates, goji berry and mushroom stem.  The mushroom stem, when cooked in the soup chamber for a long period, begins to break apart, which ultimately thickens the soup quite nicely.  Not only that, but the mushroom acts as a nice substitute to meat.  I wasn't a big fan of the red dates, as they were still tough and hard - Unlike the red dates at Onn, which literally melt in the mouth.

Price: $3.20.     7/10
The Economic Brown Rice & Dishes from this stall are also quite impressive.  They use a more sophisticated heating system beneath the dishes, which allows the food to stay warmer and fresher for longer.  The pumpkin was a little tasteless, but I enjoyed the flavour of the eggplant, which was also cooked ideally, so that the texture was nice and creamy.

Price: $3.70.     7/10

Here is a look at another plate of Economic Brown Rice & Dishes, once again the dishes are cooked well (nothing exceptional, but good enough) and made for a satisfying meal.

Price: $3.70.     7/10

Conclusion - Mdm Lim has built up an enterprise of vegetarian eateries, and I must say that I am suitably impressed with the offerings at San De.  Brown rice and dishes along with a soup on the side really makes more a delicious and healthy meal.  I will be moving to the West of Singapore soon myself, and this is certainly a stall that may become one of my regulars.

Overall Rating
Food - 7/10
Ambiance- 7/10
Service - 7/10
Value - 7/10

Monday, October 6, 2014

Journey2Life Restaurant - Penang

Journey2Life represents one of the most high end (nicely put way of saying it is expensive) eateries in Penang. This restaurant also goes by the Chinese name 旅人蔬食 - Which also more or less translates to the English.  Without further delay, let's see what Journey2Life has to offer the vegetarian scene in Penang, here we go...

Journey2Life Restaurant
Location: C-3-1, Lorong Bayan Indah 3, Bay Avenue (next to Eastin Hotel)
Contact: 6046111184
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11.30am-10.00pm.  Closed Monday.

We started the meal off with a quick appetiser, which was the Papaya with Passion Fruit Flower.  The thinly sliced preserved papaya had a nice crunchy texture, and a slightly citrusy sour taste.  Passionfruit pulp was smeared over the papaya, which heightened the flavour of this simple snack even more. 

Price: RM3.90.     7/10
On to the main course, here is the Special Sauce Beancurd.  I have to say that this sauce was anything but special.  It was bland and lifeless, with typical (cheap) trite vegetables diced and added to it.  Popping out of the sauce were two doughy sphere-shaped balls.  These balls offered little in terms of taste, and I didn't particularly like the texture either.  The portion size here was really small, especially so considering the exorbitant price tag. 

Price: RM17.90.     4/10

The next dish was Toon Leaf Potato.  The word 'toon' in this dish refers to xiang chun 香椿, which is a leaf from the Toona sinensis tree.  This leaf is a common ingredient in Chinese cooking, and one of my particular favourites.   Unfortunately, for this dish the xiang chun was very weak, and didn't really add anything to the dish.  The rest of the dish was very basic, with potatoes, corn, carrots and mushroom all swimming in the starchy (mostly flavourless sauce).  Not an very impressive dish, made all the more infuriating due to the almost laughable price tag.

Price: RM16.90.     3/10

Conclusion - Out of all the vegetarian restaurants I visited in Penang, I must say that Journey2Life ranked as the most overrated.  For the price, the dishes were inexplicably average - The sauces in particular need significant improvement.  The Journey2Life chef needs to go on a Journey2Culinary School, based on the efforts that I sampled.  Not somewhere I would consider visiting again.

Overall Rating
Food - 4/10
Ambiance- 6/10
Service - 7/10
Value - 2/10

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Shunfu Vegetarian Food - Upper Thomson

At Shunfu Market, you can find two vegetarian stalls offering similar economic rice/bee hoon options.  One stall goes by name 'Healthy Vegetarian', while the other (the focus of today's review) is named Shunfu Vegetarian Food - Neither likely to win a prize for originality in name/branding or food.  Also around this area, one can find Ru Lai and Brownice.  This stall has been at this present location for seven years now.

Shunfu Vegetarian Food
Location: #01-07, Blk 320 Shunfu Road, Shunfu Food Centre
Contact: 96426646
Opening Hours: Daily 7.30am-1.30pm.  Closed Monday. 

The options at this stall are extremely limited.  I've seen vegetarian industrial coffee shops that have more options available.  Only around six trays of food can be chosen from, most of which sell out pretty fast.  So if you're going during a peak time, then most of the food will probably be gone.
Here is a look at how the pricing is calculated for economic rice/bee hoon and dishes.
After hours of debating what I was going to choose out of the countless options available, I decided to go for the Economic Brown Rice & Dishes.  The dishes are so limited that I ended up choosing spring roll, something I would hardly ever eat.  The mock char siew used was pretty good, with a delightful smokey aroma.  The curry vegetable was also flavourful, and not too spicy. Nothing else noteworthy to add.

Price: $3.50.     6/10
Another set of Economic Brown Rice & Dishes (sorry folks, I would have ordered something else if available).  The pumpkin was really bland, which is unfortunately a reflection on the poor quality of non-organic pumpkin that is found in Singapore.  The other dishes were quite ordinary too, I can't even remember what they tasted like.

Price: $3.00.     6/10

Conclusion - If you're unfortunate enough to find yourself in this particular area then Shunfu Vegetarian will be one of your few options.  There is another mediocre vegetarian stall in the same vicinity, not sure if I will even bother reviewing it - I'd rather go to Brownice for pizza, waffles and ice cream instead of frequenting these two easily forgettable stalls.

Overall Rating
Food - 6/10
Ambiance- 6/10
Service - 7/10
Value - 6/10
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