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Friday, September 27, 2013

Frunatic - Buona Vista

You know what Singapore needs more of?  Shopping centres - There just isn't enough.  Get rid of those pesky trees and other green things and construct more ugly atrocious buildings!  But seriously, yes, another weird looking unnecessary shopping centre has opened in Singapore, which is about a 5 minute walk from Buona Vista MRT.  Frunatic is located on the second level of the aforementioned building.  Rather excitingly, Frunatic is the only 100% raw vegan eatery in Singapore.  But can raw food be made sexy enough to appeal to an Asian audience?  We'll see...

Location: 1 Vista Exchange Green, Star Vista, #02-01/02
Contact: 66946166
Opening Hours: Mon-Thur 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm & Sun 10am-10pm

CLOSED DOWN - As of 08/10/2013 (Owners currently looking for alternative location).  They have another location still running at 491 River Valley, Valley Point, #01-05/06 - Daily 10am-8pm.

Frunatic has two seating options - There is a large open-spaced seating area outside, which is without air-conditioning.  The second seating option is located at the side of the restaurant, and is called the 'Wellness Clinic'.  The latter option is pictured, and overall I found it to be a more cosy and pleasant place to dine.  Another key factor was it has air conditioning - Yes, I know, the Hungry Ang Mo is quite a diva. 

The Mexican Nacho Chips come in two sizes - Small ($2.50) and large ($4.50).  Before I give my verdict on this dish, it is important to know one thing - Prior to this dish arriving, I didn't have any inflated expectations that this dish should be just like real nachos.  Raw food has certain inescapable limitations, so we as customers must allow more flexibility in our judgement.  Having said that, this is a poor dish by anyone's standards.  The key downfall is the texture of the nacho chips.  After chewing on them they become horribly sticky, almost like chewing on something not meant for human consumption.  The avocado, salsa and nut dips were pretty nice, but not enough to redeem this dish.

Price: $4.50.     3/10

After the disappointing nacho experience, there suddenly came a green noodle-shaped glimmer of the hope on the horizon.  Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Meatball Spaghetti, a dish that proves raw vegan food can be successful in a large scale restaurant.  This was really a surprisingly filling, flavour rich and utterly scrumptious dish.  The 'noodles' are actually made from zucchini, which has been weaved into noodle shapes by using a piece of equipment called a spiralizer.  The pesto sauce was generously applied and packed with flavour.  The 'meatballs' might be an acquired taste.  Personally, I loved these things.  These meatballs are derived from nuts, and have a soft creamy texture.  This is actually a set meal, which comes with a drink.

Price: $9.90.      9/10

Currently Frunatic only have a handful of savoury dishes available - But there is a slightly wider selection of raw desserts on offer.  As you can see in the picture, the dessert portion size is incredibly small.  Most could be conceivably eaten in one bite.

I selected two of the smaller cakes and eagerly returned back to my seat to test them out.  The white coloured cake on the left is named Forest.  This was clearly the better of the two that I selected.  The 'forest' dessert had an uncanny resemblance to marzipan, both in terms of taste and texture.  The other dessert I opted for was named Chocolate Banana.  Personally, I didn't enjoy this dessert.  There was almost no chocolate taste (I suspect they are using cacao).  Also, the banana has a really odd taste.  Almost like the banana has been festering in a sweaty gym sock for 24 hours prior to serving.

Price: $2.80.     Forest 6/10.  Chocolate Banana 3/10

Conclusion - Ultimately, Frunatic is a restaurant which is ahead of its time.  Raw food is definitely becoming more and more popular, especially in Western countries.  But I don't think Singapore is quite ready for it yet.  I am still a bit of a raw food skeptic, but the 'meatball' spaghetti certainly converted me to some extent.  Then again, the 'nachos' reminded me of its limitations.  Raw food is a fascinating genre of cuisine, but I'm still sitting on the fence for now.

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

Thursday, September 26, 2013

D'Lithium Vegetarian - Tai Seng

Just a quick review here to shine a light on another vegetarian option in the Tai Seng area.  Having worked in Tai Seng a couple of years ago, I consider myself pretty well educated on the vegetarian choices available in this location.  Therefore, I was quite surprised that I had never heard of this stall before.  This vegetarian stall is located on the ground floor of the D'Lithium building, which is in a heavily industrialised area.  Needless to say, the customers who frequent this stall will be almost entirely workers from in and around the Tai Seng area.

D'Lithium Vegetarian
Location: 82 Playfair Road, D'Lithium Building
Contact: Unknown
Opening Hours: Unknown

I was hoping to order a couple of dishes, but after asking about what was available, the staff informed me that only ready dishes were available, everything zi char was unavailable.  Therefore, reluctantly I selected bee hoon, eggplant, beancurd sheets and potato.  This Bee Hoon and Dishes meal was quite satisfying overall, the eggplant was well cooked, and the beancurd sheets had a nice chewy texture.  The biggest disappointment was with the potatoes.  The potatoes were hopelessly undercooked.  They were sliced into quite big chunks, and obviously the chef didn't realise that they needed longer to cook.  Raw potato is an unforgivable mistake, even at coffee shop level.

Price: $3.00.      5/10

Conclusion - The raw potato definitely left a huge black cloud over my experience at this little stall.  Having said that, assuming you don't order the potatoes, then you may potentially be served good quality and affordable food at this eatery, so worth trying if you're in the area.

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

Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Realm Vegetarian Food Centre - Penang

Sometimes the best experiences in life are ones that you neither plan nor expect.  During my Penang visit we were on the way to eat at a vegan organic cafe called JenxDan Lifestyle.  It was quite a disappointment to find this place was closed due to renovations.  However, during the dejected walk back, we found this olden style vegetarian restaurant, which has been existing in Penang for over 30 years now.

Happy Realm Vegetarian Food Centre
Location: 223-B Jalan Burma, Penang
Contact: +6-016-487-4323
Opening Hours: Daily 10am-2pm & 5pm-9pm

The menu at Happy Realm is quite typical, customers won't see anything too out of the ordinary as they are flicking through the pages.  Pricing is pretty reasonable overall.  This restaurant is run by a husband and wife team - The bond between these two is really quite heart-warming, and I found both to be very humble and kind.  It is great to see after 30 years in this business, they are both still so passionate about serving good food to their customers.
First dish to arrive was the Claypot Noodles.  Almost all the dishes at Happy Realm come in three sizes - Small, medium and large.  For this review, every dish is 'small'.  I found this claypot to be strong in flavour, and I was delighted by the diversity of ingredients that could be found inside.  I particularly loved the many types of mushrooms.  The noodles were bouncy, and matched ideally with the claypot sauce.  Only potential negative is that the salt level may be a little too high for some customers.

Price: RM5.00.     7/10

If you're going to Penang, then one of the dishes you must eat is the Fried Kway Teow.  Penang is universally known for selling the most delicious smokey char kway teow in the world, so it is really an injustice to your stomach not to try it.  During my entire Penang adventure, Happy Realm probably produced the best char kway teow overall.  As you can see by the picture, the kway and other ingredients were charred perfectly by the chef.  This charring really translates into a beautiful smell, and a delicious flavour.  This is an eggless restaurant, so this dish is totally vegan.

Price: RM3.50.     9/10

The last dish to arrive was the Vegetarian Duck with Special Filling.  For those that are opposed to greasy fried food, then this is a dish you should avoid.  Even for myself, after a few pieces, I did feel a slightly lack of desire to continue.  For those who secretly enjoy greasy food, then you will certainly enjoy this dish.  The mock duck has a satisfying crispy outer texture and a soft chewy centre.  This mock meat is derived from beancurd, it is also a little on the salty side.

Price: RM10.00.     6/10

Conclusion - Quality food made by a lovely humble husband and wife, what could be better?  Even though I stumbled upon this place by accident, I would definitely recommend you make it a part of your food itinerary when visiting Penang.

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

Friday, September 20, 2013

CERA - Upper Thomson

I have been writing about the vegetarian/vegan food scene in Singapore for many years now, and I am delighted to witness a significant increase in innovative and creative meatless eateries over the last couple of years.  In terms of 2013, CERA probably represents the most unique and captivating new vegetarian eatery in Singapore.  Having opened in July 2013, CERA is still new to the vegetarian game.  CERA offers a truly mesmerizing menu, unique ambiance and friendly humble service.  Is this the future of vegetarian dining in Singapore?  I'm not complaining...

Location: 906M Upper Thomson Road
Contact: 65542372
Opening Hours: Tue-Fri 12pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 10am-11pm.  Monday Closed.

NOTE (as of 01/11/2013) - CERA is currently indefinitely closed until further notice.  It is still unclear when it will open again.

The concept of CERA comes from the head of Beatrice Wee, 23, who has always had a fascination with dinosaurs since watching 'Land Before Time' at a young age.  Therefore, when she made the decision to launch a vegetarian restaurant, she decided to create a theme based around this.  The name 'CERA' comes from the ancient herbivorous dinosaur triceratops. On a side note, it is fantastic to see someone so young entering into the vegetarian eatery business.  Nowadays it seems like the youth of Singapore put money as their number one priority.  So to see someone following their heart, and doing what they are really passionate about is wonderful.

Let's now get to the important stuff.  The menu at CERA is completely 100% vegetarian.  For vegan customers (like myself) you will be happy to find a heady amount of options available.  This menu is undoubtedly the most unique menu I have ever seen in Singapore.  Instead of reciting all the dishes they sell, I advise checking out their website for a full guide to the dishes available.  For a more affordable option, CERA have a $10.90 set lunch (pictured), which I will definitely have to try next visit. 
Near to the cashier counter, there are a variety of vegetarian and vegan cakes, cookies, and ice cream that customers can drool over.  All the ice cream at CERA is totally vegan, most is made from brown rice.  The signature flavours are strawberry and dark chocolate.  Many other interesting flavours are available, such as chendol, peanut butter caramel and pistachio.

The first dish to arrive to our table was Curry Fries with Pumpkin Ice-Cream.  Ever been curious what a fusion between ice cream and french fries would be like?  Well, this dish answers that question.  Chef Beatrice concocted this dish based on her childhood preference for dipping her McDonald's fries into McFlurry.  The vegan pumpkin ice cream is mild and really captures the natural sweetness of pumpkin.  The french fries are infused with a number of spices, along with fresh curry leaves that have also been fried.  Curry leaves always give such outstanding aroma to any dish.  Prior to eating, I did have the mindset that ice cream and fries is probably a little too wacky for me.  However, after eating, I found the food combination did work quite well together.

Price: $9.00.     7/10

One of the many non-vegan options available is the Oyster Omelette, also known as orh-lua-lao-nua.  Traditionally, when buying vegetarian oyster omelette the chef will use mushroom to replicate the texture of oysters.  Interestingly, CERA use a leafy vegetable called oysterplant (Mertensia maritima), also known as sea bluebells.  This leafy vegetable provides a shockingly authentic oyster texture.  This vegetable is seldom used in Singapore, mainly due to its high cost, but certainly I hope it is used more. 

Price: $6.50.     9/10

Being a self-confessed pizza addict, I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to sample one of CERA's interesting pizzas.  Dear CERA is the only vegan pizza, so by default that was the one I selected.  Instead of cutting the pizza into conventional triangle shapes, the chef cuts them into thin horizontal strips.  The customer is meant to place sprouts inside and roll up each strip of pizza to consume.  Ingredients included jalapenos, olives, capers and tomatoes can be found on top.  The tomato base for this pizza was deliciously zesty, and I loved the fact that capers were used (one of my favourite ingredients).  For future improvements, I would like to see a greater charring on the base and corners of the pizza, as currently the base is a little too soft and doughy.  This pizza contains onion.

Price: $15.00.     7/10

Although I don't have much of a sweet tooth, I was curious to try some of the desserts available at CERA.  All Things Mango is certainly a dish that lives up to its name.  Eating this dish is like a mini-exploration.  Customers will find dried mango, fresh mango, mango pudding and sago all swimming in a shallow mango puree pool. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this dish are the two green cubes with raspberry on top.  These green cubes (known as pâté de fruit) are made out of pectin, sugar, lemon juice and mangoes, and had a sweet gummy flavour.  For those who don't subscribe to the 'less is more' philosophy, then probably you will feel the portion size is too small.  But those who prefer the delicate intricacies of flavour, matched with artistic presentation - Then this dish will appeal to you.

Price: $7.00.     7/10

Along with a fixed dessert menu, CERA also have a variety of cookies and cakes to choose from at the front of the restaurant.  These cookies and cakes are a mixture of non-vegan and vegan.  Pictured is the Vegan Chocolate Cake.  Making vegan desserts (especially cakes) is not an easy task.  Every vegan cake I've tried so far has a certain plastic taste, which even experienced vegan dessert cooks like Delcie can't escape.  This is one of the few limitations with cooking desserts without dairy or eggs.  Moving on from that though, this is a very rich and moist cake, with the centre layer of nuts providing a creating crunchy texture.

Price: $6.50.     7/10

Conclusion - With innovative and creative restaurants like CERA cropping up, it is impossible not to be optimistic about the future of vegetarian/vegan food in Singapore.  If you want special eateries like CERA to thrive, there is only one thing you need to do - Support!  I can't emphasize that word enough.

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

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sushi Kitchen - Penang

Penang is one of those places where vegetarians are really spoilt for choice.  There are countless options all over the island, but especially so in the city area of Georgetown.  Sushi Kitchen is a Japanese themed vegan eatery, which is nestled on a quiet side street of Georgetown.  Admittedly, it's a pretty tricky place to find (especially if you're not familiar with the area), but worth the trouble. This restaurant has been running in Penang since 2009. 

Sushi Kitchen
Location: 12 Gat Lebuh Acheh, Georgetown, Penang
Contact: +6-017-402-8103
Opening Hours: Tue-Fri 11.30am-9.30pm.  Sat-Sun 11.30am-2.30pm & 6.00pm-10.00pm Closed on Monday

Upon entering inside this small restaurant, customers are greeted by friendly staff, and a very traditional Japanese themed ambiance.  They even have the traditional chabudai tables.  For someone who has stiff rusty inflexible joints like myself, sitting beside this chabudai table can be torture.  From what I've observed, Asian people seem to be much more flexible than me though, so I am sure it won't be a problem for most.  The place is quite dark.

The restaurant has great ethical principles.  Insisting on never using microwaves, white salt, white sugar, no MSG, no artificial colouring and no preservatives.  Whilst at the same time, priding themselves on using ingredients such as brown sugar, Himalayan pink salt, natural seasoning and everything being 100% vegan and organic.  The menu has a wide range of predominantly Japanese dishes, but food from other cuisines can also be found on the menu.

If you're heading to Penang, then something that definitely needs to be on your list of things to try is the Homey Nutmeg Juice.  Nutmeg is grown in great abundance in Penang, and therefore it features heavily in a lot of Penang snacks, drinks and meals.  Making juice out of nutmeg is extremely popular during the hot summer months in Penang, as nutmeg is a very 'cooling' ingredient.  The taste is quite unusual.  It reminds me of a flowery galangal/ginger flavour, but there is an undertone of conventional nutmeg flavour in there too.  I really loved this, and found myself drinking it wherever I went in Penang.

Price: RM2.50.     7/10
It was quite a challenge scrolling through the menu and deciding what to order, but eventually we settled on sampling the Happy Spicy Noodle.  To put it simply, this dish is amazing.  Having run hungryangmo.com for many years now, and reviewed thousands of vegetarian dishes, it is very seldom that a dish can really 'wow' me - This dish managed to achieve that.  The key to this dish is the delicious hot broth, which is really different to anything I've tried before.  The broth has curdled soy milk, and has an eclectic mix of spice, sweetness, sourness and wonderful aroma.  If you're visited Sushi Kitchen, then I implore you to give this dish a go.

Price: RM6.80.     10/10

Many may find that a trip to a Japanese restaurant is simply incomplete without having a selection of sushi at the table.  Sushi Kitchen have a variety of different sushi options, but we decided to go for the most elaborate one, which is cryptically named Hapiness Family.  This dish is essentially a sushi platter, with a total of five different types of sushi (plus edamame) on the plate.  Although there are a total of 16 pieces of sushi, I did find the price was a little on the high side.  Nevertheless, the quality of the sushi was nice and fresh, and considering we are dealing with organic ingredients - Perhaps I shouldn't complain about the price too much. 

Price: RM26.80.     7/10

Conclusion - Apart from the troublesome geographical location, there is nothing really to fault about Sushi Kitchen.  When I reflect on my visit to this eatery, I can't help but hope that places like this represent the future of vegetarian/vegan dining.  Establishments that sell quality ingredients and healthy creative dishes, which exclude dairy, copious amounts of oil, mock meats and other harmful ingredients.  It is time we go back to basics, and Sushi Kitchen does that perfectly.

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

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Delicious Vegetarian Food - Serangoon

Delicious Vegetarian Food is one of those stalls that I have been meaning to review for years, but just never got around to it.  Located in the trendy Serangoon Gardens area, this stall represents one of the few vegetarian options for those who visit said area.  Rather frustratingly, this is one of those stalls that is only open half day, so if you're coming after 2.30pm then they will inevitably be closed.  The stall has a pretty good reputation, and has a devout following of customers who have been regularly patronizing their stall for countless years.  They are especially known for their excellent mee pok, which is available every day.  Apart from that, each day of the week they have a daily special.

Delicious Vegetarian Food
Location: 49A Serangoon Gardens Way, #01-06
Contact: 62852989
Opening Hours: Daily 7.00am-2.30pm.

As I mentioned just now, each day there is a daily special.  On this particular day, it was Chicken Rice.  Vegetarian chicken rice is one of my particular favourites, and probably I have sampled over 100 different versions of vegetarian chicken rice, during my many years in Singapore.  Overall, I found this dish to be decent enough, however the real let down was the quality of the rice.  Flavour wise, the rice was decent enough, but the broken decrepit grains didn't appeal to me at all.  The chili was biting and the beancurd derived mock chicken, with a crunchy (crusty chicken chop style) outer skin was quite delightful.

Price:$2.50.     6/10

The signature dish of Delicious Vegetarian is their Mee Pok, so it would be an injustice for me not to review it.  My requirements for mee pok is very simple - Lots of vinegar!  This is my personal preference, and I was pleased to find that this stall did include some vinegar inside (although it still was not enough for me).  The quality of the noodles were fresh, and there was a surprisingly diverse range of ingredients inside.  These include mock fish ball slices, tofu, mock duck, vegetables.  For the price, you can't argue with the quality and taste of this delicious dish.

Price: $2.50.     8/10

Conclusion - If you're going to Delicious Vegetarian specifically for the mee pok, then I believe your visit will not be a disappointing one.  People rave about the Serangoon Garden mee pok for a reason, and the hype is quite justified.  I would love to return again and try their other daily specials.  For any of my readers that have tried them, please feedback in the comments.

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vegan Magnum Ice Cream

Note - Today I am lucky to have a talented guest blogger called Sheryl appearing on hungryangmo.com.  Please take the time to visit her blog eatgreencake.wordpress.com and check out her other vegan-related posts.  Thanks!

Hi everyone,
I’m Sheryl and I blog at EatGreenCake. It’s such a great honour to be featured on Hungry Ang Mo’s blog and to be able to create a recipe for all of you.

As a long time reader of Luke’s blog, I was really excited to do this post. While sorting through my thoughts last week, I noticed this Magnum advertisement at my bus stop which focused on their creamy classic ice cream. Then it hit me. Won’t it be pretty awesome if we had a vegan version of Magnum?!

I have a huge sweet  tooth and am always looking for ways to make raw or vegan versions of popular desserts. Sometimes the recipes turn out pretty badly but other times, they turn out pretty darn delicious. And this vegan Magnum version was one of the very successful turn outs (whew!!)

I really enjoyed creating this recipe and my non-vegan friends and siblings who tried the ice-cream loved it too!  So I hope you have fun in the kitchen with his recipe!

Vegan “Magnum” Coconut Ice Cream
Makes 2 portions
Vegan, GF

Coconut Ice-Cream
½ cup packed coconut meat (around 2 coconuts)
¼ cup coconut water
¼ cup xylitol*
½ tsp vanilla essence

*Xylitol is a natural, low GI sugar substitute that has 40x less calories than sugar and is suitable for people with diabetes or for those watching their weight. You can replace xylitol with equal amounts of sugar too.

Raw Chocolate Coating
150g raw cacao butter (before melting)
3 TBS raw cacao powder
1 TSP lucuma powder (optional, if not replace with 1 TSP cacao powder)
2 TBS + 1 TSP agave nectar
¼ TSP vanilla essence
Pinch of salt

Coconut Ice-Cream

1.      Scrape out the flesh from the 2 large coconuts.  Make sure that the flesh isn’t the translucent kind
2.       Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender and pour it into 2 ice cream moulds.
3.       Leave to freeze overnight.

Raw Chocolate Coating

1.     There are several ways to melt the cacao butter but I prefer using the water bath method. You’ll need 2 bowls – a larger one to hold the hot liquid and a smaller one that fits inside the larger one to hold the cacao butter.
Bowl some water and pour it into the larger bowl. Place the smaller bowl with the cacao butter inside the larger bowl and keep stirring till the butter melts. I also use a thermometer to make sure the temperature inside the smaller bowl doesn’t go above 47degrees Celsius so that it’s still considered “raw”.  But that’s really optional.
2.      Once the cacao butter has melted, add in the rest of the ingredients and stir well till it becomes a smooth liquid chocolate. Add more agave nectar if you don’t find it sweet enough.
3.      Get ready an empty tray and line it with parchment paper.
4.       Remove the ice-cream moulds from the freezer and slowly pull out your coconut ice cream from the mould.
5.     Coat the ice-cream in chocolate and place it on the tray. Place it back in the freezer.
6.      I repeated step 5 three times because I wanted my chocolate shell to be thick and chocoately!  Once you’re done, leave it in the freezer overnight and you’ll have something delicious to look forward to in the morning!

** If you have excess chocolate, simply freeze it and you’ll get chocolate!

For more about me and my recipes, visit www.eatgreencake.wordpress.com.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant - Little India

Seven years ago, I was a youthful 19 year old backpacker taking a summer vacation from university, and living in the heart of Little India.  It was during this three month vacation in Singapore, that I first discovered Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant.  I can't take credit for discovering Gokul, as it was actually my friend who found out about this place, and subsequently brought me there.  Seven years ago Gokul looked completely different.  Now, in 2013, Gokul ranks as arguably the most popular vegetarian eatery in Little India, which attracts a diverse range of customers.  Regular readers of my blog will know how highly I rate Gokul - I wanted to focus this latest Gokul review on their new look menu, and uncovering how 'vegan friendly' Gokul is.

Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 19 Upper Dickson Road
Contact: 63967769
Opening Hours: Daily 8.00am-10.30pm.
The thing that I love so much about Gokul is they are ever evolving.  The Gokul of 2012 is completely different to the Gokul of 2013.  It is a restaurant that certainly never stays stagnant.  One of the new changes that Gokul have made is the inclusion of daily specials, which are advertised outside of the restaurant.

Compared to my previous visits to Gokul, one thing I have noticed is a massive improvement in the quality of their staff.  All the Gokul staff are now alert, attentive to every customer, proactive, and have an extensive knowledge of the food that Gokul offers.  This is vastly different to the staff quality from a few years ago.  Some may complain that Gokul is not as cheap as it used to be (which is true) - But, take a second to think about what improvements Gokul has made.  The price has increased, but so has the service quality, ambiance quality, food quality and food diversity.  Pictured above is Restaurant Manager Vijay and myself (no prizes for guessing who is who).

The Gokul menu has changed significantly over the years.  Their latest menu is without a doubt their most impressive.  There are now a total of 530 items on the menu.  That is really a staggering number.  A lot of times when I recommend someone to visit Gokul, I often hear 'yeah, but I don't like Indian food' - I must emphasise that Gokul is not just an Indian restaurant.  Their vast menu offers an eclectic mix of several cuisines.  You can find countless traditional Malay dishes, as well as Chinese, Western and Thai delights.  Of course there is North and South Indian food - But even if you don't like Indian food, you will still be spoilt for choice at Gokul.  Another incredible fact is that 75% of their menu is now vegan (no milk, curd, yogurt, ghee, cheese etc).  Even items such as naan (which is typically made with milk added) is made without dairy, so that vegans can also enjoy.

One of the many significant improvements in the new Gokul menu is the expansion of drinks options.  Customers now have the option of a myriad of fresh fruit juices and hot drinks.  Pictured is the Lemongrass Juice.  Although the price may seem a little excessive, I was impressed by the flavour and attention to detail of this drink.  Visually, it really looks delightful.  There is a piece of lemongrass, pandan leaf and sprig of mint all floating in the cup.  The whole lemongrass is particularly useful in allowing you to stir around the liquid.  The more you stir it around, the more lemongrass flavour is released from the stem.  The juice is actually made up of a number of fruits - Instead of telling you, perhaps it would be more intriguing for you to order this drink yourself and attempt to guess.  A little costly, but a really refreshing drink that went perfectly with the food.

Price: $5.00.      8/10

Gokul is the only eatery in Singapore where you can find a large and diverse selection of Malay vegetarian/vegan dishes.  It seems weird using 'Malay' and 'vegetarian' in the same sentence, as Malay food is typically one of the most vegetarian unfriendly cuisines in the world.  Having said that, Gokul has managed to take countless classic Malay dishes and transform them into vegan versions.  The first Malay dish I sampled was the Soup Tulang.  This is a perfect example of a dish you will never find anywhere else other than Gokul.  This is essentially a Malay 'mutton' soup.  The soup is thick and the flavours are very earthy.  Spice wise, this is a very mild soup.  The toasted bread acts as an ideal tool to dip inside and soak up the delicious soup.

Price: $6.00.     8/10

Continuing with the Malay cuisine theme, here is the Roti Jala.  This was a first experience for me, as I've never eaten this dish before.  Visually, it looks as if an idiyappam has bred with a dosai.  This is a crepe-like snack that is typically made with coconut milk powder, turmeric (where the yellow colour comes from) and egg - However, Gokul have managed to concoct roti jala without the use of any eggs.  The texture of this dish is crunchy like a dosai, but a lot more chewy.  It goes perfectly with the chutney and curry that was served with it.  Roti jala is a Malay dish that you will literally not be able to find anywhere in Singapore (at least not a vegan version of it), so certainly customers should make the most of this rare opportunity, and order this dish.  Personally, I still prefer dosai - But it was still interesting to sample this dish.

Price: $6.00.     7/10

Most of the bread items at Gokul are totally vegan, one of those being Romali Roti.  The name romali roti can be translated to mean 'hankerchief bread', it gets this name due to the thin layers of paper-like texture that each piece has.  The texture of this bread comes from the mixture of two flours (atta and maida).  This bread must be eaten fresh and hot, when the elasticity of the bread is still at its best.  It is a versatile bread that goes well with any curry, and particularly well with food cooked in the tandoor.

Price: $4.00.     8/10

One of the signature rice dishes on offer at Gokul is the Claypot Malabar Briyani.  The term 'malabar briyani' refers a rice dish coming from the state of Kerala, it also can be known as thalassery biriyani or kozhikode biriyani. This is not a traditionally vegetarian briyani, as 'thalassery' was actually a olden time sea port in India, needless to say fish features heavily in the traditional version of this dish.  Gokul have managed to effortlessly covert this briyani into being totally vegan though.  The rice is presented in a claypot, with pineapple, mock meat and a variety of whole garam masala spices lurking inside.  The light and fluffy briyani is accompanied by a rich tomato curry, and a selection of sliced cucumber.  The tomato curry was a particular highlight for me.  Gokul curries just seem to have a superior flavour and aroma, compared to any others that I have tried.  Top notch rice dish.

Price: $12.00.     8/10

If one travels to India, Baingan Bartha is a dish that almost everyone will know.  This dish has literally hundreds of different variations, depending on which state/city/town you visit in India.  Therefore, it is surprising that baingan bartha is actually a pretty difficult dish to find in Singapore.  Considering Gokul do not use any onions and garlic in any of their food, it is an incredibly bold move to put this dish on their menu.  Baingan bartha is typically known to depend heavily on the usage of garlic.  This dish was probably my favourite of the evening, and I was really in awe of how the chef managed to achieve such a delicious baingan bartha, without the usage of any onion, garlic or dairy.  Not only that, the eggplants were smoked expertly, which gave a sensational aroma throughout the dish.  Presentation wise, once again this dish was impeccably served.

Price: $8.50.     9/10

Even though I have visited Gokul probably over 50 times, I have never sampled any of their desserts.  Therefore, Chendol seemed like a perfect dish to finish this delightful meal.  The key to what makes a good chendol is very simple - The quality of the gula melaka (palm sugar) that is used.  Good quality gula melaka has an intense taste, and lingering aroma. The palm sugar at Gokul was high grade and delicious. Another aspect of this dessert that I adored was the red beans, which were lurking at the bottom of the bowl.  The beans were soft, mushy and sweet and almost resembled the texture of jam.  I was also pleased with the coconut cream that was dribbled over the top of the mountain of ice.  This cream was clotted and had superb flavour.

Price: $4.00.      9/10

Conclusion - I've said this before, and I'll say it again - The mark of a truly world class eatery is that every item on the menu is excellent.  It needs to be stressed, Gokul is not merely an Indian restaurant.  Inside the doors of 19 Upper Dickson Road are some of the finest Malay, Chinese, Western, Thai and Indian food you will ever likely eat.  A restaurant like Gokul comes along once in a lifetime, and I feel lucky as a food writer to have eaten there so many times and enjoyed so many excellent dishes.  The scary thing is, Gokul is getting better and better.  As far as vegan/vegetarian restaurants go, this is the closest you will get to perfection.

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