Type of Institution: Non-vegetarian, but emphasis on Raw Vegan Cuisine
Address: 779 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 269758 (just before 6th Avenue)
Tel: +65 6762 8029
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 9am – 7pm
(This review was updated again on 7 May 2013. The original review was written on 1 April 2012.)
I went back to The Living Café recently when I was on a raw food detox, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it has undergone a positive transformation since my visits last year, so an updated review is an order.
The Living Café is located within a larger complex called Balanced Living, which sells health products and conducts various educational classes on food preparation/detoxification/holistic living/etc. It creates a nice ambience to chill out or to grab a casual lunch/dinner with its light, earthy colours and lofty ceilings.
Although The Living Café is non-vegetarian, in line with its emphasis on natural, holistic, and wholesome living, a large part of the menu is dedicated to raw vegan cuisine. (Raw veganism excludes all food of animal origin, and all food cooked above 48 degrees Celsius, mainly for its purported health benefits (click here for more information).) If you’ve read my previous review of the first eatery in Singapore to feature raw food, Green Room Cafe [here], you’ll know that I advocate embracing every opportunity to experiment with an interesting cuisine. Therefore if you are visiting The Living Café, I urge you to only sample their raw foods, just as I did. The fact that the menu also contains animal products and a range of cooked food options means you’ll be able to drag your less gastronomically curious friends along. The menu is available online here.
As for the range of raw food options in The Living Café, expect more basic than gourmet dishes, made with exceedingly fresh, premium ingredients that are brimming with natural flavours. (Environmentally conscious consumers may balk at the fact that their beautiful greens are imported from Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia though.) The Café provides a wonderful introduction to raw food, particularly if you have not really experimented with raw food before. Their menu has greatly shrunk compared to previously, but you’ll still find many raw food staples, such as soups, salads, zucchini pasta, and smoothies. I also love their drinks collection, which features cold-pressed juices, smoothies, wheatgrass elixirs, creamy nut milkshakes, and fruit juices.
As for service, I was unimpressed by the lack of efficiency, the general lack of awareness about the ingredients in their food and the time it took for the food to arrive during my first few visits. But it appears these teething problems have mostly sorted themselves out.
Raw Zucchini Hummus with Flaxseed Chips (raw)
The raw zucchini hummus was good but I didn’t really enjoy the flaxseed “chips”, which were each made up of a single layer of flaxseed. This made the “chips” rather unsatisfying. I was expecting something thicker and crunchier. Also, nothing seemed to have been added to enhance the flavour of the “chips” – the flavour of the dish derives solely from the zucchini hummus. Perhaps I’m being unfair, but I couldn’t help but benchmark it against the best flax chips I’ve tried – Saf London’s “Napoletana Pizza Crackers”, made with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, nuts, sunflower seeds, and various spices. ($6)
Creamy Carrot Soup (raw)
A fresh, simple and delicious carrot soup was given the right amount of creaminess with a raw alfredo sauce, topped with crunchy shredded beetroot and alfafa sprouts, and drizzled with raw alfredo sauce on top. This is recommended, but note that this was only available as the Soup of the Day. ($8)
TLC Cheese Burger (raw)
The raw TLC burgers used to come in three flavours – Cheesy, Sweet Teriyaki and Spicy Curry. They’ve since discarded two of these sauces and kept my favourite one – Cheesy! I loved the dense patty made from mushrooms, walnuts, sunflower seeds and oats, topped with a rich cheese sauce and enveloped in a fresh lettuce “bun” along with a slice of tomato, shredded onion, carrot, and beetroot, and some alfafa sprouts. Served with a side of guacamole and thin slivers of daikon. This has always been a hit among my meat-eater friends. Highly recommended. ($15)
Raw Pizza (raw)
The raw pizza essentially comprised a pizza crust topped with sauces and a salad. The pizza crust was a thin, compact, rather hard and slightly chewy disc made from almonds and sunflower seeds. This was spread with a disappointing marinara sauce that lacked a richness in flavour and whose sweetness didn’t complement the nuttiness of the pizza crust, as well as some cheese sauce. A fresh salad sat on top of it all, made with baby spinach, rocket, yellow capsicum, cherry tomatoes, daikon slivers, and alfafa sprouts. ($12)
Raw Zucchini Lasagna (raw)
Thin zucchini sheets layered with fresh tomato slices and a light marinara sauce, topped with some beautiful sprouts. The zucchini used wasn’t sufficiently ripe, so the “lasagna” sheets were slightly too hard. But what struck me was the size of the portion – it was smaller than my hand. ($12)
Raw German Chocolate Cake (raw)
This chocolaty almond cake had a nice texture, with fudgy layers alternating with denser chocolate-flavoured layers, topped with coconut flakes. But strangely enough, for a chocolate cake, there really wasn’t much chocolate – there was less cocoa than you would find in a Cadbury’s milk chocolate bar. I found this disappointing, although on the positive side you could easily finish the whole slice of cake without getting tired of it. Also, the cake tended to fall apart as the second layer kept sliding off the third. ($8.50)
Raw Raspberry Cheesecake (raw)
The raw raspberry cheesecake had a pleasant raspberry flavour, but its consistency was like that of a pudding and it didn’t have any hint of a cheesecake flavour. I felt like I was eating a solidified smoothie. ($8.50)
Raw Key Lime Pie (raw)
Sorry you’d have to visualise this, I squashed the pie in the takeover box before I could snap one – A green and wobbly filling made with zucchini paste and lime juice sits within a crust made with dates and nuts. The same mistake occurred as with the chocolate cake – it’s like the Cafe decided to sabotage their desserts by omitting the key ingredient for each dessert. For a key lime pie, you could barely taste any key lime. The filling was very bland. However, I was slightly appeased by the raw crust, which was absolutely delicious – it is a bit difficult to go wrong with dates and nuts! ($8.00)
Out of curiosity, I had a very interesting flat white made with Papa Palheta coffee beans and very distinctive and nutty hazelnut milk instead of the traditional soymilk option for vegans, sweetened with just a trace of agave nectar. I think it’s great that the Café doesn’t serve sugar – I’m all for natural sweeteners like date sugar and stevia. ($5.0)
(From left to right: Skin Be Beautiful, Great V8, Beet Blast)
Skin Be Beautiful: One of the “wheatgrass elixirs”, i.e. concoctions with the highly reputed wheatgrass thrown in for good measure. This one comprises of a wheatgrass shot, carrot, spinach, beet, berries, grapefruit, lemon, orange and flax oil. So good! ($7)
Great V8: One of the classic green juices – spinach, celery, tomato, lemon, cucumber, red capsicum, parsley, carrot. Strong taste of cucumber. ($6 small, $7.50 large)
Beet Blast: Another one of the juices – beetroot, carrot, ginger, parsley, celery. I would have preferred more beetroot and carrot, as the juice wasn’t very sweet. There was also a strong taste of parsley. ($6 small, $7.50 large)
Conclusion: I like the great ambience, and the usage of fresh and organic ingredients. You will likely enjoy the experience if you are looking for an introduction to raw food, but you might be underwhelmed if you’ve experimented with raw recipes before. Get the most out of your visit by sticking to their more interesting offerings, such as their TLC Cheese Burger.