Type of Institution: Vegetarian
O’bean, Singapore’s first organic soya store selling a variety of soy-based drinks, Singaporean/Chinese vegetarian meals and desserts, recently opened another outlet in a great location in the CBD – Far East Square. I finally got the chance to pop over during lunch a while back after having to miss their opening launch. It was great that the food didn’t take long to arrive and portion sizes were satisfying. I also liked the idea of incorporating soya powder into food – it worked pretty well for the soup/porridge broths. However, what I tried was for the most part unexceptional and service was terrible at one point (as I’ll go on to explain).
Soya Ramen with Dumplings
The large portion of ramen came with an option of white “fish head” soup or black herbal bak kut teh soup – I opted for the latter, which turned out to be rather flavourful despite not being herbal nor approximating bak kut teh. The addition of a small amount of soya powder to the broth gave it a hint of the soy taste and made the broth a bit more substantial. The ramen noodles were well-cooked and topped with a generous serving of bean sprouts and fresh greens, but the dumplings were a tragic affair despite ostensibly being the star of the show – they were stuffed with flavourless mock meat and encased in a rather thick skin. ($7.80)
Signature Soya Porridge
This dish was unfortunately preceded by the dreadful service I alluded to earlier. Before I ordered the porridge, I checked to make sure there was no egg inside and this was confirmed. When it arrived, however, the appalling century egg staring back at me from inside the bowl compelled me to ask for a new serving. The waiter looked perplexed by my request and went to get help. The lady who had come over to assist insisted she wasn’t going to change it and she said she was going to just remove the egg from that bowl, and add some other ingredients. After making it clear that this was not an option – and getting the same ridiculously offensive response from her – I caved since the conversation wasn’t going anywhere and I would rather have my lunch than be involved in an argument.
A few minutes later the porridge came back to the table after being patched up. Aside from looking rather pathetic, and clearly showing no attempt to make it fit for serving, it still contained century egg beneath the surface. Honestly?
I returned the dish and thankfully this time around, what appeared to be the manager was appropriately apologetic and promptly replaced it.
The big serving of porridge was smooth and creamy with the addition of soy milk, and it was topped with youtiao, mushrooms, braised peanuts, ginger shreds, gluten intestine, and surprisingly fresh and strongly flavoured seaweed. I could imagine it being an adequately comforting breakfast on a rainy day. ($6.00 for large portion)
These semi-soft pieces of braised beancurd weren’t extraordinary but they were pleasant enough. Needless to say it would have been better if they were braised in a more exciting sauce. ($1.20)
Glutinous Rice Balls with Red Beans
I’m a huge fan of tang yuan – how can you ever go wrong with cute, round, warm and sticky dumpling balls? O’bean’s glutinous rice balls oozed a peanut sesame paste when I bit into them (though the peanut generally overwhelmed the taste of sesame), and they were served in a soy milk broth that had the right level of sweetness (approx. 25% sugar, if I had to put a number on it) and a small serving of sweet red beans. I was told dessert would take longer because they have to cook it on the spot, but this one arrived pretty fast. ($3.50)
The soy milk tasted fresh and natural, and definitely gave other soy milk stores a run for their money. Skip the grass jelly though, it didn’t add anything. ($1.30 for regular, $2.20 for large, and +$0.50 for addition of grass jelly)
Conclusion: Generally the food was of an average quality, but it would be a decent choice if you’re out to grab a quick lunch in the CBD.