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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Vegetarian Villas - Jurong West

I was making a rare trip to the West of Singapore, and wanted to review a place. I am aware that my blog has become very biased towards the East and Central side of Singapore, therefore any of my readers living in the West, please recommend me some places! As little is known about vegetarian eateries in the West. You can take a bus to this place from Chinese Gardens, or Jurong Interchange. Alternatively, I believe it is possible to walk from Lakeside MRT station. This place is incredibly small, and was packed when we arrived.

Vegetarian Villas
Location: Blk 479, Jurong West Street 41, #01-264

Contact: 68973977
Opening Hours: Until 9pm, Closed on Wednesday

I know there are a number of my readers that prefer me to take a quick snapshot of the menu at each place that I go, and to follow on with this request here is a look at the Vegetarian Villas menu. While this place may not have a menu has vast as some, there is still quite a lot of interesting choices, and I had no trouble picking dishes I wanted to try. There may also be specials posted up on the front of the restaurant.

After finding out that they had sold out of chicken rice, I decided to order the closest resembling alternative, which was Duck Rice. Interestingly, yam rice was included here, I've always liked yam rice, especially (like with this rice) when there are little pieces of yam inside the rice. The mock duck was gluten based, and although it was not bad, I found that it was sliced too much and placed haphazardly on the plate. The sauce was a little plain and didn't really contribute much to the dish. Credible version of duck rice though.

Price: $3.50. 6/10

Next up was the Salted Turnip Fish, this dish was a new experience for me, and in summary it was quite a mixture of pros and cons. On the plus side, I did like the overall flavour of the dish, not to mention (as with everything at Vegetarian Villa) the price was very reasonable. On the more gloomy side, it was a face-crunchingly salty dish. Not only did the sauce have a lot of salt, but also the turnip provides a lot of natural salty flavour. For those that love salty dishes, this may tick your boxes. For me, it was too salty. Finally, the fish replicated that found in Miao Yi, and I really don't like it. It has the texture of fried dough, in my opinion. I prefer the sliced soy slabs of fish.

Price: $4.80 (S) $8.80 (L). 6/10

For those who are health conscious (and willing to ignore the layer of oil on top of the soup) this Chinese Foxglove Root provides a litany of interesting and unusual Chinese roots, herbs and berries all conglomerated in this dark herbal soup. The soup itself was delicious, and packed with fragrant flavour. The ingredients include mock mutton balls, red dates, mushroom, foxglove, and a few others I am not able to name. Price wise it was tremendous value, and it also came with white rice and a couple of sprouts of bok choy. The one and only low point was the cardinal sin of not arriving hot. Which was such a shame as this soup piping hot would have been wonderful, especially on a cool rainy evening, which it was.

Price: $4.80. 8/10

Finally, one of their specialty dishes is the Sweet & Sour Pork Rib. I've had many variants (as my dear readers will know) of this dish, so how did it compare? Not too bad la. What rendered me a little perplexed was the sauce. It was suffering from a major identity crisis, as it was neither sweet nor sour, and although it was tasty, it didn't give me the sauce that I wanted. The mock ribs were good enough but a little too crunchy, I prefer them to have a real chewy texture to them. Price wise, we ordered the small version and were delighted by how generous the serving was, I can only imagine how grand the big one would be...

Price: $4.80 (S) $8.80 (L). 7/10

Conclusion - Overall I liked this little place a lot. It is really a tiny restaurant (the smallest I have seen in Singapore) and as a result it can become very cramped and can make for quite a stressful dining experience. Food wise, I felt that they delivered competent dishes, none of which I disliked, and while they were not exceptional, I thoroughly enjoyed them. The real flag raising quality of this restaurant must be the price. I paid less than $20 for all this food, with everything on their menu being well priced, especially for an air conditioned restaurant. One I would certainly recommend.

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

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Dinner 2010

As I did with last year, I wanted to share a few of my cooking tips and tricks in regards to the most important meal of the year (at least in Western countries), which of course is Christmas Dinner.

I know as a child (apart from presents), Christmas dinner was something that I eagerly looked forward to. Those unsuited to Western cuisine will most likely find this food a little dry, stodgy and starchy. For me, it rekindles memories of the past, and not to mention, tastes wonderful!

With all these foods the key components that liquefies the whole dish is the gravy, which you can buy from any supermarket.

Some of my viewers may recollect that we made these Stuffing Balls last year also, this year we did a slightly different version. Stuffing of course is something that is traditionally stuffed inside the meat (usually turkey). As of course this is a death-free Christmas meal, we decided to make them as a stand-alone, as even by themselves they are scrumptious. A typical and traditional stuffing comprises of a sage and onion mix. You then add water and roll into balls. This time we decided to add diced apple and mock bacon to spice things up a little. Once rolled into balls, you can cook in the oven for around 35 minutes.

The Roast Potatoes that we attempted last year were less than satisfactory. Therefore, this year we decided to follow a new recipe, which we discovered online - And I must say they turned out much better. When I excavate my memories of the past, one image that sticks into my mind is my Mums roast potatoes, which were delicious. Unfortunately these don't quite match her standards, but nevertheless they were a marked improvement from last year. The potatoes are boiled for 20 minutes (until very soft), coated in olive oil and then cooked in the oven for around one hour. I added thyme (or rosemary if you wish) and salt after 50 minutes. Delicious! Here is the recipe we used.

As with last year, a Nut Roast acted as our focal point in the meal. I was peering around Singapore looking for some mock roasted turkey, which I commonly used when back in England, but alas it was not to be found. Again, we veered away from last years recipe a tad, this time we added - Almonds, cashews, grated onions and carrots, mock bacon, oats, soy lecithin, basil, parsley, BBQ sauce, oregano, a little salt, one block of firm tofu, mushrooms and finally cheddar cheese. The cheddar cheese this time really added a beautiful flavour to the roast.

This is an image of how the final roast looked. Once you mix the aforementioned ingredients together you place into a cooking pan and let it sit in the oven for around 60 minutes on 190c. We like that burnt layer on the outside as it adds wonderful charred flavour, but for those that don't want that, you can cook it for less. Once it is out of the oven let it rest for around 15 minutes. This year, I must say, it was incredibly delicious.

Next installment I will be back doing my regular posts, just wanted to share with you my festive feasts once more. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Nature Vegetarian Delights - Serangoon

I wanted to do a follow up review on one of my most beloved vegetarian eateries in Singapore, which is Nature Vegetarian Delights. With Serangoon becoming a more popular area, due to the opening of Nex Shopping Centre, this may attracted more business to this humble restaurant. Especially as Nex has absolutely no options for vegetarian, which I find pretty disgraceful. This eatery sits proudly on my top 10 vegetarian places in Singapore list, and rightfully so, I adore this place! So let's take a look at a few more dishes I have previously never reviewed.

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

First up, Nature Delights actually has two distinct menus, so I thought I would capture a photo of both of them for you. Of course, both of these menus are double sided, so there are even more dishes to choose from. The green coloured menu has a variety of dishes, all coming in two or three different sizing's. Be warned, these dishes are not cheap, but the quality is very good.

The other menu (pictured here) has slightly more affordable dishes, all coming in one size only. One of the dishes that this place is quite renowned for is their unique adaptation of roti prata. Of course, the quality of the roti prata will not measure up to a proper prata stall, nevertheless these are quite good quality and fun to eat!

First new dish that I wanted to try was the Honey Pork Ribs. We got the smallest size for this dish, and I was a little surprised at just how small it was for $8. There really was not much at all. Quality wise, I thought they had great taste and texture. There was a quite profound honey flavour to these mock ribs, which was delightful. Other than the minuscule portion size, I also thought this mock meat had too strong of a soy flavour to it. Other than that I was happy to chomp away at them.

Price: $8.00 (S) $12.00 (M) $16.00 (L). 7/10

I have actually reviewed this dish previously, but I must say this Claypot Trotters Rice is one of the most tasty dishes I have tried in Singapore, and I couldn't resist ordering it again. The texture and taste of this jet black sauce is wonderful. It has a sharpness from the vinegar and ginger which is mellowed beautifully by the sweetness from sugar. It is a sauce which I could drink by itself! The mock trotter is very unique, and very authentic. Also inside are cubes of tofu, as well as black fungus. My only gripe is that there is too many whole pieces of ginger floating around. Other than that, one of my favourite dishes in Singapore!

Price: $4.50. 9/10

I have tried many superb variants of this Banana Leaf Sambal Fish, with the best two probably being Li Wei and Ci Yan (both located close to each other in Serangoon North). This one comes quite close to matching them, though. Yes, the sauce is extremely spicy, but that's how it should be. The lime does soften the blow of the spice somewhat, but it still packs a punch. Although this dish is pricey, there are two large slabs of mock fish given, and heaps of the sambal sauce. So overall I think it is worth it. Very good dish, if you can handle spicy food.

Price: $12.00 (S) $24.00 (L). 8/10

Conclusion - Definitely one of the most supreme vegetarian establishments that can be found in Singapore, it always seems to get great business and every time I visit the food always is of a good standard. This place would truly be outstanding, if not for the price. For most of the dishes, the price is a little bit too high. The sambal fish and claypot trotter are must try dishes, but I am sure there are more brilliant dishes that I have yet to try. Enjoy!

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

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pangat Authentic Indian Cuisine - City Hall

Long time readers will be aware that I have reviewed the Pangat outlet at Vivo City many months back. Pangat has two outlets in Singapore currently, the aforementioned Vivo City outlet, which is nestled inside their basement 2 food court; and now their second outlet, which I will be reviewing here. There are two marked differences. Firstly, this is a 100% vegetarian eatery, unlike the Vivo City outlet. Secondly, this is a stand alone eatery, thus has its own seating vicinity. The menu also is more vast, with many more interesting dishes to try. Tower 2 is actually within walking distance of City Hall, Promenade and Esplanade stations.

Pangat Authentic Indian Cuisine

Location: 3 Temasek Boulevard, #03-014 Suntec City (Tower Two)
Contact: 90283574
Opening Hours: Daily: 11.00am - 9.30pm

CLOSED DOWN - As of 16/12/2016

With Pangat specializing mainly in North Indian delights, it is of course essential that bread must accompany the curries. The lighter coloured bread on top is a simple Tava Chapati, underneath the more darker coloured bread is a Aloo Paratha. This is my first real experience trying this chapati-esque flat bread. The main difference between paratha and chapati in this instance is paratha is thicker and bigger, other than that there is no considerable difference. Aloo of course is potato, so the paratha has soft potato stuffed inside, which I must say was quite nice, I am often branded a potato obsessive, however, so perhaps I am biased!

Price: $1.00. 7/10 (Chapati)
Price: $2.50. 7/10 (Aloo Paratha)

This unusual named dish captured my attention, mainly as it seems so exotic and mysterious! This is the Ragada Patie. Ordering something unfamiliar can be risky, as it could be disastrous or a wonderful new experience. I am pleased to say in this case it was the latter. This dish had a superbly refreshing and light quality to it, which acted as an apt contrast from the rich and heavy curries. In this middle of this dish was a potato pattie, which had chili sauce, onions, coriander among other ingredients toppled on top and around it. A different dish, which was a success in my eyes.

Price: $3.00. 8/10

Onto the rich and creamy (at least that's what I hoped) curries, starting with the Kadhai Paneer. Starting with the plus points of this dish - All the curries are very affordable at Pangat, and as you know price is something I am always deeply concerned by. A sacrifice of this cheap price is the portion size is quite small. What I was pleased by was the generous amount of paneer (cheese) in this dish, which made it value for money certainly. The biggest mistake in this curry is using too many whole ingredients, such as green capsicum and onions, which make the curry not very enjoyable to eat. The taste of the sauce had a strong fennel or nutmeg (we argued as to which exactly) taste, which gave a sweet, rather than savory flavour to this curry.

Price: $5.50. 6/10

Eggplant is a vegetable I am slowly starting to warm to, and therefore I decided to order this Baingan Bharta. The dish doesn't really have a curry sauce, instead the creamy texture of the eggplant actually constitutes the make-up of the sauce, which I loved. The sauce is really creamy, and the flavour of the eggplant still striking. One thing I didn't like was diced crunchy onions that were swimming inside. I thought this spoilt the creamy texture of the eggplant slightly. Other than that - Great tasting, especially the eggplant and chopped coriander on top were a top notch flavour match.

Price: $4.50. 8/10

Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower curry) is one of my most fondest Indian dishes, unfortunately the Pangat version won't rank among the best reincarnations of this famous Indian dish. Overall the sauce of the curry was way too buttery and creamy, and left me feeling a tad sick after eating it. Needless to say, butter and cream (or on occasions coconut milk/cream) are what make these North Indian so rich and textured, however if the chef adds too much of these two ingredients it can really spoil the whole dish - Not to mention, adding another few inches on my waistline!

Price: $4.50. 5/10

Conclusion - I have heard a lot of mixed reviews and ratings of Pangat. But personally, after visiting both outlets my general impression of this franchise is positive. I prefer the Suntec City outlet, not only because it is 100% vegetarian, but also it has a greater variety of dishes, and quality wise I quite liked all the dishes that I tried. High level Gokul-style curries? Perhaps not. But I would certainly come back here for more North Indian delights. I would have preferred to have seen a few more types of bread (mainly naan or tandoori roti) also, but I am assuming they don't have a tandoor in the kitchen. Price wise no complaints, both outlets are good value for money, which is even more commendable as they're located in Vivo City and Suntec City - Two very popular locations.

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

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Miao Yi Vegetarian Restaurant - Botanic Gardens

I have been receiving lots and lots of suggestions to visit Miao Yi from my readers, and a few days ago I finally went there. It is very inconvenient for me to get there, which is why I have been putting it off for so long. However, with the Botanic Gardens MRT almost built, it will give a station close by. You have all recommended various dishes for me to try, and I have tried to go in line with those dishes, which you have said are the best!

Miao Yi Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: Coronation Plaza, 587 Bukit Timah Road
Contact: 64671331
Opening Hours: Daily 11am-3pm, 6pm-10pm

On the outside of the restaurant they have a newspaper cutting of some of the accolades they have achieved, most notably there is a image of their peking duck dish, which I was eager to try. The restaurant has a very olden time Singapore feel to it, not too dissimilar to restaurants such as Loke Yuen, Happy Realm and Greenland restaurant. I like these olden time style feeling restaurants, as it feels like I'm getting a glimpse of a Singapore that I never had the chance to know. Ok, let's go onto the food.

Here is a look at the menu, it is quite a vast menu, and of course this picture represents only one page of it. Price wise, I was actually expecting the dishes to be more expensive than this, therefore I was quite shocked when I saw some dishes in single figures. However, these affordable dishes are weighed down by endless extra charges, such as GST, hand towel charge and pickle (starter) charge, let's look at some of these extortionate charges in a little more detail...

I am aware that this is a culture/tradition that has been existing for decades in Singapore and many other Asian countries, and perhaps it is me being a foreigner; but I truly don't understand these blackmail charges at all. Most high-end restaurants will serve a Pickle Starter, which you simple have no choice but to take, this along with hand towels (again which you're forced to take and pay for) add at least $5 to your end bill. In this case the pickles were $1.30.

Onto the dishes, first up we have the Samba Sweet Potato Leaf. This was my first time trying sweet potato leaf, and I must admit I quite enjoyed it. I am not usually someone who can appreciate leafy vegetables, but this was really cooked well, it had a starchy quality to it, and the leaves themselves virtually melted in the mouth. The real hero of the dish was the smoky and charred flavour of the samba. It was not spicy, but had a real beautiful depth of flavour, which kept me coming back for more and more! A real winner of a dish!

Price: $9.00 (S) $13.00 (M) $17.00 (L). 9/10

I heard a lot of hype around this Mock Curry Fish Head prior to trying it, and therefore I was prepared to enjoy a really exceptional dish. In reality, this was in fact an extremely poor dish. The worst point of this dish is the sauce. It has strong coconut milk and turmeric flavours, but nothing else! It literally has no other ingredients (that can be tasted) apart from the two aforementioned. What I expect from a 'Chinese' or Malay curry is an infusion of lemon grass, some spice from chili, and what this dish is screaming out for is SALT, I am assuming the chef simply forgot to put it in. The mock fish inside was also vile, it had a texture of uncooked dough, and although the black seaweed gave it fishy flavour, there was no soy mock meat inside, I could only eat one. A devastatingly poor dish, which would rank among the worst I have tried in Singapore.

Price: $12.00 (S) $24.00 (L). 2/10

Finally, this is the the signature Peking Vegetarian Duck, which was acclaimed in the newspaper cutting outside the restaurant. When it arrived it didn't look at all like the picture outside really, which was a bit of a shame. Nevertheless, this is a very nice tasting dish. The mock duck is derived from gluten, and in this case it was sliced very finely, giving it quite an authentic texture. The sauce was a simple sweet & sour chili sauce, which was nice but not remarkable.

Price: $10.00 (S) $15.00 (M) $20.00 (L). 8/10

Conclusion - The ambiance and eating experience at Miao Yi is definitely one of the main reasons to make the long and difficult journey to get here. It has a lovely pristine feel to it, which I really adored. Food wise, it is very rare that I have a vegetable dish as the dish I enjoyed the most, but the sweet potato leaf was really very scrumptious. I am inclined to give the food a good summary, but it was let down by the fish curry, which was really an appalling dish. Price wise is what one would expect from a high end restaurant. Reasonable pricing, but the killer is the additional charges, which can add easily $10 to the end bill.

Overall Rating
Food - 7/10
Ambiance- 9/10
Service - 4/10
Value - 6/10

Friday, December 10, 2010

Original Sin - Holland Village

Located in the ang mo capital of Singapore - Holland Village. Original Sin ranks above all else as the most high-end, pricey 100% vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Singapore. As you will see later in this review, the prices are very high. So this is ideal for those vegetarian who have recently found fortune on the 4D. I have had no lottery wins I'm afraid, so my wallet took extreme damage. But is the unique Mediterranean style cuisine really worth the price? The new Circle Line extension will bring this restaurant within a 5 minute walk from Holland Village MRT, until then, it is possible to walk from Buona Vista MRT also.

Original Sin

Location: Block 43 Jalan Merah Saga #01-62, Chip Bee Gardens
Contact: 64755605
Opening Hours: Mon: 6pm – 10.30pm. Tue–Sun: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10.30pm

The menu is not very vast, which in a way is good as it doesn't bombard the customer with countless confusing sounding dishes. Mediterranean cuisine will be mostly unfamiliar to Singaporeans, and thus a basic looking menu is good. There are vegan as well as vegetarian dishes served at Original Sin. Monday-Thursday there is currently a one for one during the lunch time hour, which represents a real saving. Unfortunately I came here on a Friday so to my anger I couldn't enjoy this. There is also a lunch time set meal, which you can see pictured. I will go into more detail on that shortly.

Visually all the dishes that we ordered from Original Sin were stunning. Starting with the Mezze Platter, this can be ordered as a starter or main (varies in price and size), presentation wise it looked great on the plate. The variety of different dips along with the bread made it fun and enjoyable to eat. As you can see, inside the small bowl in the centre of the plate we have cherry tomatoes, olives and the notorious goat's cheese. Goat's cheese is incredibly strong and tastes almost like a goat's fur, sounds appetizing? I actually quite like it, but I would assume it is not to most people's tastes. All the dips were tasty, the low point however was the falaffel style discs, the chick pea flour was not cooked enough, and thus gave it a grainy and raw flavour which wasn't very welcoming to the pallet. Good overall, but not a very complicated meal, one which I could probably cook easily myself, so may not justify such a hefty price tag.

Price: $20.00 (starter) $28.00 (main). 6/10

This is my first time really trying Moussaka, and I was knocked off my chair by this dish. By far the best thing I tried from Original Sin. This dish originates from Greece and uses eggplant and tomato in a layered fashion. On top of this dish was sprinkled paprika, which add a great new textural element to it. It was creamy, it was rich, and I could have eaten ten portions of it! A delectable treat, which I can't fault in any degree. Price wise, of course it is steep, but in this case I would say it's well worth it.

Price: $24.00. 9/10

Next up we have what is simply titled Portobello. The circular light brown object on top of the actual portobello mushroom is in fact a risotto patty. This is accompanied by some simple vegetables, all put together beautifully on the plate, so much so that I would say visually this was the best dish of the day. Taste wise, I didn't feel it lived up to its visual splendor. The risotto patty was a little too soft and mushy for my liking, leaving it texturally being a little below par. The tomato and portobello were both absolutely packed with flavour and bursted out on the first bite. Overall a reasonably good dish, but not one of the best.

Price: $26.00. 6/10

I wanted to cover the Lunch Set Meal in a little more detail. It comes with a soup to start, followed by a choice of main, we opted for the burger and finally this is capped off by a slice of cake and your choice between a piping hot cup of tea or coffee. Value wise it seemed quite enticing. To start with was the Minestrone Soup, this was a little thicker version of the classical dish, but the flavours were all there in abundance, quite good overall.


The main course for the lunch set that we opted for was the Tofu Burger. This may well be one of the most fanciful looking burgers that I have tried. Components wise they kept it very simple - There is a large sized bun and patty, along with potato wedges and a sweet chili dipping sauce. The potato wedges were incredibly moreish, I love it when they keep the potato skin on the wedges! The burger was not too bad, the patty was softer than I expected, but had good flavour.


Finally, last but not least, the piece de la resistance a Walnut Brownie. The vanilla ice cream on top was delicious, the strawberry on the side added good tartness to match the chocolate brownie. However, the brownie itself I found a little plain, and didn't match my expectations. Flavour wise I had no complaints, but I found the texture of the brownie was a little clumpy and not as smooth and silky as I had hoped.


Set Lunch Price: $25.00. 7/10

Conclusion - For food of this price and standard, I don't expect any mistakes in the food, and there were mistakes. Nevertheless, the food was enjoyable to look at and even more enjoyable to eat. The minor mistakes that were made were made up by the great flavours and quality of the food. Does it warrant these astronomical price tags? I would say that the moussaka probably did, and the rest didn't. I am not used to these big fancy restaurants, as you all know from my blog, I am much more comfortable reviewing $3 bowl of noodles compared to these artistic meals. That being said, it was an positive experience, and what I loved was no matter how elaborate the dishes were, they still kept the flavours simple and honest. Definitely try the moussaka, and go Monday-Thursday when they have the one-for-one lunch time special!

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ru Lai Vegetarian Food - Upper Thomson

I have heard many good things about this place from a couple of my regular readers, enough so that it enticed me to go down and give it a try. I actually attempted to visit this place a few weeks ago and foolishly didn't call before, and to my horror I discovered it had randomly closed for the day - Therefore please call ahead! Those not living near to this place might find it a little tricky to get to also. The nearest MRT station is Marymount, from there you can board the 130 bus and it is a couple of stops away, for those who are less lethargic it is probably conceivable to walk from Marymount station - My guess is a brisk walk would get you there in 15 minutes.

Ru Lai Vegetarian Food
Location: Blk 24, Sin Ming Road, #01-51
Contact: 96347670 or 64576143
Opening Hours: Daily until 9.30pm (may randomly close so call ahead)

Here is a quick look at the menu. There is several pages of course, but I took a picture of this page as it highlights a problem with this stall, which is it is not non-Chinese speaking friendly. The menu here unless you can read characters you might not really be able to comprehend what you are ordering. For most Singaporeans reading Chinese will not be a problem, but for those who can't, you might struggle a little (or a lot) upon visiting Ru Lai. So get learning Chinese before coming here!

I had heard the oyster omelet from Ru Lai was one of their specialty dishes, so of course I had to try. On the menu it is cryptically titled Fried Vegtr Omelet, if you can't read Chinese characters you will not know this is the oyster omelet, haha. For most the dishes you can order it in big or small, all the dishes we got were small. The omelet is not too bad, with a strong wok hei flavour. What weighs this dish down is the texture of the omelet - It is too mushy/slimy, as traditionally it should be a little firmer and more chewy.

Price: $3.00 (S) $5.00 (L). 6/10

I wanted to try one of the rice dishes, the one that I opted for was Hei Jiao Lu Rou Fan, this is basically lamb meat rice. This dish was quite unspectacular really, and I don't have anything too profound to say about it. The mock meat comes in a basic dark sauce, which is rich, but not very flavourful. Capsicum, along with fresh tomato and cucumber can be found in this dish, along with the white rice. Clumsy presentation, which doesn't make it too appealing to eat, and flavour wise it was nothing remarkable.

Price: $3.50. 4/10

With Sambal Fish being one of my most cherish Chinese delicacies, I came into this dish with high expectations, especially as this is known as one of their signature dishes. This dish was a tragic disappointment. Let's start with the sambal sauce - The texture of the sauce was terrible, it was watery and clumpy in places, the taste of the sauce had little spice and no rich flavours, which I come to expect from sambal fish. The mock fish was so-so, I would rather it not be heavily deep fried, not only for the sake of my ever increasing waist line, but taste wise having it so greasy makes me queasy. It is critically over-priced for what is a lazy attempt at sambal fish. To be avoided.

Price: $8.00 (S) $12.00 (L). 3/10

Frankly the meal at Ru Lai was getting pretty depressing, with a myriad of disappointing dishes, then suddenly, beyond the smoke of the wok pan came a glimmer of hope - Veg Pork with Special Sauce was my savior. Well ok, maybe I over-exaggerated a tad, it wasn't amazing, but compared to the rest it was a marked improvement. The pieces of mock meat really achieved the flavour and (to a certain extent) the texture of what pork ribs should be. I would have loved a little more of the beautiful smokey flavoured sauce, but this is a minor gripe. Overall a fulfilling dish, and one that I would definitely consider ordering again.

Price: $7.00 (S) $10.00 (L). 8/10

Conclusion - After ordering four dishes from Ru Lai, having only one that I really enjoyed is a fitting summary to this stall. The menu that they have (whilst confusing) is quite vast, and maybe other dishes are better than those that I tried. I doubt so, however, as the ones I ordered are known as their 'specialty' dishes. The pork ribs are really nice, and I had no troubles wiping the plate clean. To some extent the omelet was also quite nice, but the remaining two dishes were a calamity, to be frank. A overhauled menu, and less salt, oil and grease in their cooking would all be steps in the right direction for improving this eatery.

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