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Type of Institution: Mostly-vegan (with the exception of honey in the desserts), emphasis on raw food

Address: 24 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089131
Tel: +65 6224 8921
Website: Facebook

Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 11.30 am – 11 pm

Overall: 7.4/10

Afterglow

AfterglowAfterglow, the mostly-raw and mostly-vegan deli/retailer/bar that opened at Keong Saik in March, has been garnering a lot of love from the media for its unapologetically hipster vibe, industrial chic décor and farm-to-table raw food. Unlike most veg eateries in Singapore, there’s reason to linger after your meal in the evening since it also offers a small selection of wines and craft beer. I’ll certainly be back as I’ve only managed to scrape the surface of the decently sized menu that incorporates many raw interpretations of western and Asian dishes (not to mention plans to open a cocktail bar have been set in motion), but here’s a preliminary impression of the food –

Clear Tom Yum Soup

AfterglowThe tom yum soup was very light in flavor and mildly spicy, and slightly warmed so that the broccoli and shitake were almost cooked. I would imagine that the temperature of the soup did not go beyond 40 or so degrees Celsius so it would probably qualify as raw. I prefer my tom yum to be traditionally Thai, i.e. supremely hot and sour, but this might work for you if you prefer a toned down Western version. ($14)

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl with Avocado and Miso Dressing

AfterglowThe sushi-in-a-bowl was a hearty portion of chewy black rice with shredded carrot, edamame, and slices of shitake and avocado. This was topped with sesame seeds, nori and refreshing, lightly pickled cucumber rounds. While the sushi bowl had a pleasant concept, the potential of the dish was not maximized as the miso dressing was not flavourful and the avocado should have been left to ripen for a bit longer. ($16)

Raw Zucchini ‘Linguine’ with Corri. Tomato Sauce & Homemade Pesto

AfterglowThin yellow zucchini spirals with an ideal level of ripeness were the star of this classic raw main dish. The tomato sauce and pesto, however, could do with a richer flavor. ($16)

Conclusion: Loving the fact that Afterglow is turning raw food and vegan food into trendier options in Singapore and that it pays attention to where their food is sourced from. The menu is certainly promising but more work needs to be done to fine-tune the dishes.

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Type of Institution: Vegetarian

Address: Far East Square, 1 Amoy Street, #01-01, Singapore 049944
Tel: +65 9118 6375
Website: ‎https://www.facebook.com/ObeanRafflesPlace, http://www.euuonline.com/beaninacup_home.htm

Overall: 6.1/10

O'bean Organic Soya StoreO’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

O'bean Organic Soya StoreThe 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?

O'bean Organic Soya StoreI returned the dish and thankfully this time around, what appeared to be the manager was appropriately apologetic and promptly replaced it.

O'bean Organic Soya StoreThe 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)

Braised Beancurd

O'bean Organic Soya StoreThese 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

O'bean Organic Soya Store

O'bean Organic Soya StoreI’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)

Soy Milk

O'bean Organic Soya StoreThe 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.

Type of Institution: Vegetarian 

Address: 8 Smith Street, Singapore 058971
Tel: +65 6225 9026

Opening Hours: Daily 12:00 – 23:00

Overall: 9.0/10

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health Food(This review was updated again on 26 August 2012. The original review was written on 23 April 2012.)

Mdm Wong began acquiring her impressive culinary skills when she was compelled to adopt a healthy vegetarian lifestyle after being diagnosed with leukaemia. Soon after, she started cooking for her fellow cancer patients as well. Such experience eventually culminated in the opening of Ci Yan, a Chinese restaurant tucked away in a corner of Chinatown with simple wooden stools and tables and many religious artefacts. As you might expect, most of the ingredients used are organic and a lot of attention is paid to the nutritional content of the dishes, without compromising on flavour. It is easy to feel at home in Ci Yan – the ambience is laidback, the food is comfortingly traditional Chinese, and both Mdm Wong and her husband Mr Seow are warm and friendly.

The menu, which features about 4-6 dishes, changes daily. It always includes the brown rice set. The price of each dish ranges from $5-$7. I would recommend you call the restaurant before visiting to check what is the daily menu. Usually you will hear a voicemail reciting the day’s menu in both English and Mandarin. Perhaps my only gripe is that portion sizes lean towards the small side (though I’ve been told I eat a lot…).

Vegans should take note that they have been increasingly using dairy products in the dishes, so please check with them before ordering! Needless to say I’m severely disappointed.

Soup

Herbal Soup

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health FoodOn one night I visited, there was a fairly large group of people in the restaurant who had reserved a table and had placed their special orders prior to that day – I was jealously eyeing all the food arriving at their table because it all looked so appetizing, and yet we couldn’t have any of it. But we got lucky because there was leftover herbal soup, which was proudly proclaimed as the “best soup you can ever have” (not quite, but pretty close). The light yet richly flavoured herbal soup combined many flavours and textures, derived from the various mushrooms (such as monkey head) and Chinese herbs (such as codonopsis root or dang shen) which were braised for 8 hours.

Red Lentil Soup

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health FoodThis was a simple, sweet and creamy red lentil soup. ($3)

Pumpkin Soup

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health FoodThis was similar in concept to the red lentil soup, except with pumpkin. ($3)

Mains/Sides

Brown Rice Set

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health FoodCi Yan’s rendition of the staple dish at almost every Chinese/Singaporean healthy eatery in Singapore – the brown rice set –  usually impressed with its side dishes. The Brown Rice Set Meal is a safe bet if you’re looking for some simple and traditional Chinese food. Expect side dishes such as fresh, crispy and crunchy long beans, slightly crunchy cauliflower with black fungus mushrooms and button mushrooms, tender strips of marrow green, sautéed Chinese greens, and a simple salad with iceberg lettuce and carrot strips. Perhaps the most interesting side dish I have come across is the bittergourd cubes cooked in a way as to eliminate most of its bitterness.

My favourite side dishes always featured chewy and firm tempeh, either marinated in soy sauce or curried and accompanied with sesame seeds. I really wish it would be easier to find good tempeh dishes in Singapore because I love its naturally nutty flavour, its dense chewy texture, and the fact that it is super healthy (it is rich in soy protein, dietary fibre, riboflavin, magnesium, manganese and copper etc.).

Braised Mala Noodles

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health FoodAn extremely satisfying dish – the noodles as well as the fresh mushrooms, tender carrots, crunchy lettuce and extra-firm tofu soaked up the slightly spicy braised mala broth, which was rich but not overwhelming.

Mushroom Spaghetti in Olive Oil

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health FoodThis was a light and simple pasta dish. Al dente spaghetti was topped with shimeiji mushrooms and strips of iceberg lettuce and cucumber, and tossed with olive oil. ($6)

Millet Fruits & Veg Salad

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health FoodThis was an extremely hearty millet salad with an impressive variety of ingredients – it’s good for hungry people! The dominating taste was the natural sweetness from the raisins, red and green apple, shredded carrot, pear, pumpkin and star fruit. Other ingredients included cucumber, sprouts, tomato and tiny cubes of mock ham. Although the salad sauce with flaxseed was too mild to contribute any flavour, but the nature flavour of the ingredients more than compensated for this. ($7)

Stir-fried Tung Hoon (Glass Noodles)

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health FoodSavoury glass noodles were tossed with carrot strips, mock meat and beancurd skin, and topped with shredded lettuce. Notably, this wasn’t oily in the least. ($5.50)

Lotus Leaf Rice

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health Food

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health FoodThe Lotus Leaf Rice arrived steaming with fragrance and moisture. Tiny bits of mushroom, peanuts, broad beans, kidney beans, and gingko nuts lent an interesting texture. I could barely taste the mushrooms though because they were cut way too small. The portion size was akin to  a satisfying snack rather than a main dish. ($6.50)

Organic Cold Tofu

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health FoodI loved the generous serving of organic cold tofu slices dressed with a sweet soy sauce reminiscent of that accompanying Chee Cheong Fun. This was topped with refreshing cucumber slices, shredded seaweed and nutty white sesame seeds. Highly recommended. ($6.00)

Dessert

Mung Beans with Durian

Ci Yan Organic Vegetarian Health FoodThe picture above might look rather nondescript, but this was easily one of the best dishes I’ve had here (and I’m not mad about durian). The simple, traditional Chinese Mung Bean Soup dessert was given a sophisticated twist by the subtle taste of durian permeating throughout the soup. Chunks of durian and intact mung beans added an interesting texture. Fresh coconut milk topped it all off. ($2.50)

Conclusion: If you’re like me, i.e. you love clean, healthy, feel-good and delicious organic vegan food at reasonable prices – this is the place for you! Definitely one of my favourite eateries in Singapore.

Type of Institution: Vegetarian

Address: #01-04, Central Square, 20 Havelock Road, Singapore 059765 (near Clarke Quay MRT Exit B or Chinatown MRT Exit E)
Tel: +65 6339 9993
Website: http://www.annalakshmi.com.sg/

Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11am – 3pm, 6pm – 9.30pm

Overall: 7.3/10

AnnalakshmiThe ornate brown doors of Annalakshmi open to a spacious interior decorated in a simple yet refined manner with traditional Indian furnishings. Annalakshmi can be distinguished from many restaurants in Singapore as it has a deep philosophical underpinning – to “serve, love, give”. It is part of a larger organization, Temple of Fine Arts, which promotes the arts, culture and service to the community.

One of the most unique aspects of Annalakshmi is that there is no fixed price for the food, be it for the buffet or the ala carte menu. A sign on the table sweetly urges you to “Eat As You Wish, Pay As You Feel. We Believe in You. We Trust You.” I like how this philosophy immediately creates a positive relationship between the restaurant and the customer. God knows we all need a break from cynicism every once in a while. Their “Eat what you Want and Give as you Feel” concept also gives more autonomy to the customer, especially for the buffet – it makes infinitely more sense for the customer to pay the sum he or she thinks is deserving for the quantity and the quality of the food he or she consumed.

As for service, the staff were generally attentive and helpful. Upon my inquiry as to which items in the buffet were vegan-friendly, one of the servers took me through the dishes one by one to explain which dishes contained dairy and which were safe for my consumption. However, another server seemed rather unsure as to the ingredients in the dishes.

I arrived during lunchtime, and opted for the buffet with 2 orders of chapathi. Both the buffet and ala carte menu offered a small selection of traditional Indian cuisine. The dishes in the buffet change daily. Generally the food was not too oily, particularly for Indian food standards.

AnnalakshmiAt the top, we have two dals, one soup, and a gravy. While the delicious soup was rich with spices, one of the dals and the gravy were so salty I didn’t finish it. The okra in one of the dals was overcooked as well.

Fortunately, the side dishes at the bottom fared better. The bajji (deep-fried fritters) on the bottom left were quite addictive, with its crispy outer layer, soft potato filling and a slice of plantain in the middle. However, the accompanying coconut chutney was quite watery and did not contribute much flavour. To the right, we have some tasty and well-cooked cabbage and a curried mix of sweet potato and potato.

AnnalakshmiI would also recommend the warm, thin and chewy chapathi. Avoid the overcooked and mushy white rice.

(pay as you wish; if you’re curious I paid $12)

Conclusion: The vegan options at Annalakshmi’s lunch buffet were hit and miss. However, I foresee myself coming back – perhaps to try the ala carte menu – simply because I enjoyed the ambience and I love their dining concept.

Type of Institution: Vegan

Address: 282A South Bridge Road
Tel: +65 65347727
Website: http://www.8treasuresgroup.com.sg

Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 11:00 – 15:00, 17:00 – 22:00, Sat, Sun & PH: 11:00 – 22:00
Every 1st & 15th of the Lunar Month: 11.00 am – 10.00 pm

Overall: 7.5/10

I love the deco at Eight Treasures – very traditional Chinese furnishings. The service is also attentive but not obsequious (which is an important factor for me). I’ve been to Eight Treasures twice, but I’m just going to review the second time that I’ve been here. The menu is really quite long – you can come here at least 5 times and not have to try the same thing again. All in all, all the food I tried was nice – nothing was bad, nothing was exceptional, but they were all pretty good. Take note that since the restaurant is Buddhist, it doesn’t use any garlic or onion, both of which I am partial to.

Mock Lemon Chicken

Best dish we tried tonight. As my companion said, the dish was excellent on its own merits, regardless of whether it achieved the texture of chicken or not. That being said, the texture – achieved through the use of soy protein, though the waitress did not seem keen to elaborate – did approximate that of tender chicken, and it was infused with a delicate lemon flavour, and drizzled with a mayo-like sauce.

Dou Miao with Golden Mushrooms

Cooked perfectly and the vegetables and mushrooms were nested in a flavourful broth. I love dou miao – definitely my favourite Chinese vegetable!

Fried Olive Rice

Quite satisfactory – the olives imparted a nice flavour and the rice was fried with a myriad of ingredients such as peas and grilled corn and what appeared to be a mock meat that gave the rice a denser quality.

Black Pepper Monkey Head Mushrooms

I am a huge fan of monkey head mushrooms – its dense, meaty texture is so unlike any other mushrooms that I have tried. However, they are difficult to be cooked to perfection, and I found Eight Treasures’ monkey head mushrooms to be satisfactory but lacking in some respects. (For sure, I was comparing it to Naive’s monkey head mushrooms, which by the way are absolutely perfect.) More importantly, the black pepper sauce was boring. It wasn’t even in the least spicy (and I’m not one of those crazy Singaporeans who can eat a hell lot of chilli)…

Sambal Kang Kong

Again, the dish was not spicy enough. Surely when I order sambal kang kong I expect my tongue to burn a little bit.

Conclusion: Will not make it a point to travel here just for the food, but will definitely visit again if I am in the area – all the food was nice but I wasn’t blown away.

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