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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Keat Lim Vegetarian Food - Whampoa

As I've mentioned a few times on my blog, Whampoa is actually quite a decent place to get good vegetarian food.  The only problem is, most the places are closed after 1pm.  Keat Lim Vegetarian Food is another one of those stalls, which is only open until lunch time.  This stall is quite popular, with customers clamoring for their bee hoon.  There is another Keat Lim stall right next to this one, but it has always been closed whenever I've walked past.

Keat Lim Vegetarian Food
Location: Blk 91 Whampoa, Whampoa Drive Food Centre
Contact: Unknown
Opening Hours: Daily 7am-1pm

Considering this stall only sells Bee Hoon and Dishes, it was not a difficult choice when considering what to order.  The price for this dish is alarmingly expensive.  I did order an extra mock roasted duck, but even then the cost is really high.  If you can get over the exorbitant price, then it must be said this is quite a delicious bee hoon dish. The texture of the bee hoon is firm and bouncy.  I particularly loved the deep fried beancurd sheets, which were light and just melt in the mouth.

Price: $4.00.     8/10

Conclusion - There is no denying the quality of this bee hoon, but the price is a big put off.  I definitely would consider returning to this stall again, but I wouldn't make it a regular thing.

Overall Rating
Food - 7/10
Ambiance- 6/10
Service - 6/10
Value - 4/10

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lily's Vegetarian Kitchen - Penang

Penang is one of those places where vegetarians really don't need to panic or worry about being able to find food.  Not only can vegetarian food be found in great abundance in Penang, but the quality is also very high.  This post marks my second review of Lily's Vegetarian Kitchen, my first review was conducted back in 2010.

Lily's Vegetarian Kitchen
Location: 98 Noble House, Madras Lane, Georgetown, Penang
Contact: (04)2263810
Opening Hours: 9.00am-9.00pm

The menu has remained pretty much the same, compared to three years ago.  Lily's offers a variety of different cuisines, but mainly specialising in Chinese food.  The owner Lily has a zero wastage policy.  Customers will be able to find posters scattered around the eatery urging customers not to waste any food.  If you're considering purchasing a drink, I strongly recommend the luo han guo (RM1.50).

We kicked our meal off with the Vietnam Spring Rolls.  I have eaten authentic Vietnamese spring rolls in Vietnam before, and obviously these ones can't compare.  The key to making Vietnamese spring rolls successful is the freshness of the ingredients.  I found that mint was lacking in Lily's version, along with it being quite expensive for two small sized rolls.

Price: RM5.00.     5/10

Next dish we tried was the Chix Burger with Cheese.  As a vegan, I requested for the cheese to be excluded from this burger.  Thankfully, Lily and her staff were quite knowledgeable on what veganism is, and were happy to alter the burger to accommodate. I ate this same burger three years ago, and it has not changed one bit.  It is a very decent burger overall.  I have tried many vegan and vegetarian burgers over the years, and while not outstanding, this is definitely a solid attempt.

Price: RM4.50.     7/10

Everyone who visits Penang will know about the famous Penang Char Kway Teow.  It is one of the signature dishes of the island.  For vegetarians, you will definitely be able to sample many meatless char kway teow versions in Penang.  Lily's version was acceptable, but I found it was lacking in smokey aroma, which is an essential aspect of this dish.

Price: RM5.50.     6/10

Another Western dish we sampled was the Fish & Chips.  This was a surprisingly pleasant dish, with the mock fish being the highlight.  The slab of fish comes with hole in the centre, which simulates where the fish bone would have been.  The soy based mock meat is lightly battered, to ensure it is nice a crisp.  The dish is served with french fries and a simple salad.

Price: RM10.00.     7/10

Conclusion - Nothing much tends to change at Lily's, and perhaps there is no need for change.  If it isn't broken then don't fix it.  Lily's still definitely ranks as one of the better vegetarian eateries in Penang, and certainly worth visiting if you're planning on travelling there.

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

LivinGreens - Farrer Park

I am sure almost everyone in the Singapore vegetarian/vegan scene know about Barbara and her LivinGreens eatery.  For many years, this establishments has been sitting comfortably along Beach Road.  However, a couple of months ago, LivinGreens uprooted and shifted to Rangoon Road.  Although Little India is a hustling bustling mad house most of the time - Rangoon Road is actually surprisingly quiet, which makes this eatery pretty difficult to just stumble upon, unless you're specifically looking for it.  This is a 100% vegan establishment.

Location: 89 Rangoon Road, Urban Lofts #01-04
: 98574881
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11.00am-3.00pm & 5.00pm-7.30pm.  Sat 11.00am-7.30pm.  Sunday Closed

CLOSED DOWN - As of 01/09/2015

Barbara has used this location change as motivation to also change the look and content of her menu.  Currently, there is a temporary menu offering quite a large selection of items.  But in the future Barbara is planning to expand this menu even further.  For those who have been to the old Beach Road outlet, the menu should seem quite familiar to you.  I was pleased to see her lasagna (which I praised so highly in my first review) is still on the menu.

For those who don't know about the story of Barbara Chin, it is really quite an amazing one.  Born in Eastern Malaysia, Barbara worked as a beautician for several years.  It was only in the late 1990s that she decided to make food look beautiful instead.  This change was inspired by her husbands unfortunate cancer diagnosis.  After researching, she was convinced that a change to a vegan diet could reverse this invidious disease.  It was this event that has inspired the last 15 years of vegan cooking that she has brought to Singapore.

'Ma Lak' Noodle was the first dish to arrive at our empty table.  Traditionally a spicy dish, I was pleased that the spice level was quite subtle.  The noodles were fresh, and the carrots and other vegetables still had some crunch.  The most interesting aspect of this dish were the three handmade 'meatballs'.  These balls were moist and juicy.  My only criticism would be the salt level of the dark sauce was a little too high.  The fresh coriander on top added superb extra flavour.

Price: $7.90.     7/10 

It was difficult for me to withhold the urge to order lasagna, but I decided variety is the spice of life, and went for the Shepherd's Pie.  Growing up as a child, shepherd's pie was one of those dishes I ate on a weekly basis.  Barbara has clearly worked diligently to make this dish as healthy as possible.  The pie is stuffed internally with a variety of vegetables.  Even tempeh is inside, which was a welcome surprise.  The pie has a slight sourness from tomato, and a glorious natural sweetness from the carrots and other vegetables.  It may not be like my mother's shepherd's pie (a wacky mess of cheese, potato and gravy), but Barbara's is undoubtedly better for ones health.

Price: $9.90.     8/10

No meal is complete without something sweet to cap things off.  There are a handful of dessert options available on a daily basis.  We went for the Orh Nee, which is a traditional Chinese taro/yam paste dessert.  My problem with this dessert was the overall lack of sweetness and flavour.  The syrup sauce (probably derived from molasses) couldn't sufficient bring to life the ultimately bland flavour of the taro paste.  Perhaps my Western palate is still not used to the subtle/tasteless flavours of Chinese desserts, so this may be a dish others can enjoy.  The presentation was definitely top notch.

Price: $4.50.     6/10

Conclusion - It is hard not to love LivinGreens when you know the story behind its creation.  I will be curious to see what new dishes are added, once the finalized menu is sorted out.  Definitely the lasagna and shepherd's pie are must-try dishes.

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

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lele Durian Stall - D100, MSW & Black Dragon

My quest to find the most honest durian sellers in Singapore continues.  For this post, I will be featuring a durian stall which many Singaporean's will probably not be aware of.  The owner of Lele Durian Stall is Uncle Hee.  This uncle has been selling durians in the Ghim Moh area for over 30 years now.  His original stall was at Block 11 Ghim Moh Road.  However, he shifted over to the Ghim Moh wet market a couple of years ago.  Customers can find durian updates on their facebook page.  Lele durian also offer a delivery service on orders over $150.

Lele Durian Stall
Location: #01-214, 20 Ghim Moh Road (Market & Food Centre)
Contact: 97823116, 96948584

Uncle Hee has built up a loyal following of customers, who have been purchasing durians from him for many decades now.  Uncle Hee is an extremely kind and friendly man, who prides himself on selling good quality and unique durians to his customers.  He named the stall 'Lele', as that is the name of his grandson.  This stall is well known for their D17 (coffee durian) and D100 durians.  The latter being their best seller.

One of the new species that Uncle Hee has recently introduced at his stall is called the Black Dragon.  When you are going around to different durian sellers in Singapore, you may often find lots of unusual new names for durians.  The durian sellers like to create these 'sexy' new names to garner more attention/curiousity.  It was given the name 'dragon' as the husk apparantly resembles the scales of a dragon.  The taste of the flesh is slightly woody, but with the sweetness of cotten candy.  It has a very rich complexion, and slippery flesh.  The seeds for this durian were quite big, but overall I enjoyed the flavours of it.  This duran is coming from Tangkat, Malaysia.

Price: $8.00/kg.     7/10
Uncle Hee is also known for his high quality Mao Shan Wang, and he was eager for me to try one.  Having had some pretty poor MSW recently, it was a welcome change to have a really good quality one.  Currently, during the winter season, the MSW are coming from Batu Pahat, in Johor.  This particular MSW had a delightful buttery taste, which is incredibly addictive.  The seeds are a little on the large side, but the outrageously delectable glowing yellow flesh makes up for it.  An outstanding durian.

Price: $13.00/kg.     8/10
The signature durian at Lele is unquestionably the D100.  Uncle Hee is particularly proud of this durian, which he calls 'Super 100'.  The tree which these durians come from is at high elevation, and thus produces the most fruitful crop of D100.  This durian is a new hybrid durian, which is incredibly difficult to find in Singapore.  The flesh is extremely thick, with the seed size/shape and texture closely resembling the black pearl durian.  However, D100 has a more pronounced sweetness, compared with black pearl.  This durian should not be fridgerated, as the flesh at room temperture is already so thick, a lower temperature will cause it to become too hard.  Uncle Hee and his son affectionately call this the 'hello kitty' durian, as it often sells out.

Price: $12.00/kg.     9/10

Conclusion - If you're living anywhere near Ghim Moh area, then you are really spoilt for choice.  Of course, within the market you have Ah Seng - Probably the most popular durian seller in all of Singapore.  But, I must say the durians at Lele were also of very high quality.  To successfully sell durians for over 30 years means you must have trust with your customers - Uncle Hee definitely has that.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Well Dressed Salad Bar & Cafe - Chinatown

With the motto 'meatless doesn't mean tasteless', Well Dress Salad Bar & Cafe hope to offer a refreshing new concept to the vegetarian scene in Singapore.  This cafe is actually owned by the same people in charge of Eight Treasures, which is conveniently located just upstairs.  Eight Treasures is certainly one of the more traditional looking vegetarian restaurants in Singapore, so it is interesting to see it contrasted with this more youthful and trendy Well Dressed Cafe.

Well Dressed Salad Bar & Cafe
Location: 282 South Bridge Road
Contact: 65347787, 97893072
Opening Hours: Daily 10.30am-9.30pm

The unique selling point of this eatery is definitely the customizable salad.  There is a variety of options to choose from (see pictured), and even someone who doesn't particularly like salads will be somewhat curious by the different choices.  I must say, it is pleasing to see salads being taken seriously for once.  I get awfully tired of receiving the same sorry looking, half-rotten pieces of lettuce and a slice of depressing looking tomato and/or cucumber at almost every vegetarian eatery I visit.  A salad doesn't always have to be lettuce, cucumber and tomato - For goodness sake!

Although salad is in their name, it is not the only thing they are serving.  Rather wisely, the owners of this eatery have padded out their menu with a variety of Western-style vegetarian dishes.  Therefore, even those customers who look at salad as if they've seen a ghost need not worry - There will be other options for you.  This is not a vegan eatery, so make sure to clarify what dishes contain animal products.

Salad and fruit juices are like medicine for the body - Undoing all the crimes to biology that meat and dairy might have done.  This cafe has a generous host of fresh fruit juices, so if you feeling like giving your insides a treat, it would go perfectly with a salad.  My curiosity, however, led me in the direction of the Watermelon ice Tea.  Watermelon and lemon tea is an unusual mixture, and I think opinion might be divided on whether this combination works well together or not.  Personally, it didn't suit my taste buds.

Price: $5.00.     6/10
So here we have the Create Your Own Salad Bowl meal. For this salad, we picked rocket as the green.  For the six toppings, we opted for chick peas, beetroot, almond silvers, capsicum, pasta, olives (yes, I was trying my best to pick the most expensive ingredients).  These ingredients were then sprinkled with creamy wasabi lime, which was our chosen dressing.  Overall the presentation of this salad was wonderful.  Also, all the ingredients were fresh - Nothing half-rotten here.  The dressing was particularly good, but I would have liked a little more of it.  Also adding a wider range of more exciting toppings would be better - Roasted pumpkin, grilled tofu, quinoa etc.

Price: $8.50.     7/10

Of course, a salad would never come close to filling a hungry ang mo like myself, therefore I flicked open the menu and pointed towards a dish named Black Pepper Veg Chicken Chop.  Let's start with the negatives - 1.  Cold baked beans (got to go).  2.  Sweet chili sauce (got to go).  These ingredients have no place on any true Western dish.  Also, the two mini-buns were tough in texture and unappealing.  Luckily, the focal point of this dish (the mock chicken) was quite delicious.  They consisted of two very thin slabs of soy mock meat, but it is the black pepper sauce which really brings them to life.  One of the better black pepper sauce that I've had the privilege to try.

Price: $10.00.     6/10

Conclusion - Any cafe/restaurant that is promoting the consumption of fresh fruit juices and salads will get the thumbs up from me.  Vegetarian food in Singapore has many negative connotations attached to it, one of those being that it isn't particularly healthy (which is partially true).  A cafe like this one can hopefully highlight healthy, yet interesting vegetarian food.

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Leong Tee Fruit Trader - MSW & Golden Phoenix

Gaining a reputation for selling high quality affordable durians is not easy.  It takes sellers decades to acquire such a loyal following - Especially with so much competition now in the durian business.  Uncle Leong has been selling durian for over 20 year now, originally at Jackson Centre.  A lot of his most dedicated customers still know him from the Jackson Centre days.  Now being located in Tanjong Katong, he faces stiff competition from the well-known Katong Durians, run by Ah Loon.

Leong Tee Fruit Trader
Location: 264 Tanjong Katong Road
Contact: 63466683, 98928899

Uncle Leong is a very kind and humble man.  He can speak only in Mandarin or Hokkien, so for those English speakers, you may find it quite an uphill task communicating with this Uncle.  During our talk, he spoke to me with a great deal of pride about recently being feature by ieatishootipost (Dr Leslie).  I must agree, it is wonderful after all his years of hard work, that now he is finally getting exposure.
I visited Leong Tee at quite an unfortunate time.  His cultivator was experiencing a low crop, and therefore he didn't have many durians available.  Uncle Leong is at his best during the peak durian season June-August.  The Golden Phoenix he had on offer that day tasted good, but the flesh was a little too watery for my liking.  The fantastic slightly fruity golden phoenix flavour was definitely there, and this durian was packed with flesh - So definitely good value.  Overall though, I've had much better golden phoenix.

Price: $10.00/kg.     6/10

Uncle Leong is specifically known for his great quality Mao Shan Wang.   During the peak season, customers will flock to his stall specifically for this durian.  It is without question his best seller.  His mao shan wang has gained such a reputation due to them falling from one particular old tree.  The older the tree, the better the quality of durian.  During the winter season his supply becomes lesser.  On this particular day he recommended I try the mini-sized mao shan wang.  This durian wasn't a particularly good one.  The flesh was still a little too firm, and it had an unwelcome sour taste.  I've yet to eat a good mini mao shan wang in Singapore.

Price: $15.00/kg.     5/10

Conclusion - There is no doubting the honesty and kindness of Uncle Leong.  His Leong Tee durian stall is definitely one I would recommend visiting during the peak season.  During the winter season it may be best to avoid though.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Zhen Ji Vegetarian Food - Potong Pasir

Potong Pasir is one of the older estates in Singapore, which is home to a number of interesting dimly lit coffee shops.  Lurking inside these eating houses are some pretty decent vegetarian stalls, one of which will be the focus of my review today.  Zhen Ji is a newly opened stall, which has a wide array of dishes to select from.  The stall is run by a couple of aunties, who always greet their customers with a smile.  Although in the heartlands, this coffee shop can get very busy, even during non-peak timings.

Zhen Ji Vegetarian Food
Location: #01-148, Blk 136, Potong Pasir Ave 3
Contact: 96864228
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 5.30am-8.00pm, Sat-Sun 5.30am-6.00pm 

MOVED - Now located at 37 Tannery Lane

I still haven't quite figured out how the menu system works at Zhen Ji.  I visited this stall twice, both in the morning - On both occasions, almost every dish was not available.  But, there were a couple of daily special dishes.  I am not sure if more of the menu opens up for availability in the evening time.  Customers can expect the typical Chinese dishes on offer at Zhen Ji.

The first dish from Zhen Ji to make its way to my table was the Wan Ton Mee.  Usually when I visit hawker centre/coffee shop stalls, my expectations are pretty low, as most of the food and dishes taste the same.  This dish, however, was shockingly delicious and probably one of the nicest wanton mee that I have had in Singapore.  The wantons were crispy and light, with a tasty filling in the centre.  The noodles were nice and bouncy and the dark sauce brought all the ingredients together ideally.  Certainly I would recommend trying out this high quality dish.

Price: $3.00.     8/10

Next dish I was lucky enough to sample was the Hor Fun.  For this dish, I specifically requested for 'gan he' hor fun, which is the dry version if this dish.  I prefer the dry version as the 'wok hei' flavour is much stronger typically.  I found this hor fun was equally as impressive as the wanton mee I consumed previously.  There was definitely a good amount of smokey flavour present.  The chopped vegetables inside were fresh and still had a good crunchy texture.  I loved how thin the rice noodles were, as it really allowed them to absorb all the flavours of the wok and other ingredients.  Another expertly cooked dish.

Price: $3.00.     8/10

Conclusion - I was really impressed by the food on offer at Zhen Ji Vegetarian Food.  If you're looking for some of the highest quality hawker/coffee shop food for dirt cheap pricing, then Zhen Ji is certainly worth making the trip into the Potong Pasir heartlands for.  An outstanding little stall.

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

Friday, November 8, 2013

Jiv Jago Vegetarian Cafe - Bugis

What the vegetarian food industry has been needing for a long time is an injection of Generation Y - And it seems like now we are finally getting it.  The idea of Jiv Jago Vegetarian Cafe came from husband and wife duo Yuga and Vaishnavi, both only in their mid-20's.  Vaishnavi is the star in the kitchen, while Yuga manages the cafe.  The name 'jiv jago' literally means 'soul awakened' in Bengali. Rather interestingly, Vaishnavi is the daughter of the owner of Gokul.  Growing up in such a household, and learning from her mother (who is one of the most talented cooks I've met) must surely have put Vaishnavi on the right tracks for her career in the kitchen.  Jiv Jago has a frequently updated facebook page.

Jiv Jago Vegetarian Cafe
Location: 17 Bali Lane
Contact: 96796722
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 12.00pm-9.00pm. Sunday Closed.


CLOSED DOWN - As of 17/07/2014 - Owners are intending to re-open Jiv Jago again sometime in the future at a different location.

The decor and ambiance of this eatery is almost like a backpackers cafe.  It is very laid back and casual, with images of famous vegetarians, such as Albert Einstein and The Beatles plastered on the walls.  The contents of the menu is entirely Western.  In terms of dietary requirements - Everything on the menu is void of onions and garlic, except for garlic bread and aglio olio.  All food is eggless.  For vegans, many dishes are naturally vegan, and most of the rest can be converted into vegan.

One of the affordable side dish options available at Jiv Jago is the Mushroom Soup.  This soup comes in a small bowl, and is an ideal accompanyment to any of the main meal options (especially the pasta).  The soup is freshly made, and I really enjoyed the large chunks of mushroom that could be found swimming inside.  Note - Subsequently after my visit I've found out this soup contains dairy (cream), vegans do not order.  I hope in the future that clear indications on the menu as to which dishes are/are not vegan can be introduced.

Price: $2.00.     6/10

Continuing with the side dish theme, we also selected the Tuna & Mayo Wrap.  To reiterate, this mayonnaise (like everything at Jiv Jago) is eggless.  The mock tuna inside this dish had a unexpected kick of heat to it.  This slightly spicy mock meat was balanced nicely by the coolness of the mayo.  The mock meat didn't resemble tuna that much, and I would have preferred an alternative ingredient used to simulate tuna - An incredibly authentic tuna can be made using chick peas, and would have gone perfectly in such a wrap.  The concept of a wrap is definitely a winner, and with some adjustments this dish would be top-notch.

Price: $4.50.     6/10

We then moved on to the main dishes, starting with the Chicken Chop.  This dish consists of the usual french fries, salad, baked beans, and two chicken patties.  There is one pitfall when making vegetarian Western food, which almost every eatery regrettably falls into - Too much stuff out a packet.  For this dish, definitely it was enjoyable and satisfying.  However, as all the ingredients are from a tin or packet, it inevitably means the dish is lacking in skill or creativity.  Western vegetarian food can be done with originality and little reliance on stuff from a packet - Veggie Cottage is a perfect example of that.

Price: $6.90.     6/10

Jiv Jago have a number of different pasta options, and eventually I settled on the Spaghetti Bolognese.  This dish was certainly my favourite of the evening.  The tomato sauce (which is made from scratch) was outstanding, and really lifted the dish up to another level.  I was quite surprised to see large chunks of mock meat used in his dish, this was an interesting twist, but perhaps using TVP would allow this dish to become a more traditional looking bolognese.  This dish was quite a large serving, so good value for money.  The only tinge of disappointment I had was with the pasta, which was slightly overcooked.  It could have done with 40-60 seconds less time in the water.

Price: $6.50.     7/10

Conclusion - I can't help but smile upon seeing refreshing new vegetarian eateries like Jiv Jago pop up in Singapore. An injection of youth into Singapore's vegetarian industry will only blossom positive results.  Jiv Jago is brand new, so of course there are some improvements that could be made - But I love the energy of the owners and I'm sure the future will be bright for this eatery.

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

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Trusted Durian Sellers in Singapore

Kong Lee Hup Kee Trading

This endearing little stall in Pasir Ris is considered a national treasure in my eyes.  This stall is run by husband and wife duo Mr & Mrs Chia.  Both are second generation durian sellers, who have been selling durian for almost all of their adult life.  The durian scene in Singapore is so often cluttered with sly deceitful durian sellers, so it is a breath of fresh air to visit such a heart-warming little stall.  Mr Chia is especially open to teaching people all his skills on how to select good durians, so feel free to ask him for a free lesson.

Durian Origins: Pahang, Segamat
Best Durian: XO, D88, Golden Phoenix

Kong Lee Hup Kee Trading
Location: Blk 440 Pasir Ris Dr. 4, #01-03
Contact: 98517753

Sembawang Durian Seng

Too much durian can often make people a little crazy - This is definitely true for owner of Sembawang Durian Seng.  Mr Yap has been selling durians in Singapore for over 30 years, but ironically he doesn't like the taste of durian himself.  Mr Yap is one of the most flamboyant durian sellers you will likely meet.  On certain days of the year he gives away all his durians for free to the public.  Not only that, if you catch him in a good mood, he will give you fantastic special offers if you buy a lot of durians from him.   This stall is famous for its lao tai po durian, which is a breed grown exclusively in Yong Peng.

Durian Origins: Yong Peng, Pahang
Best Durian: Lao Tai Po

Sembawang Durian Seng
Location: 12 Jalan Tampang, Sembawang Garden Arcade
Contact: 93441512, 97598265

Ah Chai Durian

Ah Chai has yet to reach durian 'celebrity' status in Singapore yet, but for those living in the Bedok area, you will know how reliable and honest this seller is.  Ah Chai is probably the most underrated durian seller in Singapore.  Many don't know who he is, but for those who know, they always keep coming back to him.  He has a loyal following of customers who have been religiously purchasing durians from him for many years - Without disappointment.  When in season, his kasap merah durians are sensational.

Durian Origins: Unknown
Best Durian: Kasap Merah, Jiu Ji Kia, Ang Ba Kia

Ah Chai Durian
Location: 59 Upper Changi Road (Boston Bakery)
Contact: 91366788

Combat Durian

Combat Durian represents the longest running durian stall in Singapore.  It has been running along the Balestier Road stretch for over 50 years now.  The founder of Combat Durian is Mr Ang, who still manages the stall simultaneously with his daughter Linda (pictured).  The signature durian from Combat is known as 'King of King's' - This durian is essentially a super high grade mao shang wang.  If you get a good one, you will be sent into sweet creamy ecstasy. 

Durian Origins: Pahang
Best Durian: King of King's, Golden Phoenix

Combat Durian
Location: 249 Balestier Road
Contact: 92789928

Ah Seng

Probably the most famous durian seller in Singapore is still Ah Seng, and rightfully so.  What makes people make the often arduous journey to Ghim Moh Market is the trust and reputation for quality that Ah Seng (also known as Steven) has built up over the many years.  Not only are his durians exceptional, but the price is arguably the most reasonable out of any seller.  Moreover, Ah Seng has adopted social media and technology to improve the efficiency of his service.  Customers can be updated on durian availability and price on his facebook page.  Orders can be made via facebook, whatsapp and SMS too.  Ah Seng represents exactly how a perfect durian business should be run.  Aim to get the elusive tawa durian during second season (November-January).

Durian Origins: Pahang, Tangkak, Muar
Best Durian: Mao Shang Wang, Golden Phoenix, XO, Tawa, Batu

Ah Seng Durian
Location: Blk 20 Ghim Moh Market, #01-197
Contact: 94656160

Other Honest Sellers:-

Ah Teck 'The Best Durian'
Location: Blk 681 Hougang Avenue 8
Contact: 91039312

Lian Hua Chun Trading
Location: Blk 506 Jurong West St 52 #01-184
Contact: 65615063

Guan Hin Durian
Location: 55 Tiong Bahru Road
Contact: 62234868 (Mdm Tan)

Katong Durian
Location: 227 East Coast Road (Opp Jago Close)
Contact: 97514828 (Ah Loon)

The Durian Tree
Location: Blk 278 Bukit Batok East Ave 4
Contact: 98124148

717 Trading
Location: #01-01 Highland Centre, 22 Yio Chu Kang Road
Contact: 96751821 (Mr Goh)

818 Durian & Pastries
Location: 201 Telok Kurau Road, #01-02
Contact: 96932727

Botak Kho Durian
Location: Blk 157 Bukit Batok St 11
Contact: 81562247

Wonderful Fruits
Location: Blk 151A Bishan Street 11 (Stall 29)
Contact: 63545341

Leong Tee Fruit Trader
Location: 264 Tanjong Katong Road
Contact: 63466683, 98928899

Four Seasons Mixed Fruits (Mr & Mrs Chen)
Location: Blk 416 Bedok North Ave 2, #01-43
Contact: None (please leave in comments if you know)

Sindy Durian
Location: 221 Balestier Road, Rocca Balestier
Contact: 97102427

Uncle Hee Lele Durian
Location: 20 Ghim Moh Road, #01-214
Contact: 96948584

Friday, November 1, 2013

Komala Vilas Vegetarian Restaurant - Little India

For those unfamiliar with Little India and the Komala Vilas chain, you may only know of the Komala Vilas restaurant on Serangoon Road - It is probably the most famous vegetarian eatery in all of Singapore, being featured in several travel publications and known by everyone living in Singapore.  However, what many people don't know is that there are actually two other Komala Vilas restaurants in Singapore.  The three outlets can be found at 76 Serangoon Road, 12 Buffalo Road and 24-26 Race Course Road.  The latter will be the focus of this review.

Komala Vilas Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: 24-26 Race Course Road
Contact: 63415435
Opening Hours: Daily 7.00am-10.30pm

The menu at every Komala Vilas outlet is highly similar.  Having said that, I still have my personal preferences as to which outlet I enjoy the most.  I find that the Serangoon Road outlet is simply too hectic and busy most of the time (as that outlet is the one which has received so much publicity).  Therefore, most of the time I visit their Buffalo Road outlet, as it is slightly more peaceful during non-peak timings. 

Some things just work perfectly together - Coconut water and Indian food is definitely one of them.  The soothing and cooling coconut water combats the rich and intense Indian flavours to create an ideal balance in the body.  This Fresh Tender Coconut has a pure nutty flavour, void of the undertone of sourness that some of the larger coconut species have.  Went perfectly with our meal.

Price: $3.50.     7/10

Idiyappam, also known as string hoppers, are one of the more interesting Indian staple food items.  This dish is arguably most popular in the Kerala and Karnataka regions of India.  This item is simply made out of rice flour, water and salt.  It is then steamed and fed through a device (which gives it the 'noodle' like shape) and served with a coconut-based chutney or curry.  Considering how Indian food has a reputation for being too spicy, oily and salty - Idiyappam is proof that Indian food can be mild and nutritious.  This dish is admittedly quite flavourless, but when added together with the coconut curry, it becomes quite tasty.

Price:  $2.20.     6/10

We move from a dish that is quite healthy, to a dish that is anything but.  The enormous artery-clogging orb of doom - Otherwise known as Bhattura.  This hollow deep-fried ball will arrive to your table glistening in oil, served on the side with the traditional raw onion, green chili, wedge of lime and chickpea curry.  Bhattura has always had a soft spot in my heart, even if it is ultimately damaging my heart.  There is no doubt bhattura is a joy to eat, especially as Komala Vilas serves probably the best bhattura I have eaten in Singapore.  Beautiful crisp, yet elastic texture make this bread a joy to eat.  Don't attempt to eat this with a fork and spoon, please - Your right hand is the only cutlery you require.  

Price: $4.50.     8/10

We finished off our meal with the Dosai Meal.  This meal certainly made my jaw drop when it arrived to our table.  Served on a banana leaf, this is truly a king sized meal.  There are a total of four sauces/chutneys, and three vegetable curries on the leaf, with an additional dessert.  Unfortunately for vegans, you must request that the dosai is not made with ghee - Otherwise, by default they will use ghee to cook it in.  This meal is a mesmerizing firework show of food, where each mouthful gives the customer a myriad of different flavours and tastes.  Instead of dissecting every aspect of this dish, I urge you to go and try yourself, as some things can't be explained with words.

Price: $7.50.     9/10

Conclusion - There is no denying the supreme quality that Komala Vilas provides.  Sometimes an eatery can get such huge following, that ultimately the quality of the service and food diminishes over the years.  The owners of Komala Vilas have ensured that this has not (and will not) happen/end to this beloved franchise.  If you're looking for the best South Indian food in Singapore, Komala Vilas is still the number one place to go.

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