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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vegetarian Uncle Rojak - Hougang

Although Hougang may be lacking in high end vegetarian restaurants, what it does have to offer is countless hidden gems lurking in the myriad of coffee shops. It is these humble coffee shop stalls that have built up their reputation for many decades, until like this stall, they receive nation wide notoriety. This famous rojak cooking uncle was brought to my attention by one of my readers named Louisa. Over the years, this uncle has received considerable attention, such as newspaper articles and television programmes featuring his stall. Even Adrian Pang (the Malaysian-born actor who seemingly appears in every Singaporean show ever created) popped by this stall to give his empty-headed view on the rojak quality.

Vegetarian Uncle Rojak
Location: Blk 805 Hougang Central, Foodpark Coffee Shop
Contact: 90299885
Opening Hours: Daily 9am - 10pm


CLOSED DOWN - As of 15/12/2014

Needless to say, it would be a injustice to this review if I didn't discuss and divulge in the dish that this stall is most synonymous for. The Rojak from this eatery comes in three size choices - Small, medium and large. I opted for the small size, and was startled by how big the portion was. Rojak (meaning 'mixture' in Malay) has many different variations and ingredients depending on the country and culture. For this dish, the prominent ingredients were pineapple, turnip and cucumber - All lathered in the famous thick and sweet rojak sauce. The sauce was thicker than usual, and lacking a little acidity from lime, in my opinion.

Price: $3.00 (S) $4.00 (M) $5.00 (L). 7/10

Other than his rojak, the uncle who runs this stall has also gained notoriety for his high quality Popiah. In particular, the popiah skin. He even sells the skin individually for $12 per kg - More information about those services can be found on his website. The popiah skin is certainly worth the hype, and was without question the best thing I ate from his stall that evening. The skin texture was chewy, yet light and having a thinness that didn't make it too heavy to consume. I could have eaten the skin alone! Inside was shredded vegetables and more of the rojak sauce. For reference, the image on the left is two pieces of popiah (total of $3.00).

Price: $1.50. 9/10

Moving on to the next dish, here we have the Tahu Goreng. Yet again, this dish was drowned in the sweet rojak sauce (the friendly uncle that owns this stall must have this sauce pumping through his veins by now). For those who are curious, rojak sauce mainly consists of palm sugar, tamarind, peanuts and chili. The sauce at this stall may or may not be to your liking. I foresee the contentious point being if the sauce is too thick or not. For me, this sauce consistency is fine, but others may wish for it to be more watered down. The notable trait of this dish is the fried tofu. The uncle fries the tofu fresh for each order. As a result the tofu tastes deliciously fresh.

Price: $2.00. 7/10

Moving onto the final dish, which was the Tau Kau Pau. I must admit, by this stage, I was sick of the sight of the sweet rojak sauce. This sandwich like dish had a great abundance of beansprouts in the center, which added a good crunch. Additionally, the lettuce leaves offered a slight rest-bite from overwhelming sauce. The theme of fresh uncooked ingredients, coupled with the sweet/tartness of the rojak sauce is basically the fundamentals of every dish offered at this stall. It is a formula that works successfully in this tau kau pau dish also.

Price: $1.50. 6/10

Conclusion - The menu at Uncle Rojak is not very large. In fact, I ordered every dish that the stall sells. They do also have a rojak mee rebus, which was not available on that particular evening. The standout highlight was certainly the popiah skin, probably the best I have tried so far in Singapore. In retrospect, eating four dishes covered in the sweet rojak sauce was probably not a good idea, and I will be staying away from that sauce for a long time now. All the dishes were delicious though, and would provide a fitting side dish to your main meal.

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

Monday, August 22, 2011

Saravanaa Bhavan Indian Vegetarian Restaurant - Farrer Park

I am aware that my Indian themed reviews are far from my most popular posts, however the purpose of the Hungry Ang Mo is to shine a light on all vegetarian food in Singapore (i.e. not just Chinese), regardless of cuisine genre - Therefore, I have another Indian eatery to share with you all, by the name of Saravanaa Bhavan. I actually visited this place over a year ago, but a review of it never materialized. Hence, I visited again, to finish what I started over a year ago. This is another of the 100% vegetarian eateries dotted along the infamous Syed Alwi Road (in my opinion, the number one meat free area in Singapore).


Saravanaa Bhavan Indian Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 84 Syed Alwi Road
Contact: 62977755
Opening Hours: Daily 8am - 11pm


Saravanaa Bhavan is hardly a humble local establishment. To the contrary, it has manifested a truly global franchise, with restaurants in USA, England, France, Canada and India (to name but a few). Focusing on our beloved Singapore, there are four outlets in total, more information can be found on their global website. The menu offers the customers all the wonderful North and South Indian dishes that Indian food fanatics would expect. A prior warning, it is better to go for a late dinner, as many dishes may not be available until after around 6pm.

This Channa Samosa certainly represented the most discussion worthy dish of the evening. Ever wonder what would happen if you merged a chaat with a curry? Well, me neither, but this dish certainly answers this question. A merging of two styles of Indian cooking is truly what it is. The attributes of a chaat are present in the form of mint chutney, raw red onions and the samosa. However, as you can visible see on the photo these ingredients are floating in a archetypal curry sauce. Channa translated into English is chickpeas, which are also floating in the dish. Does this fusion work? I must admit, I quite enjoyed the flavours, and would in all likelihood order it again.

Price: $5.50. 7/10

Apart roti prata (which I would be willing to argue is not even Indian food), dosa would probably be the most easily recognizable Indian dish. This is the Special Dosa. Although I didn't notice anything strikingly special or unique about this dosa, I was certainly thrilled by the superb flavour and texture. Another honorable mention goes to the yellow chutney (which I suspect is cashew chutney) which brought extra life into this dish.

Price: $3.50. 7/10

After my overwhelmingly positive experience of sampling bisebele bath at Ganesh Vilas, my curiosity was tickled to try this Bagalabath. Bagalabath is a vastly different dish, which can be broken down to basically mean curd rice. To an untrained palate, the flavour of this dish could closely resemble a sour rice pudding. While sour rice pudding would hardly be something I could envision drooling over in the future, it is a cooling dish, that would compliment the more richer Indian dishes. Inside the curd rice are diced carrots and raisins. Not a dish I would recommend non-Indian to order, as this is an acquired taste.

Price: $4.50. 5/10

As my faithful readers will be aware, North Indian food is my soft spot, the style of cuisine which I could eat religiously day after day. Therefore, a trip to an Indian restaurant is simply incomplete for me without a delicious thick curry. This emotional emptiness was filled by Aloo Paneer. The name translated simply means potato and cheese curry. I was taken aback by how rich and creamy this dish was. Those whose stomachs are not calibrated to appreciate Indian food might find this dish too heavy, as undoubtedly a reckless amount of cream was added. The paneer cheese had an almost perfect texture, and the potatoes held some welcome firmness to them. The sauce was delicious for me, but may not be to everyone's taste.

Price: $6.50. 8/10

Conclusion - GST and service charge were slammed into my face at the end of the meal, which did dissolve any thoughts of good value that I had in my mind. With that being said, the prices are not too bad. Especially for the aloo paneer curry, which was a pleasingly large portion size. Saravanaa Bhavan succeeded in producing good quality food, none of which I was displeased with. However, none of the foodssampled were really incredible either. Consequently, next time I'm trotting down Syed Alwi Road, I doubt this would be my first pick.

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Swensen's Ice Cream Buffet - Orchard

Orchard to me represents the height of materialism in Singapore. With everyone striving to buy items to find some sense of fulfillment or happiness. Yet, neglecting any quest of inner peace. Needless to say, Orchard is not somewhere I like to find myself. However, I made an exception a few days ago to try out the notorious Swensen's ice cream buffet. The catalyst for this journey was a 50% discount voucher that I bought online, making the buffet far more affordable than usual - I would categorize myself as much more of a savory food lover, but perhaps this buffet can help unearth a hidden sweet tooth in me.


Swensen's
Location: 2 Orchard Turn, #B1-31, ION Orchard
Contact: 68845967
Opening Hours:
Daily 11am-10pm (buffet timings)

The amount of ice cream and gelatos available was truly impressing. There were two more sections similar to this photo, that had more frozen delights. My personal favourites were the Apple Crumble Ice Cream and the Almond Pistachio Ice Cream. The latter ice cream is one of their most famous. On a cautionary note, the Filipino lady that serves the ice cream is acerbic and idle, and personally her inadequate service did taint my experience slightly. No qualms with the ice cream and the amount available though. There is also hot fudge on the side, which you can squirt onto it.

There was also a credible amount of cakes on offer, but I was disappointed that there were no cheese cakes available on that particular day. Most of the cakes were pretty ordinary. However, the Carrot Cake was moist and flavourful. The real standout cake was the Butter Cheese Pound Cake. The sponge on this cake was light and had perfect blend of salty and sweet flavour - For reference it is the cake with the chocolate balls on the top in the picture.

Price: $22.25 (per person). 7/10

Conclusion - As far as the quantity of the buffet spread, I would definitely say there are a lot of options and variety available. The quality is also not bad, although the waffles were too soggy, and most of the cakes were merely average. A dessert buffet is certainly something that will attract a lot of attention, and it is a lot of fun for the customers. However, before going, you should ask yourself a question - How much sweet desserts can I really eat? If the answer is a scoop of ice cream and a couple of cakes - Then you may not be getting your moneys worth. For those wondering how much I managed to eat - Eight scoops of ice cream and four cakes. I was carried out of the restaurant on a stretcher.

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

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Swaad Pure Vegetarian Restaurant - Farrer Park

Just when I think that I have seen all the Indian vegetarian delights in Farrer Park/Little India, another one is brought to my attention - Once again, by my ever reliable Indian informant Shankar. This Indian restaurant prides itself in offering Gujarati cuisine. For those unaware Gujarat is a state in western India, it is unique for its high abundance of vegetarians (almost the entire population of Gujarat doesn't consume meat). All the more remarkable when you consider there are 60 million people living in Gujarat. Additionally all alcohol is also prohibited in this state - Sounds like heaven for me.


Swaad Pure Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 70 Deskar Road
Contact: 82856865
Opening Hours:
Daily 11am-3pm, 4pm-10pm

Before we test the food, let's take a brief look at the menu. It arrives to the customer in the form of a nifty little booklet, which is easy to navigate. The vastness of choices is not huge, but sometimes that is a good thing, as too much choice can be overwhelming. Price wise, this would rank as a mid-range eatery, with the prices being quite affordable. Although, if you are really looking for a dirt cheap Indian eatery, it may be worth visiting Ganesh Vilas.


All great Indian food needs a good bread to accompany it. For this meal I opted for the Missi Roti. What differentiates this bread with others, is that it is made using besan (chick pea) flour. This gives this thin bread a more earthy flavour, it is also a more healthier alternative to most Indian breads. I say healthier not healthy, as this bread does have butter smeared over it. This bread is a perfect accompaniment to rice, daal and other scintillating Indian foods. The layering and thinness of this bread also made it light and fluffy to eat.

Price: $2.00. 7/10

After some deliberation, the rice I decided to pick was the Hyderabad Biriyani. As the name would suggest, this style of rice was spawned in Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh state. It is a dish synonymous for containing meat (namely goat meat). Of course, as Swaad is 100% vegetarian then no meat will be inside. To my surprise, the rice was coloured green, which I am presuming is a coriander infused style of cooking the biriyani. I have not had the fortune of sampling real Hyderabad biriyani, so I can't comment on this dishes authenticity. Taste wise though, it was a delicious and fluffy biriyani, which was incredibly moreish.

Price: $5.00. 8/10


For North Indian vegetarians, it is almost guaranteed that Palak Paneer will rank as one of their most beloved dishes. A unique difference to this dish, was the inclusion of scrambled paneer on the top of the curry. Flavour wise the spinach flavour was maintained well, and the seasoning and salt level was just perfect. The scrambled paneer was also a welcome addition to the dish. Unfortunately, as the dish was on its was to excellence, it limped to a halt due to the poor quality of the paneer cubes inside. The cheese was strained for too long, rendering the cubes to be too hard and dry. Good paneer cubes should be soft and silky in texture. A shame, as everything else in the dish was great.

Price: $7.00. 7/10

For a new comer to Indian cuisine, a thali, such as this Swaad Fixed Thali is an ideal dish choice. Mainly because you get small samples of many different foods. Taste wise, it also gives a wide variety of flavours, such as sour, sweet, salty, spicy. In this particular thali the main dishes were a dry cabbage fry, a watery potato curry, and sambar. The sambar had an overwhelming sourness to it, and the potato curry was a little too oily. The cabbage, however, had good texture, and a fine balance of flavours. The bright green coriander chutney was also a high point on the plate. The kind waiter would constantly add more chapati to your thali if you finish it also. Some good points, but I found it could have done with one or two more curries on the plate.

Price: $7.00. 5/10

Conclusion - I like it when restaurants spruce up dishes and take them to another level, and ultimately spark my interest in a dish I might have seen hundreds of times. The palak paneer with the scrambled paneer on top was the highlight of the meal, and it could have been so much better if only for the lackluster paneer cubes. None of the food was below par from Swaad, then again nothing leaped out as being phenomenal either. Swwad also produces a daily buffet, which I am curious to try. As for the a la carte, it was good, but better can be found elsewhere in the area.

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

Monday, August 8, 2011

Forest Dew Vegetarian Restaurant - Boon Keng

Back when my Hungry Ang Mo website was still in its infancy stages - Late 2009 more specifically - Forest Dew was one of my first few posts. I wanted to make a return visit, to see how things had changed in the almost two year gap. For reference, avid readers can catch up with my first post here. I remember my first experience being a largely positive one, especially due to their delectable mushroom meat balls. Boon Keng is hardly a vegetarian paradise, and it is a testament to the restaurant, that they have successfully survived for so long, in such a culinary barren area of Singapore.



Forest Dew Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: Blk 23 Bendemeer Road, #01-523
Contact: 62939579
Opening Hours: Daily 10.30am-10pm

For this second visit, I wanted to focus more on their several varieties of set meals. But first, I should point out (to my horror) that the mushroom meat balls that I adored so much from the past, have inexplicably been removed from the menu. From the feedback I have had, it seems this dish was universally popular with all the customers, so I'm quite clueless as to why they decided to remove it. The menu does have a new look, and therefore customers can expect new and innovative dishes from Forest Dew - But no more meat balls, I can feel my eyes welling up with tears.

There are several variations of Set Meals to choose from, but the one I went for was the soup, rice, and two savory dishes option. Another set meals are available that include a Thai dessert. Starting with the Tom Yum Sharks Fin Soup - Tom yum has always been something I've struggled to appreciate. Nevertheless the texture of this soup was well done, and I was relieved to taste that the red chili of the tom yum didn't dominate this dish. What could have improved this soup would have been a more generous quantity of the mock shark jelly.

6/10

The next section of this set meal was the Cheese Eggplant. It was a relief to find the texture of the eggplant was firm, but not undercooked (see below). The dish comprises of three layers - A tomato based sauce at the bottom, followed by the eggplants, and lastly a generous smothering of melted cheese on the top. I still cling onto the flawed Western philosophy that anything dunked, filled or coated in cheese tastes great. With that being said, objectively looking at this dish, it was a success to me. The elements all blended well together. Moreover, the offering of a Western fusion dish did offer a bit more personality to the set meal

7/10

The set meal culminated in the 'Hong Xiu' Pork Ribs. While this mock meat was not up to the standard of the delicious pork ribs from Loke Woh Yuen (which sadly closed down a few months back). They certainly did have a successful sweet and sour sauce, and the texture of the mock meat was acceptable - However, the texture was a little too soggy and might have been more appetizing if there was a slight thin crunchy textural element on the surface of the mock meat.

7/10

Set Meal Total Price: $12.00. 7/10

As well as the set meal, I also went for the Fry Black Kuay Teow. What sparked my interested in this dish was fellow food blogger Sunny's high praise for this dish. After consuming this dish, I would certainly echo Sunny's sentiments that this is a high quality dish, that had wise ingredient choices and top quality flavour. Inside the dish lurks mock meat, beansprouts, mushrooms, carrots and taupok. My only gripe would be my personal preference on kuay teow. I am someone who likes them more softer and gooey, instead of firm and bouncy - Which is what this kind was.

Price: $4.00. 8/10

One of the new dishes to emerge from the menu change was the Green Curry Seaweed Fish. Visually on the plate, as you can see, it looks impressive, with the fish 'tail' swimming majestically in the pale green sauce. The fish texture was soft and mushy, which suited the curry sauce well. The sauce had good flavour, with just the right amount of spice, but a lack of tartness made it a little one dimensional. The big let down of this dish were the other ingredients - Namely the eggplant and long beans. Eggplant would probably rank as the vegetable I adore the most, however, I despise it when it is undercooked. Sadly, the eggplants in this dish were way too hard. Ironically, the long beans, which were swimming next to them were overcooked - Rendering the center of this dish to be quite wonky.

Price: $8.00. 6/10

Conclusion - Since I last visited, almost two years ago, the restaurant has changed its running style slightly. The new menu does offer a few interesting new dishes, and it is good to see that the restaurant has made efforts to reinvent itself and offer new dishes to the customers. However, choosing to omit the mushroom meat balls from the menu is an unpardonable mistake in my eyes. Another gripe I had with the restaurant was the owners (I'm assuming) children were frolicking around the restaurant and generally being a nuisance. I am not a hater of children, but as paid customers they should be in the back, not in the front of the restaurant bouncing on the seats.

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

Monday, August 1, 2011

Herbivore Japanese & Western Vegetarian Restaurant - Bugis

There is a new vegetarian restaurant on the block, and its name is Herbivore. This restaurant has been open for a few weeks, and has generated a lot of buzz within the vegetarian community. I myself was a little cautious of going, after hearing a couple of fairly negative reviews online. But, as a food reviewer it is my duty to visit, and let my loyal and beloved readers know how it is. Many will remember this slot in the Fortune Centre used to be occupied by Luo Han, a restaurant which I really liked. Herbivore is a much higher end restaurant than its predecessor, so expect higher prices. No onions, garlic or egg are used in any of the food.


Herbivore Japanese & Western Vegetarian Restaurant
Location:
190 Middle Rd, Fortune Centre, #01-13/14
Contact: 63331612
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11.30am-3pm & 5pm-10pm.  Sat-Sun 11.30am-10pm

The creator of Herbivore, is in fact, the owner of the successful Zen Japanese Restaurant. Therefore the interior design, and aspects of the menu are similar to the aforementioned restaurant. Particularly so in regards to the Japanese section of the menu, which has Zen signature dishes, such as sashimi and sushi. The Western section of the menu represents the most expensive dishes, however, style wise they are quite unique, and portion wise they are large. On the weekends this place is extremely busy, I waited around 20 minutes for the food to arrive. Contrary to what I heard in other reviews, the staff were all friendly and patient, irregardless of how overwhelmingly busy they were.

First dish of the evening was the Chicken Cheese Burger, the dish comprises of three elements - Fries, salad, and finally the centerpiece being the burger. The fries immediately tantalized my taste buds, they were fluffy, light and packed with flavour - I struggled to stop eating them! The burger also had many laudable traits. Firstly, the decision to toast the buns was wise, as it added a welcome textural crunch to the burger. Inside was typical trite burger ingredients - Such as tomato, lettuce and cucumber, as well as sliced cheese on top of the patty. The patty had a fine tasting crunchy batter, which worked harmoniously with the other ingredients in the burger.

Price: $9.90. 8/10

The price of this Beef Steak (Creamy Spaghetti Pasta) Set is enough to turn a customers hunger into queasiness. If a dish costs almost $20, then it has to be of a very high level in quality. To my surprise, this was. Again in this dish, those deliciously fluffy fries were present, which reduced me to giggling like a school girl with delight. The focal points of the dish were the mock beef steak and creamy pasta. For me, these two dishes didn't quite gel together. The beef steak was packed with flavour. But,  I would argue the wrong genre of flavour - As its sweet chili sauce is certainly not something you would find in authentic Western cuisine. Combatting this flavour packed steak, was a quite bland spaghetti pasta. The omission of onions and garlic really impacted this spaghetti, as garlic is really an indispensable ingredient in this style of cooking. Unexpectedly, the hero of this dish was the creamy tomato soup. This was an unbelievably delicious soup, which I found myself constantly returning to. The balance of the acidic/sharpness of the tomato, the amount of cream and the seasoning was absolutely perfect. The dessert aspect of this set meal was a orange flavoured jelly.

Price: $18.90. 8/10

Conclusion - Despite what I read online, I had a largely positive experience at Herbivore. Although the prices may appear a little unreasonable, rest assured that the portions are larger than normal. Additionally, there is no GST or service charge, which cushions the blow of the high prices. Presentation wise, the dishes looked fantastic, and flavour wise overall I was pleased. Some areas of the cooking could certainly be improved on, then again, other areas were absolutely perfect. Both Herbivore, and the sister restaurant Zen are worthwhile visits for food lovers in Singapore.

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