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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Water Drop Tea House - Punggol

My mother recently made the long journey to Singapore to visit me. One huge cultural difference is the high stress level and countless hoards of people in Singapore. Therefore, during her trip, I took her to the most calming and peaceful eatery that I could think of, which is Water Drop Tea House. Not only did this provide a good escape for my mum, but it was also interesting for me to return to a place, which I had not visited/reviewed in almost two years. For those curious to see my first review - Click Here. Peace and serenity are what you can experience in this area of Punggol, appreciate it, before it is ruined by construction - Like everywhere else in Singapore.

LinkWater Drop Teahouse
Location: Fo Guang Shan, 1 Punggol Place

Contact: 64110590
Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm. Sun+Public Hol 10am-5pm. Closed Monday.

Since my first visit, over two years ago, the menu has remained almost the same, yet some small changes have been made. This time around I captured it in a photo for my beloved readers to view. The menu, in essence, is very simple, with there being only a handful of main course meals. The rest of the menu consists of drinks (their variety of teas are especially unique and delightful) and side dishes. The dish which this tea house is most synonymous for is the crispy ginger side dish, I will get to that shortly, but first, lets start with the tea...

The different types of tea at Water Drop always captivate my attention. I was sad to see that the gui hua tea, which I remember so fondly from my first visit was now no longer available. With that being said, there are still many other unique teas to try. For example, here we have the Mixed Fruits Tea. There is no actual solid fruits in this tea, which was a bit of a disappointment. Nevertheless the flavour had popping fruit flavours, which closely resembled ribena, but without the overwhelming sugar content. A different, and certainly positive experience.

Price: $5.00 (pot). 8/10

For all the teas at Water Drop, there is the option of having a cup or a pot. For myself, I always choose the pot. Personally ordering a pot visually is much nicer to me. But for the purpose of informing you all, the cup price is $3. The next tea I sampled was the Longan Tea. A noticeable difference in this tea is the addition of various berries, such as goji and gooseberries into the pot. Not only does this enhance the flavour, they were also lots of fun to eat, once the teapot was empty. Flavour wise, the berries gave it sweetness, and the longan flavour is derived from dried longan, hence the golden brown colour.

Price: $5.00 (pot). 8/10

The signature dish of Water Drop is the Crispy Ginger. Since the last time I tried this dish, the ginger seems to have been made less burning (perhaps a switch from old to young ginger). This certainly makes it easy to eat in large quantities. Texture wise, the pieces of ginger are light and extremely chewy. Along with the ginger, there are also pieces of soy mock meat inside, flavour wise they don't have the burn of the ginger, and are more juicy. The flavour, of course, is predominantly of ginger - Yet there is also a distinct sweetness, which counteracts the ginger, to make it less overpowering. A dish that you will not be able to find anywhere else in Singapore, so seize your opportunity and order it!

Price: $5.00. 9/10

For my second visit at Water Drop, I was curious to explore more of the side dishes available. I started this exploration off with the Potato Wedges. Presentation wise, they arrived in beautiful condition, lined up in a straight row, with slashes of sauce coating them. Taste wise, they tasted as good as they looked. The potato was soft and fluffy inside, which was a relief as wedges can sometimes be undercooked. Although the sauce appears to be cheese, it is actually mayo and sweet chili combined. There is egg in the mayo, so this unfortunately is not a dish for vegans. Size wise, it may appear a little small, but price wise is pretty low, so I didn't feel too aggrieved. Certainly a side dish that I would order again.

Price: $3.00. 7/10

Probably the side dish I enjoyed the most from my first visit was the Veg Crispy Chicken, therefore I was curious to order again, to see if the standard was still the same - Thankfully it was. The batter of this chicken is hard and crunchy, however it is still nice and juicy, and not dry like some might expect. Not only was it juicy, but the flavour of the batter was sensational. Portion wise, I was pleased to see that they made this side dish slightly bigger, compared to the first time I visited. Great tasting snack, that I guarantee you will not be able to stop eating!

Price: $3.00. 8/10

The final dish in this review will be the Braised Rice, this is another one of the main meal dishes. Unlike the minced meat mushroom rice, this dish is served with white rice, instead of brown. The focal point of the dish is the various types of mushrooms, which sit next to the rice. As well as mushrooms there was also one or two pieces of gluten mock meat, which I'd rather not be there at all. The sauce that was poured over the mushrooms and rice tasted fine, and overall I was satisfied with this dish as a main meal. Price wise, it is extremely reasonable too.

Price: $4.00. 7/10

Conclusion - Water Drop Tea House offers one of the most peaceful and calming eating environments in Singapore. One of the few things that irks me about food reviewing is having to enter stressful restaurants, endure screaming babies and k-po people. At Water Drop, customers can truly relax while they enjoy their meal, for me, this is something extremely precious. Food wise, I was more impressed the second time, than I was the first. I enjoyed every dish I ordered, and thought at the end of my meal 'why has it been over two years since I've visited here!?'. I won't be waiting two years again, this is a eatery where you'll want to keep coming back again and again.

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Zen Fut Sai Kai Vegetarian Restaurant - Farrer Park

I have to offer a gracious thank you to Amanda, one my readers, for bringing this place to my attention. Farrer Park has been explored extensively on my website, however, perhaps I have neglected the myriad of Chinese establishments, which can also be found in that area. An example of one of these is Zen Fut Sai Kai. Immediately upon entering this restaurant, the customer can get a olden time feel, which is like stepping back in time. Enough chit chatting, lets find out how good this traditional Chinese restaurant is...

Zen Fut Sai Kai Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 147 Kitchener Road
Contact: 62912350
Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 10.00am - 9.30pm.  Monday closed (unless day is 1st & 15th)

Before we discuss the menu, one positive I would like to mention is Zen Fut Sai Kai (unlike most traditional Chinese eateries) doesn't have the irritating extra charges, such as hand towel, pickles etc. This is a relief, as it really lessens the weight load of the end bill. The menu itself may be quite foreign to non-Chinese eaters, with many bizarre sounding names that have no explanation. However, if you're like me, it becomes a lot of fun ordering unfamiliar dishes and anticipating what will arrive. Price wise the menu is reasonable, and as I will explain later, the portion sizes are very big.

First dish of the day was the Yong Chow Fried Rice. For $6, I found that the sizing of this dish was more than reasonable. Not only do you get the plate of rice, but there is also two cups of sweet and sour sauce, which accompany it. Quality wise, the mushrooms and fresh coriander add good flavour depth. This is coupled by well textured rice, which has been flavoured wisely. In particular, the vegetables have the splendid black charring on them, which is something that I personally adore.

Price: $6.00. 8/10

Every dish from Zen Fut Sai Kai that I ordered was outstanding, but the Kum Loo Wanton was by far my most favourite. Having tried several varieties of fried wan ton, this version is by certainly my most favourite. Portion size wise, again it was quite large, and therefore was great value, in my eyes. The skin of the wan ton was flavourful and light. I am not someone who likes a lot of fried food, but these were incredibly addictive. Not only was the outer skin divine, but the wanton filling, consisting mainly of minced mushrooms, had sensational flavour. Light, delicious and fun to eat - Incredible!

Price: $6.00. 9/10

For the final dish, I wanted to try something that was really foreign to me - I went for the Sap Kum Sugar Cane Flower Soup. I am someone who as drunk sugar cane juice countless times, but this is the first time I have seen it in the form of a soup. Before I talk about the sugar cane, lets discuss the other ingredients. The main focal ingredient of this soup is certainly mushrooms. There is a total of three varieties of mushroom/fungus used. The soup stock has a mild taste, with an undertone of ginger. The sugar cane element consists of the unusual looking (and tasting) sugar cane flower. I am unsure what exactly was done to it, but it was soft, and had the flavour of corn. Very fascinating dish.

Price: $6.00. 8/10

Conclusion - Visiting Zen Fut Sai Kai really makes me realise just how much fantastic vegetarian food is located in the Farrer Park area. This meal would rank as one of my most enjoyable, since starting my food reviewing website many years ago. Portion size wise I was impressed, and the quality was exceptional also. It was a shame I couldn't get to try more of the dishes, but if they're as delicious as the three I did try, then this would probably rank as one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Singapore.

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Su Man Yuen Vegetarian - City Hall

Western vegetarian food is always something I am particularly eager to find in Singapore, so after one of my readers, named Lilian, recommended this stall in Fountain Food Terrace, City Hall - Then I simply had to try. This is a typical run of the mill Chinese food court stall, however, their Western dishes are more unique (especially the meat sandwich dish). I personally find City Hall/Suntec to be like a maze, so in order to avoid getting lost, just head for the Fountain of Wealth, from there it is a stones throw away. Thank you once again to the reader who recommended this place to me, without further adieu, lets see how it went...

Su Man Yuen Vegetarian
Location: Level B1, #04, Fountain Food Terrace, Suntec City Mall
Contact: Unknown
Opening Hours: Unknown

NOTE - This stall has now been renamed Perfect Vegetarian (17/09/2014), and is now located at the Food Republic food court.

Without a doubt the dish that leaps out as the most unique and captivating is this Black Pepper Chicken Chop Sandwich. I always applaud stalls that try to offer the customer something special, which they will not find at many (or any) other stalls of this nature. The second thing that attracted me, was the price. I found $5 very reasonable. The dish itself I would label more of a fusion dish. Instead of making a typical Western style sandwich, they are actually using Chinese bun - Therefore the dish more closely resembles kou rou bao, rather than a Western sandwich. Accompanying these 'sandwiches' are coleslaw, tomato, cucumber and fries. Certainly an enjoyable dish overall, however personally, I feel if you are going to serve a Western dish, just go 100% Western - Instead of playing it safe and conglomerating it with Chinese cuisine.

Price: $5.00. 7/10

Sticking with the theme of Western food, the next dish to my tasting table was the Veg Chicken Chop. Another attractive looking dish, with similar components of cucumber, tomato and coleslaw. This time in addition, there is white rice and baked beans to accompany the chop. I find in general, the matching of mock chicken chop and rice is fine - However for some, this may run the risk of being too dry. Portion wise, I found it incredibly good value, with there being three large sized chicken chops on the plate. I would have preferred the chops to have been sliced a little, as the crunchy batter made the cutting (especially with no knife) a real hassle. A flavourful mock chicken chop, with good side dishes and an attractive price - A success overall!

Price: $5.00. 7/10

Conclusion - Su Man Yuen is certainly a great places to find affordable and tasty Western food, and if I was in the area, I wouldn't hesitate to pay this place another visit. However, while the Western food was great value, the other dishes are awful value. For dishes like laksa, expect to pay $4, and even simple rice and dishes will cost $3 plus. Another draw back of this stall is the waiting time, I understand that Western food is definitely something which takes longer to prepare, yet even after making that exception, I still found it took too long. Those who are having a craving for Western cuisine, I certainly would recommend visiting here!

Overall Rating
Food - 7/10
Ambiance- 6/10
Service - 5/10
Value - 8/10

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fu Xiang Vegetarian Food - Harbourfront

Vegetarians living in Singapore should be well aware of the woeful meat-free options available at Vivo City/Harbourfront. It is really disappointing that such a huge shopping centre doesn't have one single vegetarian eatery. With that being said, there is a vegetarian stall close by the shopping centre, which could provide a viable option for those who are finding themselves desperately looking for anything vegetarian in that area. Therefore, Fu Xiang Vegetarian Food, which is located in Seah Im Food Centre, will be my focus for this review. You can get to this hawker centre by taking Exit A, from Harbourfront MRT. From there it is only a 2 minute walk.

Fu Xiang Vegetarian Food
Location: #01-25, Seah Im Food Centre
Contact: Unknown
Opening Hours: Unknown

Honestly speaking, Fu Xiang doesn't really have a whole lot to chose from, and really, it is just a typical vegetarian hawker centre stall. But, the dishes are very cheap - Such as this White Rice & Dishes. The dishes I opted for was mock meat and beansprouts. No complaints on the rice or the dishes, although there really was not many dishes to choose from. The black pepper mock meat was particularly juicy and flavourful. As I mentioned, price wise Fu Xiang certainly does offer dirt cheap dishes, which is great for those not wanting to pay the exorbitant food prices in Vivo.

Price: $2.00. 6/10

Fu Xiang is also offering a couple of freshly cooked dishes. The one which tantalized me the most was the Fried Hor Fun. Overall, I found the soup/gravy to be quite tasty, with welcome additions of mushrooms and beancurd. Unfortunately, what I felt the dish was lacking was the aroma of the wok, which I so desperate long for whenever eating dishes such as hor fun. Therefore, with this crucial flavour being missing, I did feel like the dish was simply incomplete. The texture of the noodles also felt a little tough and rubbery.

Price: $2.50. 5/10

Conclusion - Harbourfront is truly a sorry place for vegetarian food, all we can do is keep our fingers crossed that more options will spring up in the near future. For now, Fu Xiang represents the closest geographical vegetarian eatery to Vivo City, and therefore is the best option for those wanting a 100% vegetarian eatery. For those wanting places with a very strong amount of vegetarian dishes (but not 100%), then I would recommend Pangat Authentic Indian Cuisine, which can be found in the Vivo City Kopitiam (#B2-39).

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

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Indian Summer - Farrer Park

In my opinion, probably one of the most underrated vegetarian eateries in Singapore must be Sagar Ratna. Not only is their a la carte strong, but they have one of the best value Indian buffets around. Unfortunately, since my last visit, the price of the buffet increased from $10pax to $12pax. Although this increase in price is disgruntling, I still find that the price is reasonable. Not only are there several dishes to choose from, but there is also unlimited allowance of naan (butter, garlic or plain) or dosai. Finding Sagar Ratna is easy, just go down the bustling Syed Alwi Road, located a few minutes away from Farrer Park MRT.

Indian Summer
Location: 103 Syed Alwi Road
Contact: 63417797

Opening Hours: Buffet begins at 7:30pm (Daily)

Total Buffet Price = $12.00 per person

Note (07/09/2013) - CLOSED DOWN

Over the years, the concept and style of the Sagar Ratna buffet has remained the same. There is a blend of Chinese/Fusion dishes, such as rice, noodles and manchurian. There is also soup available on the far left hand side (although this, in my opinion, is a waste of stomach space). The types of dishes don't tend to vary too greatly. Each night, the types of curries may differ, but generally the Chinese dishes are always the same. Honestly, I can't really comment on the Chinese dishes - As an Indian food fanatic, I don't really see the point of eating Chinese food when I am attending an Indian buffet.

Onto the Indian dishes. On this particular evening, the focal dish (at least in my eyes) was the Kadhai Paneer. This rich and creamy curry was dark yellow in colour, and wonderfully spiced. One common disappointment with the buffet is that the paneer dishes often have very little paneer inside. Hopefully the chef becomes more generous in the future. It is an even greater shame, as the paneer is beautifully soft and silky, some of the best I have tried throughout my eating adventures. The white coloured dish nearest the camera is Kheer. This is an Indian dessert, which obviously should be taken at the end of the meal. It is sweet and contains cashew nuts and raisins typically. Although I found this version a little too diluted.

If my pictures of this delicious buffet didn't compel you to pay Sagar Ratna a visit, then I must also tell you that this restaurant has certainly the best naan I have tried so far in Singapore. The Garlic Naan and Butter Naan in particular have delightful black charring on the outskirts of the naan. This crucial element is what gives this naan its distinctive aroma. Texture wise, the naan has the balance of layers, coupled with a crispness, yet chewiness - The exact combination of how a naan should be. Forget curry and rice, I could happily enjoy these naan's by themselves!


Conclusion - On a personal level, this buffet is probably one of the meals I have eaten the most during my whole time in Singapore. I must admit, I did feel a little heart-broken when I heard about the price increase. However, putting things into perspective, I do find that the new price of $12 is also reasonable. I don't foresee that I will be returning for this buffet as frequently as I did in the past (partially price and partially health reasons). But, the increase in price certainly won't stop me going completely. If you do visit Sagar Ratna (for the buffet or a la carte) it is imperative that you sample the naan - It is incredible!

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hong Yi Vegetarian - Jurong West

I am aware that Hungry Ang Mo has certainly been lacking in vegetarian reviews in the West of Singapore, and that is something I aim to improve upon in the future. This stall was graciously recommended to me by one of my readers. They were particularly enthusiastic about the chicken rice on offer here. MRT wise, this stall is within walking distance of Lakeside. The menu operates in the style of offering breakfast/lunch items (7am-3pm) and more ample dinner items. The breakfast/lunch offerings are typically chicken rice, laksa, lor mee. While the dinner menu (starting at 5pm) has several options, you can enlarge the photo to view them all. 

Hong Yi Vegetarian
Location: Blk 504, Jurong West Street 51
Contact: Unknown
Opening Hours: Daily 7am - 3pm & 5pm - 10pm

As I arrived at Hong Yi for lunch, it meant I was unable to partake in the various evening meals. Nevertheless, Laksa is one of my all time favourite Singapore dishes, so I wasn't complaining. I found this particular version to be a mixture of highs and lows. The soup base is creamy, not too spicy and flavourful, with the perfect blend of coconut cream and curry. Ingredients wise, the beancurd, beansprouts and laksa leaves were good additions. However, there were several weird gluten/jelly worm-like objects inside, which really didn't do anything for me. If they got rid of these bizarre items and replaced it with char siew or mock goose (zhai er) then it would have been a much greater success.

Price: $2.50. 6/10

As my devoted reader was so keen on me trying the Chicken Rice, I simply had to oblige. The clear winner in this dish is the mock chicken. I am always pleased when the chicken arrives with the delicious golden brown beancurd 'skin' on the outside. Although the chicken was a success, I found the rice to be a little lacking in flavour, and moreover, a bit too soft. The chili was spiced well, and coriander on top of the dish added beautiful extra flavour, I was a little sad to see the absence of dark soy sauce. Definitely an above average mock chicken rice variation, however it doesn't quite beat the chicken rice I tried at Shen Wei Xun Su Shi, still the number #1 for chicken rice, in my opinion.

Price: $2.50. 8/10

Conclusion - As my exploration to the West of Singapore continues, it is pleasing to encounter stalls like Hong Yi, which offer really delicious dishes at low prices. It was a pity that I couldn't try the evening dishes. Nevertheless, the lunch time menu was great, especially the chicken rice. I only wish there was a stall like this close to where I live.

Overall Rating
Food - 7/10
Ambiance- 6/10
Service - 6/10
Value - 9/10
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