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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Daawat Tandoori North Indian Cuisine - Upper Thomson

My experiences with the Indian vegetarian scene have led me to discover that Indian vegetarians are not too bothered whether they eat at a 100% veg place, or a veg/non-veg eatery. Therefore, I have decided to do more reviews in the future for veg/non-veg Indian places, as 50% of the menu is usually vegetarian, unlike in Chinese non-veg eateries. Daawat Tandoori has arguably one of the strongest followings in Singapore, with constant raving reviews online. This eatery is a humble and cosy little restaurant on Upper Thomson Road. Those traveling by MRT, it's only a 6-7 minute walk from Marymount station. I urge you to walk and not take bus, as you may want to burn off calories in advance for this North Indian feast.

Daawat Tandoori North Indian Cuisine
Location: 207 Upper Thomson Road, Yew Lian Park
Contact: 62524497
Opening Hours: Daily 11am-11pm

WARNING - This place is not 100% vegetarian

Here is a look at the vegetarian section of the menu. There are many other dishes in the menu that are vegetarian, other than this page. This place is famous for their tandoor food, so I was a little disappointed that there is only one vegetarian option for the tandoor (paneer tandoor). There should have been a vegetable tandoor also - With potato, cauliflower, corn etc, as all those foods cook well in a tandoor. Price wise, I was pleasantly surprised that the cost of the dishes was not too high, but as with most Indian food, you can expect to pay around $15 per person.

I'm someone who is admittedly quite picky about naan bread. Here is the Plain Naan which we ordered separately. What the chef succeeded in doing well was he evenly spread the dough on the tandoor - Therefore the thickness of the naan is consistent throughout the whole bread. What I think could have been improved is more charring on the underside of the bread, without the charring an integral element of the aroma and flavour of naan is missing. Overall certainly a tasty and well textured naan, but slightly longer inside the tandoor was needed to really bring out the true flavour.

Price: $2.50. 7/10

The dish/meal that certainly represents the best value is the Vegetarian Set Meal. This dish, which is more or less a thali has many small components all centered around the briyani rice. For this meal, you get the choice of plain, butter or garlic naan. As well as for dessert the choice of ice cream or gulab jamun, and tea or coffee. Apart from those, the other small components include (this writers favourite) palak paneer, daal, curd, potato patty and an unusual fruit curry, which I will touch upon later. The palak paneer was the standout of this thali. The paneer was silky, and the spinach sauce was strong in garlic and packed with flavour.

Here is a closer look at the fruit curry I just mentioned. I have seen many types of Indian cuisines which mix fruit in curry - Most notoriously navratan kurma. This was a very mildly spiced curry which an assortment of fruits inside, along with paneer. You wouldn't think fruit in curry would go well together, but it actually makes for a good match - Assuming the curry base is mild.

This is the dessert that comes with the vegetarian set meal, I opted for the Gulab Jamun. Non-Indian eaters may want to exercise caution whenever ordering Indian desserts. They are famed for having a quite incredible amount of sugar content, this may be too much to bare for those not attuned to this cuisine. Gulab jamun centres around a small ball, which has a sponge cake texture. This texture absorbs the sugar syrup, which the ball is swimming in. It's a small dessert, but looked classy upon arrival, and although too sweet for my Western palette, I still had no trouble finishing it.

Vegetarian Set Meal Price: $11.90. 7/10

I was keen to test out some of the other vegetarian curries Daawat was selling. Starting with the Aloo Gobi. It's simple - Potato and cauliflower cooked in a dry spice curry. Yet there are thousands of intricate complexities and varieties to this dish. Where this aloo gobi is open to praise is the way the vegetables were cooked. They had a delightful smokey taste, which was not derived from fenugreek, but rather skillful cooking by the chef. The potatoes were the standout, Daawat uses yellow potatoes in their cooking, which are the best for this type of dish. The potato is firm yet soft and absorbs the curry flavour. A little too much salt, but overall a great dish.

Price: $7.50. 8/10

One of my most beloved vegetables is ladyfingers, therefore my curiosity was tickled by this Bhindi Masala. One common mistake that non-100% veg Indian restaurant always make is they assume that if curries don't have meat in, then they are somehow lacking flavour. This means the chef usually adds more spices into non-meat dishes. This is unnecessary in my opinion, as vegetables and paneer also have great flavour without drowning them in spice. Although I quite enjoyed this curry, it fell victim to the aforementioned flaw. There was a little too much spice, and consequently it cancelled out the flavours of the vegetables inside. I would have preferred a milder curry, with a little more sauce.

Price: $7.00. 6/10

Conclusion - As vegetarians, there is often that inevitable confrontation when going to dinner with meat-eaters and needing to select a restaurant/eatery that pleases everyone's diet. Indian veg/non-veg eateries, such as Daawat, are the best solution to this conflict - As the menu is usually split 50/50 for vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The vegetarian dishes at Daawat were sometimes too over-powering with spices and salt levels were a little too high. Nevertheless, the palak paneer was exceptional and the aloo gobi also had wonderful qualities. I would definitely consider this place when dining with meat eaters, but wouldn't visit again if not under that scenario. An honourable mention must go to the staff who are impeccable - Moreover, there is no GST or service charge, which is sensational for a restaurant so service driven.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant - Little India

Regular readers of Hungry Ang Mo will know already that I have previously reviewed Gokul back in 2009. Gokul has for a long time been my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Singapore. The reason for the second visit is due to Gokul having undergone significant renovation. Therefore, I thought it would be apt to take a look what changes have taken place under this renovation. Buddhists may want to take note that Gokul doesn't have any onions or garlic in their food, therefore you can happily eat away at Gokul.

Note (06/09/2013): Since this review, significant changes have been made to Gokul.  Please CLICK HERE to see my 2013 review of Gokul.

Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 19 Upper Dickson Road
Contact: 63967769
Opening Hours: Daily 8.00am-10.30pm.

The new look Gokul also has a new regal looking menu. The worst aspect about this interior beautification is that the prices for all the dishes have increased. There are no new dishes added, compared to their old menu. I don't want to sound like a broken record, but for those unfamiliar with Indian food, don't just order all the Chinese dishes that you see on the menu. You are depriving yourself from experiencing a different cuisine. If you're unfamiliar with the Indian names, either choose randomly (that is how I learnt) or ask the waiters for suggestions.

When ordering any Indian food, it is a prerequisite that the curries are accompanied by naan bread. Here we have the Plain Naan. While the naan from Gokul is of a good standard, the problem is the dough was not evenly distributed in the tandoor, leaving sections of the naan too thick and undercooked (doughy). There are nice charred areas, and the layering of the naan is also not bad. I wouldn't say it is up to the Sagar Ratna standard, but above average definitely.

Price: $2.00. 7/10

When I typically patronise Gokul to save cost I select plain white rice. To be a little different today, I went for the Briyani Rice. I am always pleased when a dish arrives on a banana leaf, as I am a firm believer that food on a banana leaf does have enhanced flavour. The basmati rice was soft, light and fluffy and its flavour was acceptable.

Price: $2.50. 7/10

I was keen to try out one of Gokul's many starter dishes, and eventually opted for the Samosa Chaat. I was a little put off by its high price tag, but portion wise it was quite large, so no great complaints. Chaat's like this typically depend heavily on fresh red onions, so you'd think this dish would be missing them - Overall it doesn't though. I do miss the crunch of the fresh onions, but there are many other components to this dish that make up for it. I particularly like the chick peas. Sweet chilli sauce is also very prominent, and might offer a little too much biting spice for some customers.

Price: $5.00. 7/10

Aloo Gobi is one of the Indian dishes that is extremely well known, and universally popular. Moreover, the dish varies quite considerably depending on where you eat it. At Gokul, the aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower curry) is different in the sense that the curry has a lot of sauce (aloo gobi is typically dry) and it has a wider balance of flavour. What I would have liked to taste more of is kastoori methi, as it was noticeably absent in this dish. Other than that, the flavour balance was wonderful, perhaps the use of cream to make the curry richer is unnecessary as aloo gobi typically doesn't need to be a rich and creamy dish.

Price: $7.00. 7/10

I am always itching with excitement to order Gokul's sensationally aromatic tandoori 'chicken'. This time, however, I was curious to see how their other tandoor foods were. This is the Tandoori Platter, it is a mixture of mock fish, mock prawns, mock chicken, potato and cauliflower. All of these ingredients are marinated in sauce before being placed in the tandoor. I was a little disappointed by how little pieces were there, for the price I was expecting much more. The flavour is aromatic and delicious, so no faults with the taste. I am pleased that lemon has now been included to sprinkle on top. But the price compared with how little pieces of food were given rendered me quite disappointed.

Price: $12.00. 7/10

One of my favourite all-time dishes that the masterful Nepalese Gokul chefs produce is the Chicken Kurma. Once again, I was mightily impressed with this offering. The texture of the curry was creamy and smooth and was delectably rich. The mock chicken meat is deceptively authentic - In fact, the meat eaters at the table struggled to tell the difference between the mock meat at Gokul and real meat. Fresh coriander is tossed on top of the curry, which always enhances the flavour. Overall a wonderfully elegant curry, which has little spice and subtle aromatic Indian spices shimmering throughout.

Price: $7.50. 9/10

One of the dishes that we always order from Gokul is the Palak Paneer. The green curry sauce is derived from spinach. Inside this sauce are cubes of paneer (Indian cheese). What I've always loved about the palak paneer from Gokul is that they get the texture just perfect. It is not too clumpy, the excess liquid has not separated from the palak and the balance between the spices and the flavour of the spinach is achieved. This is one of the better versions of this synonymous North Indian delight in Singapore, a 'must order' when dining at Gokul.

Price: $8.00. 9/10

Next up we have one of my fondest Indian dishes - Kadai Paneer. This dish varies quite dramatically in different restaurants and regions/states within India. The word kadai (also more commonly known as karahi) is a metalic wok (as you can see pictured) which is the unique cooking tool for this particular curry. Flavour wise I don't find that the karahi alters the taste that much, but perhaps it adds a little more smoky aroma to the curry. In this dish, mainly vegetables were inside - Such as green capsicum, carrots and green peas. Unfortunately not much paneer was inside, so the dish name might be a little misleading. A decent enough curry overall.

Price: $8.00. 7/10

This time around the curries from Gokul didn't seem quite as exceptional as they were in the past, then along came the Malai Kofta. As with most curries that come from the far north of India, this dish was not spicy at all, and almost sweet in flavour (typically due to raisins and almonds blended into the curry). Visually the dish looked phenomenal, with the two koftas looking like two giant cone shaped tepees ('tepee' is the best visual example I can think of, other than something else quite crude) in the centre, cream dripped over them and fresh coriander to garnish. Flavour wise it had subtle Indian spices, with cardamom flaring out most prominently. Texture wise, it was beautifully creamy and rich. The best curry of the meal.

Price: $8.50. 10/10

Conclusion - So after two years since my last review, is Gokul still by far the best vegetarian eating experience in Singapore? My answer would be that it is still the best, but not 'by far' anymore. With the price increase, Gokul has lost some of its glow. However, the quality of the food still can not be questioned - It is superb. With other quality Indian restaurants cropping up though, it may not be the king of the castle for long. For any vegetarian you owe it to yourself to try this high quality Indian food at some point.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Su Shi Piao Xiang Vegetarian Food - Bugis

A lot of stiff competition surrounds this vegetarian Chinese restaurant, which is located on the outside of Fortune Centre. As we all know, Fortune Centre is a mecca for vegetarian food, Indians can also rejoice as Gokul have opened up an outlet there recently. This place is probably one of the most popular restaurants that exist within Fortune Centre. When we went there it was packed to the brim with people. Su Shi Piao Xiang also has other outlets dotted around Singapore, but this one is their most well known.

Su Shi Piao Xiang Vegetarian Food
190 Middle Rd, 02-18, Fortune Centre
Contact: Unknown
Opening Hours: Daily

Here is a closer look at the menu that is available. Be warned that (as with most places in Singapore) many dishes may not be available. There are also other dishes that are not present on the menu which they have, as well as daily specials. In addition to paid workers, there is also a charming volunteer nai nai who often goes around the tables and recommends dishes that the customers might like. She is a really nice lady, so I'd suggest having a chat with her when you go there.

Let's start off with one of their better dishes - This is the Olive Fried Rice. The ingredients inside this dish are peas, carrots, sweetcorn, cubes of mock meat, olives and mock pork floss on the top. From what I gathered, by watching people order, this seems to one of the most popular dishes that this eatery sells. I also found it quite satisfying, although the rice was just a smidgen over cooked, in my opinion. Overall the fried rice had suitable flavour, but I also found it slightly lacking in the aroma that I've come to expect from olive fried rice. Not bad though.

Price: $3.50. 6/10

From the quite good, to the quite mediocre. This is the Fried Hor Fun, the highpoint to this dish were the noodles. Although they were a little soggy, I thought they were thin and soft and certainly tasty. What let this dish down was the lack of aroma (yet again) in the dish, and the biggest cardinal sin - Too much salt. The salt overpowered the dish and didn't let the other nice flavours flourish, and really, too much salt in a simple dish like this is a rookie mistake from any chef.

Price: $3.00. 5/10

From the quite good, to the mediocre, to the downright terrible. The final dish was recommended by the nice elderly lady who volunteer at the shop. It is called the Prawn Sambal with Petai Beans. This is not found directly on the menu, but it is basically the sambal fish, but instead of fish we have prawns. I must say when this arrived it looked fantastic, bursting with colour and arranged nicely. When it came to the taste, it had an outrageous amount of salt inside. To the point where I couldn't eat anymore. If you look carefully at the picture you can also see the other major problem - The petai beans were rotten. That's right rotten. This is frankly unacceptable from even a basic hawker centre stall, let alone a restaurant. I could go on and on about the flaws in this dish, but safe to say - Don't order it.

Price: $10.00. 1/10

Conclusion - The staff and volunteers working there are delightful, the place has a nice homely atmosphere to it, but it all boils down to the quality of the food, which was poor. The hor fun and fried rice were not perfect, but acceptable. However, the prawn petai bean dish was absolutely terrible, and I feel insulted that they could charge $10 dollars and serve a customers rotten petai beans. What I find so bizarre is this place is very popular, I won't be hopping on that bandwagon, and neither should you - There are many better vegetarian restaurants at the Fortune Centre, this ranks as one of the poorest.

Overall Rating
Food - 3/10
Ambiance- 7/10
Service - 7/10
Value - 4/10

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Top 20 Vegetarian Dishes in Singapore

Top 20 Vegetarian Dishes in Singapore

Since I have started my quest to discover the myriad of delicious vegetarian and vegan food in Singapore I have enjoyed thousands of dishes, and am asked continuously which are the very best dishes I have tried so far. To answer that question, I thought it would be better to do a post giving (in my opinion) the best 20 dishes that I have had the pleasure of eating in Singapore. This will hopefully act as good reference for those looking for the 'cream of the crop' dishes that are meat free in Singapore.

Those looking for the best list of best restaurants, I would like to direct you to my Top 10 Vegetarian Places in Singapore post.

**Note - Updated as of 31/10/2013**

So lets begin the list, please bare in mind I haven't ranked these, and are therefore in no particular order:-

20. Chicken Tandoori Tikka

I have introduced this delicious delight to many people both vegetarians and meat eaters - Every time it gets overwhelming praise. The texture of this mock chicken, coupled with the beautiful Indian spices make for a truly special and unique treat. The tandoor (an Indian cooking oven) flavour really clings to these mock meats enhancing the flavour wonderfully.

From: Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant - Little India
Price: $7.00


19. DFC

Thousand Vegie (formally known as Deli-Vege) have gained a heady following over the many years that they have been in business.  Without a doubt, one of their most popular dishes is the DFC, and it is easy to see why.  This dish is a vegetarian version of KFC, with two surprisingly juicy and authentic fried chicken pieces and light and fluffy fries being the highlight of this moreish dish.  Definitely a dish I will keep coming back for over and over again.

From: Thousand Vegie - Chinatown
Price: $6.00


18. Lasagna

Although I had a rather mixed (some would say largely negative) opinion of LivinGreens, I certainly can't fault this beautiful tasting lasagna, which had excellent visual appeal and looked like a great amount of time had been spent making this dish from the heart. The eggplant and red capsicum flavours burst out of this top notch lasagna, I'm drooling just thinking about it.

From: LivinGreens - Farrer Park
Price: $8.50


17. Malai Kofta

Indian food is typically held is suspicious regards, among Singaporeans – But it shouldn’t. Gokul is a perfect introduction to the world of Indian food, with Malai Kofta being one of their most delicious curries. There are no onions or garlic used in any of Gokul’s dishes, therefore it can appeal to a wide audience of vegetarians. This creamy and slightly sweet North Indian curry is not spicy and incredibly scrumptious – Goes perfectly with a steaming hot naan.
From: Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant - Little India
Price: $10.00


16. Vegetarian Hotplate BBQ Fish

Bring tissues, towels and gallons of ice water and prepare for one of the spiciest, yet delicious dishes that Singapore has to offer. The sambal sauce should come with a warning attached as it is murderously spicy. The texture of the mock fish is wonderful, with sugar cane stems inside to replicate mock bones - Nice touch. Only for those who can take very spicy food.

From: Li Wei Vegetarian - Serangoon  
Price: $7.00


15. Sweet & Sour Pork

Divine Realm is perhaps more notorious for their hand made noodles, which have attracted attention from all across the island. But for me, the dish I will always order is the sweet & sour pork. I have been eating and loving this dish for over four years and never tire of it. The sauce is tangy yet sweet and the mock meat juicy and succulent.

From: Divine Realm Vegetarian - Hougang  
Price: $7.00


14. Spicy Sambal Fish

Don't be too fooled by the title, compared to Li Wei, this sambal fish is not nearly as spicy. I love that amount of care and attention that goes into this dish. The mock fish is not simply made of soy, it is a mixture of many things all wrapped in a sheet of seaweed that is shaped to look like a fish. It looks simple on the outside, but a lot of effort goes into the construction of such a dish, and for me it was a standout success of this brilliant restaurant.

From: Ci Yin Vegetarian House - MacPherson
Price: $10.00


13. Seaweed Roll

This dish brings back memories of one of my first ever vegetarian experiences in Singapore, as it certainly has a soft spot for me. Frankly, many years ago the quality of this dish was perfect, its deteriorated in quality a tad over the years, but it's still some of the best sushi you will find in Singapore - Very healthy too!

From: New Green Pasture Cafe - Bugis
Price: $5.00


12. Hainanese Beef Stew with Rice

The main attraction to this dish is the thick and yummy broth with ingredients such as mushrooms and radish swimming inside. The taste is jam packed with succulent flavour, which rendered me to practically licking the bowl dry. Anyone living in Singapore needs to venture down to North South East West to sample one of the finest dishes Singapore has to offer.

From: North South East West Vegetarian Cuisine - Marine Parade
Price: $6.80


11. Handmade Tofu with Special Filling and Roasted Sauce

This beautifully delicate dish ranks as arguably my favourite tofu dish in Singapore.  The oval tofu is almost scrambled and has a delicious skin.  The sauce is neither too thick or too watery.  Within the tofu, it is stuffed with vegetables and mock prawn.  It certainly exceeded my expectations - A dish I could eat every single day.

From: Yi Xin Vegetarian - Clementi
Price: $8.00


10. Bhattura

The bhattura is an infamous oil-soaked dome of artery clogging doom.  Having tried countless bhattura all over Singapore, I can say definitively that this one is the best.  Not only is its size impressive (it is double the size of a regular bhattura), but the texture is a perfect blend of crunch and chew.  Have this bhattura served with channa masala and raw onion, and you will be in heaven!

From: Komala Vilas Vegetarian Restaurant - Little India
Price: $4.20


9. Chicken Rice

There are countless renditions of vegetarian 'chicken' rice in Singapore.  They range from exceptional to awful.  Li Wei's rendition of this dish would probably range as the best I've tried in Singapore.  There are two versions - Fried Chicken Rice and Steam Chicken Rice.  Both are exceptional.  Li Wei has had a reputation for many years now, for their awesome chicken rice.  So, if you haven't tried it yet, what are you waiting for?

From: Li Wei Vegetarian - Serangoon  
Price: $3.50


8. Ayam Mesak Merah

Gokul dishes are inevitably going to feature a lot on this list, as (in my opinion) it is undoubtedly the best vegetarian eatery in Singapore.  What makes Gokul so wonderful is the diversity of cuisines you can find there - It is not just an Indian restaurant.  This Malay dish, which is perfectly done, is a prime example of that.  This rich and fragrant tomato sauce is silky and divine.  If you're visiting Gokul, this is another of their many dishes that you must order!

From: Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant - Little India
Price: $8.50


7. Mousakka

The price of this dish may cause your heart to skip a beat, and understandably so. Original Sin ranks as the most expensive 100% vegetarian place I have ever been to. However, the food looks like a visual masterpiece on the plate, and for this mousakka the taste is just mesmerizing. Layers of eggplant and tomato (mainly) make up this dish, with a sprinkling of paprika on top. It may be a high end price, but it's worth every cent.

From: Original Sin - Holland Village
Price: $24.00


6. Kway Chap

People are often quite befuddled when I mention eating kway chap, with their usual response being 'kway chap got vegetarian mah?'.  Well, indeed it does.  Tian Yi is probably one of the most famous vegetarian stalls in the country, and it is no secret what their famous dish is.  If you come during peak periods, you will join a long queue of customers all waiting feverishly for this delicious and affordable dish.  The flavours in this dish are immense.  Who needs meat?  Kway chap can be just as delicious in a vegetarian form!

From: Tian Yi Vegetarian Food - Ang Mo Kio
Price: $2.50


5. Aglio Olio

Finally, oh finally - I have found a chef in Singapore that knows how to cook pasta in the correct way.  Ever since my first visit to Veggie Cottage, I have been blown away by the outstanding quality of food that is coming from this establishment.  This aglio olio is a shinning example of a deceptively difficult dish to cook well, which has been truly mastered by the chef.  If you're heading down to Veggie Cottage, then this dish should be on your hit-list.

From: Veggie Cottage - Little India

Price: $6.50


4. Claypot Trotters Rice

Known in Mandarin as zhu jiao chu. During my food adventures in Singapore I have tried several renditions of this Cantonese dish, they all pale in comparison with the Nature Delights version. It may be an acquired taste, but for me it is a uniquely tasting dish, that gets me salivating just at the thought of it!

From: Nature Vegetarian Delights - Serangoon
Price: $4.50


3. Laksa

Laksa is definitely a dish that everyone associates with Singapore cuisine.  In the vegetarian food scene, there are literally hundreds of stalls/restaurants producing this famous this.  But, it is at YWQ where you will find the best, in my opinion.  There is no generic laksa paste used in this dish.  All the ingredients are made from scratch, which makes a huge difference to the aroma and taste.  Whether you enjoy spicy food or not, you will adore this dish.

From: YWQ Vegetarian Bistro - Bendemeer
Price: $4.50


2. Fried Hor Fun

I am eternally grateful to my readers for recommending this dish to me, as it is simply outstanding. The texture of the noodles are thin and melt in the mouth. But as my readers will know, what I always look for in dishes like hor fun is the fabulous wok hei flavour. This hor fun had the strongest wok hei that I have tasted in any dish - Chef I applaud you.

From: Lin Lin Vegetarian Delights - Bedok
Price: $3.00


1. Chicken Kurma

Whatever you order from Gokul, you won't be presented with a poor dish. The curries especially are out of this world. The chicken kurma must rank among my favourite as it doesn't fall into the trap of being too salty or oily. It has a richness and creamy texture that is balanced expertly with the spices that make up the curry.

From: Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant - Little India
Price: $9.00

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Delicious Cafeteria - Johor Bahru

The Malaysian state of Johor, and more specifically the city of Johor Bahru is a place that has an reasonable abundance of vegetarian food. However, with most tourists (Singaporean shoppers) fearful of stepping outside of City Square mall, it does make JB appear like not much is happening with vegetarian food. In the future, I am planning on reviewing more vegetarian places outside of City Square. But for now, a new vegetarian place has opened its doors in City Square - Therefore I decided to make the trip to JB and take a look.

Delicious Cafeteria
Location: M2-M25, 2nd Floor, City Square, Johor Bahru
Contact: 016-7115446
Opening Hours: Daily 8am-8pm

CLOSED DOWN - As of 23/04/2014 (now located at 126 Jalan Sri Pelangi)

There is a signboard at level 2 which is advertising this new place. Upon going inside, the restaurant is still not quite finished. There was drilling and painting going on inside. Perhaps they should have opened up this place once this work had been completed - As the noise of drilling is not something I want when trying to have a peaceful lunch. Another set back was that currently most of the menu was not available to order - So in general, it may be better waiting a few more weeks for when it is running more efficiently.

Our culinary experience at Delicious Cafeteria begins with the Mekicop Mi Hoon Kuey. The major glaring weakness in this dish is the thickness of the kuey (noodles). This variety of noodle needs to be thin and soft, so that it almost melts in the mouth. These noodles were way too thick, and thus were heavy and stodgy in the mouth - Not very appetizing at all. There were a variety of vegetables inside, including mushrooms, leafy vegetables and seaweed, but I also found the amount of ingredients were too little. A poor dish overall.

Price: RM5.50. 3/10

Next up I sampled the Bakuteh Claypot. Bakuteh is in some ways a polarizing dish. Endlessly popular in the East, yet an acquired taste for those with a Western palette. I myself have grown to enjoy bakuteh gradually more and more over time. For this version, the taste of the herbal soup was subtle and enjoyable. The ingredients lurking underneath the dark soup were tofu, leafy vegetables and mutton balls (derived from mushroom stems). The mutton balls were chewy and a welcome addition to the soup. One thing missing from this dish is pepper, but pepper can be obtained at the front of the restaurant. I also found the dish to be a little too greasy.

Price: RM7.00. 6/10

Conclusion - This restaurant is definitely still a work in progress - The interior design of the place was still under renovation, the menu still only half complete and the quality of the available dishes still needing to mature more in order to be deemed an acceptable standard. I am hopeful that over time this improvement does happen, as City Square is in dire need of a good vegetarian restaurant for the many visitors which it gets.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gopal's Vegetarian Restaurant - Farrer Park

I know my reviews of Indian establishments may not be appreciated by all who view my site - But Gopal's is a restaurant which every Singaporean vegetarian can enjoy. I say this, due to the fact Gopal's is one of the few Indian establishments that strictly prohibits onions and garlic in any of their cooking. Using City Square as a starting location, you need to go further north, towards Boon Keng. It's about a 5-8 minute walk. This place is notorious for opening sporadically, and therefore I would strongly suggest calling in advance. They have a la carte dishes, coupled with a nightly buffet. It's a comfy little establishment, run by smiley and welcoming staff.

Vegetarian Restaurant
517 Serangoon Rd
Opening Hours:
Mon - Sun, 6pm to late (call ahead as times are unpredictable)

As you can see by the menu, Gopal's is a fusion of different cuisines. As you would expect, North and South Indian delights do dominate the menu. Nevertheless, there are Chinese and Western choices as well - For those less adventurous. Although I was curious to try many of the dishes on the menu, what really got my juices flowing was the aroma from the buffet just behind me.

What better accompaniment to any Indian meal than the deliciously aromatic Masala Tea. Masala tea is typical/conventional milk tea that is infused with Indian spices - Usually clove, cardamom, ginger and black pepper. As with anything Indian, there is also a dangerously generous dollop of sugar added. When all of these components are merged together it makes a beautifully dessert-like drink. This version was very nice, yet for me there was simply too much sugar added.

Price: $2.00. 7/10

Before we get to Gopal's nightly buffet, I did want to sample something from their a la carte menu, I decided to dabble with their Western cuisine and get their Meal Maker Burger. The burger was small in size, and had lettuce, a slice of cheese and sweet chili sauce inside; along with the mock meat patty. Usually when Indian eateries sell food from other cultures they tend to 'Indianise' it by adding various spices, and I was a little disappointed they didn't do that here. Instead, it was just a plain burger. While I had no trouble finishing it, it was ultimately easily forgettable.

Price: $3.50. 6/10

Onto the Gopal's Buffet. I was expecting this buffet to be a lot more expensive than it actually was, and for $7.90 this buffet is really terrific value for money. The buffet itself is quite small, however the dishes that are available are quite diverse. As pictured, one of the dishes that caught my eye straight away was this mutton curry. The mock mutton meat came in a thick curry sauce, and had good flavouring. However, the amount of salt that was in this dish was quite alarming - This was a repeated flaw in their potato curry also, which seemingly had a whole days recommended salt intake in each bite.

It was encouraging to see a large number of vegetable curries, all of which were reasonable tasting. One of the real stand outs of the buffet was the sambar - It had a unique taste, which was quite different to other sambars I have tried in the past. The unique element comes from the sourness of the sambar - Which I would guess comes from amchoor powder (green mango powder).

Here is a wider look at the buffet. In addition to as much food as your stomach can handle, you also have an unlimited amount of chapati. The chapatis were light and well textured. I enjoyed all the curries and sauces that were available from the buffet, I just wish the beautiful Indian flavours were not drowned out so much by the high levels of salt.

Price: $7.90. 7/10

*Note - As of 24/07/2014 the buffet price is now $11.90

Conclusion - Gopal's in my opinion would act as a good introduction to Indian food for anyone unfamiliar with it. It has a reader-friendly menu, without any complex Indian names, which most people won't be able to decipher. It has an incredibly good value buffet, along with several reasonably priced dishes on their menu. When it comes to food quality, I found they were too heavy with salt, sugar and oil to the point where I was wondering how many years this dinner would be taking off my life (not for the health conscious). Apart from that, slightly higher than average quality, but in a battle of Indian buffets, I will still be choosing Sagar Ratna every time.

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