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Monday, August 30, 2010

Sri Vijaya Restaurant Pure Vegetarian - Little India

Sri Vijaya can really offer diners a unique opportunity to experience authentic Indian food, in an even more authentic setting. True to most South Indian establishments the typical fast food items such as dosai, vadai and idli are on offer here. It is only a brief walk from Little India station, yet this area is seldom visited by tourists or anyone unfamiliar with the area. This restaurant is not frequented by tourists, and mainly cators to the blue collared working class Malay/Indian workers here in Singapore. The cheer rawness of this establishment got my juices flowing, so let's so how the food was.

Sri Vijaya Restaurant Pure Vegetarian
Location: 229 Selegie Road

Opening Hours: Closed on Wednesday. Mon-Sun 5:30am - 10:00pm
Contact: 63361748

*Please Note - There are no prices anywhere in this restaurant, I only received a total bill at the end, therefore the prices quote are an estimate based on the bill and my experiences*

Teh Tarik, the ubiquitous richly texture beverage, which gained notoriety from Malaysia, but over time eventually became injected into Singapore culture. One of my true favourites, especially when side-by-side with roti prata. The teh tarik from Sri Vijaya was not bad, it was very creamy. However, I was longing for a stronger teh/tea taste. Nevertheless it was enjoyable, but I've had better.

Price: $0.80. 6/10


Next up we had the Masala Dosai. I know it seems like I review dosai all the time, but when going to South Indian establishments it's simply a must. This was a decent attempt, yet the crispness of the dosai was not quite there. It was a little soggy in some areas, but certainly not terrible. The masala inside the dosai was different to the usual kind, it was a refreshing change, however it contained a high level of salt. The sauces and curries which came with it were good, no complaints there.

Price: $2.50. 6/10


A mere dosai was not enough to satisfy my urge for Indian delights, thus, I ordered the South Indian Set Meal. This set claims to come with briyani rice, however, as you can see it was simply white rice. The vegetable and tofu based dishes that came with it were quite delicious though. The highlight of this dish is that you can keep topping up the curries and side dishes as many times as you want. This concept is also common when ordered thali type dishes. I adored the red tofu based curry, and requested seconds of that (no additional cost). Eating this dish was one hand is tough, but a rewarding experience, and everyone in the restaurant seemed to find my struggles quite endearing, haha.

Price: $5.50. 8/10

Conclusion - Like I mentioned at the start, the best word to describe this place is 'raw'. If you're wanting a glamorous and swanky dining experience, then this is the complete polar opposite - And I love it. Almost everyone here eats the food with their hand, the restaurant looks and feels like really being in India or a sequestered side street of Malaysia. Additionally, this is the only place so far in Singapore that I've been weary of the hygiene standards. But these are not bad qualitys, we should embrace them. I urge those pampered Singaporeans to come here, eat with your hand, and learn about another cuisine and culture. Don't be fearful of the unknown, have an open mind and give it a chance. Always going with the safe option of fried rice, noodles, whatever it may be - Will result in missing out on a lot of unique experiences in life. Sri Vijaya doesn't have the best quality South Indian food that I've tried, but I will certainly return there for the unique dining experience, and propose you all do the same!

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Komala's Vegetarian Restaurant - Marine Parade

I've been meaning to pay a visit to one of the famous South Indian Komala fast food chains for some time now, and I was in the East Coast area this weekend, so what better time? Komala's has several chains of this restaurant dotted all over Singapore, so chances are there is one somewhat close to where you are. It's aim is to be almost like an Indian McDonalds - Serving quick, easy and fast South Indian food. Dietry wise, vegans and those who don't take onions and garlic, you may not want to chance this place. It is 100% vegetarian though.

Komala's Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: B9 Marine Cove, 1000 East Coast Parkway

Opening Hours: Mon-Thur 11am -10pm, Fri 11am -10:30pm, Sat-Sun 8:30am - 10:45pm
Contact: 64416044


First up, some drinks. Closest to the camera is the Masala Tea. Overall this was not bad, the masala was a little weak, but the tea was nice and creamy. I was worried it might be a little diluted, but thankfully it was not. At the back of the picture is a Sweet Lassi. This is a famous sour yogurt drink, which is intensely popular among the Indian community. I also adore it. This version was too small for the price, but it was thick, sour and creamy just how I like it. Komala's is a critically overpriced establishment, so you may see a common theme in these reviews.

Price: $1.70. 6/10 (Masala Tea)
Price: $2.70. 5/10 (Sweet Lassi)

I think anyone and everyone would find it fun to eat a Paper Dosai. Its huge structure may seem a little daunting at first, but it is very thin, and therefore not as filling as you might suspect. This version was not too bad, but I found that it was too oily, and therefore I didn't feel the urge or want to continue eating it. The curries and sauces that came with it were not too bad, especially the daal. Again unfortunately it was way too overpriced, which was a shame.

Price: $3.50. 6/10


Next up was the Cheese Masala Dosai. Indeed, I was having a overdose on dosai. This one was not too bad. The texture of the actual dosai was good, and the masala inside was nice also. I was pleased that they used what I believe to be cheddar cheese inside, which really gave a great strong cheese flavour. Again, no issues with the daal curry and sauces. The let down, you guessed it, was the price. The huge price tag tainted the taste for the food for me.

Price: $4.50. 6/10


Conclusion - In essence, a fast food establishment should provide quick, fast, easy and cheap food. Unfortunately the one aspect that Komala's really fall short on is the latter - Cheap. The prices are really outrageous. Simple dishes such as uttapum, idli, dosai, vadai are all way over priced. I could even go to a four star Indian restaurant and get them for the same price, so why would I go to Komala's and pay the same? This is the let down, and the real root cause of why the establishment of Komala's fails. The food is not bad, in fact, I did enjoy it, but the price doesn't justify it in the slightest.

Overall Rating
Food - 6/10
Ambiance- 6/10
Service - 5/10
Value - 2/10

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

North South East West Vegetarian Cuisine - Marine Parade

For those that have viewed my Top 10 Vegetarian Places in Singapore post, they will know North South East West managed to make it into that list. I don't tend to review places twice unless there is 1. A huge menu which I can't possibly review in one post, or 2. It's very very good. I would say that this place ticks both of those boxes. Especially the first, I have really never seen a menu quite as grand as this before, it's quite stunning. Free weekend coaches from Bedok and Sengkang are an easy way to get to Marine Parade. Other than that, many buses will also take you there.

North South East West Vegetarian Cuisine
Location:
200 Tanjong Katong Road
Contact: 81000049
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Closed Mondays)

Out of the many dishes that I have sampled from NSEW, this one may be the worst. This is the BBQ Sambal Fish. The lowpoint for this dish the mock fish was made from beancurd sheets, which doesn't really work at all. Soy is a much better source to make mock fish texture. The sambal chili on the top was good, and I was glad they added limes on the side, but beancurd sheets just don't work at all i'm afraid.

Price: $5.00. 5/10


I was a little skeptical of ordering the Crispy Chicken, as I've tried many poor versions of this side dish in the past. My skepticism was not needed though, in this case. The mock chicken was very chewy and not too oily or greasy, which is so often the case. It's not perfect though, I found that they used too much salt, and rendered me needing a lot of water to finish it. It's definitely moreish though, and the size of the dish is fair, in accordance to the price.

Price: $3.00. 8/10


I've fell in love with this dish, and have had it twice in the last few weeks. This is the Hainanese Beef Stew with Rice. The mock beef is made from mushroom stems, which is marvelously authentic, especially in regards to that chewy beefy texture. Other ingredients inside include goji berries, shitake mushrooms and radish. What really makes this dish so superb is the stock which they use. It is very thick and jam packed with flavour. Difficult to put into words, so I would advise you all go try it for yourselves!


Price: $6.80. 10/10

Next up was the Pork Rib Herbal Soup with Rice. The pork rib was very interesting indeed. It had a mock bone, which I can only guess was derived from lotus root, it is very stringy and fun to eat. The mock meat that is wrapped around it is made from soy. The stock for this dish was thick and tasty, with strong yet placid flavours. However, perhaps the stock was a tad too salty. Portion size and quality was excellent for the price.

Price: $5.50. 8/10


Another stock/soup based dish (because they're superb from NSEW). This is the Fo Tiao Qiang with Rice. This dish had some interesting ingredients, including a wide variety of mock seafood, such as sea cucumber and fish cakes. As well as tofu cubes and beancurd sheets. The stock was again very thick and had a stark herby flavour. It was pleasing to discover that the salt level in this dish was not as high.

Price: $5.50. 7/10


This is the Black Pepper Steak. The components for all the Western dishes are virtually the same. With there being fries, corn, tomato, cucumber, and cold beans, of course accompanying the main 'mock' portion. This steak more closely resembled the taste of ham, so as far as authenticity, I think it leaves a bit to be desired. I didn't dislike the taste though. The texture is very tough and flat, and difficult to even slice, which is quite irritating.

Price: $6.80. 6/10


I really like the Western meals that they have at this place, and the Baked Cheezy Hot Dog Set is no different. However, my main problem with this dish should be quite evident in the picture. Where are the buns!? If this dish had two buns on the side, or the sausages inside the buns already, then it would have been perfect. But I was a little baffled how I could be eating a hot dog without a bun. The sausages were good though, especially with the cheese on top. Portion size is not too bad, and the visual look of the food make me want to tuck in immediately.

Price: $6.80. 7/10

Conclusion - This place is superb, there is no other way of putting it. The amount of dishes they have to choose from at this eatery, would likely equate to that of 4-5 restaurants combined. Even more surprisingly, these dishes never seem to be sold out or not available. After going back here a few times now, and trying a lot of the dishes they have on offer, they have all been to a high standard, which is difficult to achieve, so I must give huge props to this place, and hopefully it sticks around for a long time to come. Go and visit and tell me what you think and please try the stock/soup dishes, they're divine!

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

Friday, August 13, 2010

Shakshuka

This dish I would like to share with you all is a Middle Eastern/North African dish called Shakshuka. I was fascinated by this dish as soon I saw it attempted by the vegetarian chef Yotam Ottolenghi, and had an itch to try it myself. It's a fairly easy dish to make, with the only real danger points being overcooking the eggs and onions. Other than that, it's quite straight forward.

It's a traditionally rustic and messy dish, which should be served with a baguette or hard crusted bread as an accompaniment to the dish.

In the interested of my wallet, I didn't use saffron, but the rest of the recipe I followed quite strictly.


Ingredients
½ tsp cumin seeds
190ml light olive oil or vegetable oil
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
2 red and 2 yellow peppers, cored and cut into 2cm strips
4 tsp muscovado sugar
2 bayleaves
6 sprigs thyme, picked and chopped
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ tsp saffron strands (optional)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Up to 250ml water
8 free-range eggs


This is a huge serving. You can adjust the cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you like a dish to be.


In a large saucepan, dry-roast the cumin on high heat for two minutes.
Add the oil and sauté the onions for two minutes.
Add the peppers, sugar, bayleaves, thyme, parsley and two tablespoons of coriander, and cook on high heat to get a nice colour.
Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, adding enough water to keep it the consistency of a pasta sauce.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.
It should be potent and flavoursome.
You can prepare this mix in advance.Place four saucepans on medium heat and divide the mixture between them.
Break two eggs into each pan, pouring into gaps in the mixture.
Sprinkle with salt, cover and cook very gently for 10-12 minutes, until the egg just sets.


This is the finished dish. If I were to cook it again, I would have make the eggs a little more runny. Unfortunately I cooked them for a tad too long. Other than that I was quite pleased with the taste of the dish. The red and yellow peppers give the dish a juiciness and powerful taste. But overall it's quite a mild and neutral meal, which I think most people would find appealing. Hope you all enjoy making shakshuka!






Recipe and list of ingredients taken from Guardian.co.uk Vegetarian Recipes

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

iwannagetstuffed Vegetarian - Stadium

Thanks to Janice for making me aware of this place. iwannagetstuffed is an exclusively buffet eatery inside the Kallang Leisure Park, a mere 5 minutes walk from Stadium Stn. There is currently no a la carte menu at this place, and the content of the buffet varies from day to day. We went there on a Sunday, and frankly, the place was very empty, so I am hoping the business improves over time. This place is vegan, and cooks without onions and garlic, so it caters to most dietary requirements!


iwannagetstuffed Vegetarian
Location: 5 Stadium Walk, Kallang Leisure Park, Level 1- 33/34/35
Contact: 63480600
Opening Hours: Daily until 9:30pm

CLOSED DOWN! (17/04/2011)


BUFFET PRICE: $12.90 pax
Just a quick gander at what the interior design of this place looks like. As you can see, it looks new and fresh. The layout is well done.








The soup of the day was Shark's Fin Soup. This mock soup is something that I am really beginning to adore. With the guilty pleasure being pouring lots and lots of the vinegar inside the soup (terrible I know). The soup had a lot of ingredients inside. It didn't have the typical mock shark's fin 'jelly'. Instead, it had a lot of different mushrooms and vegetables. The soup stock was also quite nice.

8/10


As part of the buffet, there is also a unique Salad Bar, where you can create your own unique salad. You can choose a variety of leafy vegetables, including the delicious rocket lettuce. You can then add chick peas, kidney beans, peanuts etc. Finally you can dress the salad in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, or whatever you wish. I do enjoy this salad bar feature, and acts as a good way to start your buffet, not to mention, very healthy too!

8/10


As part of their western selections there is the Spaghetti. This was my particular highlight. Not only do I love spaghetti, but this is one of the nicest that I have tried in Singapore. From my experience, pasta/spaghetti is usually dreadful in Singapore, with the chef's having no idea how to make it properly. This dish was a welcome change. The stand-out was the truly delicious tomato sauce. It was sweet, sour and beautifully creamy, with chunks of olives and mushroom swimming inside. Arguably one of the nicest pasta sauces I've sampled. The actual spaghetti was a slight let down, it was cooked for 1-2 minutes too long, and subsequently was a little too soggy. But all in all I liked it a lot, and went back for seconds and thirds!

9/10


As part of their Asian section they have a variety of dishes to taste. We have the Mutton Curry on the right hand side, this was a nice dish. The consistency of the curry was very good, not being too spicy, or too mild. The Fried Rice was not too bad, but perhaps lacking a little in flavour. On the left hand side we have the Curry Puff, I was pleased to see curry puff's on offer for the buffet, but I have tried better. The pastry of the puff was not too bad, but I found the filling to be mushy and wrongly spiced. Finally at the top there is the Kung Pao Chicken, the mock meat tasted really nice, and overall I was impressed with this dry and smokey dish.

8/10
Just a couple of other options in this picture to share with you all. On the right hand side you can see the Pandan Chicken. This is mock chicken that is wrapped in the pandan leaf, and thus absorbing the delicious pandan flavour. Unfortunately the mock chicken left a lot to be desired, and was the most underwhelming selection of the buffet. The mock meat was too salty and greasy. On the far left hand side was the Crispy Oats Tofu, again not such an appealing dish. The coating on the tofu was hard and greasy, and the cereal needed to be a little more fragrant.

6/10

The buffet also has a variety of Nonya Desserts. The one of the left was sweet and made from glutinous rice. On the right is more flavourless, I really couldn't say what it was made from, my guess would be glutinous rice flour, but anyone that knows more about it than me, feel free to share! Not a bad way to end the meal.

7/10


Conclusion - Each day iwannagetstuffed changes the content of its buffet. So if my review was enough to entice you to go check this place out, then be prepare for there to be a completely different selection of food on offer, which is a good thing. Price wise I believe that this buffet is certainly worth it. Personally, I would have like a few more dishes on offer, but with that said, it was still a credible amount of selections. The spaghetti was my favourite, and the sauce (which they made themselves) was a real treat. I am hoping this place does good business and is around for a while, as I can definitely see myself returning there in the future.

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