Monday, August 1, 2011

Herbivore Japanese & Western Vegetarian Restaurant - Bugis

There is a new vegetarian restaurant on the block, and its name is Herbivore. This restaurant has been open for a few weeks, and has generated a lot of buzz within the vegetarian community. I myself was a little cautious of going, after hearing a couple of fairly negative reviews online. But, as a food reviewer it is my duty to visit, and let my loyal and beloved readers know how it is. Many will remember this slot in the Fortune Centre used to be occupied by Luo Han, a restaurant which I really liked. Herbivore is a much higher end restaurant than its predecessor, so expect higher prices. No onions, garlic or egg are used in any of the food.


Herbivore Japanese & Western Vegetarian Restaurant
Location:
190 Middle Rd, Fortune Centre, #01-13/14
Contact: 63331612
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11.30am-3pm & 5pm-10pm.  Sat-Sun 11.30am-10pm

The creator of Herbivore, is in fact, the owner of the successful Zen Japanese Restaurant. Therefore the interior design, and aspects of the menu are similar to the aforementioned restaurant. Particularly so in regards to the Japanese section of the menu, which has Zen signature dishes, such as sashimi and sushi. The Western section of the menu represents the most expensive dishes, however, style wise they are quite unique, and portion wise they are large. On the weekends this place is extremely busy, I waited around 20 minutes for the food to arrive. Contrary to what I heard in other reviews, the staff were all friendly and patient, irregardless of how overwhelmingly busy they were.

First dish of the evening was the Chicken Cheese Burger, the dish comprises of three elements - Fries, salad, and finally the centerpiece being the burger. The fries immediately tantalized my taste buds, they were fluffy, light and packed with flavour - I struggled to stop eating them! The burger also had many laudable traits. Firstly, the decision to toast the buns was wise, as it added a welcome textural crunch to the burger. Inside was typical trite burger ingredients - Such as tomato, lettuce and cucumber, as well as sliced cheese on top of the patty. The patty had a fine tasting crunchy batter, which worked harmoniously with the other ingredients in the burger.

Price: $9.90. 8/10

The price of this Beef Steak (Creamy Spaghetti Pasta) Set is enough to turn a customers hunger into queasiness. If a dish costs almost $20, then it has to be of a very high level in quality. To my surprise, this was. Again in this dish, those deliciously fluffy fries were present, which reduced me to giggling like a school girl with delight. The focal points of the dish were the mock beef steak and creamy pasta. For me, these two dishes didn't quite gel together. The beef steak was packed with flavour. But,  I would argue the wrong genre of flavour - As its sweet chili sauce is certainly not something you would find in authentic Western cuisine. Combatting this flavour packed steak, was a quite bland spaghetti pasta. The omission of onions and garlic really impacted this spaghetti, as garlic is really an indispensable ingredient in this style of cooking. Unexpectedly, the hero of this dish was the creamy tomato soup. This was an unbelievably delicious soup, which I found myself constantly returning to. The balance of the acidic/sharpness of the tomato, the amount of cream and the seasoning was absolutely perfect. The dessert aspect of this set meal was a orange flavoured jelly.

Price: $18.90. 8/10

Conclusion - Despite what I read online, I had a largely positive experience at Herbivore. Although the prices may appear a little unreasonable, rest assured that the portions are larger than normal. Additionally, there is no GST or service charge, which cushions the blow of the high prices. Presentation wise, the dishes looked fantastic, and flavour wise overall I was pleased. Some areas of the cooking could certainly be improved on, then again, other areas were absolutely perfect. Both Herbivore, and the sister restaurant Zen are worthwhile visits for food lovers in Singapore.

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

33 comments:

  1. Hi luke!
    great review! i will definitely try this :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Joy,

    Glad that you liked the review! It is a nice place for special occasions or events, I think.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Luke

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello Luke !

    I visited this restaurant with my family just a few weeks ago. I was truly shocked. The price of the food was very unreasonable in my own opinion. My mother ordered a bowl of miso soup which cost $3. Adding to that, it was only half full ! The bowl was so small that it can barely hold any soup!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Stefanie,

    I think I would have definitely felt hard done by also if I had a half full bowl of soup!

    I suppose price being reasonable or unreasonable is a very subjective thing, and depends on the individual. Personally, I didn't feel a sense of injustice for the food I bought. But, perhaps there are other things on the menu, which are more extortionate.

    Thanks for dropping by and providing me with your feedback!

    Luke

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  5. I agree entirely! It was your destiny to eat here!

    Luke

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey luke . I've went to this restaurant to try out the western food there before you did a few day after it's opening. The Miso Soup, is the most disappointing, it cost $3.50 despite it not being half full. I enquired about it with the manager and he said that the miso is specially from Japan. But, it does not taste a bit like the Japan miso soup. You've got to try it out sometime! Thanks!

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  7. Hey anonymous,

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts with me. Like I mentioned, I didn't get the chance to try the miso soup first time around - Judging by all the negative comments towards it, I am glad I didn't try.

    Apart from the disappointing miso soup, were you satisfied with the rest of the food?

    Luke

    ReplyDelete
  8. My family and I had western and it was alright, delicious too. The mushroom soup was awesome, just that it was too creamy. The bread provided fits the soup and would add taste to it when dipped. The food was good, just that the price was pretty unreasonable.
    Anonymous.

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  9. Hey anonymous,

    I agree with your insightful comments, and I'm also curious to try the mushroom soup. Hopefully it is as delicious as the tomato bisque that I tried!

    I am kind of on the fence about the price. While I agree that on face value, the price for the dishes is definitely extremely high. I do also feel that, for example in the Western dishes, there are a lot of components and aspects to each dish - Which, somewhat justifies the price.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave me your feedback! :)

    Luke

    ReplyDelete
  10. curry katsu set was the worst of its kind as curry leaves were found inside jap food.I can make better jap food than that! oh cmon
    service was bad too ( attitude-auntie waitress and waiter who doesnt know anything) well that came with a 10% service charge......... on top of the exorbitant menu prices.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hey anonymous,

    I did hear a lot of negative feedback about the staff from a number of my readers. However, I can't just post based on hearsay when I do reviews. My personal experience has to take priority, and I thought the staff were fine - Maybe I caught them on a good night.

    I do agree that if there is one glaring problem, it is the price. It would be better if the dishes were reduced by a few dollars. But quality of the food I found fine, I didn't try the curry katsu, though.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey Luke,

    My whole family (4 kids and 2 adults) went down last Saturday to try this vegetarian Japanese food. Yes, we thought it was the same Zen restaurant moved from the next building and we had tried it before. We did not try the sashimi stuff last time, so ordered a few sashimi items this time. Boy, the look ,texture, and taste were so real. We were wondered at first whether they are the real McCoy.

    I was quite disappointed with the fact that they don't serve japanese tea. What !! A japanese restaurant does not serve any japanese tea , instead they serve only Ang Mo tea. The price of the food is also resembled of authentic japanese restaurant . Boy , that meal was costly. I was paying $100 plus many many $10 . Be prepared .

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey anonymous,

    When I was a meat eater, I never sampled real sashimi, so I can't really make a comparison. However, a lot of people I know have said that the similarity is very close also!

    Let's hope that they include Japanese tea in the menu eventually. The owners of Zen/Herbivore have read my reviews in the past, so hopefully they can a chance to gaze upon your feedback! :)

    Thanks!

    Luke

    Luke

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  14. U have halal logo for muslim???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey anonymous,

      There is no meat or alcohol in any of the food on my site. It is all vegetarian.

      Luke

      Delete
  15. Me and my colleagues tried out the restaurant in late Mar this year. Overall, the food are great! We have ordered al carte rather than set meal. Food like the olive fried rice, grilled bringal with sauce, tempura...etc all tasted fantastic and surprises to us! Only the sashimi, we dont really fancy the taste. But presentation is good! Pricing is reasonable for a restaurant. Make our day after the meal... ;D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey anonymous,

      Pleased to hear that you had an overall positive experience at Herbivore.

      I certainly enjoyed the food I sampled from there, although certainly on the high side (price wise).

      The sashimi from Herbivore (and their sister company Zen Japanese) certainly is brilliant, in regards to being able to come close to replicating real sashimi. Although, I have never sampled real sashimi, so can't really comment on its authenticity.

      Thanks for your feedback!

      Luke

      Delete
  16. Prior to your good reviews, i found their service really bad and was so angry. This is the only restaurant that i had walked off in my entire life after ordering the food and paying them for the drinks we have.

    I am ok with the price but found the service bad. The waiter/waitress have a sulky looking face. After the bad service and cancelling the order, not even an apology from them.

    We didn't owe them anything infact. Worse service as they seem not interested in our patronage and they i think they only accept reservations but not walk in customers during the weekends:(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey anonymous,

      Sorry to hear about your negative experience at Herbivore. I can only speak for myself, and the occasion when I went to Herbivore the staff were fine and friendly. However, this review is slightly dated now, so there is a chance a lot of the staff have changed.

      Thanks for letting me know your feedback!

      Luke

      Delete
    2. Hope that the management will take a look in this cuz the staff attitude toward us are bad. Am dissapointed that not even an apology from the staff. Had let go of my negative experience there and decides not to visit them again although i am attracted by their creative menu in the first place. If anyone decides to dine at the restaurant, i won't stop them but remember to place reservation first during peak hours.

      Delete
    3. This afternoon after visiting the PC Show at Suntec, I walk over to Middle Rd. At Midlink Plaza I went up to enquire from the staff who were moving their possessions where they were moving to.

      They told me that Zen Restaurant has yet to find another location.

      Walking towards Fortune Centre I went to browse the various Vege Eateries there. Again I saw the group has shifted the possessions to 'Herbivore'.

      They are ALL ''Filipinos'' and those I spoke to, are certainly polite enough to answer my various questions.

      So for those who 'complain' about the attitude of the staff, are they ''Filipinos''?

      Delete
    4. Hey justicenequality,

      Yes, unfortunately Zen has yet to find a new location. But I will update the Zen Vegetarian post as soon as they find that new location. Until then, as you mentioned, their sister company (Herbivore) is still open for business.

      Thanks!

      Luke

      Delete
  17. Hi, does anyone know if herbivores is having any promotion? I'm planning a family dinner next week. Thx.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey anonymous,

      Unfortunately I don't know of any special offers or promotions at the moment. Nevertheless, even without promotion, this place is still worth it!

      Luke

      Delete
  18. I still prefer Zen over Herbivores although they are under the same operator. some dishes at Herbivores are really fantastic but I still feel the price is a bit too steep for some dishes. One must really exercises their own judgement when ordering their side dishes becos they may come with a slight disappointment based on their prices. I had ordered grilled teriyaki mushrooms in disppointment to know that it came with 8 pcs of mushrooms with each mushroom no bigger than the size of a 50cent coin on top of poor garnishing. By the way, I am really curious why did the owner name the restaurant "Herbivores" ? It was a bit offensive when I first learnt of its' name. I dun like the idea for human beings being equated to animals, it sounds derogatory . We call human beings that partake vegetarianism as Vegetarians, Vegans... and we only call non-meat eating animals as herbivores.
    Well, the above are strictly my own subjective opinions and no offense please !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey anonymous,

      Thanks for the feedback, and I do agree with you on the pricing of the dishes, a lot of them are definitely too high. I am also in agreement with you over your preference of Zen - Lets hope that Zen re-opens somewhere new soon, I certainly miss that place.

      In regards to the name - The terms herbivore, carnivore and omnivore are dietary terms, which I believe can be used broadly for everything. Speaking in terms of biology, humans ARE animals, lets not forget that. We breath, eat, sleep, poop, pee, reproduce etc etc just like all other animals do - I don't see any need to separate human and non-human animals.

      Appreciate your feedback!

      Luke

      Delete
  19. I ate there a couple of months ago. I'm surprised you focused you review on the western food instead of the Japanese cuisine, since Japanese vegetarian restaurants are very rare. I had a some sashimi, I think and a mock mackerel. The food is great; however, I generally find that mock meat/fish dishes are too salty, and that was the case with this too - for my tastes, they could reduce the salt by 75% - at least. I also found the staff gracious and friendly. Decor is very pleasant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey anonymous,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      To clarify, the reason why I focused on the Western dishes, is because I already did a detailed review on Zen Japanese Restaurant (which has the same Japanese dishes as Herbivore), therefore in a way, I had already reviewed the Japanese dishes on offer.

      Luke

      Delete
  20. Been back to Herbivore several times ... trying different items on the menu. Mostly exquisite, generous portions, reasonable prices. Thanks for the recommendation. The people I have brought to the place were all duly impressed by the quality of the food. Will be back again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey anonymous,

      I'm glad that you enjoy Herbivore so much! :)

      Luke

      Delete
  21. I had dinner last night with my daughter.
    The soba noodles I had was very tasteful and filling.
    They now charge a 10% Service charge and 7% GST so it is costlier than before. Service was friendly and quick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Raja,

      Wow, so now even more expensive - Don't think I can afford to eat there regularly. Good to know that you enjoyed the food and service though.

      Luke

      Delete

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