Type of Institution: Vegetarian
Address: Fortune Centre, 190 Middle Road, #04-22, Singapore 188979
Tel: +65 6336 8755
Opening Hours: 11am – 8pm (closed on Mon)
(This review was updated again on 16 May 2012. The original review was written on 20 January 2012.)
If you didn’t already know, Fortune Centre has the highest concentration of vegetarian stalls/restaurants/eateries within a single building in Singapore. Thus, I was very curious to sample the food at New Green Pasture Cafe after being told by two of my friends that this was their favourite eatery in Fortune Centre. Also, I’ve been trying to hunt down more organic eateries in Singapore (regardless of the debate about their purported additional health benefits (or lack thereof), high-quality, fresh, and organic fruits and vegetables simply taste much better).
The first few things you’ll notice about New Green Pasture are its casual, unpretentious and homely atmosphere as well as the myriad of personal touches that the owner Sophia has left all over the cafe. It is very endearing. Also, like many organic eateries in Singapore, the Cafe sells a selection of healthy goodies like organic bread, breakfast cereals, non-dairy milks, etc.
The menu is quite extensive and offers a range of cuisines, including Chinese, Western, Korean, Thai… No lack of creativity here, and definitely a place you can make repeat visits to. The food is usually served very efficiently, which I found even more impressive after I heard from a friend that Sophia prepares all the food herself. Prices are reasonable – everything I’ve tried was less than $10, though it is possible to find tasty organic vegan food for a lower price (here is a review of Create Healthy Lifestyle at Fortune Centre). Portions are adequately sized.
But most importantly, what won me over was that New Green Pasture serves delicious, wonderfully healthy food that is beautifully presented. As I will elaborate on shortly, everything I’ve tried has either been above average or excellent. Moreover, I cannot stress the feel-good factor of the food at the Cafe. My stomach became much more sensitive after I became vegan (there wasn’t really a huge difference after I became vegetarian, probably because I was still stuffing junk into my body in the form of dairy products – too much cheese and cakes – and processed foods), and I can feel it acutely when I eat junk. An uneasy feeling develops in my stomach and makes itself comfortable for at least a few hours when e.g. I eat something that is too oily, or I have some dubious mock meat. Conversely, I feel amazingly good inside when I consume fresh, natural, organic produce (vegan superpowers…!) – which is exactly the feeling I got at New Green Pasture. So what exactly was so great about the food? I’ve been back many times and I would recommend these as absolute must-tries: 1) Sri Lankan Roll, 2) Bamboo Brown Rice Set, and 3) Thunder Tea Rice.
Sri Lankan Roll
Heaven on earth – meaty mushroom strips, egg-like turmeric tofu, with fresh vegetables in a rich curry sauce, enclosed in a thin, crispy tortilla wrap. Cucumber slices and Sophia’s signature sweet vegan mayonnaise sauce serve as refreshing contrasts. I compulsively order the Sri Lankan Roll whenever I visit New Green Pasture.
[Update] The last time I visited in February 2013, I had a nasty surprise when my Sri Lankan Roll came with cheese inside. I asked the server what in the world was going on and she insisted adamantly that there has always been cheese in the Sri Lankan Roll ever since she worked here years ago. My insistence that I’ve ordered it more than 10 times and it has always been sans cheese was met with a firm denial… That was a disappointing experience but my point is that vegans should be cautious when ordering food here because the ingredients are not fixed. Also, this was vegetarian and not vegan cheese. ($7)
Bamboo Brown Rice set
Probably the most beautifully presented dish in New Green Pasture, the Bamboo Brown Rice set contains a perfect medley of ingredients – sticky sweet “glutinous” rice, crunchy peanuts, egg-like turmeric tofu, beans, chestnuts, shitake mushrooms, and “mock” meat slices made from mushroom, accompanied by slightly spicy and freshly handmade tomato sauce and a crunchy dried topping. A wide range of ingredients is always used though it varies slightly – on other occasions I’ve found cashew nuts and green peas. The “glutinous” rice is actually a special type of sweet brown rice that promotes digestion. Actual glutinous rice, which contains significantly less fibre and essential vitamins and minerals than other types of rice, is not found in the cafe. The set also comes with a side salad and Sophia’s famous vegan mayonnaise salad dressing.
Note that the cafe may not have this dish on the day of your visit either because the special “glutinous” rice is not available on that day or because it has ran out. ($8.50)
Thunder Tea Rice
One of New Green Pastures’ specialties. My friend George taught me how to consume the dish – you’re supposed to tip the green concoction on the left into the bowl of ingredients on the right, mix it up, and enjoy all that yummy nutritious goodness. On the left, what we have is actually a bowl of green tea mixed with basil and mint that gives the dish its name. The tea was quite strongly flavoured so it retained a slightly bitter taste. On the right, we have a whole bunch of ingredients such as shredded carrots, egg-like tofu, mushrooms, some meaty soy protein, and fresh, crunchy peanuts that lent a great texture to the dish. These ingredients surrounded a bed of brown rice that was perfectly cooked. After I tried this dish here, I did some research and read that many Singaporeans are split on the flavour of Thunder Tea Rice but honestly, I can’t imagine anyone who would not like New Green Pasture’s rendition of the dish. The pairing of the flavours seems counter-intuitive but the tea was actually the highlight of the dish and was what made it so delicious. ($9.50)
Korean Bibimbap with Kimchee
Another one of New Green Pasture’s specialties. The bibimbap was served in a sizzling hot pot with a bed of brown rice surrounded once again by many ingredients. I think I would have enjoyed this dish more if I didn’t have it with the Thunder Tea Rice because the similarities between the ingredients used made the bibimbap less interesting for me. Although the brown rice was slightly overcooked, it was very flavourful (I’m guessing it was cooked in some vegetable broth). The highlight of the dish might have been the sweet potato sitting in the middle of it all – its natural flavour shined through and its soft, creamy texture was beautiful. The bibimbap also came with kimchee but it seemed to lack the distinctive kimchee flavour; it was spicy but it wasn’t really sour. ($9.50)
The Golden Pillow is an amazingly good sandwich made with Sophia’s freshly homemade bread that you can purchase separately at the counter. Like everything else at the Cafe, wholesome and nutritious ingredients such as flaxseed are used in the bread. The Golden Pillow is stuffed with slightly spicy tempeh (!), shredded carrot and purple cabbage, alfalfa sprouts, and Sophia’s signature vegan mayonnaise sauce. It is rather like a salad stuffed inside a pita bread.
Zha Jiang Mian
Unlike the thick and richly flavoured sauces I associate with traditional zha jiang mian, New Green Pasture’s version features noodles in a slightly spicy broth with peanut sauce on top. I would have preferred a much stronger peanut flavour to help the dish stand out, but overall it was a pleasant dish.
Glutinous Rice with Chestnut and Side Salad
Highly recommended. The “glutinous” rice grains were perfectly cooked – al dente with a slightly resistant bite. Similar to the rice used in the Bamboo Brown Rice Set, the rice used here isn’t actually traditional glutinous rice but a special type of sweet brown rice. It reminded me of barley, and it wasn’t as sticky as traditional glutinous rice. The rice came with rather realistic mock meat (made from mushrooms), chestnuts and chilli on the side. The server recommended that I have the glutinous rice with a side salad, and I was glad I did because this complemented the heavier glutinous rice very well. The side salad was a combination of fresh, shredded vegetables drizzled with a sweet, mayo-like sauce. Can’t wait to have this dish again. ($5.50 for the glutinous rice, additional $2.50 for the side salad)
Vietnamese Spring Roll
The concept of a Vietnamese Spring Roll is simple and was well-executed. This was the dish my boyfriend ordered after proclaiming his love for the Cafe. Sophia was kind enough to stop having her dinner to prepare the food and serve it to us almost immediately. This dish was slightly sweet and very refreshing. I was struck by the incredibly thin, soft and translucent skin that held together the rather large rolls of various fresh and raw vegetables. This also came with the luscious mayo-like sauce. ($7)
Tofu Seaweed Roll
This dish was interesting as we rarely see whole pieces of tofu being used in a roll. However, I felt that its taste was less complex as compared to the Vietnamese Spring Roll. Also, one of the rolls was not wrapped tightly enough.
Soup of the Day
Sophia generously prepares a huge pot of light, traditional Chinese soup each day, the proceeds of which go to the Vegetarian Society (Singapore). The recommended donation is $1/bowl but obviously, the more the merrier. As an example of what to expect, on one occasion I had a light and delicious lotus root soup which contained various herbs, red dates, peanuts and shitake mushrooms. (Donation)
Coffee with Hazelnut Cream
As hoped for – a coffee with a strong hazelnut flavour. Yummy. But the cup was not very big ($2.50)
Conclusion: Delicious and extremely healthy food, coupled with reasonable prices and portions — you have to try this place if you haven’t already. I can never get tired of eating here