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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pangat Authentic Indian Cuisine - Harbourfront

Pangat has two outlets in Singapore. The first one being here, the second being in Suntec. You can check their official website for more information. Now, on their website it claims to be vegetarian, sadly however, their outlet at Vivo does also serve some (not many) meat dishes. The one at Suntec though, I do believe is 100% vegetarian. I do try and unearth as many Indian vegetarian places as I can, mainly because so little reviews/information is available online for Indian food fanatics in Singapore. So, without further delay, let's see how Pangat fared!

Pangat Authentic Indian Cuisine
Location: 1 Harbourfront Walk, Vivocity Kopitiam, #B2-39
Contact: 90283574
Opening Hours: Unknown

WARNING - This place is not 100% vegetarian!!!

First up we have the Chapati Set. This is an incredibly good value meal. It comes with two chapattis, one poppadom and your choice of three vegetable curries, and lastly a bowl of daal in the center. The creamy chickpea curry was a particular highlight of mine, and the chapati was cooked well. For the price, there was really a lot of food served, and all of it super quality.

Price: $4.50. 8/10

With the set meals being such good value we also chose to get the White Rice Set. The portion of white rice was quite huge. I had it with the eggplant and bittergourd curry. The eggplants were so well spiced that it will certainly convert anyone who scorns this understated vegetable. I like the fact that the bittergourds in the curry are mildly bitter. Its the first time I've ever tried bittergourd prepared this way and I quite like it. An additional note is that for 50c extra you can get the briyani set, which is also quite superb value!

Price: $4.50. 7/10

Conclusion - Make sure to bring your Kopitiam card with you (if you have one) so that you can enjoy the extra discount. It's quite a disappointment that they chose to serve meat here too, as the value for money and food quality are both quite high. I'm not sure if it originally was 100% vegetarian but then resort to selling meat or what, but I know their website appears to indicate it's 100% vegetarian, which it's not. Nevertheless, there are still lots of vegetables options at this place, so for those who are not opposed to eating at non-veg places, this can be a really good option for you! I can speak very highly of all the sets, all are very filling for what you pay...And especially for Vivo/Harbourfront - The options can be quite limited. Catering options are also available.

Overall Rating
Food - 7/10
Ambiance- 7/10
Service - 8/10
Value - 9/10

Friday, May 28, 2010

Zen Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant - Bugis

This place has been reviewed by almost every vegetarian food blogger that there is online - So now it's my turn! Zen adds to an already copious amount of vegetarian eateries that are present in this area, with the Fortune Centre only a stones throw away. The concept of a 100% vegetarian Japanese establishment is certainly eye-catching, but in an area with large competition, it's not easy to survive. From what I've read in other reviews and on forums this place has had quite mixed reactions so far, so, hopefully I can bring some clarity to how good this place is!

TEMPORARILY CLOSED - Establishment is no longer in business at Midlink Plaza.  They will be moving to a new location soon, but currently (as of 27/11/2012) they have no new location.

Zen Japanese Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 122 Middle Road, #02-02, Midlink Plaza
Contact: 68831586
Opening Hours: 11am-3pm and 5.30pm-10pm Daily

The main dish that I came here to try was the Salmon Sashimi. I was simply fascinated by how it would taste, how the texture would be etc. So how was it? The texture was simply unbelievable, and I could only guess what they used to make it so realistic. So meat-eaters, I doubt they'd be able to tell the difference between this and the real thing. Quite superb. However, I would have preferred it to have a more fishy taste, similarly to the real thing. This is the only aspect that prevented it from being a really sensational dish. As it is though, it's a little tasteless. But there is no faulting the remarkable texture.

Price: $8.00. 8/10

We ordered two set meals, the first one being the Unagi Don Set, which is Sea Eel Teriyaki On Rice. Although the price of this may seem high, it does actually come with a lot of components. We have the eel, rice, salad, miso soup, pickles and fruit. Firstly, onto the eel. This consists of scrambled tofu that is placed on a bed of seaweed. I've never tried eel before, but apparently it's quite authentic. The whole eel is nicely charred and is packed with flavour. The slice size is quite generous. The rice was cooked well, it was the traditional sticky style Japanese rice, and was nice and hard, very good quality. Hard to find any fault in this dish, a real gem!

Price: $14.00. 9/10

The second set we got was the Tonkatsu Set. This is the Deep Fried Pork Set. It consists similarly to how the eel set is, except of course there is pork instead of eel. I've tried many mock fried pork before, the one thing that stands out about this one is how thick the meat is. They really give a lot of it! Which I guess they should for the price. A word on the miso soup, it comes with some nice ingredients inside, such as tofu and shitake mushroom. Another above average set, although I wouldn't say it was as good as the eel.

Price: $13.00. 7/10

Conclusion - Before I get onto the nitty gritty, let me talk briefly about the ambiance. I really like how this place looks inside, it looks very upmarket and luxurious. The staff are well trained, with this place feeling really like a four star restaurant. Price wise, I have no complaints. When I was going to pay I was actually expecting another $6-7 added to the bill for wet napkins, GST and service charge - To my delight there was NO additional charge, other than the food price. That is quite exceptional, and this really was the icing on the cake for me. Price wise I find it's worth it, quality wise is well above average. How lucky are we to now have a 100% vegetarian Japanese eatery here in Singapore. I will definitely be coming back here again. Good job Zen!

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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sentosa Vegetarian - Johor Bahru

Don't be misled by the name, this is far from Sentosa island in Singapore. Well, I have two pieces of good news for you all. Firstly, this long vesak weekend will mean that I will have the time to post a few food places for you guys. Secondly, I have decided to really venture more into JB to find some good vegetarian places, for those vegetarian Singaporeans who make the journey over to JB for shopping, or whatever. Sentosa vegetarian is an eatery where most people will know about, I believe. Next time I will try and unearth some of the lesser known places in JB.

Sentosa Vegetarian (Makanan Sayuran Sentosa)
Location: 5-02, Stall 11, Level 5, JB. City Square, Jl. Wong Ah Fook
Contact: 07-2232363
Opening Hours: Unknown

*NOTE - This stall has since been taking over by a different vegetarian stall.

I firstly decided to select the Standard Brown Rice. This stall actually lets you put the food on your plate yourself, and then charges you according to which dishes you picked and how much you put on your plate. But in fine print, they will also charge you on your nationality. Singaporean and especially (unfortunately in my case) ang mo I suspect will be paying 2-3 ringit more. For me, I felt what I paid was ridiculous, the same (if not more) than what I would pay in Singapore. The mock meats were not too bad, but nothing stood out as exceptional. To be frank, I was fuming over the price for most the time I was eating it.

Price: RM7.00. 4/10

Next disappointment was the Fried Hor Fun. I suspect that for some inane reason they used palm oil to cook this dish. Which leaves a horrible slimy/numb feeling in ones mouth. The portion size was quite large, and it did have quite a good wok hei flavour. But I found the aftertaste not appealing, and to reiterate once again, this palm oil used really left a horrid feeling in my mouth. I am really confused why they used palm oil.

Price: RM5.00. 3/10

Conclusion - A pretty poor eatery overall. I found every aspect of this place below par, to be honest. Although this is arguably the most accessible vegetarian place in the JB area, I would strongly advise against going there. Of course, everything is City Square is priced and designed for foreigners, mainly Singaporeans, and of course this filters into the food court on level 5 - So needless to say this is way overpriced. Next time I will dig deeper to find a more value for money and better quality vegetarian eatery in JB for you all!

Overall Rating
Food - 3/10
Ambiance- 4/10
Service - 3/10
Value - 4/10

Saturday, May 15, 2010

2010 Vegetarian Food Fair - Orchard

I firstly have to thank Sunny for making me aware of this food fair in the first place. As soon as he told me about it, I couldn't wait to go. Located outside Ngee Ann City, this food fair was held on 8th & 9th May, as part of the Vesak@Orchard celebration. As you can see on the left, there is ethical and environmental information for visitors, which was fantastic, unfortunately most people were leaning against it, rather than actually reading it. I'm sure it was read by enough people though, and I'm sure it helped to expand their minds a little.

This is how the general layout of the fair looked. All in all, it's not very huge, but there is a lot of good stuff on offer. Payment modes can vary, most people are buying coupons and then paying with those, however all stalls will accept actual cash as well (don't expect them to have change for a $50 note, though). It is sheltered, which is a good thing as it was raining quite heavily that day. No seating areas, therefore most people were eating standing up.

We had the Kou Rou Bao which consists of pieces of stewed meat in white buns. The meat was flavourful from soaking up the dark sauce. However, we had our expectation set too higher for this dish. The meat used was made of gluten instead of mushroom stems which we felt would have given it a better texture and taste overall. Gluten meat wrapped in gluten buns- not exactly the most healthy dish.

Price: $5.00 (4 buns). 5/10

Priced at $3, this Nasi Lemak is indeed one of the more expensive version we've had considering that it consisted of only 'acar' (vinegared vegetable salad) and peanuts with 'ikan billis'. The chili sauce it came with was quite commendable though. It had hints of lemongrass and was moderately spicy. This dish was good but not particularly fantastic.

Price: $3.00. 6/10

We tried a few of these Sushi sets. The most curious of them all is the Fruit Sushi. It is the typical type of rolled sushi, this time which a slice of mock ham inside. On the top there is mango or dragon fruit types. The prospect of fruit sushi wasn't something that immediately appealed to me, but I must say these were quite good. Unfortunately as Sunny has mentioned, these sushi sets are not cheap, but if you go later in the day they are likely to be discounted.

Price: $7.00 (discounted). 8/10

We had some spare coupons, so we decided to get a Curry Puff. Unfortunately these curry puff's are overpriced and lacking in quality. As you can see by the picture they're very small sized, not only that, but they also contain virtually no filling at all. Quite a big disappointment.

Price: $1.00 (1 piece). 3/10

Two huge steaming pots of Laksa, it sounds like my reoccurring dream of swimming in a pool of laksa. This is probably my favourite dish in Singapore, therefore of course I would have to try the fair's version. In summary, this is a very smooth textured laksa, and does have a quite delicious flavour. Two problems I felt were apparent were, firstly, due to it being made in such a big batch it felt a little diluted and too watery for me. Secondly, I felt the ration of coconut cream and curry was too uneven, it had too much coconut cream for my liking. But nice overall. If you're looking for the best laksa in Singapore, you can find it here.

Price: $3.00. 6/10

Conclusion - Each of the stalls inside the fair are represented/owned by vegetarian restaurants that can be found throughout Singapore. I don't think anyone (including myself) takes note of name of which restaurant is represented in which stall, which won't be good for their businesses. Overall it's quite a high priced food fair. Towards the end of the fair they will lower the price of some things slightly, but other than that, no meal will cost under $3. In summary, don't expect great food and/or cheap prices. But nevertheless, I would definitely say it's worth going to for the experience, and overall I did have a lot of fun sampling all the different stalls. I'll be back next year.

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

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ci Hang Vegetarian - Aljunied

The circle line has opened this whole district up to me, which is great. Although switching between three lines is still a little troublesome. I've heard and read quite a bit about this place from my peers, so I was quite eager to check it out. Very well known for its Western food, as well as a conglomeration of other cuisines. Only a minute away from the station, so highly convenient.

Ci Hang Chinese & Western Vegetarian Food
Location: 72 Lorong 25A Geylang
Contact: 67471229
Opening Hours: Daily 11am-9pm. Closed on Friday.

A dish with predominantly Hainanese roots, Chicken Rice is a synonymous dish of Singapore. This version was very good, I'd say. The chicken had a tremendous smokey flavour, which is a rarity in a dish like this. The rice is flavorful and well textured. Although I wouldn't mark it to the standards of Li Weis chicken rice in Serangoon north, it's still above average. The bean curd sheet chicken here was my favourite thing we ate from Ci Hang!

Price: $3.80. 7/10

Next dish was the Bakuteh Noodle. The phrase bak kut teh meaning 'meat bone tea'. It's a Chinese herbal based soup dish, one which I've never appreciated, therefore most the thoughts on this dish come from my friend. For the price, I hoped for more ingredients. In total, there were only 2 pieces of mock meat, and 3 pieces of tofu. One main negative of this dish was it arrived only lukewarm, which is unacceptable. Noodles were standard, but not exceptional.

Price: $4.50. 6/10

On the side we ordered the Taiwan Salted Chicken. Before I get to the chicken, accompanying this dish was a small salad, with a sauce which strongly resembles 'thousand island' dressing. In total there were six pieces of chicken. The dish was not authentic at all. It looks and tastes nothing like Taiwan salted chicken. It resembled chicken nuggets more closely. It was very greasy and sadly the chicken inside didn't have a particularly good texture. Authenticity is the main low point for this side dish, and one to stay away from if you're visiting Ci Hang.

Price: $3.50. 3/10

Conclusion - Inside this eatery it has a very traditional and laid back feel to it. The customers quietly going about eating their food. The run of the restaurant is self service, you write what you want on their order sheet and the hand it to the counter, you must also collect the food yourself. Needless to say there is no GST or service charge. The food itself was good, but I found the price too high. The chicken rice was the most impressive of the dishes we tried. I was tempted to try the Western dishes, but the price (around $7-9) deterred me. Good overall, but could have been cheaper.

Overall Rating
Food - 6/10
Ambiance- 7/10
Service - 6/10
Value - 5/10

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Loke Woh Yuen Vegetarian Restaurant - Tanjong Pagar

A restaurant soaked in history (a rare thing in the 'tear down-build up-tear down-build up' culture of Singapore). It has been around for 80 years now. That was enough to entice me to check this place out. It actually may be closer to walk from Chinatown MRT to this place - Allow Google Map to help you. Those young follows might want to ask their ah mas and ah gongs about this place. Going back 40-50 years ago this place was renowned throughout Singapore for having some of the best spring rolls. Now, sadly, the spring rolls are no longer here. Over the years this place has undergone many renovations, so don't expect somewhere that truly takes you back to Singapore in the 1930's, haha. So, how was the food?

Loke Woh Yuen Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 20 Tanjong Pagar Road
Contact: 62212912
Opening Hours: Daily, 11am-3pm and 5:30pm-9pm

CLOSED DOWN - As of 10/05/2011

First dish that arrived was the Kwey Teow with Vegetables & Mushrooms. I was impressed by the large portion size of this dish, which more than justified it's price. When I tucked into the dish my positive outlook never changed! The dish was great. It was lovely and smokey, just how I like kwey teow. The noodles were thin and melted in the mouth. It was juicy and all the vegetables had a divine flavour to them. Thumbs up.

Price: $5.00. 9/10

I didn't expect this dish to be as good as it actually was. This is the Sweet & Sour Mock Pork Ribs. I've tried a few renditions of mock ribs before, none of which were sensational. This dish, however, blew me away. The mock meat is truly so authentic and succulent. Being someone who once loved pork ribs as a young boy, this dish more than satisfied my long lost craving for ribs. Although the price might seem high, the portion size is really quite large. So I have no qualms about the price. I can't really pick any criticisms over what was probably one of the best dishes I've ever tried in Singapore. The crispy yet chewy mock meat is truly delectable, and uncontrollably moreish. Please try it! You won't regret it!

Price: $11.00. 10/10

Unfortunately this dish dampened the whole meal. The "Assam" Bean Curd Balls was really a clumsy dish. I felt that the authenticity of the dish was quite lacking. Why? The soup base should be sour, instead it was very weak and tasted of nothing in particular. I was impressed by the amount of bean curd balls that were present, but the balls themselves were nothing special. Not a dish that I would order again from here.

Price: $11.00. 5/10

Conclusion - For non-vegetarians it's difficult to comprehend, that yes, mock meat can differ just as drastically as real meat can. Some are good and some are bad. I find it quite frustrating that many meat eaters try the bad mock meat and then their mindset becomes cemented that 'yuck, all mock meat is terrible'. I urge any vegetarian or non-vegetarian to try the mock pork ribs from here with a neutral mindset, I'm sure anyone and everyone would love it. As for the restaurant on a whole, I was very impressed with it. The assam bean curd was a low point, but the ribs left me leaving the establishment glowing. The dishes are not cheap, so those on a budget might want to save this place for a special occasion. Nice and traditional eatery, hopefully it lasts for another 80 years.

Overall Rating
Food - 9/10
Ambiance- 8/10
Service - 7/10
Value - 6/10

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sunrise Bread Cafe - Bugis

We return back to Sunrise Cafe, probably one of my favourite vegetarian/vegan cafe's in Singapore, I love its layout and the mian bao on offer really is quite good. We were actually in the Fortune Centre checking out Pine Tree Cafe, but after which I have the compulsion to get coffee and cake!

Sunrise Bread Cafe
Location: 190 Middle Road, #01-33 Fortune Centre
Contact: 63370321
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 9am-8pm

CLOSED DOWN - As of 11/11/2014

Yes, unfortunately there was no coffee, they had run out already, so instead I decided to sample their Tea. We also got the Blueberry Cake to satisfy my craving. Firstly, the tea is really quite nice! It's extremely creamy, and quite mild in flavour. It is not very sweet also.

Tea - $1.20. 7/10

On to the cake. I thought overall it was quite tasty, but certainly overpriced. It included real pieces of blueberry inside, which was a welcome surprise, but the texture of the cake felt a little stale to me. Slice wise, it was ok, but as I said, a little small for the price.

Price: $3.30. 5/10

Conclusion - As I said, this is arguably one of my most favourite bakeries/cafes to visit. It is always very peaceful and laid back place, where the visitor can happily de-stress whilst sipping on a tea or coffee. The cake is probably not something I would order again, nothing stood out as delicious about it, and price was an issue. The tea was lovely and creamy though, so I would definitely go back for that, and to try the coffee which eluded me this time around.

Overall Rating
Food - 8/10
Ambiance- 8/10
Service - 7/10
Value - 6/10
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