Type of Institution: Non-vegetarian (with vegetarian set menu)
Address: Velocity@Novena Square, #02-11/12, 238 Thomson Road, Singapore 307683
Tel: +65 6358 4466
Opening Hours: Lunch (weekdays) 11.30 am – 3pm (weekends) 11 am – 3pm, Daily High-tea 3 pm – 5pm, Daily Dinner 6 pm – 10 pm
Yet another non-vegetarian restaurant catering for vegetarians is Lao Beijing, a fairly casual, traditional Chinese restaurant that’s part of the TungLok group (which I’m partial to). Their Vegetarian Set Menu, priced at $28 per person, seemed like a steal considering it featured 6 dishes (without rice). I would recommend getting a bowl of rice to balance the savoury side dishes, even though I would not eat white rice under most circumstances. The review below is based on their spacious outlet at Novena Square, but the same set menu can be found at their Orchard Central and Plaza Singapura outlets. Aside from the soup and dessert, the serving sizes as depicted in the pictures below were based on serving sizes for 3 people.
For my fellow vegans and vegans-to be, note that the vegetarian set menu was definitely egg-free and seemed to be dairy-free when I looked at the menu. But to be on the safe side, just tell the waiter or waitress that you want it to be dairy-free and he / she would notify the chef. Also note my point about the dessert, to follow.
Vegetarian Set Menu
The tasting menu began with the Cordyceps Flower and Bamboo Mushroom Soup, which was easily my favourite item on the menu. While it was a simple soup with few ingredients, the orange-golden cordyceps flowers and strips of net-like bamboo mushroom gave the soup a rich mushroom flavour and a pleasant chewy texture.
Next up, we had the Crispy-fried Mini Mushroom Coated with Spiced-Salt. These were bite-sized shitakes with a delightfully thin, crispy skin, but unfortunately they were fairly tasteless (even with the spiced salt) and could definitely use with a good marinade before frying.
The dishes that followed were much less interesting and seemed like they were inserted as a lacklustre effort to populate the menu. The Braised Beancurd in Claypot, with soft beancurd braised in vegetarian oyster sauce that was served on a bed of steamed Shanghai Green, was acceptable but generic.
The same could be said of the Sauteed Black Fungus with Lily Bulbs and Celery. The fungi and vegetables were stir-fried simply with little to no seasoning, but while I love letting the natural flavours of ingredients take centre-stage in a dish, the freshness, types and combination of these ingredients did not lend themselves well to such an approach. Aside from the mildly sweet and crunchy lily bulbs, this was a boring dish that was way too oily.
Following that, we had the Steamed Vegetable Dumplings, which had their thin skins stuffed with mixed green vegetables and just a bit of tofu.
Finally, the meal was rounded off with Chilled Mango Cream with Pomelo and Sago for dessert. The cold, sweet mango soup went well with the tangy pomelo, chewy sago pearls and mango cubes. I took a few bites of this before I found out the traditional recipe usually isn’t vegan-free and got sceptical about whether this one really was dairy-free as promised, so vegans would want to watch out for that.
($28 for the set menu, without rice)
Conclusion: The individual dishes in Lao Beijing’s Vegetarian Set Menu were largely of acceptable quality but not exceptional in their own right, making it mostly a case of quantity (or variety) over quality.