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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kokee Delights Wholesome Vegetarian Food - Bukit Timah Road

Recently a topic about where to find organic healthy food in food courts and hawker centres was ignited on the Vegetarian Society Forum - And it is true, not many food courts have 'healthy' vegetarian options, with virtually all vegetarian stalls being high in salt, non-organic and containing many deep fried items. So, with that being said, it was pleasing to hear of an organic, no msg eatery open up in the Bukit Timah Market food court. Prior warning, this place is a nightmare to get to, especially with all the construction works in that area (due to the Downtown 2 line being built).

Kokee Delights Wholesome Vegetarian Food
Location: Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre #02-188
Contact: 97230751/91899270
Opening Hours: Daily 8.00am-8.00pm

CLOSED DOWN - As of 18/09/2014

Those wanting these beautiful looking Wasabi Sushi Roll may have to wait 10-15 minutes, as making these is very laborious for chef Ivy. As with a lot of organic vegetarian eateries, these sushi rolls are not made with the conventional rice, instead they are packed with a variety of vegetables. In this case, there were carrots, beetroot, lettuce, and many more. I had no complaints on the vegetables used, and presentation wise it looked scrumptious. However, there were downsides to this dish. Firstly, there was no wasabi in this dish, and I personally like sushi much more with it. Secondly, the dish was just too dry, it is only vegetables and seaweed - There is no moisture at all. It needs a drizzling of sauce on top or as a small puddle on the bottom, ala New Green Pasture Cafe.

Price: $4.50. 6/10

Their weekend and 1st & 15th (of Chinese calendar) special is Lei Cha. This dish is only available in the afternoons, from 11am - 2pm. Visually it was another pretty looking dish, which comprises of small portions of vegetables surrounding brown rice. An additional textural element is the peanuts on top of the rice. Of course, the dish also requires cha (tea) and at the back of the image you can see the bowl in which it arrived. The tea was aromatic and not too bitter, and went well with the ingredients. All the components in this dish worked in harmony together. It's a simple, yet delicious dish, which everyone visiting Kokee should try.

Price: $5.50. 8/10

Conclusion - For more information on this eatery, a dedication page has been formed online. Being organic, no msg, no onions/garlic, no meat and vegan this is certainly a place that can cater for everyone, which is a big plus point. Returning back to my opening line of this post, it is a shame that there are not more healthy vegetarian places that can be found in hawker centres and food courts - But hopefully Kokee is one of many that open up in the future in Singapore. Food wise, the lei cha was brilliant, but the sushi was too dry.

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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Balaji Bhawan Indian Vegetarian Restaurant - Farrer Park

In my eyes, Syed Alwi Road is the number one place for vegetarian food in Singapore now. Recently, a handful of new 100% vegetarian eateries have opened up along this stretch of road - Balaji Bhawan being one of them. If you are a vegetarian, you simply owe to yourself to visit this area, and prowl up and down this vegetarian infested road. Balaji Bhawan opened its doors back in March 2011, and occupies a large space along the road. With increased competition, I have to wonder how long it will be before some of these eateries ultimately can't survive - Hopefully that happens later rather than sooner.

Balaji Bhawan Indian Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 114 Syed Alwi Road
Contact: 63417797
Opening Hours: Daily, 10am - 12am

The menu is fresh and bright looking, with all the information conveniently fitting onto one page. This avoids flicking and scrolling through many menu pages. The variety of dishes available at Balaji Bhawan is commendable, with there being chaats, thali, South and North Indian delights. Additionally, Chinese and Western fusion style dishes are available. The prices of the food was not alarmingly expensive, nor cheap. Those who are scratching their head whilst looking at the menu in befuddlement, the chirpy staff will be glad to assist you in making sense of it.

Inside the restaurant, the interior design resembles Hot Chips, with almost an American style diner theme. Although very similar to Hot Chips, I find that Balaji Bhawan have done a better job - With there being booths and other nice seating arrangements. As you can see by this photo, an extremely handsome looking gentleman was placing his order at the counter. Once this is done, you will be given an order number. After which, you must wait for your number to appear on the screen, and then you can collect your food. This system works effectively, however finding your order number on the receipt can be cumbersome.

The first dish of the evening was the Raj Kachori. This dish was a new experience for me, so I wasn't sure what was going to arrive. On arrival, it is a bright colourful looking dish. The best was to describe this dish, would be as a giant pani puri. The ball shaped item contains potato and bucket loads of yoghurt in the middle. Like with a lot of chaats, it is an explosion of different flavours - Such as sweet chili, mint chutney, and the sweet and sourness of the yoghurt. For a lot of non-Indian customers this dish may be too rich and overwhelming - However, for myself, I found this to be a satisfying dish.

Price: $5.50. 7/10

Dinner that night culminated with the Executive Thali. This is one of a handful of thali's that are sold at Balaji Bhawan, upon ordering I was informed that this is their best. The components for this North Indian style thali are as follows - Jeera rice, paneer masala, daal makhani, aloo matter curry, coconut curry, chana masala, curd, poppadom, and gulab jamun (for dessert). The aloo matter was the low point of the thali, as it was so salty it was practically inedible, this is probably the most over heavily salted curry I have ever sampled. The most attractive parts of the thali was the daal makhani, which was beautifully creamy and flavoured superbly with star anise. For dessert, the gulab jamun was also well made, with the soft sponge ball melting in the mouth divinely.

Additionally, there is two naan's and one tandoori roti served with this thali. This was an added extra, which I didn't expect. The generous thali, with the bread on the side certainly makes this a great value dish. The naan was cooked well, with soft and flaky layers - It could have just done with a little more time in the tandoor, to really absorb that tandoor aroma. Overall a great value thali, with several commendable aspects. If the matter aloo was made considerably less salty, then this whole dish would have been perfect.

Price: $9.90. 8/10

Conclusion - In my opinion, Balaji Bhawan will be a success on the hotly contested Syed Alwi Road. During my visit, I found that the quality of the food and the pricing were both just right. Although there are some minor improvements that could have been made to the food, overall I was very pleased with it. The variety in the menu was also well done, with there also being jain dishes available. The thali was the real winner for me, I would certainly return to Balaji Bhawan just to eat that again.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hua Jin Vegetarian Family Restaurant - Bukit Gombak

I have been doing my guided Sungei Buloh walks more frequently recently, and thus, been finding myself in the West more often than I usually do. I headed down to this restaurant, as a generous recommendation from one of my readers. The disappointing thing was, on the weekend (when I went) they were only selling four dishes, and therefore very little variety. From a conversation with the staff, it seems they have a few more dishes available during the weekday, such as fish head bee hoon and laksa. Don't be fooled by the street name, you need to alight at Bukit Gombak MRT, not Bukit Batok.

Hua Jin Vegetarian Family Restaurant
Location: Blk 359 Bukit Batok St 31, #01-393
Contact: Unknown
Opening Hours:

I was spoilt for choice, with a staggering four dishes to choose from. After hours of debating, I decided to go for the Yang Chun Noodle. This was a noodle dish in a thick mushroom based soup, with textured vegetable protein in the soup, adding a nice textural element to it. The mushrooms in the dish were thinly cut, and juicy. The texture of the noodles was thin and soft, but I found them a little mundane in general. The flavours of the dish overall worked, but nothing really excited me.

Price: $3.30. 6/10

The next dish was the Mee Siam, there is always a warm grin planted on my face when I see that mee siam is available - Mainly because there are not many places in Singapore that sell mee siam, so seeing it is quite a rarity. This dish came with an egg, but for those who can't consume, you can ask for it to be cooked without. The mix of sourness and spice was well done in the dish, in particular the spice levels were not as biting as I expected. However, I found the flavour in the peanut soup base a little one dimensional. Not a bad dish overall, though.

Price: $3.00. 6/10

Conclusion - Unfortunately I think Saturday afternoon (when I visited) might not have been when Hua Jin is at its finest. According to my reader, in the evenings and on Sundays there is more choices available. I have been warned that this place can get very busy during the main eating periods. During my visit though, the place was relatively quiet.

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

Indian Cuisine - Malai Kofta Recipe

I wanted to explore a new avenue for my website, which is sharing my knowledge on Indian cooking. For many reasons - Mainly to help share a cuisine which I have a child-like excitement and fascination with, to the rest of Singapore. I think Indian food has a lot of misconceptions in Singapore, mainly spurred by a general lack of understanding about it. Therefore, I hope that these series of recipes can help people explore this colourful and rich cuisine genre in the future, or at the very least, allow people to know more about it.

Malai Kofta
Here you can see my beautiful looking Malai Kofta, which I slaved away in the kitchen to make today. Malai kofta is a dish of far North Indian origins, Mughlai to be precise. The dish follows the typical Mughlai style of being a sweet curry, with subtle spices - The curry should traditionally be sweetened by using raisins and cashew, but I substituted those ingredients with sugar (making more of a Rajasthani hybrid). This recipe can be broken down into two sections - Making the kofta, and making the curry. Let's begin with making the kofta.

This is the mixture you will need to make kofta balls. Inside this mixture there is:-
1 cup of boiled mashed potatoes (don't overcook)
1 cup of crumbled paneer (strain excess water)
2 green chilies (diced)
1 cup of half cooked assorted vegetables
4-5 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons of coriander powder
2 tablespoons of cumin powder
1 tablespoon of red chili powder

You can use any vegetables to add into kofta. For me, I just found vegetables that needed using up in my fridge, so I used cabbage, spinach and carrots. They all need to be finely chopped.

Once your mixture is done, you must them mash together all the ingredients, taste the mixture also, to determine if any spice or salt levels need to be adjusted. Once mashed together, you must then roll into oval or circle shaped balls. If you find that the mixture is too moist, you can always and breadcrumbs to soak up some of that excess dampness.

Once you have rolled the balls, you then must coat them in flour. For this meal I used all purpose flour, but you can also use corn flour. In this recipe I used quite big sized koftas, if you want smaller sized ones that is also fine, if anything it is better as the insides cooked better.

Once your balls have been shaped, you then need to fry them in a pan. For the healthy conscious, I am sad to say this does require a high amount of oil - But try to reduce it as much as you can. Fry until the kofta's are golden brown on all sides.

Here is the recipe for the curry, which will accompany our koftas:-
4 large tomatoes
1 large onion
3 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste
2 teaspoons cumin seeds (jeera or sahi jeera)
2 teaspoons turmeric
2-3 tablespoons coriander power
2 tablespoons cumin powder
3 tablespoons garam masala powder
1 tablespoon red chili powder
2 chopped green chilies
3-4 tablespoons sugar
1 cup of milk (cream can also be used)

To make this curry do the following steps:-
1. Fry diced onions until cooked
2. Add turmeric and chopped tomatoes to the onions
3. Once tomatoes are cooked, add mixture into a blender, and blend until smooth and silky.
4. In the same pot, add more oil and cook cumin seeds until you smell their aroma.
5. Add ginger garlic paste and cook slightly
6. Add the blended tomato and onion mixture back into the pot. Add water if too thick.
7. Add the remaining spices and diced green chili.
8. Allow this mixture to simmer on a low heat for 20-30 minutes
9. Once the time has elapsed, add sugar and milk to the pot, cook for 5 more minutes, then serve.

After the curry is made, you can combine the kofta and curry together, and (if available) sprinkle some fresh coriander leaves on top.

Bhojan ka anand!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Real Food Organic Grocer & Cafe - Clarke Quay

I resigned long ago to the morbid fact that I am certainly not 'cool' enough to hang around the Clarke Quay area. I did, however, make a rare appearance (proudly being the only ang mo in the area not trying to shamelessly coax women into a night of promiscuity) to try out this captivating restaurant on B1 of The Central mall. This place was generously recommended to me by a reader named Johannes. It is quite apparent there is a clear incremental trend in organic vegetarian/vegan eateries in Singapore - Long may it continue. Gleaming faced waitress' make you feel immediately at home upon entry.

 Real Food Organic Grocer & Cafe
Location: 6 Eu Tong Sen Street. The Central. #B1-52
Opening Hours: Daily 10am - 8.30pm

The menu, which is printed on (what I'm assuming is) recycled paper, offers a respectable selection of dishes. The menu is well signed, showing which dishes are vegan, gluten free etc. Cuisine wise, there is quite a mixed variety - Including all day breakfasts, soups, rice, noodles, Western and organic salads. These different cuisines can be washed down with one of the organic juice variants, but be warned they're not cheap.

Another praise worthy attribute (before we tackle the food) is the design and layout of the building. In the far corner of the room there is a mini grocer, which sells various organic produce. Also, on the edge of the cafe there is an ice cream seller. I was alarmed to hear from my reader that they have been known to sell curry flavoured ice cream. I was itching to try this unique ice cream, but to my horror they were not selling it that evening. Opposite the tables there is also a book shelf, where customers can casually pick off a book to flick through, while waiting for their food.

I felt the craving for something fresh and light, so I went for the Pesto Pasta. Immediately the picturesque plating caught my eye, when it arrived. The pesto herbs were tossed through the pasta well, with french beans lying proudly on top of the heap. The flavour of basil from the pesto is most prominent in this dish, which is refreshing and subtle. The french beans are barely cooked, which gave them a satisfying crunch and helped promote the freshness of the dish more. One criticism I have was instead of meager melted cheese, there should have been fresh parmesan grated on top.

Price: $8.80. 7/10

One of Real Food's higher priced dishes is Can't Beet This Burger, which would certainly get 10/10 for a lackluster pun. On arrival, the burger smelt wonderful, but did the taste match? Overall, it did. The burger patty consists of beetroot, onions, garlic and carrots, with avocado, tomato and sautéed onions layered on top of the patty. Some may find this burger has too many onions, as the flavour is certainly dominated by it (bring a breath mint). The patty was also too mushy and broke apart easily, but flavour wise it tasted pretty spectacular. A simple lettuce and baby tomato salad, with roasted sesame seeds accompanied the burger.

Price: $12.80. 8/10

Conclusion - All in all, the food sampled offered fresh and simple flavours, which not only tasted good, but also looked vibrant on the plate. The burger was my personal favourite, but I am someone who adores onions, those less keen on onions might not be too crazy about it. The staff deserve a special mention as they have upbeat and friendly personalities, which in Singapore restaurants is getting increasing rare. Price wise, the thrifty among us (including myself) might consider the dishes too costly, but I think you do get value for money as everything is organic. Moreover, there is no GST or service charge.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kailash Parbat Restaurant - Little India

First of all, I would like to extend a thank you to two of my readers - Div and Shankar - For recommending this new 100% vegetarian Indian eatery, nestled in Little India's bustling side streets. My love affair with Indian food is something that has grown and grown over time, until the point where I can unequivocally say this is certainly my favourite genre of cuisine. Therefore, I was delighted to hear that a few months ago another big Indian restaurant franchise has come to Singapore. Located on the ground floor of the Grand Chancellor hotel, this restaurant is only 5 minutes or so away from Little India MRT, alight at Exit E.

Kailash Parbat Restaurant
Location: 3 Belilios Road
Opening Hours: Mon - Fri,
11:30am-3:30pm, 6:30pm-10:30pm

Kailash Parbat has been synonymous in India for over 60 years, well known for their bhatura and Sindhi delicacies. The franchise evolved from a simple roadside eatery in India, selling pani puri, bhatura and other chaats - To what it is today. This would be considered a very high end restaurant, with high prices and beautiful interior design. Dietary wise, this place is 100% vegetarian, and does have jain options available on request.

For the non-Indian eaters that are venturing to Kailash Parbat, prepare to get absolutely lost and confused by the menu. The main dishes are mainly Sindhi and Hindustani delights, which non-Indian's will have little knowledge of. Even for myself, having reviewed countless Indian eateries, there were some dishes that I also didn't understand. This is not a negative thing, it can be a great adventure and learning experience for the diners. Excitement of the unknown.

A brief look at the interior design of the restaurant shows a sleek and classy establishment, that looks fresh and modern. My only minor criticisms of how the restaurant is run is that, firstly, there is no sink in the restaurant to wash hands (you must go to an outside toilet). Secondly, for all the crushing prices I am paying for service charge, I still have to get up and pay at the counter. Other than that, I like how this place looks and was run. Enough small talk now, let's move onto the food.

To kick off the meal, we went for the KP Special Mix Chaat. When it arrived, my eyes were immediately drawn to the pomegranate that was sprinkled on top, it was a unique feature. As the name would suggest, this dish is a mixture of different chaat types, with a couple of vadai's soaking in the middle. The freshness of the curd and coriander worked in harmony together. However, the dish lacked crunch, and ultimately had too many spongy/soggy textures. This soggy element also rendered a lot of excess water at the bottom of the dish. Flavour wise I have no complaints, and visually it looked handsome. Only texture wise for me, it falls a little short.

Price: $7.00. 7/10

Those that follow my Indian posts will know that my meal is never complete if a naan is not there to accompany my food. Perhaps in a previous life I was a North Indian, as I simply can't comprehend Indian food without naan and creamy curry. This is the Masala Cheese Naan. Two varieties of cheese are used in this, there is the melted cheese that is 'stuffed' in the middle of the naan. Additionally, there is also shredded cheese sprinkled on top. This is a very thin, light and fluffy naan, with good charring on the bottom, which really brings out the aroma of the tandoor divinely. My only opposition to this naan would be the lack of any real masala flavour in it, and the high price.

Price: $3.90. 8/10

When browsing through the menu, the page that captivated me the most was certainly the tandoor dishes. Next visit I would love to try the do rukha kumbh, but for this visit I settled for the Paneer Hilltop Kesari. This is a paneer (cottage cheese) skewer that has layers of onion, tomato, green capsicum in between, all infused with marinated kesari masala. Starting with the negatives, the paneer quality wasn't to my liking. It was soft, which is fine. But I prefer a soft and silky texture, this was regrettably soft and mushy, almost like a ras malai. Moreover, I was expecting something more adventurous than a plain coleslaw salad to accompany such an elaborate dish. It wasn't a disaster, however, as the ingredients were cooked well in the tandoor, and looked beautiful on the plate.

Price: $12.90. 6/10

I was spoilt for choice by the many new and exciting curries on offer, I eventually opted for the Sabz Kheema Matar. This was quite a bizarre curry, unlike any I have tasted in the past. It was not spicy at all, and only really had slight undertones of masala flavours, such as coriander and cumin. Instead of a conventional curry, this reminded me more of a base for an English shepherds pie. Although odd, it was certainly thick, creamy and delicious. The TVP (which is used to replicate kheema) is a little overcooked, and ultimately is reduced to the point where it gets lost in the dish. A new and positive experience for me, and a dish that I would consider ordering again.

Price: $9.50. 8/10

Conclusion - I had be inundated with a myriad of positive feedback about the quality of the food at Kailash Parbat, after visiting myself, I would agree that the food is tasty, and of a high quality. The food always arrives steaming hot, which may seem like a simple thing, but it is surprising how many eateries don't adhere to that. The food offers something truly different to the typical Indian eateries in the area, with their blend of Sindhi and Hindustani dishes. Price wise, it is certainly not cheap, and the waiters look like they need to be on anti-depressants. But the pro's outweigh the con's in this flashy looking new Indian eatery. I for one, am glad Kailash Parbat came to Singapore.

Overall Rating
Food - 8/10
Ambiance- 9/10
Service - 6/10
Value - 6/10

Monday, June 13, 2011

Xin Yi Vegetarian - Tanjong Pagar

With the recent sad news that Loke Woh Yuen has closed down, it was pleasing to hear about a new vegetarian place opening up in the Tanjong Pagar area recently. This new place came to my attention on Prefer Vege's blog. It is directly opposite Tanjong Pagar MRT, inside International Plaza. Prior warning, this plaza is like a maze, and can be tricky to locate. Inside this plaza is also a Loving Hut and Gong Cha (the best milk tea in Singapore). For more general information on Xin Yi, you can view their facebook page here.

CLOSED DOWN - As of 03/01/2013

Xin Yi Vegetarian
Location: 10 Anson Road International Plaza #01-50A
Opening Hours: Mon - Sat, 11:00 am - 3.00 pm, 5:00 pm - 11.30 pm

A quick look at the menu at Xin Yi shows a lot of clear pictures of appetising looking dishes. The menu is not very vast, with set meals, snacks, noodles, rice, dim sum and drinks to choose from. There are not many 'unique' looking dishes, and the prices are quite steep. On a side note, this restaurant (and building) is completely lifeless on the weekend, so if you want somewhere peaceful to go, this may be a place to consider. However, during the weekday it may well be more frantic, due to its proximity to the CBD.

I was curious to kick this meal off by sampling one of their dim sum dishes. After much deliberation, I was tempted by the Spicy Dumplings. While the high price tag is a deterrent, the quality of the dish is certainly above average. The dish was surprisingly not spicy (as the name would suggest) and there were a lot of smooth and clean flavours to be enjoyed. In particular, the wrapping skin was not too dense and slightly chewy - Just how it should be. Inside was mock ham, mushrooms, carrots and an unrecognisable Chinese vegetable. Simple and delicious flavours made this dish a real hit.

Price: $5.80. 8/10

The first of two ramen dishes sampled - Firstly, we have the Sesame Ramen. This was another clean and fresh dish. Cold ramen dishes, such as this, always give me that refreshed feeling upon consuming. On top of this dish was numerous vegetables, such as sprouts, carrots, red cabbage and lettuce. Underneath this was the ramen noodles, and finally at the bottom was a subtle tahini sauce. Tahini often gives a dull and chalky flavour, so those wanted a dish that bursts with flavour might not want this offering. Nevertheless, it was a cool and light meal, which I enjoyed.

Price: $6.80. 7/10

The second ramen dish sampled was the Bean Paste Ramen. Immediately upon first taste it was clear that this was a surprisingly spicy dish, that had much more flavour than the previous dish. For me, it was a little too spicy. Each of the ramen dishes came with clear soup on the side. This soup is derived from some root vegetable, and is practically tasteless. As well as the noodles, there is shredded cucumber, which helped provide some fresh relief from the spice of the sauce. The paste had diced mushrooms, carrots and TVP inside, and overall was nice to eat. One problem with both ramen dishes is the extremely long noodles, which makes it tricky to eat.

Price: $6.80. 7/10

What's better than something free? To cap the meal off, we were provided with a free dessert. This is Mochi - A soft glutinous ball which can contain a variety of fillings in the centre. In this instance it was filled with lotus paste. On the outside there is shreds of coconut that cover the ball. It was a nice way to finish the meal. Free food can never fail with me!

Price: FREE. 7/10

Conclusion - Those who are cost conscious will be able to find cheap food elsewhere. However, overall I was quite pleased with what Xin Yi had to offer. Although the price of the ramen dishes was high, the quality and quantity were both commendable. What I loved was the freshness of all the dishes, although perhaps many eaters would find some of the food too bland. For me, sometimes simple is best.

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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Yi Xin Vegetarian - Clementi

Yi Xin (translated means 'One heart') seems to be a very common name among vegetarian eateries, this is the third that I know of. It is definitely not to be mistake with the famous Yi Xin in Chinatown. The West of Singapore is somewhere I will be venturing to more often. I discovered this stall from one of my loyal readers Jeline, so thank you very much Jeline! This hawker centre is located roughly a 8-10 minute walk away from Clementi MRT, it is quite a peaceful walk to get there, walking through a quiet and old neighborhood of Singapore. This eatery used to be at Bedok, but shifted to Clementi around six months ago.

Yi Xin Vegetarian
Location: Blk 308, Clementi Ave 4, #01-335
Contact: 94765385 or 96943056
Opening Hours: Daily
11am -3pm & 5pm - 9.15pm. Closed Wednesday.

RELOCATED - As of 19/11/2014.  Now reopened at Blk 378 Clementi Ave 5

Although this stall is located in a simple hawker centre, they do have a surprisingly dynamic and diverse menu. The menu itself deserves 10/10 for the way it is designed, signifying sweet and spicy dishes, as well as the chefs recommendations. Some of the dishes sold are truly unique as well, many which I seldom or never see in other stalls in Singapore. There is also breakfast dishes, such as laksa and mee rebus for only $2.50. Enough staring at the menu, I'm hungry - Let's eat!

We kick off our culinary experience at Yi Xin with Fried Kway Tiao Mee (slightly sweet). The problem I have with this dish is that it was an overload of noodles, we have the thick yellow noodles in additional to the kway tiao. This combination not only hindered the authenticity of the dish, but it was simply too much noodles and not enough other ingredients. Flavour wise it was fine, and the ingredients inside were well cooked. But the high amount of noodles made the dish too starchy and overwhelming.

Price: $3.00. 6/10

The next dish I opted for was the Diced Chicken Cubes with Roasted Honey Sauce. Along with the mock chicken, there is cucumber, heng cai vegetables and white rice. The focal point of the dish is inevitably the mock meat, and in this instance it was quite delicious. The mock meat had a fatty texture, which was moreish. The sauce was slightly sweet and did have a honey undercurrent to it. However, I would have liked to have tasted slightly more honey aroma in the sauce. Certainly not a bad dish for the price.

Price: $3.50. 7/10

This dish blew me away, here we have the Handmade Tofu with Special Filling and Roasted Sauce. Certainly one of the best dishes I've tried in a long time. The dish revolves around an oval shaped piece of soft (almost scrambled) tofu. The sauce is a delicious flavoured gravy (thickened by corn starch) with TVP (textured vegetable protein) swimming inside - TVP is essentially mock minced meat. Inside this delectable tofu parcel was mock prawn and mushrooms. The flavour of the tofu was exceptional, especially the golden brown layer on the outside. It is a dish perfect for a cool day, and should be eaten when steaming hot. An effectively flawless dish, and one you must order.

Price: $8.00. 10/10

Conclusion - I am still wriggling with joy over that handmade tofu treat, which turned the evenings dinner from being good to fantastic. There are other unique dishes such as buttered mushrooms and potato rings with fruit salad, which I was itching to try - Unfortunately stomach space forbid me. What I always look for in eateries is affordable priced and original dishes, Yi Xin ticks those boxes resoundingly. For me, it is an arduous journey to get to Clementi, but one I would be willing to make again for the tasty treats on offer at Yi Xin.

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

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Xing Hua Vegetarian Restaurant - Bugis

I went to the Fortune Centre tonight with the intention of reviewing the new Gokul restaurant. Unfortunately it seems to be closed on Sunday, therefore I decided to go to one of the few places remaining in the Fortune Centre that I have yet to visit. I learnt a lot about this restaurant (and xing hua cooking in general) from Prefer Vege, who gave a detailed review of this place a few weeks back. The stall is on the ground level, with both rice and zi char dishes available. Xing hua cuisine is known for simple foods, that have a proclivity to seafood.

Xing Hua Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 190 Middle Rd, Fortune Centre #01-11
Contact: Unknown
Opening Hours: Daily

I've had a craving for Shark Fin Soup for a few weeks now, so without hesitation I ordered this. Portion wise it was neither big nor small, but for the price I thought it was acceptable. It certainly needs black vinegar, which you can find on the counter. Ingredients that were inside included carrots, mushrooms, cabbage, beancurd and tang hoon noodles. Usually jelly strands represent the mock 'sharks fin' - Xing Hua, however, uses tang hoon noodles for the mock meat, which I can't say I prefer. I think this dish lacks in authenticity, as to me, it is just starchy soup with vegetables inside.

Price: $3.00. 5/10

I wanted to try one of the xing hua style noodle dishes, and thus I opted for the Xing Hua Noodle (Dry). The noodles in this dish can be best described as heavy, thick and dense noodles - Which are very filling. When eating stodgy noodles of this ilk, it is important that it is accompanied by plenty of vegetables. In this dish, I found it didn't have enough ingredients inside. There was mock prawn, mock squid, beancurd, carrots and mushrooms. An average dish, that was too overwhelmed by density of the noodles.

Price: $3.50. 6/10

The Seaweed Fried Rice accompanied our dishes, and this would hardly rank as one of the best fried rices I've sampled. The rice was a little overcooked, and thus too soft. The rice was lacking any noticeable flavour, most significantly the flavour of the wok. Additionally, there was clumps of salt in areas of the dish. The ingredients that were inside the rice was sweetcorn, carrots, mock meat, peas and seaweed shreds. The seaweed added good flavour in the rice, however I found their texture didn't work too well with the rice.

Price: $3.50. 4/10

As well as the cheaper dishes, I wanted to sample one of their more special offers. I went with the Chicken with Orange Sauce. This comes in three sizes, the one picture is small. Visually the dish looked quite nice, especially with the slices of orange placed around the mock meat. Taste wise, however, it was quite underwhelming. The mock meat was smothered in a very heavy batter, with only a small piece of soft mock meat inside each one - This inevitably left the dish feeling very greasy. The other disappointment was the sauce. It was merely a sugar sauce, with little orange flavour. It need a more acidic stronger flavour to it.

Price: $6.00 (S) $8.00 (M) $10.00 (L). 4/10

Conclusion - Firstly, when focusing on the ambiance and service - I found that the staff (all from China) were very pushy, always asking the customers if they want to order more food. The restaurant itself was incredibly stuffy and hot, mainly due to the back door of the restaurant being wide open. Food wise, I found all the dishes nothing special, and can't see myself ever returning here in the future. Plenty better vegetarian eateries can be found on the higher levels of the Fortune Centre, I recommend visiting those instead.

Overall Rating
Food - 5/10
Ambiance- 4/10
Service - 4/10
Value - 9/10
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