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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bishan Vegetarian - Bishan

Although I relish the the finer dining experiences in Singapore, visiting hawker centres and coffee shops and discovering those dirt cheap high quality dishes is a passion of mine. Every time I visit some obscure vegetarian stall, in the middle of nowhere I am always curious to see how they cook, how they serve etc. This stall was recommended to me by one of my loyal readers Eric. It is located right next to the Bishan Bus Interchange, on level 2. This vegetarian stall sits in a quiet food court, and serves a variety of dishes such as curry noodle, lor mee, as well as daily specials. I was the lone vegetarian at lunch this day, so only one dish review I'm afraid.

Bishan Vegetarian Stall
Location:
Level 2, Bishan Bus Interchange, Bishan
Contact: Unknown

Opening Hours: Unknown

After considerable deliberating, I decided to go for the daily special, which was the Nasi Briyani. For the price, I found the portion size they served up was fantastic. The plate was stuffed to the brim with food. The curry consisted of potatoes and mock mutton, in a not-so-spicy curry, but it still had reasonable flavour. The let down of the dish was the briyani rice, it was overcooked, and therefore too mushy, and lacking in flavour also. The other components of the dish were poppadom, soup and pickled vegetables - All of which were of a good quality. However, with the most essential component being the rice, I felt the quality of the dish was weighed down by the poor rice.

Price: $3.00. 6/10

Conclusion - Those working in the Bishan area, and scrambling around to find vegetarian makan, then this place may provide what you're looking for - And it's really good value too. However - apart from those working or living in Bishan - I wouldn't recommend traveling to eat the food from this stall, as it is nothing sensational.

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

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thousand Veggie Restaurant - Chinatown

The vegetarian community in Singapore recently were met with the news that Deli-Vege (one of the most popular vegetarian eateries in Singapore) would be closing down. Upon further inspection it seems more like merely a name change. Upon the closing of Deli-Vege - Thousand Veggie Restaurant immediately opened its doors in the exact same location, with the exact same menu, and the exact same interior design. Those who shed tears over the loss of Deli-Vege, please mop up those tears and fear not, as this 'new' restaurant is virtually identical to Deli-Vege. In the future, perhaps they will make more significant changes, but for now that is not the case.

Thousand Veggie Restaurant

Location:
200 South Bridge Road SEE BELOW
Contact: 62239686

Opening Hours: Daily 11am-11pm

MOVED TO - Chinatown's Kreta Ayer hawker centre at #02-122 - REVIEW HERE

I decided to order a conglomerate mix of many different cuisines this time, starting with Chinese, and here we have the Char Kueh Teow. This dish brought back splendid memories of my time in Penang, where I consistently ate this simple, yet delicious dish. Compared to most char kueh teow, this would be considered an expensive dish, nevertheless I found that the portion size was quite adequate for the price. When the dish arrived it had glorious smokey smell wafting up, upon tasting though, the flavour was not quite as powerful as the smell. The dish included two types of noodles - The more conventional kueh teow noodles, coupled with thick yellow noodles. Not bad overall, but I've sampled better.

Price: $6.00. 6/10

From China, we travel to Japan. Here we have the Yakitori Set. As with most Japanese set meals that you can find in Singapore, they come in this charming red container, which separates all the different components of the dish. The miso soup, which had seaweed and soft tofu inside was incredibly bland. White rice, coleslaw, yellow radish and the mock meat skewers made up the other components of the dish. Of course, the focal point of the meal is the skewers. The mock meat was flavourful, but didn't have the aroma that meat from skewers typically has - Rendering the mock meat just the same as any mock meat one would buy from a vegetarian stall. For the price, there should have been something more taste tantalizing about the skewers.

Price: $9.90. 5/10

Finally, from Japan we take a direct flight to USA, to try the DFC meal. This was/is Deli-Vege's most famous dish, which has often received high praises from patrons of this restaurant. And I would say these praises are certainly justified. The dish arrives with steaming hot chips, that are soft and fluffy (some of the nicest chips I've tried in Singapore), coleslaw, and finally two huge slabs of fried mock chicken. I am not a fan of fried food, but this delicious battered chicken made strides in changing my opinion. The batter was light and crumbly, with nutmeg/clove flavour. The mock meat inside was tasty, but the batter was the highlight for me. Moreover, the mock meat was shaped to resemble a chicken wing, and was quite generous in size. My only minor quibbles would be the serving of chili sauce instead of ketchup, and generally the price for this meal is a little bank-breaking. Quality wise it gets the thumbs up from me, though.

Price: $10.90. 8/10

Conclusion - Those wanting to see more information about this restaurant, please visit my original Deli-Vege review. First time around I wasn't overly impressed with Deli-Vege, and this second visit didn't do much to change my opinion of the establishment. It is an expensive experience, with the food quality not being that high. I was impressed with the DFC dish, and would happily visit Thousand Veggies again to sample that glorious meal. However, the remaining dishes were quite under-whelming. I am hoping that the new owner will bring forward changes to this restaurant, as there are quite a few flaws that need ironing out.

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

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Loving Hut - Dhoby Ghaut

Having previously sampled the Loving Hut restaurant in suntec, I was curious to try their other outlets. This is a completely enclosed restaurant found about 10 minutes away from Plaza Singapura. With the construction of the circle line, Loving Hut can also be accessed via Bras Basah station. This is a vegan eatery with a range of culinary dishes, mainly focusing on Asian cuisine, though. The ambiance of this place is nice, and has Supreme Master TV (spiritual vegetarian tv channel) playing constantly in the background.

Loving Hut

Location: 01-07, 5 Selegie Road
Contact: 63380962
Opening Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 11am-10pm

CLOSED DOWN - As of 16/12/2011


As mentioned, there is quite a wide range of Asian dishes on offer at Loving Hut, this is the Au Lac Salad Roll. I remember eating dozens of these during my visit to Vietnam (the country of their origins). They consist of a myriad of vegetables wrapped in a thin rice paper roll, a key ingredient inside is mint. A flaw I found in this dish was the carrot was shredded too thinly, thus limiting the juicy element that I wanted from the carrots. Visually, I was a little displeased to see one of the rice rolls shredded and looking quite messy upon arrival. Taste wise it was passable, but was lacking chili on the side to dip the rolls into. If you want the truly exceptional versions, hop on a flight to Vietnam, those unwilling, these can act as a somewhat authentic substitute.

Price: $3.80 (3 pieces). 6/10

One of the most classic dishes you can find - And one of my personal all time favourites, here we have the Wanton Mee (Dry). This dish can be ordered either dry or wet. The wantons in this dish were of a good standard, but what was a little disappointing was the lack of flavour in the whole dish, with it having a strange yeasty taste to it. Flavour wise, it was not one of the better wanton mee's that i've tried, nevertheless price wise, it is one of the best value dishes at Loving Hut. It also comes with soup. For those unable to take onion, you have the option of ordering this dish with or without onion.

Price: $4.80. 6/10

Here we have the Rendang Rice Set. The highlight/focal point of this dish is of course the mock meat. This mock meat is derived from mushroom stems, and has beautiful flavour - The aroma and sparky acidic taste of lemongrass is the most noticeable flavour in the meat. Portion wise, I could that it was a tad pitiful, with there being only a small portion of mock meat, brown rice and vegetables, for the price they should have been a little more generous. The mock meat makes this dish a success, all the other elements are quite ordinary.

Price: $6.80 (w/ rice & soup) $5.50 (w/out rice & soup) 6/10

The last dish that was sampled was the Lemongrass Curry Rice Set. I'm a huge fan of lemongrass, and when this zesty and punchy flavour is in the form of curry, it is usually something I adore. This curry was indeed incredibly packed with flavour, and very moreish. The texture of the curry is smooth and velvety, with mock meat (derived from mushroom stems) and potato swimming in the dish. Size wise, I thought it could have been a little bigger, but it is not something I'd complain too loudly about, as the quality of the curry was more than satisfactory.

Price: $5.80 (w/ rice & soup) $4.50 (w/out rice & soup). 7/10


Conclusion - Loving Hut is well known with most vegetarians/vegans across Singapore, it is a franchise that has become highly successful. Food wise, I certainly was not disappointed with any of the dishes that I sampled, yet each dish I found that it was lacking in some aspects. Price wise I found Loving Hut was a bit of a mixed bag, some dishes on their menu represented good value, whilst some the portion size was too small for the price tag. Overall I had a mixed experience here, with positives and negatives taken from this restaurant. While I certainly wouldn't insist people refrain from Loving Hut, I would say there are restaurants selling better quality food and more reasonable prices.

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

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Classic Lao Di Fang Vegetarian Restaurant - Dhoby Ghaut

Dhoby Ghaut - More specifically Plaza Singapura - Is one of the most bustling and popular spots for Singaporeans. Food wise, for vegetarians and vegans there are not many options around this area, but Classic Lao Di Fang represents one of those options. This is located on the basement level of Park Mall, which is situated directly opposite PS. This upmarket restaurant caters mainly Chinese food, but there are dishes from other culinary cultures too. For lunch time, they have buffets available. But as we went in the evening, my review will be of the a la carte menu.

Classic Lao Di Fang Vegetarian Restaurant
Location:
9 Penang Road, #B1-12 Park Mall
Contact: 65338959
Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 11:30am - 03:00pm, 05:00pm - 10:00pm


This soup-based dish was the first dish that we sampled of the evening. This is the Oyster Soup Noodle. The texture of this soup was quite thick, with pieces of sliced mushroom and gluten mock meat (not my favourite) swimming inside. Flavour wise I found it a little plain, and practically begging for black vinegar. No vinegar was given with this dish, until we requested for it. Without the vinegar the flavour is too mild. The noodles in this dish were too soggy and quite broken up. It wasn't a chore eating this soup, but it was not as packed with flavour as I was expecting.

Price: $5.50. 5/10

To accompany the dishes we ordered, we got the Ham Fried Rice. I was quite pleased to see a generous serving of rice, and it was packed with ample ingredients, such as carrots, lettuce and mushrooms. The main flavours that shimmer through the rice are sesame oil and dark sauce - Which were certainly pleasing on the taste buds. What this dish was lacking is the aroma of the wok, which I so desperately love. Without that, I found that this dish was a little incomplete.

Price: $5.30. 6/10


One of my most beloved vegetables is potato leaf, and therefore I couldn't resist getting this Sambal Sauce with Sweet Potato Leaf. For this dish there is the choice of small and large sizes. I got the large one, but was disappointed by how small it still was, to really justify a large size it needed to considerably bigger. The potato leaf was cooked well, with the leaf having a creamy and starchy texture. What hampered this dish was the lack of any real flavour. There was no real sambal flavour, nor any smokey flavour - This combination led the dish to becoming quite plain and dull. To my dismay I also found a few clumps of non-melted salt in this dish, which was quite unpleasant.

Price: $8.80 (S) $12.80 (L). 5/10

Visual effect is always something I really love at restaurants, and when this Stir Fried Sambal Fish arrived wrapped in tin foil it did spark my curiosity. After which, the waiter cut open the sheet of foil to display a smoking hot slab of mock fish - I was impressed. The taste of the mock fish had strong seaweed flavour, and the chilli sauce which it was bathing in was nice, and not too spicy. Overall it was one of the better dishes from Lao Di Fang, but it was still missing an acidic element to it - Which would come from lemon or lime. Those looking for great sambal fish will want to try Li Wei or Nature Delights - Nevertheless this was a competent dish.

Price: $15.80. 7/10

This was really a fun dish to eat. Here we have the Peking Duck. The dish comprises of mock duck, carrots, cucumber and thin wraps. These ingredients are met in the centre by a sweet dark sauce. The customer should place all the ingredients inside the wraps and then eat them all together. This eating experience is something I really enjoy - And I'm sure for younger children it would keep them very entertained. The highlight of this dish was the dark sauce in the centre - It was thick in texture and had a wonderful sweetness to it. A simple concept, which was a resounding success.

Price: $13.80 (S) $19.80 (L). 8/10

Last dish was the Hakka Zeodary Beancurd Hot Pot. It was great to see this dish arrive with a torrential yellow flame burning underneath it, and the soup bubbling ferociously. This dish followed a theme at Lao Di Fang - It arrived to the table looking superb, but ultimately when it came down to the taste, it was a tad inadequate. Taste wise, the let down in this dish was the lack of any real flavour of the soup. I love beancurd, so had no problems with the texture and taste of that, but I felt it required a strong sauce to really bring the dish alive.

Price: $10.80. 5/10

Conclusion - Classic Lao Di Fang would rank as a very high market restaurant in Singapore, with high prices to match. Unfortunately I didn't find that the quality of the food matched those price tags. I liked the atmosphere of the restaurant, and with it being located on the basement level it was quite peaceful. But, the most important aspect of any restaurant is the food, and I was left feeling underwhelmed by it.

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