We checked out a range of restaurants, from fine-dining organic food to local neighbourhood all-raw vegan dishes, where the chefs go to extra lengths to cater for the discerning foodie in search of healthier options.
For Mediterranean vegetarian food…
43 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-62, Holland Village
6475 5605 | originalsin.com.sg | $$
The enduring popularity of this Mediterranean vegetarian restaurant in Chip Bee Gardens is a marvel in fickle Singapore, where so many restaurants open and close in a blink. A marvel, but not surprising. Founded in 1997 by owner-chef Italian-Australian Marisa Bertocchi, it’s maintained impeccable standards and stayed true to its lights; we’ve been regulars since 2001.
In the same way that South Indian vegetarian food is so satisfying, Marisa’s vegetarian interpretation of Mediterranean food is so good that carnivores might not even notice the absence of fish or flesh on the menu.
Start with the mezze platter, piled with sun-dried tomato ciabatta bread, falafel balls and four fresh and light dips: tzatziki, chickpea hummus, pumpkin and carrot, and eggplant babaganoush; or another perennial favourite, the magic mushroom. For mains, try the bosco mista, a toothsome burger made from spinach, feta and tofu coated with crushed almonds and sesame seeds and topped with mushrooms and fine asparagus in a tangy sauce. It’s delicious, and so is the lasagne . Leave plenty of room for the tiramisu , too – perfectly moist and rich, and appropriately alcoholic.
Star dish: Bosco mista
For an in-house vegetable garden…
Flower Dome, Gardens By The Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive
6604 9988 | pollen.com.sg | $$$
There are few restaurants in this city that can boast a private Mediterranean herb and vegetable garden, but when your location is the remarkable Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay, it seems a no-brainer. This fresh produce is used liberally in all the options on Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton’s vegetarian menu. (Meat options are available on the main menu.)
Not only are the dishes exquisitely pretty, but the starters of asparagus and grilled heirloom tomato salad ($26) and oven-roasted baby beetroots, goats curd and beetroot leaves are uniquely flavoursome too. There are two healthy main course options – roasted artichoke and salt-baked celeriac with truffle and a hearty fregola pasta, parsley and mimolette cheese ($40) – both of which are good choices. Top it off with a smorgasbord of sweet treats prepared before your eyes at the dessert bar, and perhaps a languid stroll through the Flower Dome afterwards.
Star Dish: Roasted artichoke and salt-baked celeriac with truffle
For meat-free and organic…
6 Eu Tong Sen Street, #B1-52/53 The Central
6224 4492 | realfoodgrocer.com | $
Whenever people ask me for a healthy place to dine at, my first recommendation is, without a doubt, Real Food. It was set up by three friends who were tired of unrecognisable ingredients in lacklustre food. Despite expanding to four outlets (10 Sinaran Drive, 110 Killiney Road and one in Penang, Malaysia), Real Food has managed to maintain its small organic café feel.
The menu labels each dish – vegan; containing soy, garlic or onion; or wheat- or gluten-free – so patrons know exactly what they are ordering. Even then, they’ll try to cater to any specific allergies or preferences.
All dishes are made to order, so service can take some time, but it’s worth it. My go-to dish is the beet millet burger with pan-fried sweet potato wedges on the side. A value-for-money option is the brown rice set served with different side dishes depending on the chef’s whim, so you never quite know what to expect!
For an Asian take, you really can’t go wrong with their signature steamed dumplings, drizzled with sesame oil and tamari, bursting with the goodness of carrots, mushrooms, bean curd, French beans and chestnuts. These dumplings are handmade in limited numbers daily, so go as early as possible.
Round your meal off with a cold-pressed fruit juice, for a healthy dose of enzymes, minerals and vitamins.
Star Dish: Steamed dumplings ($7)
For vegan and organic…
VeganBurg, 44 Jalan Eunos 6844 6868 | veganburg.com | $
You’d think the best person to take to a vegan restaurant might be, well, a vegan. But I took my allergic-to-greens, meat-loving beau to test a meatless burger. The moment he sunk his teeth into the char-grilled satay burger ($9.90), though, his eyes widened in surprise and his face broke into the widest grin.
How can a meatless burger be so tasty? First of all, the organic ciabatta bun is soft and very fluffy. In between, the grilled soy patty – smothered with nutty and savoury satay sauce – is extremely succulent and every bite is heavenly. However, the creamy shrooms burger ($8.90) stole the show. It’s an organic whole-wheat ciabatta bun sandwiching a crumbed and fried soy patty, sliced button mushrooms and a generous amount of delicious, dairy-free creamy sauce. The pepper in the patty, which is surprisingly meat-like in taste and bite, gives this burger a delightful kick.
End the meal with a scoop of plant-based ice cream, available in three flavours – Deluxe Chocolate ($4.90), Exotic Coconut ($4.90)and D24 Durian ($5.90). There’s definitely a flavour for everyone! Prices of Deluxe Chocolate and Exotic Coconut are S$4.90, and D24 Durian are S$5.90.Set meals ($10.80 to $13.80) are served with seaweed fries or broccolli, and a seasonal chiller.
Star Dish: Creamy shrooms burger
For sustainable and organic…
22 Orange Grove Road
Shangri-La Hotel, Garden Wing, Level 1
6213 4138 | shangri-la.com/singapore | $$
Vegetarian food is often considered boring or bland. Not so at Waterfall Café, where chef Stephane Cocu combines seasonal ingredients from sustainable or organic sources to create Mediterranean-inspired dishes with bold, fresh flavours.
Sardinian-style fregola, which looks a bit like giant Israeli couscous, is the main ingredient in the delicious fregola pasta salad: juicy fresh figs, strips of tangy pequillo pepper, tasty tomato confit and pine nuts in a pesto dressing. The mild curry-spiced Alaskan king crab salad mixed with pineapple and a crunchy summer macédoine comes with a sesame tuile perfect for scooping up the creamy mixture. Crisp rectangles of flaky pastry topped with caramelised onion, tomato confit and ash-coated goat cheese create a surprisingly rich and filling warm tomato tart, which is nicely balanced with a mixed herb salad and freshly made pesto.
For a lighter option, try the fresh spinach and buffalo ricotta ravioli with summer ratatouille, which tastes like the ingredients have just been picked from the garden.
The restaurant also caters for fish and meat eaters – the meat is all organic and hormone- and antibiotic-free, the seafood is from sustainable sources, and there are options for those who are gluten-intolerant, too. Healthy food has never tasted so good!
Star dish: fregola pasta salad of fresh figs, pequillo pepper, tomato confit and pine nuts with pesto dressing
76 Peck Seah Street
6323 3308 | wholeearth.com.sg | $$
A Thai-Peranakan restaurant that’s vegetarian too? I almost didn’t bother asking my uber-carnivorous husband to join me for this one. But I needn’t have worried. The Penang rendang ($19) we ordered was so beautifully spicy and (almost) meaty that that he may not even have noticed it was pan-fried mushrooms had I not mentioned it to him. The signature olive brown rice ($8) alone could have kept his chopsticks busy.
The secret, says co-owner Phyllis Ong, is that Whole Earth makes its own sauces – there’s no MSG thrown in, no mock foods on the menu. Rather, dishes reflect the passion of Thai and Peranakan cooking, and with great success.
When we visited on a Thursday evening, the place was pleasantly full: having been around for 10 years it has, deservedly, established a loyal clientele who return for dishes such as broccoli with braised monkey head mushrooms ($19) and oatmeal tofu with curry leaves ($15).
Don’t leave without glugging down a Beauty Enzyme Essence drink($9) – I feel healthier just writing the name. Made of a special enzyme that’s months in the making in Whole Earth’s kitchen, the warming blend of lemon, tomatoes and apples is one nourishing tipple. bBy the time you read this, the restaurant will have had a renovation – we’re looking forward to seeing the new look.
Star dish: Penang rendang
Not enough for you? Here are even MORE vegetarian and vegan options in Singapore…
A small vegetarian café decorated with brightly coloured furnishings. The cuisine is predominantly Western and Mediterranean with subtle Indian influences. Their menu includes walnut and cheese tortellini, spaghetti soya bolognaise, tofu steak sandwiches, and grilled vegetable sandwiches. There are also pizzas, burgers and even enchiladas. Most of the items on the menu can be prepared without onion or garlic. For desserts, tuck into their eggless cakes and pastries.
176 Race Course Road 6298 1412 | cafesalivation.com
Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant
Here you can find the very best in North, South Indian and Asian vegetarian food. With over 100 food items from small bites like samosa chaat, dosa to mains like tom yum noodle, Hokkien noodles and paneer fried rice to Western and Asian salads, it can be quite overwhelming, but the more the merrier, we say. All foods contain no onion, garlic and egg.
19 Upper Dickson 6396 7769 | gokulvegetarianrestaurant.com
All of the dishes at Loving Hut are purely plant-based (vegan). This small simply decorated café serves tofu rice set, olive vege rice set, noodles dishes and also burgers and salads. You can also request for organic brown rice.
Various locations, 6238 6755 | lovinghut.com.sg
Here’s another option for Japanese food. This small café serves udon, sushi, bento set and more. Dishes feature mock meat like chicken, pork and also mock unagi and salmon sashimi.
Fortune Centre #01-13/14, 190 Middle Road | 6333 1612 herbivore.sg
Water Drop Teahouse
A relaxed casual restaurant, this teahouse offers Chinese vegetarian cuisine serving mostly rice and noodles dishes.
Fo Guang Shan, 1 Punggol Place 6411 0590
Genesis Vegan Restaurant
Boat Quay’s Genesis Vegan Restaurant has plenty of options for diners whether you’re in the mood for Western or Chinese cuisine. Their dumplings and homemade desserts (tofu cheese pie and apple pie) are a big hit.
115 Owen Road 6438 7118
A holistic and vegetarian restaurant, 7 Sensations has plenty on their menu, including Asian fusion, Japanese, Thai and Singaporean Peranakan. They also have cakes and pastries and a beverage bar for organic juices. Food choices include pumpkin soup, Portobello mushrooms, avocado hand rolls and black olive brown rice.
16 Madras St, Singapore 208413 | 7-sensations.com
The Living Café
A modern menu of raw and raw-fusion dishes. No red meat, no cow dairy, no white sugar, no preservatives, no additives and no artificial colourings.
779 Bukit Timah Road (just before 6th Avenue) 6468 4482 | balancedlivingasia.com
From clay pot to steam-boat, Chinese favourites made from vegetables and mock meat here.
541 Orchard Road, Liat Towers | 6734 3788
Velocity@Novena Square | 6538 2992 lingzhivegetarian.com
Award-winning JAAN launched its Jardin Gourmand menu earlier this year, taking vegetarian food to new heights. Chef Julien Royer’s five- and seven-course menus use vegetables in beautifully artistic ways while staying true to the ingredients. Lunch: $118 (5 courses). Dinner from $148 (5 courses).
Level 70, Equinox Complex, Swissôtel The Stamford 9199 9008 |jaan.com.sg
Little Green Cafe
Fancy going veggie at home? Seek out Little Green Café, an East Coast cookery school that teaches vegetarian recipes from India, Vietnam, Thailand and more.
9763 1483 | littlegreencafe.com.sg
For Indian Veggie…
Almost a third of Indians in India are vegetarian, so it’s no surprise that Indian vegetarian restaurants abound. These are our favourites in Singapore:
While Little India is the epicentre of Indian veggie restaurants, one of the city’s best is, surprisingly, on Amoy Street in Chinatown. Annalakshmi also has a most interesting concept: eat what you want, pay what you want. The restaurant is staffed by volunteers and all donations go to charity. And the home-style curries, breads and rice dishes are excellent.
104 Amoy Street (there are also other outlets) 6223 0809 | annalakshmi.com.sg
Ananda Bhavan Restaurant
Celebrating its 90th anniversary next year, Ananda Bhavan is said to be Singapore’s oldest Indian vegetarian restaurant. There are now at least six branches, the one next to Mustafa’s being the most popular. Try the thosai set with accompanying curries and dhal.
95 Syed Alwi Road 6398 0837
Komala Vilas Vegetarian Restaurant
The queue at the main Serangoon Road branch of Komala Vilas is already forming by the time the doors open for breakfast, and it rarely shortens. It has a great ambience and excellent South Indian dishes served with silver pots of masala tea.
76-78 Serangoon Road 6293 6980 | komalavilas.com.sg
Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant
Specialities include mock chicken and prawn dishes.
19 Upper Dickson Road 6396 7769 | gokulvegetarianrestaurant.com
$ to $$$ = Cheap to expensive
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