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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bamboo House - Kovan

This new outlet was brought to my attention from the Vegetarian Society Forum. It interested me as I know how little vegetarian food is available in the Kovan area, so certainly I was pleased to see a new restaurant opening its doors. More so, when I discovered it was an organic eatery. Location wise, this place can really be horrendous to find. It is conceivable to walk from Kovan MRT, but expect a 15-20 walk through bamboozling HDB's (GPS recommended). If walking isn't your thing, then be prepared to take train then bus. This is a family run restaurant, with the teenage children helping out with waiting of tables. There is no Chinese or English 'vegetarian' sign anywhere on the inside or outside of this eatery - This is a problem, which needs addressing.

Bamboo House
Blk 121, Hougang Ave 1, #01-1348
Contact: 63832100
Opening Hours: Daily 1.30pm - 9.00pm

UPDATE - This establishment has now CLOSED DOWN (as of 20/11/2013)

Immediately after opening the menu, I did feel a tinge of disappointment wave over me. The menu is incredibly thin on content, with there only being a handful of items in total being sold. I did ask the waiter if this menu will be expanded in the future, he responded that the menu was still being worked on. If a restaurant is to open for business, then there should at least be a respectable menu available to the customers, so lets hope they start developing this menu quickly. On a side note, the price of the tea at Bamboo House is incredibly expensive, with one pot of osthmanthus tea costing $15.00. Not sure who is able to afford that price, just for tea.

Currently on promotional offer, this is the Organic Soya Milk. As soya milk is not really popular in England, I remember the first time I really drank a lot of it was in Asia. Over time, it has grown on me, and now I use soy milk to replace cows milk whenever possible, and I urge everyone reading this to do the same. This warm soy milk tasted good. I specifically requested less sugar, to suit my preference. The only thing that I found irritating was the high amount of foam at the top of the drink. About one quarter of the cup was filled with foam. Nevertheless, it was a comforting drink, on a cool evening.

Price: $1.50. 6/10

One of the few main courses that was on the menu was the Golden Rice (Organic). I have a few issues with this rice, starting with the most obvious - There is not enough ingredients in this rice. In fact, there is only one significant ingredient inside, which is sweetcorn. If a restaurant is to sell such bland rice, then there must be flavourful side dishes available to order, which can accompany the rice. But there were none. Subsequently, I am completely puzzled as to what role this rice is supposed to play. It is too bland and lacking in any creativity to be a meal on its own. Confusing dish, which didn't do anything for me.

Price: $3.50. 4/10

Although already losing the will to live after the rice debacle. I picked up the pieces of my life, and moved on with the Miso Ramen. Once again, this dish was incredibly simple. It consisted of miso soup, noodles, seaweed and cashew nuts. For me, at a restaurant level (or even food court level) this is lacking in ingredients. This is something I can quite easily and quickly make at home. Therefore, when I visit eateries, I want them to do something slightly more special. For this dish, although the taste was fine, it was too basic. Perhaps simple is a good thing, but there is a level where I expect the chef to exhibit at least a semblance of skill and creativity - I saw none in this dish.

Price: $5.00. 5/10

Conclusion - The owners of Bamboo House has some serious self-reflection to be done. Hopefully as their experience in owning a restaurant matures, then we will see a drastic change in the menu and quality of the dishes available at this eatery. If this level persists, then in all honesty, I don't see this eatery surviving long at all. Apart from the quality, this place is also incredibly difficult to find geographically, which won't help their clause. But for now, they might benefit from staying hidden.

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


  1. Hey Drizzt,

    I've been to worse places, but definitely a lot of improvements need to be made to Bamboo House.


  2. Hi there! just a suggestion, maybe you can review regular restaurants that also provide a few vegetarian dishes? Just so youths like myself can plan gatherings for large groups with a few vegetarians :)

    Also, a close friend of mine just turned vegetarian abt a year ago. He's spiritual and into Buddhism. He also just started a fast food store in a local school! Wondering if you have any good books about vegetarianism to introduce? Need to get him a gift!!

    Hope you can reply soon as it's kinda urgent! Lastly, awesome blog!

  3. Hey saffron,

    Thanks for that suggestion. I have done reviews of restaurants that are not 100% vegetarian in the past. However, the reception they got was not very positive. In general, my readers seemed to prefer me reviewing 100% vegetarian, so I focused more on that. But I'll take your suggestion into consideration.

    Probably the best and most easy to read vegetarian book I know is 'Thanking the Monkey' by Karen Dawn. I can't recommend this book enough.

    If you're looking for something more dry and facts based, then the vegetarian 'bible' is 'Animal Liberation' by Peter Singer.

    I'd go with the Karen Dawn book, though.

    Hope this helps!


  4. Hi Luke,I saw in http://www.sbestfood.com/yuanxiang.htm that yuanxiang is in blk 121,hougang ave 1. did you see it or is not there? thks.

  5. Hey anonymous,

    I didn't get to see what was at Block 121, so I am not sure if it is there or not. I will make a note of this place, and visit again! If it is there, I will be sure to review it for you!


  6. A restaurant in Japan can sell one singular item (ramen, udon, blah blah blah) in the eatery and thrive in business. That is because they concentrate and ensure that the singular item is good. An eatery need not offer too many items on their menu and end up with doing good in none. I do not mind an item that is simple, but the price must be right. That is what i don't like about organic food. Simply overhyped and over-priced.


  7. Hey Raymond,

    Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

    Personally, I don't mind paying a few extra dollars for organic food, but of course I have my limits too - And yes, unfortunately a lot of the organic food in Singapore is over-priced, and simply unaffordable to the typical Singaporean.

    In Japan it might thrive, but the eating culture in Singapore is vastly different. Selling one item only would lead to almost certain failure in this country. I don't mind simple menus, in fact, one of my favourite places (Water Drop Tea House) doesn't have a very vast menu at all. But for Bamboo House, there is virtually no choice at all - Moreover, the dishes that are available are not strong enough to stand on their own.


  8. Hi Luke,

    "Moreover, the dishes that are available are not strong enough to stand on their own." Exactly my point. Instead of trying to enlarge their menu, i would sincerely suggest to improve on their current standing. Concentrate on making something excellant before trying to offer yet another item at substandard.

    There are a number of vegetarian stalls (not eatery, that is) in Singapore that thrives on single, or limited, menu item. The two stalls at Blk 226 Ang Mo Kio hawker centre are such, whereby one only dry/soup noodle, and the other's main offering is fried carrot cake. For me, to be successful in F&B, one must make the effort to create a strong association of their signature dish to their customers. Just like whenever i think of chicken rice, Li Wei will definitely pop to my mind. This eatery is called Bamboo House, wouldn't it be more appropriate if they go and master bamboo rice instead? And hey! Bamboo rice is definitely niche in Singapore!


  9. Hey Raymond,

    Serving bamboo rice would actually be a good idea.

    If they intend to continue selling such few items, then I think there will need to be some creativity and individuality in the dishes - Vegelicious (which has now sadly closed down) was a good example of that. Or, like you say, the quality would have to be very high.

    Perhaps in the context of a hawker centre it would be easier to specialize in just one or a handful of dishes. However, for a cafe/restaurant I would predict its much harder to survive with such limitations. Especially for an eatery that is newly open.

    I am in contact with the owners of Bamboo House, so I'll keep this post updated on if there are changes to the menu.


  10. Hi Luke, I love your blog a lot and very informative for local vegetarian.

    Do you knw how come the ilovemyveg.blogspot.com only show the header?


  11. Hey Vicky,

    Thanks for those kind words.

    I am not sure what you're referring to in regards to ilovemyveg. Her blog seems to be working fine for me.


  12. Hi Luke, I have not tried the two dishes u mentioned so I cant comment much. I have tried their salad noodle which I think it is the best I have tried so far, maybe u may like to try it out. However i think it is very expensive, $7.90. Considered overpriced in my opinion. But still I think it is worth a try!


  13. Hey Rachel,

    Yeah it does seem a bit on the high side, but sure, I will give it a try if I do ever visit again.

    Thanks for dropping by!


  14. Hi! Just wondering if you can do a review on pita pan at MBS. :D

  15. Hey anonymous,

    I typically only review 100% vegetarian or vegan eateries in Singapore. But if I do ever visit MBS, then I will look out for this place and give it a try!



  16. Hi Luke,
    Love your blog. I think Bamboo House certainly deserves another review. Our family just had a Yusheng dinner at the place and the food items we ordered all tasted great - even my 2.5 year old loved it. The bill comes up to less than $15 per head for the 7 of us. I think the price is reasonable too. As a new eatery, it is a challenge to maintain consistency as well as offer a wide variety of food.

  17. Hey Chewy,

    Firstly, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

    I would certainly be open to paying Bamboo House a second visit. I am in contact with the owner, and if there are significant developments to the menu (thus warranting a second review), then I'd be more than happy to oblige. Will keep this post update if I am visiting again, alternatively I might mention on my twitter!


  18. Look good, thanks for the review : )

  19. Been there, you are right.

    Too limited and lack flexible creative options plus there is another vegetarian stall in the coffee shop under the same block which look good, which sells more variety. And some walking distance away is a hawker centre with 2 vegetarian stalls. Quite worry for them too.

    Kovan wet market has a vegetable market that sells organic veg, maybe there is a demand of organic food in this area.

    1. Hey Crystal,

      Thanks for leaving a comment.

      I will try out those places that you suggested nearby! :)



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