[Note] Jelina Vegetarian Garden at Cheong Chin Nam Road has closed down. It was operating a much smaller food stall at Star Vista Mall, 1 Vista Exchange Green, at Level 2 “The Kitchen”, but this has closed down as well.
Type of Institution: Vegan
Address: 9 Cheong Chin Nam Road, Singapore 599734
Tel: +65 6463 3962
Opening Hours: Tues – Sun 11am-10pm
On an appallingly hot Wednesday afternoon while travelling with the Mediacorp crew to film an upcoming episode of 我爱公开 with Bryan Wong, I found myself along Cheong Chin Nam Road, famous among Singaporeans for its prata, Muslim food, tze char, chicken rice… I was wondering how on earth I’m going to find any palatable vegan food here when I sighted upon Jelina Vegetarian Garden, like an oasis in a desert.
Turns out Jelina is not only a refreshing contrast to the mostly oily and unhealthy meat-centric Singaporean fare along the stretch of road – it is a perfect juxtaposition as its emphasis on health is practically unrivalled among the veggie eateries in Singapore, with a couple of exceptions such as Genesis, Nutrihub, and New Green Pasture. Expect to find exquisite attention being paid to the ingredients in your food and the tools used to prepare your food to ensure maximal promotion of your wellbeing [read more here]. Needless to say, you will not find any trans fat, refined sugar, white salt, preservatives or other similarly offensive elements in your food. If you’re extra curious about what exactly you’re putting into your stomach, ask the extremely enthusiastic server for the booklet that informs you about the nutritional benefits of the ingredients used for each dish. Indeed, the highlight of my visit was her infectious enthusiasm about the food and her earnest desire to ensure her customers enjoy their visit. I loved the fact that she was so passionate about the values the restaurant stands for – we need more people like that opening and working in restaurants.
Like most restaurants of that ilk, there is a small groceries section where you can purchase organic fruits and juices and other health foods.
The menu is reasonably extensive, with a focus on traditional Chinese cuisine – you’ll find herbal whole grain soups, a variety of noodles and stir-fried rice, different variations of nonya curry, the meatier soybean and konjac dishes, and herbal “premium pots”, among others.
Stir Fried Brown Rice Mee Hoon with Pumpkin
This was recommended by the server and was the best dish I had here. It was extremely fragrant, with a light but tasty flavour. The well-cooked brown rice bee hoon was stir-fried in healthy grapeseed oil along with sliced button mushrooms, julienned cucumber and julienned pumpkin. The portion size was very generous. My only complaint was that the pumpkin ought to be sweeter. But all in all, this dish is recommended. ($5.90)
Braised Noodle Soup
This is one of the dishes on the menu with entirely organic ingredients. I liked the texture of the chickpeas, which were sufficiently tender but retained a crunchy bite, as well as that of the semi-firm tofu triangles. However, I did not enjoy the mostly bland but slightly bitter soup. ($8.90)
Curry Brown Rice Mee Hoon (with soy milk)
The curry brown rice mee hoon was cooked with omega-rich camellia oil and came with potato, carrot, tofu, and long beans. Like the braised noodle soup, the curry suffered from a lack in flavour – it definitely needed a much more generous usage of spices. I opted for my curry to be cooked with soybean milk, but opt for coconut milk if you want a heavier and creamier curry. ($7.90)
Special Detox Vegetable with Fruit Juice
The detox juice seemed to have a high vegetable : fruit ratio as it tasted very plain – I personally prefer my juices to have a higher fruit (and hence natural sugars) content. The helpful server highlighted us to the fact that this must be drunk within 15 minutes to minimise oxidizing effects, and she refilled it with warm water upon consumption so none of the nutrients in the glass were wasted. ($5.80)
Conclusion: You must check out Jelina, a fairly recent addition to the local veg scene, if you believe in wholesome, nutritious food. I’m impressed by the careful attention paid to the nutritional value of their food (I know, you’re probably sick of hearing about it already) and also by the helpful and enthusiastic service staff. While the food lacked in flavour in several respects, I’ve been convinced to visit again to explore the rest of the menu.