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Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Fut Kai Vegetarian Restaurant - Farrer Park

Believe me, it was quite a challenge making the journey to Farrer Park and resisting from eating all the glorious Indian food, which that area has in abundance. But I managed it, I seldom venture down the back alleys behind City Square Mall, and was surprised to see quite a new vegetarian Chinese places lurking there. This is one of them. I must extended a big thank you to Yi Xian who originally recommended this to me in a comment. Readers, please take the time to comment and recommend vegetarian places you like, I greatly appreciate it. Ok, on with the review....

New Fut Kai Vegetarian Restaurant
282 Jalan Besar
Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun: 10am - 2:30pm, 5pm - 9:30pm

Here is a quick look at the interior design of the restaurant. As you can see by the picture, this place was completely empty. We were the only customers there that night, and I foresee this is a reoccurring issue for this establishment. Mainly due to the slightly inaccessible location. It was quite nice to have the whole restaurant to ourselves I must say.

And one more pit-stop before we get to the food, which is the menu. In the case of New Fut Kai, I discovered a lot of niggling irritating aspects to this menu. Firstly, the images of the food in the pictures are without any reference. Thus, you don't know which dishes are actually in the pictures. Secondly, there is no page numbers at the bottom, so you can't find something that your dining partner has found, for example. A redesigned menu would greatly benefit the experience for the customers.

Something that may get your bottom lip quivering is the high prices of the dishes at Fut Kai, and it seems the management have sensed this. Hence, there are many $3.50 dishes (not shown on the menu) that are available. One of those is the classic Nasi Lemak. I found the fish a little mushy inside, and quite average. All the other components were quite nice, I especially found the mock ikan bilis (deep fried seaweed) quite charming. One high point of this entire eatery is their delightful and fragrant red chili (pictured in the centre of this image). In the case of the nasi lemak, the chili had an almost pungent shrimp flavour, and for me was the most tasty component in the whole dish.

Price: $3.50. 6/10

Another one of the more affordable dishes is this Wan Ton Mee. Again, I must highlight the high level of quality of the chili. In this case, the red chili had an overwhelming lemongrass flavour, that when eaten with this dish really was a winner. The wan ton was quite good also, but perhaps a little over fried. One thing New Fut Kai really have nailed perfectly is their mock meats. And in the case of this dish, the mock meat was beautifully smokey and glistening with a delicious sauce. The noodles were also not too bad, and on a whole I liked this dish a lot. Once again, you will not find this dish on the menu.

Price: $3.50. 7/10

Onto the slightly more pricey dishes, starting with the Gong Bao Monkey Head Mushroom. This dish comprises of the chewy mushroom derived mock meat, which is alongside green capsicum, cashew nuts and most vitally dried red chilies. The chilies give good flavour, but shouldn't be eaten (unless you can take extreme heat). The star of the dish is the super sweet and smokey sauce, which I just couldn't get enough of. The mock meat in harmony with the sauce made for a delightful combination. A dish that I would certainly get again.

Price: $10.00. 8/10

Again another dish that can't be found on the menu, but the waitress recommended it, so we thought we'd give it a go. This is the Braised Vegetarian Meat with Bun. Although the price tag for this dish is high, I must say they were very generous with the serving. We received six bao's (bun's) and six slabs of mock meat. Of course this style of dish should be well-known (and well-loved) with most Chinese Singaporeans, and I must say this was a good version of this classic dish. The only slight qualm I had was the braised mock meat need more sauce to accompany it, and I would have loved that sauce to be a tad more flavourful. Little wrong with this generously served feast though.

Price: $12.00. 8/10

Conclusion - Overall I was quite pleased and impressed with the food that I sampled from this restaurant. The only things that would detract me from visiting this place again is its awkward location, and the high pricing. Not only are the dishes expensive, you must also be blackmailed into paying all other small charges, such as the entree pickles. For the food itself though, I don't have many complaints and I could recommend that you pay it a visit.

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

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lin Lin Vegetarian Delights - Bedok

I would like to thank one of my regular readers called Jiao, who recommend this place (among many others) for me to try. This place is within walking distance of Bedok MRT, but it may take at least 10 minutes to walk there. Those that prefer a nice air conditioned bus, opposed to walking - There are buses that will drop you close to this block 412, which is only one or two stops away. A variety of tempting dishes were on offer. There is no menu, all the dishes are advertised on the two boards on either side of the stall. It ranges from affordable to slightly more pricey dishes. Enough gibberish, let's eat!

Lin Lin Vegetarian Delights
Blk 412, Bedok North Ave 2, 01-114, Bedok
Contact: 62427010
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 10am – 10pm. Closed Monday.

Having known that their Fried Hor Fun was one of the specialty dishes, I had to sample it. Boy, I was not disappointed. My avid viewers will know that I don't give out a flurry of praise regularly, but for this dish, it is the best hor fun I have ever tried in Singapore. What makes a delicious hor fun is two things. The texture of the noodles, and most importantly the wok hei flavour that shimmers through the ingredients. The wok hei (smokey) flavour of this hor fun was extreme, I have never tasted it so strong before. And I absolutely adored it! Wok hei is a style of cooking derived from Cantonese cuisine/chefs, and presumably the chef at Lin Lin is Cantonese, because he has captured and contained this flavour perfectly. If I lived near Bedok, I would be eating this dish every single day. Undoubtedly one of the best dishes I have ever tried in Singapore. You simply must try it.

Price: $3.00. 10/10

This is the Salted Fish Fried Rice. It is difficult for any of the other dishes to match the quality of the previous dish, but nevertheless, I found that this rice was quite tasty. A word of warning, this rice did contain egg, therefore for vegans, you will need to ask them to not include when ordering. The dish certainly had a lot of salt, which I guess is understandable by the title, but other than the hit of salt, I was hoping for a little more flavour in the rice. Overall the mock fish, egg and texture of the rice made for a tasty dish, though.

Price: $4.00. 6/10

Sticking with my new super healthy diet, we decided to get the Potato Leaf Sambal. This dish can also be selected with black bean sauce, but I personally prefer sambal. Potato leaf is really a succulent vegetable to eat, with the actual leaf being very starchy and almost melting in your mouth. The potato leaf in this dish were cooked well, but I found that the sauce was a little too one dimensional. I was hoping that it would be a little more fragrant. I had no qualms with finishing all the potato leaf, but it was mainly due to my love of the vegetable, not the quality of the dish.

Price: $6.00. 6/10

Finally, we have the most expensive dish we tried of the evening - This is the Claypot Brinjal. Brinjal for those unaware is eggplant (or back in my home country - aubergine). The claypot arrived smoking and sizzling, and with my new found love for eggplant, I couldn't wait to tuck in. The eggplant was cooked splendidly (which is not an easy task), it was very soft and had a beautiful creamy texture. The disappoint of this dish was the sauce, it was starchy and lacking any real punch of flavour. I would have also liked it to be more spicy, as spice and eggplant match well together.

Price: $8.00. 7/10

Conclusion - It would be a challenge for any dish to compete with the quality of the hor fun, and although none of the other dishes did match the hor fun, there were still a lot of quality dishes from Lin Lin. Price wise, I found that all the dishes ordered were reasonable, especially the cheaper fried rice and hor fun dishes. The fried hor fun is so good that I would travel the whole length of Singapore to eat it again, the taste is just delicious. The staff are friendly, the hawker centre itself is a little dirty and clammy, but personally I don't care too much, I will be coming back here again soon!

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

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Green Pasture Cafe - Bugis

We return to the Fortune Centre yet again for another super vegetarian review. This place is located on the highest level of the shopping centre, and thus it is very quiet up there, nevertheless this place has gradually built up a considerable fan base, and gets regular customers. Its unique selling points are the organic ingredients used. There is a lot of debate surrounding how healthy vegetarian/vegan food from restaurants/stalls is - Which we won't delve into now. This place would certainly be considered healthy by any standards though. No dairy or meat here, so vegans feel free to visit. This place has a real homely feel to it, which is pretty special.

New Green Pasture Cafe
Location: 190 Middle Road, #04-22 Fortune Centre

Contact: 63368755
Opening Hours: 11am-8pm. Closed on Monday.

At the front of this small and peaceful store is a quite vast and detailed menu (see picture). In addition to this menu, there is also specials that are placed on the board. Unfortunately, a lot of the dishes that are advertised in the menu tend not to be available. From my experience, usually 1 out 4 are available, which can be slightly frustrating. Onto the food....

The first time that I tried this Seaweed Roll was approximately four years ago, during my first ever visit to Singapore. Back then, it was one of the most delicious things that I had tried during my trip. Now that I have become more educated to the food in Singapore, I wouldn't say it is as sensational as I thought four years ago, but it is still a fantastic dish. The sushi rolls are jam-packed with an assortment of vegetables, such as carrot, beetroot and lettuce. Drizzled in these sushi rolls is a zesty sauce, which is the highlight of the dish. I would have liked a little more of this sauce though. Every time that I visit Green Pasture it is always something that I promptly order, and you should too.

Price: $5.00. 8/10

Another finger-food style dish, this is the Salad Taupok. For those unfamiliar, taupok is dried tofu 'pockets' with - in this instance - an assortment of vegetables stuffed inside. Those vegetables followed a similar trend to what is usually found in salads from Green Pasture - Beetroot, pomelo, water cress, carrots. While these little pockets are certainly fun to eat, what I found they were lacking is an acidic or creamy dressing which would have binded the flavours of the vegetables. Although it did have a dressing added, it was not as flavourful as I had hoped, and left the dish tasting a little plain.

Price: $6.00. 6/10

Next we have the Vegetable Curry with Rice. This feast had a myriad of different components, which you can view in the picture. Of course, we have the central figure of the rice, placed around the rice we had a variety of different vegetables, including the extremely healthy ladyfingers. To the back of the picture there are also some chips (or as we call them in the UK - crisps). Visually I thought the look of the dish was commendable. The curry sauce was thick. Simplicity is sometimes the most wonderful thing, and although this dish is simple - It is successful.

Price: $8.50. 7/10

Next up we have the Korean Bi-Bim-Bap. Served in a sizzling and smoking black bowl, presentation wise I loved how this looked upon arrival. Claypot or hotplate dishes that arrive sizzling always score points with me, as when you see them arrive in this state, it automatically brings a smile to the customers faces. A lot of ingredients were buried inside, including pumpkin, tofu, mock fish and seaweed sheets. The dish had a strong biting spice element, which could have benefited from possibly being a little blunter. Overall a nice dish though.

Price: $9.50. 7/10

The dish that I myself ordered was the Ginger Vinegar with Rice. What it is referring to as 'ginger vinegar' is of course my beloved zhu jiao cu (pig trotter). Regrettably, this was quite a disappointing pig trotter overall. The sauce (which I usually can't get enough of) was too tart and salty. What a good zhu jiao cu sauce should be is a conglomeration of zest (from the acidic vinegar), sweetness, and sharpness (from ginger). This sauce failed to achieve that flavour balance. The salad, rice and scrambled tofu (dyed with turmeric) were all very nice, but with the ginger vinegar being the focal point of the meal, it really let who whole dish down.

Price: $8.50. 4/10

Conclusion - I must say, the look and feel of this place are simply superb to me. We live in a highly stressed lifestyle in Singapore, everywhere we turn are hoards of people - If you fancy escaping from that, having a peaceful meal (stress free) then I couldn't recommend this quaint establishment more. Price wise, you may feel the stress though. The dishes are certainly not cheap, especially their ABC juice which is $6 dollars per glass! Overall the food is worth the price I feel, though. Mainly because the dishes are made with delicacy, and of course the ingredients are all organic. The vibe of this place is homely, and the staff are all very friendly. I recommend paying this place a visit!

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

Monday, January 3, 2011

Brij Bhoomi Indian Vegetarian - Sengkang

I have been shivering with excitement for this place to open, and it is finally here. Sengkang, and the whole of North-East Singapore has been gagging for a good and cheap Indian stall, I am pleased that one has finally come along. Sengkang is notorious for having bad variety for vegetarians, and with myself being a resident there I am over the moon at seeing another 100% vegetarian place open up. Brij Bhoomi also has an restaurant in Boon Keng, which I have reviewed in the past, you can see here.

Brij Bhoomi Indian Vegetarian
Location: Kopitiam Square, Stall 3, 10 Sengkang Square

Contact: 91683170
Opening Hours: Unknown

CLOSED DOWN - As of 19/012/2011

With living so close, we actually ventured down to this place for both lunch and dinner on the same day. For lunch we kicked things off with this chirpy little appetizer known as Dahi Poori. Poori is something I've always liked, especially in the design of these cups. Inside is yogurt, sweet chili sauce, and other various Indian tidbits. I really love this fusion of sweet, biting spice and refreshing coriander, which is commonly found in many chaats. The chaats were a little soggy, so didn't have much crunch, but apart from that they are incredibly moreish.

Price: $3.00. 8/10

A similar concept to the previous appetizer, this slight variation is the Papdi Chaat. Again most of the ingredients are the same, but small chunks of potato are lurking inside. I found that the portion size was very credible for the price tag, and the flavours all matched well. Another distinguishable difference is the pieces of 'biscuit' that is inside the dish, which adds a good crunch.

Price: $3.00. 8/10

We now move onto the set meals, which come in different prices and variations. We start with one of the more affordable types which is the Partatha Meal. The meal comes with two parathas. A paratha is very similar to chapati, yet it is thicker and contains mashed potato stuffed inside - For those familiar with potato cakes (a traditional English bakery snack) it is extremely similar. Accompanying the paratha is your choice of two curries. One this occasion we got the aloo gobi (potato cauliflower curry) and a dry bhindi (ladyfingers) curry. The ladyfingers curry had shredded coconut in, which added good texture. The aloo gobi was not too overpowering, and had a nice buttery flavour.

Price: $5.00. 7/10

The grandest and most expensive set meal is the Brj Ki Thali. Not too disimilar to the others, but this time you are given three curries, three chapati, jeera rice (cumin seed rice), deep fried chili and potato, along with a sweet. The deep fried chili and potato which you see in the bottom right are not really my type of thing, but mixed with the other components then I am sure it is not too bad. The matter paneer (pea cheese curry) curry is silky and strong, just how I like it. Overall it is a very satisfying meal, but price wise it is $3 extra and what I get extra doesn't really appeal to me, so I can't see myself ordering this set meal regularly.

Price: $8.00. 6/10

This dish is titled simply Set Meal, it is a mid-range set, which comes with three curries, papad, two chapati and the jeera rice. Not too much difference from the last set, just a few less components. The set meals you can choose depending on how hungry you are, and what your personal preferences are.

Price: $6.00. 7/10

This set is identical to the paratha meal, the only change is that they give you a different style of bread. In this Thepla Meal, you again get the choice of two curries, to accompany this thepla bread. Thepla is, again, very similar to a chapati, only thicker. It's unique feature is the inclusion of kastori methi (fenugreek) leaves inside. Fenugreek is a common spice that is included in many North Indian curries to give that smokey flavour to the gravy. This bread is nice, but a little tough and I found myself preferring the paratha.

Price: $5.00. 6/10

Conclusion - Obviously I am delighted that I now have some good Indian food to choose from in the Sengkang area. I was quite skeptical of this place, after receiving sub-standard food from their Boon Keng outlet (plus their corrupt 'comments' on hungrygowhere), but I was quite pleased by the friendliness of the staff, and the quality of the food of at this more modest Sengkang stall. Price wise, if you are to compare this with vegetarian Chinese food, then it is still considerably more expensive, and not something I think many people could afford to eat everyday. Nevertheless, I see myself coming back here at least once a week for their fabulous Indian food!

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