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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Genesis Vegan Restaurant - Farrer Park

In the many years of covering the vegetarian/vegan scene in Singapore, I've come across countless vegetarian eateries that have opened and shortly failed, and only a few that have truly flourished.  Genesis Vegan Restaurant is indeed one of those few meatless eateries which have thrived in Singapore, remembered most fondly from their Clarke Quay location, which was consistently packed to the brim every lunch time, with a loyal fan-base of primarily office workers, who frequented that area.  A few months back, the landlord of their old location decided to claim back the shop-house, and they have now moved to their new location, which is near to Farrer Park MRT.


Genesis Vegan Restaurant
Location: 115 Owen Road

Contact: 64387118
Opening Hours: Mon-Thur & Sun 9.30am-9pm, Friday 9.30am-3pm. Closed Saturday.

I must say, their new location is incredibly isolated.  By isolated, I mean it makes Tuas look like Orchard Road.  It is on a small side street, which is primarily used almost as a mini industrial area, with a lot of abandoned buildings and car workshops.
One thing I loved from Genesis is their Mint Tea.  If I were to describe it in one word it would be intense.  They use a dried fresh organic mint leaf from Japan, which has a very strong full bodied mint flavour.  Upon drinking, you will immediately feel that almost overwhelming cooling mint flavour travel down your throat.  I love it.  They also sell large packets of this mint tea for $20.

Price: $3.00.     7/10
Genesis have built up a big following for their Chinese New Year goodies, I was at the shop during this particular period and watched the staff in the process of packing them.  Needless to say, all the cookies (and everything at Genesis) is vegan, so a great option for those who don't take eggs and dairy.
I was first served a plate of samples of some of the snack dishes at Genesis.  On the left we have the Yuba Roll and on the right we have the Dumplings.  I thought the dumplings were cooked well overall and I really enjoyed the filling inside.  Same can be said about the yuba roll, which had a nice crisp outer skin, with a generous amount of green vegetables in the middle.  However, it was the red capsicum dipping sauce (which accompanies both these dishes) that won my heart the most, I think I could literally drink that sauce.

*half portions of each are pictured.

Price: Yuba Roll $5.50.     7/10
Dumplings $6.00.     7/10

One of the more Chinese orientated dishes at Genesis is their Fish Head Vermicelli.  Unlike most vegetarian eateries, Genesis actually go to the effort of making their own mock meats.  This is good as it will mean that it doesn't have MSG and other harmful chemicals that processed packaged mock meat certainly has.  The mock fish texture was very good, and the vermicelli was cooked well.  The major thing lacking for me was the lack of flavour of the broth, however.  It was very plain, and needed a lot more salt and extra seaweed for a more fishy taste.  For those with very light tastebuds, then this would definitely be a dish I recommend.  If you have heavier tastebuds, then this dish may leave you feeling somewhat underwhelmed.

Price: $6.90.     6/10
One of the best sellers at Genesis is their 7 Layer Haystack.  As the name would suggest, this dish consists of seven layers (including a couple of sauces) all stacked on top of each other.  The bottom layer is a flavoured (almost Mexican style) rice, with beans on top.  The other layers are salads and I particularly liked the sweet element of the fresh pineapple layer.  For my tastebuds, the bean and rice layer needed significantly more salt, especially when eaten in combination with the salad.  Stronger spices (such as cumin, ras el hanout) could have been added to the rice and beans also, which would have elevated the taste.  Overall though, the ingredients were fresh, and went together very well.

Price: $8.90.     7/10
I was given another sample plate of two different pasta dishes that Genesis offer.  Starting first, with the green pasta closest to the camera, this is the Brazil Nut Cilantro Pasta.  I like the usage of brazil nuts, which give the pasta a very cloying milky taste, with the spaghetti is perfectly coated in this rich sauce.  I did find that the salt level was a little low for me, and I am sure typical Singaporeans will bemoan the lack of 'liao' (ingredients) inside.  I found the Sundried Tomato Pasta to be better balanced in terms of salt, and had a much more robust multi-dimensional flavour, so overall that one was my favourite.

Price: $8.90.     7/10 (green), 8/10 (red)

*half portions of each are pictured.
What better way to finish off the meal that a slice of Tofu Cheesecake.  I've always loved cheesecake, and is something that constantly pains me not being able to eat, after turning vegan.  Vegan cheesecake won't be the same as the real thing, but I still loved the creamy dense texture that the tofu was able to achieve.  The base (crust) was moist, and went well with the filling.  To make it more authentic, more salt and lemon could have been added, but overall this was an excellent way to end the meal.

Price: $4.50.     8/10

Conclusion - The standard of the food at Genesis is as strong as ever, and most of the dishes I thoroughly enjoyed.  I must say that the location is probably the worst I have ever seen for a restaurant in Singapore, which is really a pity as the food doesn't deserve to be hidden away in some abandoned side street.  Even with the bad location, there were a number of tables occupied over the lunch period when I visited, which is a testament to the back history of good service and food quality that Genesis has accumulated over the years.  Lets be proactive and head down to support them at this new location.

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

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Jing Yi Vegetarian - Bukit Gombak

It has been almost three years since I originally featured Jing Yi Vegetarian on Hungry Ang Mo, I featured them predominantly due to the glowing feedback that I was receiving about their now famous dry hor fun.  For those poor souls living in the West of Singapore, it is indeed difficult to find good vegetarian food.  But for today's review, I do believe I will be reviewing one of the (if not the) best vegetarian stall in the West.  This review will not just be featuring their signature hor fun, but it will be a review of their entire menu.  Are they just a one hit wonder?  Or is their food of an excellent standard across the entire menu?  Lets find out!

Jing Yi Vegetarian
Location: Block 359, Bukit Batok West Avenue 5
Contact: 91811413/90669185

Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 2pm-9pm.  Closed Monday.

Here is a look at the first portion of the menu...
...Second part of the menu.

One crucial skill in the world of Chinese cuisine is the ability of the chef to control the wok.  Not only in terms of temperature management, but the ability to transfer the aroma of the wok into the food that is being cooked inside.  This skill is more commonly known as 'wok hei'.  This skill should not be confused with burning or charring the ingredients.  The chef at Jing Yi is one of only a handful of individuals in Singapore who have mastered this skill.  I still rank the Cantonese auntie at Lin Lin to be the best at this, although she recently retired from the kitchen and now it is a foreign cook (with a vast difference in ability) who is now cooking there.  So considering the Lin Lin auntie has retired, the Jing Yi chef by default is probably the best in Singapore now.  Just look at all that smoke in the picture.
This time around I was keen to test out the chefs ability for other dishes, besides hor fun.  Firstly, we picked out the Xiang Chun Fried Rice.  Xiang chun (香椿) is a paste made from the leaves of the toona sinensis deciduous tree, and is one of my all time favourite ingredients in Chinese cooking.  This fried rice was very well cooked overall - The xiang chun paste was evenly coating every grain of rice, and the overall wok aroma was above average.  The portion size was huge, and there was a generous heap of mock pork floss sprinkled on top.

Price: $4.50.     7/10 
On to the famous Fried Dried Hor Fun.  I have always been of the belief that if you want to taste wok hei in hor fun at its best, then it must be the dry version.  I've had many wet hor fun variations before, and never enjoyed it the same as its dry counterpart.  The wok hei is excellent in this dish, there is no denying that.  Every ingredient on the plate has that amazing smokey aroma, without any of them being charred or burnt.  I liked the addition of the lime, which matches nicely with the ingredients.  For hor fun, this is really as good as it gets.

Price: $4.00.     9/10
Green leafy vegetables are seldom something I crave, but I decided to give these Stir Fried Sweet Potato Leaves a shot.  Once again, it seems like anything coming from this chefs wok have that awesome smokey flavour, and this dish was no exception.  The vegetables were cooked to perfection, I particularly love the creamy texture of the leaves of this vegetable.

Price: $6.50.     7/10

Conclusion - If you want some of the best Chinese vegetarian tze char in Singapore, then Jing Yi would rank up there as some of the best.  I love the food at Jing Yi, and it is great that we have a good quality vegetarian stall like this in the West of Singapore.  It is best to avoid going during common eating times (especially on weekends) when the waiting time can be up to one hour.

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