Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vegetarian Era - Ang Mo Kio

A sincere thanks to Karlyne (Soy Bien) for bringing this new place to my attention.  Vegetarian Era opened its door late-July 2012, and upon arriving, it still looks fresh and clean in appearance.  The stall prides itself on selling eight dishes only, but take great care in making sure these dishes are as flawless and unique as possible.  The stall is 100% vegan - No eggs, no milk, no meat and no onions and garlic.  This stall is a venture by well-known vegetarian author Henry Wang.  A second Vegetarian Era outlet has recently been opened in Hougang (review here), with a third outlet in Eunos now also open (review here).


Vegetarian Era
Location: Blk 122 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3

Contact: 96109123
Opening Hours: Daily 7.30am - 2.30pm.  Closed Wednesday.

CLOSED DOWN - As of 15/10/2013 (owner has plans to open up again elsewhere)
 

Henry Wang's most well known book is 'D.I.Y Vegan Sauce', which is a bilingual (Chinese and English) book based on sharing the most delicious sauces he knows, this book can be found in Popular and other book stores.  Having had a lengthy conversation with Henry during my visit, it was great to hear about his fresh vision of offering dishes in Singapore that are unique and special - Instead of the typical trite vegetarian dishes that have now become common place in Singapore.








Presentation wise, this Hong Kong Style Vege Char Siew Rice arrived beautifully. Vegetarian char siew can so often have that undesirable doughy texture, and little flavour - Therefore it was pleasing to see that high quality mock char siew was used in this dish, it had a great texture, and had top notch sweet flavour.  Although the char siew tasted great the highlight of the dish was the rice - It was not merely white rice - Instead, it was a succulent ginger rice, which was oozing with flavour.  Probably the best rice I have eaten in Singapore.

Price: $3.00.     9/10


I followed the previous dish up with yet another rice dish, this time it was the Hainanese Fragrant Rice, which can more easily be conveyed as - Chicken rice.  The chilli sauce in both this dish, and the char siew dish was exceptional - I am not someone who likes overly spicy chilli sauce, therefore I was pleased this sauce had little spice - Yet had wonderful sweet and tangy flavours, which complimented the beancurd sheet chicken and rice sublimely.  Another outstanding dish.

Price: $3.00.     8/10


Conclusion - What a breath of fresh air the Vegetarian Era chain of eateries could bestow on Singapore.  I will eagerly await the opening of their Hougang outlet, to see what are the eight new fantastic dishes offered, but until then, I urge everyone in Singapore to give this place a try.  As someone who has reviewed literally hundreds of stalls and restaurants, I must admit I get tired of seeing the same dishes, that are cooked the same way, over and over again.  Therefore when I find somewhere like Vegetarian Era, it ignites that curiosity/interest I once had for exploring different vegetarian cuisine.  Definitely a place you must visit.

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

29 comments:

  1. http://www.facebook.com/VegetarianEra?ref=hl

    The monkey mushroom kway tiao is the best!! Love it! Will try all their noodles next time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Vegeboy,

      Thanks for sharing with me their Facebook page.

      Yeah, I did want to sample more dishes when I was there (including the kway tiao), but sadly I was alone, so I could only manage two dishes. I will review more dishes when their Hougang outlet opens though.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Luke

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    2. Great Luke, I stay in Hougang, where is their hougang stall gonna be?

      Delete
    3. Hey Tony,

      It will be in Hougang Central, the exact location I am still unsure of. Shortly after the opening, there will be a review on my website though. I will probably state the exact location on my twitter feed too.

      Luke

      Delete
  2. I try their monkey head mushroom laksa today. It is a major disappointment. I saw their staff scoup half overnight soup and half today 's fresh soup into my bowl. Timing=before 12:30pm. To add on to the horror, the monkey head mushrooms turned sour, probably left over from yesterday. At this rate, the new customers will just returned to their old stalls for food.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey anonymous,

      Sorry to hear about your negative experience here. Honestly, speak for myself, all the food I ate seemed very fresh, and the staff seemed very hard working and diligent.

      Will feedback this to the owner and see what the situation is.

      Luke

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    2. Thanks Luke! I am working around AMK area and it will be great to have one more alternative for lunch if they can serve quality food.

      Delete
  3. Hey Luke,
    I heard they just setup their Hougang stall, its time for you to get moving. Luke Go Go Go!

    Cheers,
    WX

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    Replies
    1. Hey Wu Xin,

      I went there on the opening night, writing the review right now! Should be out either today or tomorrow!

      Luke

      Delete
  4. hi luke,

    we visited this place over the long weekend, had the laksa, kway teow, char siew and chi rice. the chi rice wasn't as nice as the one we had in luo han zai(they offered the best chi rice in sg, unfortunately they had closed down :(). but the rest were great, especially the kway teow, the smoky monkey head shroom enhanced its flavour i guess. the char siew was really nice, i haven't eaten such tasty mock char siews before. as opposed to the review above, the laksa was very tasty.

    will definitely return to this brance again, we prefer the amk location to the hougang one haha

    Dawn

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    Replies
    1. Hey Dawn,

      I agree with you 100% on the monkey head mushrooms, really juicy and a remarkable smoky flavour to them.

      I find it quite difficult to pick which one is better between AMK and Hougang - Hougang is close to me, so it is definitely the one I visit the most, but I love the AMK outlet also.

      Looking forward to the Eunos outlet opening!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Luke

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  5. all the food look so yummy! just bumped into your website as i'm looking for 24/hr food places for my company's new website. anyway, funny profile! :D

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  6. Hi Luke, we went there yesterday Wed night around 8 plus but it was closed...thought they dopen daily? For vegetarians like us it's frustrating to find it closed without notice...no choice we took a bus down to another veg at amk ave 5...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Laura,

      After receiving your comment, I contacted Henry. He has informed me that the ang mo kio outlet temporarily has operating hours of 7am-2.30pm only. Due to a lack of manpower. I have altered the times on this post. These new operating times will not last for very long though.

      Believe me, being a food reviewer, I would say 40% of the time I visit places that are closed for no logical reason, haha. So I can empathise with your position.

      Luke

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    2. Thanks Luke..so they only change operating hours but still open daily right? A pity cos we usually go there after work to settle dinner. Well Henry should at least put up a sign at their stall to inform regulars like us who turn up, right? Maybe he expand his biz too fast...

      Delete
    3. Hey Laura,

      Yes still daily.

      I think having up a sign would be a good idea, I will let Henry know, so that the regular customers are informed about this.

      Don't worry Laura, I think it will only be a few weeks until the old timings are back again, so you can enjoy your dinner at Vegetarian Era again shortly!

      By the way, have you tried their Hougang and Eunos outlets yet? Which is your favourite?

      Luke

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    4. Thanks Luke you are very helpful. I have tried once at hougang outlet but didn't really like it...still prefer Amk one cos like their chicken rice, meepok and monkey mushrooms..hehe

      Delete
    5. Hey Laura,

      You should pay the Eunos one a visit also, maybe that will become your new favourite!

      Luke

      Delete
  7. Hi, Luke.

    Regrettably, you over-rated the char siew rice. Indeed, I tried it for the first time last Saturday. I was drastically dismayed.

    The meal was excessively and untenably greasy. The ingredients should be, say, steamed. The oil was needlessly overwhelming.

    The char siew slices' taste and texture were also trite. The rice was hardly flavoured. I understand that garlic is avoided. This would have precluded one flavour. However, the rice could have benefited from other ingredients or condiments and should have had a much more interesting taste. Kokee (despite the oil involved) and Create Healthy Lifestyle are two eateries that offer better-tasting and healthier(organic-brown) rice.

    Moreover, for the meal's miserly make-up(rice, 1 mock meat and green garnishing) and the above shortcomings, the price($3) was exorbitant.

    One redeeming factor for Vegetarian Era's Ang Mo Kio outlet was the provision of vegan options. Vegan establishments are desirable but rare.

    Another commendable point was the accommodating and patient staffer. For instance, she agreed to my request to replace the cooked greens with a larger portion of the raw(plain) cucumbers and tomatoes.

    I hope Vegetarian Era's offerings will be healthier. For example, oil and mock meat should figure minimally. More ingredients should also be included in the options.

    Admittedly, I only tried one choice. I should not be too judgemental. However, I had enough to hesitate to order the other selections.

    Luke, I noted that you liked your Vegetarian-Era experiences. I respect that. Furthermore, I only stated my opinions above. You need not revise or defend your views. Nonetheless, I'm curious about your response to my comments.

    Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey anonymous,

      I appreciate your in-depth feedback as always.

      I can tell by your feedback that you are someone who seeks the healthiest options possible, and that is a great thing.

      Definitely Kokee and Create Healthy are two places that offer much healthier options, compared with Vegetarian Era, I can't deny that. However, their prices are also much higher. If Vegetarian Era wants to keep its price low and attracted a wide audience (lets face it, most Singaporeans have good taste as a priority, not super healthy food) then things like mock meat, oil, salt etc need to be used. However, I agree with you that reducing them to make the dishes more healthy can only be a good thing.

      Not all vegan food has to be organic health food, I think we can make a differentiation.

      Personally, I find that the char siew is extremely flavourful and delicious (one of my favourite char siews in Singapore), moreover it is using soy instead of the conventional gluten - So I am sure someone as health concious as yourself will appreciate that.

      I can't help but disagree with you on the price also, considering that it is serving the more expensive ginger rice and using a high quality (expensive) char siew - Then in my eyes the price is actually value for money.

      I've had a lot of feedback from my many Vegetarian Era reviews, and with everyones differing opinions, one thing everyone seems to universally agree on, is that the dishes are great value for money.

      Have you tried the Hougang and Eunos outlets also? What did you think of those?

      Luke

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    2. Hi, Luke.

      Thanks for the prompt reply. Thanks even more for the candid and respectful response.

      Having been disappointed, I'm in no hurry to try the offerings @ the other outlets.

      I agree that vegan need not be organic. Organic food is a bonus. I also concede that the eateries I compared Vege Era with have more expensive options. Still, I'll readily pay the higher charges for the offerings that are better in quality and taste.

      I discovered a vegetarian eatery named Mai Zhi Su Vege Restaurant after I left Vegetarian Era. The eatery should be opposite Vege Era @ AMK. The former had a sizeable dinner patronage. That struck me as indicative of a higher quality dining experience. Indeed, I noted print articles pasted at the entrance. I believe they were food reviews. Purportedly, the chef, though not having always been dealing with veg food, is renown (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mai-Zhi-Su-VeGe-Restaurant/172447782798867?sk=info).

      I was about to suggest that you review the establishment when I saw your dated and ambivalent post on it. As an aside, others expressed a mixed reaction too (http://www.hungrygowhere.com/singapore/mai_zhi_su_ang_mo_kio/). I wonder then whether you will revisit the eatery. On this point, I will readily understand if you decide not to assess Mai Zhi Su since, besides the experience you found wanting, it isn't vegan and is quite far from Sengkang.

      I'm more hopeful that you re-explore The Green Room Cafe. The raw options seem intriguing and nutritious. The vegan ice-cream available should also entice you :p Sometimes, I considered patronising it for the first time but I did not actualise that thought. Perhaps a magnificent memory for you will spur me towards those final steps.

      Delete
    3. Hey anonymous,

      It is a shame that you were so disappointed with that particular dish...But I urge you to give the other dishes a try, at the other outlets...So that you can get a more balanced verdict on Vegetarian Era.

      It is funny you mentioned this Mai Zhi Su place, as I totally forgot that I had reviewed it in the past. It was one of my very first reviews, when I just started Hungry Ang Mo. Considering that my post on Mai Zhi Su is so dated, then certainly I have no problem reviewing it one more time.

      The Green Room Cafe did interest me when it transformed its menu to partially raw vegan. But having seen the new menu (the raw food being mostly unimaginative salads) and readers feedback - My excitement dipped. I will probably end up doing a follow-up review eventually though.

      Luke

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  8. Hi, I think he is closing the amk store this mth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey anonymous,

      Unfortunately you are correct. Last day will be on the 15th. Very sad news.

      Luke

      Delete
  9. How come? thought you mentioned his amk one is doing v well? hope he open in the east side again

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Things were definitely getting better at AMK, but uncontrollable circumstances have caused it to closed. I don't want to go into precise details, as I am not sure if people want it to be broadcasted.

      The good news is Henry is now actively looking for a new location to open up Vegetarian Era again.

      Luke

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  10. Sad to learn the demise of All the "Vegetarian ERA" outlets.
    Perhaps Henry have learnt the many reasons of his 'failures' and not repeat the same mistakes again.
    Just concentrate on 1 outlet before confidently to expand.
    I Hope he will bounce back successfully.
    Best Wishes.
    ....justicenequality

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey justicenequality,

      Yes, I also feel it is quite upsetting that Vegetarian Era no longer exists. Owner Henry is a sensational cook, one of the best I have ever met - But ultimately there are several other factors which determine if an eatery is to be a success or not in Singapore.

      I know Henry/Vegetarian Era will definitely return again in the future, so I'm looking forward to their return, whenever that will be!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Luke

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