Type of Institution: Vegetarian
Address: 19 Upper Dickson Road, Singapore 207478
Tel: +65 6396 7769
I’ve been to Gokul many times for a quick fix whenever I needed some reliable Singaporean food, ever since I discovered it through Hungry Ang Mo’s 2010 list of Top 10 Vegetarian Eateries in Singapore (Gokul has been No. 1 for years). This time round, I went back with the intention of sampling a good spread of their menu so you’ll get a representative review (it’s a bit tricky ordering vegan food in Indian restaurants, but fellow vegans can rest assured that the following dishes I tried were vegan since I checked thoroughly). Gokul’s extensive menu covers Singaporean, Chinese, Indian and Western cuisine, typically served in hearty portions. You’ll also find smoothies, freshly squeezed juices, and hot drinks. As for service, it is typically friendly but Gokul was understaffed the last time I visited (on a Sunday night) and could definitely work on its efficiency.
As compared to its main outlet in Little India, the outlet at Fortune Centre in Bugis is much smaller and shabbier. The Little India outlet is a casual eatery with a pseudo-posh colonial shop front, while the Fortune Centre outlet looks like an air-conditioned coffeeshop stall. Food-wise, the quality is fairly similar, but do note the menu at the Fortune Centre outlet is a more protracted version of that at the main restaurant. Prices at the Fortune Centre outlet are lower for the same dishes, though that isn’t really a big concern because the dishes at the Little India outlet are already very affordable – most dishes don’t cost more than $10.
The crispy papadum were made from lentil flour and weren’t too oily by Indian standards. They were perfectly complemented by the mint chutney, which was tangy, refreshing and slightly spicy. (Complimentary)
Gokul’s satay baffled me both times when I tried it at the Fortune Centre outlet as well as at the Little India outlet. It was highlighted in the menu as an “all time fave”, yet these 10 painfully dry, tough and flavourless soy meat skewers could be anything but. The unduly watery and dull peanut sauce and nondescript rice cakes didn’t do the dish any favours either. ($8)
I can never resist ordering the mutton murtabak at Gokul. Actually, I can never resist ordering vegan murtabak if it’s available on a menu, period. Gokul’s murtabak is served piping hot, with the thin crispy roti wrapped around chunky soy mutton chunks and vegetables. Eat it on its own or dip it liberally in the curry gravy or tomato sauce – tastes great both ways. It comes in different flavours – chicken, sardine and vegetarian (? Aren’t they all vegetarian…?) – but I’ve always been informed that mutton is the best, so there you go. ($7)
I loved the perfect texture of the okra (ladies finger) in the Bhindi Masala – crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, it reminded me of why okra is one of my top 3 favourite vegetables of all time. Unfortunately, though, the very bland masala gravy was unbefitting of the vegetable, and the sliced tomatoes lacked flavour as well. ($8)
Veg Mutton in Mysore Gravy
This very substantial dish consisted of soft soy meat chunks cooked with a spicy, wet, Mysore-style curry gravy. I would have preferred the “mutton” chunks to be denser to more closely approximate the texture of real mutton. ($9)
Special Hokkien Mee
Yet another item recommended as an “all time fave” on the menu, the Special Hokkien Mee was much less disappointing than the satay. Bee hoon, yellow mee, and kway teow were stir-fried with some greens, bean sprouts and soy prawn chunks. There was too much bee hoon compared to everything else but it wasn’t completely overwhelming. I was impressed by how the dish recalled some of the authentic, distinctive hokkien mee flavour, although prawns were obviously not used. Also, the dish wasn’t too oily and the chili on the side was decent. ($7.60)
Kothu Prata set
The Kothu Prata set offered a huge portion of chewy torn-up prata pieces stir-fried and scrambled with soy chunks, tofu, and vegetables. This is served with a red curry sauce and a lovely yellow dal. ($7.50)
Conclusion: I like Gokul for its mostly reliable Singaporean and Indian fare but I’ve not had anything exceptional here (except maybe the murtabak), and some of their dishes are hit and miss. I’ll definitely come back to try their version of my favourite Indian dish though – the masala dosa!