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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bock Garden Meatless Cafe - Penang

I have one final post from my wonderful time in Penang, so here it is. Those staying in the centre of Georgetown may find this place a little difficult to get to, you can refer to a street map to see. But for us, we were staying quite close to this place, and therefore encountered no difficulties finding it. It is a very dilapidated and small looking restaurant, which is not as glamorous as some of the vegetarian places one can find in Georgetown.

CLOSED DOWN - As of 08/01/2012

Bock Garden Meatless Cafe
103, Lorong Selamat, Georgetown, Penang
Contact: (04)
Opening Hours:
Open 10am-9pm, closed Tuesday

First dish that we ordered was the Garden Shark's Fin Soup. Like most of the dishes from Bock Garden Cafe, I found that the price was way too steep in relation to the portion size and food quality in general. The portion for this shark's fin was just one meager and small bowl. The soup had some good flavours, but was too starchy. Pretty disappointed version of the classic shark's fin.

Price: RM6.80. 4/10

Next up we have the Salted Fish Fried Rice. The texture of this rice was quite awful - The rice grains were broken and overall it was way too mushy. One thing that really irks me is soft and mushy rice. The ingredients used were very basic and simple, and overall I struggled to finish this dish. Not one that I would recommend.

Price: RM3.80. 3/10

For the final dish I was hoping for a savior from the first two extremely poor dishes. This is the Indo-Curry Rice Set. What you get from this set is a tofu curry, mock fish, ladyfingers, and rice. As well as a couple more small condiments. The curry was way too watery, almost like a typical prata/canai dipping curry, therefore to consume it by itself wasn't too appealing. Moreover, the curry was quite weak, as well as diluted.

Price: RM9.80. 3/10

Conclusion - It is a shame to end my Penang reviews on such a sour note, but Bock Garden Meatless Cafe was probably the most dismal place we ate at during the whole trip. Don't be discouraged by this review, there are a lot of really fantastic vegetarian places in Penang, but this is definitely not one of them, and a place I would quite strongly recommend that you avoid during your trip. The food quality is very low, with amateurish mistakes being made for even simple dishes. This, coupled with the unnecessarily high prices makes this place an overwhelming disappointment.

Overall Rating
Food - 3/10
Ambiance- 4/10
Service - 6/10
Value - 4/10

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hot Chips Vegetarian Restaurant - Farrer Park

Syed Alwi Road - One of my most favourite places for its dynamic assortment of vegetarian eateries that are littered along this road. Now its vegetarian selections have improved even more with another new vegetarian restaurant opening its doors. Hot Chips is an interesting restaurant with a theme of an American diner. This American theme does not translate to the menu however, it's strictly Indian food that can be found here. And yes, that means Hot Chips doesn't sell any hot chips....How odd. I would like to know who thought of such a name!

Hot Chips Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 93 Syed Alwi Road
Contact: 63925519
Opening Hours: Unknown

The interior design of this place looks really nice and really achieves its goal of replicating a typical American diner. A little bit more information about this place - It is vegetarian, but it will cook with items such as cream, milk etc, therefore it is not suitable for vegans. Additionally, garlic and onions are used in the cooking here, this will also exclude the Buddhist vegetarians who don't include this in their diet.

The menu looks new, nice, fresh and approachable. One side of the menu is dedicated to South Indian offerings, while the other side of the menu is highlighting the North Indian dishes that are available. This restaurant doesn't seem to have any preference in regards to what its specialty cuisine is - But I suspect that the South Indian dishes will be stronger from this establishment. Nevertheless, I ordered both North and South Indian dishes, so that I could get a flavour of them both, so lets see how the food was!

Unfortunately this review starts off on a sour note, and I'm not referring to the sour yogurt dip that accompanies this Dhum Biriyani. Visually I am sure it is glaringly obvious that the texture of this rice is not very good. The rice is way too soft and mushy On a visual level this dish looks quite lackluster and messy also. Taste wise I found that the rice was a little too plain, but the vegetable curry that sat beside the rice was a slight improvement. Portion size wise I guess was acceptable, but the quality of this dish left a lot to be desired.

Price: $5.00. 4/10

For those who can recall back to my review on pani poori at Namaste restaurant in Little India, this dish is quite similar. Instead, this Sev Poori is basically a mashed up version of the original and traditional pani poori snack, this time with a bit of coriander leaves and chili sauce added. Taste wise, when you eat all the components of this dish together, it actually has a quite welcoming taste, and I found myself going back to it repeatedly. The fresh coriander/cilantro leaves particularly add beautiful aroma and flavour which takes this simple dish to a higher level. Quite nice overall.

Price: $3.50. 7/10

It's a prerequisite for me that every time I venture to a new Indian eatery, I must try their naan! Of course, Indian food has a number of beautiful breads - Such as chapati, tandoori roti, paratha. But by far my favourite is naan. This Plain Naan had flaws, but it was better than I expected. The chef did achieve reasonable success charring of the naan, additionally it was quite thin and well layered. What lets this naan down is it is still very doughy (undercooked) in sections and doughy bread is never nice to eat. A more even cooking of the bread would have really made it much nicer.

Price: $2.00. 5/10

If you order naan, then you must order curry. I was expecting the North Indian style dishes to be the weakest from Hot Chips, so let's explore and find out. First up, we start with the Kaju Masala. Kaju is cashew, and therefore the cashew nuts in this curry give a creamy and nutty flavour, which is quite appealing. What is somewhat mystifying however is why they would choose to make cashew the focal point of the dish? Usually Indian curries have potato, paneer, cauliflower etc as focal point, and I don't think cashew nuts can fulfill that role. Another problem is the curry has too much oil in it, and was a little off putting seeing the puddles of oil in the curry.

Price: $6.00. 5/10

The final dish is from North India again, this is the Paneer Butter Masala. I was extremely pleased that for such an affordable curry it came with a lot of pieces of paneer inside. Usually cheaper paneer curries only have a few pieces of paneer inside. Hot Chips, however, were very generous in this dish. The paneer was also fried very well, and had good texture as well as flavour. Butter masala is known as being a reasonably mild and mellow curry, which this dish certainly is. However, I found that it was too sweet, and in regards to authenticity, it might have missed the mark. If this dish was a little less sweet, it would have been a real hit. Still a solid quality dish, which is great value!

Price: $5.00. 8/10

Conclusion - I really like the theme of this place, and I wish this new restaurant all the success in what is a extremely competitive location. I am sure they will do fine, as when I visited there it seemed to have a lot of curious customers. Food wise, compared to other restaurants on the same road, this place can't really compete. The food is acceptable, but none of the dishes I ordered were really outstanding. Price wise I was pleased that everything was quite affordable, but this is somewhere that also add's GST at the end of the bill too. Although I couldn't see myself returning here, I did enjoy my dining experience at Hot Chips, and would recommend you all to give it a try!

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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nature (Da Zi Ran) Vegetarian - Bishan

This place came to my attention through a couple of different sources. Firstly, Crystal's super duper food blog, as well as a comment from one of my viewers. I was actually surprised I had not heard of this place sooner. What is unique about this establishment is that it is actually an entire food court (not a very big one) that is completely vegetarian. This almost resembles Blue Boy, which is a renowned vegetarian centre in KL. The place can be a little tricky to get to, as it's nestled in a HDB complex. You can take a bus from Bishan to get here, but there are no train stations close to it.


Nature Vegetarian

Location: Blk 409, Sin Ming Ave, #02-01
Contact: 65534719
Opening Hours: Daily until 9pm

There are around five stalls in total in this food court, the first one I took a look at was this dim sum stall. This stall actually sells a variety of different things, including some bao's (breads). The only thing that I purchased from here was the dim sum, there was only one variety available on that day, but who knows, on other days there be different ones...

So here we have the Dim Sum. The picture may be a little misleading in as much that these dim sum's are incredibly small. Nevertheless, for the price they are not too bad. I found the taste to be quite profoundly of soy. The detrimental part of this dish was the dryness of the dim sum, I'd have rather them be a little more juicy. But good value and pretty solid quality overall.

Price: $1.00 for 3

Next stall that we have specializes in laksa. With me being somewhat of a laksa obsessive, I had to order it. I never really trust the food that has been left there for many hours (as you can see in the picture), so I opted not to get those. From what I remember, there were a few other dishes available apart from laksa, but I don't recall specifically what they were...

Visually, this Laksa looked wonderful when it arrived. With the diced daun kesom (laksa leaves) sprinkled on top, it looked enticing and I couldn't wait to slurp it up. Taste wise it didn't let me down, it was a juicy and flavourful laksa, which had spice levels that were just right, and well cooked noodles. My only criticism would be the thick layer of oil on top of the dish. Health wise, this is very off-putting for me, and therefore I would have preferred a reduction in the oil used. Apart from that, this is a top quality laksa, and one of the best that I have tried in Singapore so far.

Price: $3.00. 8/10

This stall represents the bulk of the dishes which you can order from this food court. It has a wide variety of different dishes all of which looked very mouth-watering. We got a couple of dishes from this stall in the end, but there were plenty of more I was longing to try. Many of the dishes you can order is small, medium or large. But it's worth noting the small sizes are already quite big, so for those tiny stomached individuals, opt for the small...

First dish that we got from the main stall was the Carrot Cake (Black). I have always preferred the black kind, as it seems to have more of that beautiful wok hei (smokey) flavour. This dish, I was very pleased to taste had a lot of that flavour contained within it. This dish contains egg, but you can ask them to make it without if you don't consume eggs. Portion size was good, and had good strong flavour, which kept me coming back for more.

Price: $3.00. 8/10

Last but not least, probably my all time favourite Chinese dish, this is the Claypot Pig's Trotter. For those who are not familiar with this dish, it is mock pork, that is swimming in a black sauce made from vinegar, ginger and sugar. It is simply delicious. This variation was not without flaw though. Firstly, the mock pork was too soft and mushy, the wonderful version which I tried from Nature Delights had a moreish crunch. I also found that the sauce was a little too diluted and too sugar heavy. For a truly wonderful rendition of this dish, you need to visit Serangoon. But this version was not too bad.

Price: $8.00 (small). 7/10

Conclusion - I think Crystal put it quite eloquently when she said that the food here might not be of the highest quality, but the fact that it's a centre that is entirely vegetarian makes it certainly worth a visit. I found the food very nice, in fact. Some of the dishes did have a few problems, but overall it left me feeling very satisfied. I am so glad that Singapore has a place like this, and let's hope that it continues to thrive in the years to come. It is a place that I would certainly see myself coming back to time and time again, I just wish it was easier to get to!

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

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Roti Prata House - Upper Thomson

The Roti Prata House has been featured quite heavily in the past in various articles, magazines and food shows in Singapore. It has gained a reputation for having a particular unique was of cooking the roti prata, which results in the prata basically being deep fried so that it is very crispy. I am not particularly a fan of heavily greasy foods, nevertheless I thought I should sample to see if it warrants the hype.

The Roti Prata House
Location: 246M, Upper Thomson Road, Thomson Garden Estate
Contact: 64595260
Opening Hours: Daily, 24 hours

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

Not a complete vegetarian eatery, of course. But I was pleasantly surprise to see the menu did have quite a number of vegetarian dishes available for the customer. Certainly the main drawing point for this establishment is their roti prata, to which they have countless varieties - Including the more traditional egg, cheese, plain, tissue. As well as some quite inconceivable transformations - Like durian, kaya, milo. I'm a passionate lover of durian, but I'm not sure if I'd like it in my prata!

So here we have it. This is actually a heaped pile of many varieties of prata. These pratas are so heavily fried that for the sake of your healthy I wouldn't recommend getting too many. Trying the deep fried Plain Prata, of course there is a more crunchy textural element, even if the flavour is essentially the same. With the Egg Prata and Cheese Prata that I ordered, the crunch is not as profound, and therefore it is quite similar to a traditional type. Overall this is not my type of thing, as it has way too much grease. I prefer the traditional kind, or even better the Malaysian kind, which use much less grease and oil.

Price: Plain $0.80 (4/10). Egg $1.30 (5/10). Cheese $1.70 (4/10)

One other variation which we tried was the Prata Bomb. This prata typically has condensed milk, butter and sugar as the filling, giving a profound sweet element to the dish. Again this prata is crispy. The downfall of this prata was it was not cooked on the inside sufficiently. The inside still had the doughy undercooked form, which put me off eating anymore. Not good overall.

Price: $3.00. 4/10

Conclusion - Like I said, this place wouldn't really appeal to me. But for those that are looking for a different take on Singapore's most popular breakfast item, then you might be tempted to venture down and give this place a try. If you're more a traditionalist like myself, then I would recommend giving this place a miss! An additional note I want to share is that the service (as often is the case with prata places) is poor, with extremely lazy and disorganized staff.

Overall Rating
Food - 5/10
Ambiance- 6/10
Service - 4/10
Value - 6/10

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just Greens Vegetarian Stall - Fernvale

A few weeks ago I visited the main Just Greens outlet, in Joo Chiat - To be fair, I didn't like the place much. After receiving a comment on that post from a gentleman named Chewy, I actually discovered Just Greens has a number of small vegetarian stalls that fall under the company name. This one is located in Fernvale, close to where I live. But there are others in places such as Simei, Tampines and Yishun. To find the information and location of those outlets you can take a look at their official website - Just Greens.

Just Greens Vegetarian Stall
Location: Fernvale Point Food Court (Koufu)
Contact: 63450069/62222039
(main Just Greens contact)
Opening Hours: Unknown

There are not many options available at this stall, they do have a couple of zi char dishes, but the most common selection for the customers is the Rice/Noodle with Dishes option. I got white rice, with one mock meat, one tofu and vegetable curry. Overall quite unimpressive, The curry was very weak and diluted. The mock meat texture was a little soft and although the black pepper taste was nice, I found it had a unusual after-taste. I love the mock minced meat on top of the tofu, but overall I have tasted better dishes elsewhere.

Price: $3.00. 5/10

The zi char dish that I ordered was actually the only one they had available on that day, which was the Crispy Noodle. Overall I liked this dish a lot. One problem was the dish was served on a plate. It would have been better if it was served in a bowl, so that soaking the noodles in the sauce would have been easier. The soup base was thick and packed with good stock flavour...Maybe I am sick, but I think this would have been great with some black vinegar in the stock ala shark's fin soup, maybe that's my oddness. Vegetables were generous and well cooked. Although the price is a little high for a modest food court, I still was overall quite pleased with what I received.

Price: $4.00. 7/10

Conclusion - A nice typical modest food court stall. I wouldn't have really known it fell under the banner of Just Greens unless I saw the logo and sign. The cuisine available is completely food court style and it bares no resembles to the offerings at Joo Chiat. I liked the crispy noodles, but the ready made dishes were all a little underwhelming. There are plenty more outlets for Just Greens that I have yet to go to, and they seem a little more exciting than this stall...Therefore in the next few months you may see a few more of these Just Greens outlets popping up on my blog.

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

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sanskruti Pure Vegetarian Food - Raffles Place

Sanskruti have a couple of outlets located around Singapore. There was one formally at East Coast, which has now closed. The ones remaining are this one at Lau Pa Sat, which is a food court stall. They also have one, which is a more luxurious restaurant located at Little India. Although I haven't been to the Little India one yet, I imagine it's vastly different to this one. Not many options available here, but sometimes these simple looking stalls can produce great food. Lau Pa Sat Market is very close to Raffles MRT, just take exit F, and it's a 2 minute walk.

Sanskruti Pure Vegetarian Food
Location: 18 Raffles Quay, Stall 25, Lau Pa Sat Festival Market
Opening Hours: Daily until late
Contact: 62936505

Other outlet located at :-
9 Race Course Lane
Contact: 62936505

This is the Dabeli, it's almost like the morphing of a burger with a samosa chaat. The content inside the bread is very similar to the mixture with samosa's lie in - It contains fresh onions, tomato, peanuts and chili sauce. To accompany this sandwich/burger we have a dark and sweet dipping sauce. This sauce was indeed incredibly sweet. Nevertheless I think the sweetness of the sauce did merge well with the burger and take some of the edge off the spice that was inside.

Price: $3.00. 7/10

When I was looking at the choices, this Gujarati Thali looked incredibly impressive on the wall, with several sauces, chutneys, breads etc. In reality, well, as you can see by the picture, it was not as luxurious as I had hoped. This thali comes with one dry curry and three vegetable curries, these were all quite flavourful, especially the paneer curry - But often I found it was too recklessly spiced, and left me gagging for water. The yogurt sauce was way too diluted and I found inedible. The thali comes also with a deep fried chili, three chapati's and a poppadom. For this high price, I really was expecting a wonderful looking thali. Instead, this was quite a disappointment, and to top it off, there was no dessert served with it.

Price: $8.00. 4/10

Conclusion - This is far from the best Indian food that I have tried in Singapore. I will be reviewing the Sanskruti restaurant in Little India in the future, and I am sure that the restaurant is a marked improvement from this stall. The chef at this stall doesn't know how to get the spice quantity correct in the dishes, and most of the curries were just way too overpowering. The dabeli was a unique little dish, which I might find myself ordering again. But the thali left a black cloud looming over my experience at Sanskruti, it was really not good enough, and for $8 it was really an injustice of a dish.

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

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ananda Bhavan Vegetarian - Changi Airport

Similarly to how I did in 2009, I will be marking Deepavali this year by stringing together a few Indian reviews of places in Singapore, there will be some brand new places that I have never reviewed before, but for this post, I will be returning to Ananda Bhavan at Changi Airport to try some of the different food. I gave this place a quite below average review last time, but I will be ordering new dishes this time around, and who knows, there may be an improvement.

Ananda Bhavan Vegetarian
Location: Changi Airport, T2, Level 3
Opening Hours: Daily, 24 hours.
Contact: 62959595

The notorious and glorious South Indian dish Masala Dosai was first up on our selection this time around. The dosai they sell at Ananda Bhavan is really not bad, the dosai is very crisp and there is a generous serving of masala inside. This is accompanied by a good quality daal and flavourful chutneys. The main weakness of this restaurant is the pricing of the good, and this dosai is no exception, it is quite expensive, and although the quality is good, it's still a bit too much to be paying for your thrifty ang mo reporter.

Price: $3.50. 7/10

Ananda Bhavan has a lot of dishes that bring Indian concepts and clash them with Western cuisines. An example of this is the Pizza Dosai. Although this labeled as 'dosai' in fact texturally it is much similar to a uttapum, as it is soft and thick. The topping include green capsicum, tomato, mushroom and cheese. This is sprinkled with chili sauce. The injection of Indian cuisine comes with the accompaniments to the 'dosai', we can see there is the red and white chutneys along with daal. This blend of Indian spices actually works quite well with the Western flavours. If you're looking for a authentic dosai, you might be disappointed. But the flavours are quite solid.

Price: $5.00. 7/10

I was almost put off from ordering this Tandoori Platter by it's astronomical price, but I had the urge for a tandoori dish so I went ahead and got it. I was not disappointed, this was a fun and interesting concoction of several items. We have two creamy curries (one with paneer, then other with mushrooms), for the food cooked in the tandoor - There is paneer, cauliflower and onion. All had good smokey flavour. Curries of course need something to dip in, and for that there are four pieces of naan on the plate. The naan's have improved since my last visit, but still need to be charred a little more. Very expensive, but it is a lot of fun to eat, so if you are not short for cash, then I would definitely recommend getting it.

Price: $12.00. 7/10

Conclusion - I think my overall impression of this restaurant has improved since last time. The quality of the food that I sampled on my second visit generally left me more satisfied. The main problem is that to enjoy this good quality food you will have to pay extremely high prices. My favourite dish was the tandoori platter, I like this concept and all the components in the dish taste great...My wallet in a coma after I saw the bill though.

Overall Rating
Food - 7/10
Ambiance- 8/10
Service - 6/10
Value - 5/10

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just Greens Vegetarian Food - Eunos

Currently this Just Greens eight course meal is on severe discounts for it's members, as I am lucky enough to know someone that is a member, I ventured down to this place for the first time. I will not be reviewing every single dish in this meal. I was truly hoping the food would be good, as during this dinner outing most of the people eating there were narrow-minded meat eaters. Good vegetarian food I believe everyone can enjoy, the bad vegetarian food can be a bit of an ordeal. I was hoping this meal was the former. Let's find out if it was...

Just Greens Vegetarian Food Location: 49-51 Joo Chiat Place
Contact: 63450069/62222039
Opening Hours: Daily 8.00am - 12.00am

CLOSED - As of 1/1/2014 (owner looking for a new location)

First dish up was the Eight Treasure Cold Dish. This platter of various fried foods was actually quite a pleasant way to kick of the meal. The golden brown balls closest to the camera are not, in fact, fish balls. They contain fried apple inside, which I found quite perplexing. A lot of the varieties on the dish were quite nice though, and overall I was quite pleased with this start.

Next up came a heady pot of Braised Shark's Fin Soup. I am someone who quite enjoys shark's fin, especially when it has copious amounts of the sharp black vinegar inside. The soup from Just Greens was thick, but overall was quite ordinary. It's difficult to get shark's fin that varies greatly, so most of the versions from different restaurants are more of less the same. But this one was a little too plain for my liking.

Next dish up was the Steamed Vegetarian Chicken With Vegetables. The two varieties of mock chicken in this dish were not too bad, and had quite good flavour. The dish is perhaps a little guilty of being too oily.

Here we have the Crispy Noodle In Lor Han Style. The noodles and the vegetables in this dish were well cooked. But I found that the broth that all these ingredients were swimming in was a little plain. Thus, really made this dish quite dis-interesting. Again, it was another dish that was quite greasy and oily, which I was really not hoping for.

Similarly to what we received in the platter (first dish), we then received more of these balls. This time they were in a sweet & sour coating. Inside we again had apple. It was a little nicer, due to the sweet & sour sauce, but I found that the balls were too heavily fried, and left me feeling a little nauseous after consuming a few of them.

Finally to cap the meal off, there was the Red Bean With Grass Jelly. I've never really been too keen on these sort of Chinese desserts, but it was a refreshing and cooling way to finish the meal, and therefore quite satisfying. It was a little too watery and tasteless for my liking though, but like I mentioned, it's really not my type of thing.

Total Price: $98 (currently on discount)

Conclusion - Overall what you get from this eight course meal is sub-standard food, but vegetarian restaurant standards. Some of the dishes had highpoints, which I quite enjoying. But most of them left me feeling a little flat. What irked me the most about this place was how fast they were transitioning between the courses. We had not even finished one course and they were already serving another one, this exemplified the overall brash attitude of the staff working there. Another problem I have with this place is the tea they served was truly rancid. It was sour and way too sweet.

Overall Rating
Food - 4/10
Ambiance- 4/10
Service - 3/10
Value - 7/10
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