The Loving Hut
229 Joo Chiat Road | 6348 6318
Must try: Avocado smoothie
What this vegan restaurant lacks in protein and dairy, it more than makes up for in cheerfulness and good vibes. Arriving at the bright, airy shophouse after 2pm for a late lunch, I thought I might find it deserted, but no. Three groups were lingering over coffee, and another two couples wandered in after me. Is it the wallet-friendly prices, the 100-percent plant-based food or the friendly staff drawing them in? One thing seems clear: the global Loving Hut vision is to spread the message of environmentally responsible practices, rather than make oodles of money.
Mr Khoo is one of the friendly team members who provide some great recommendations for this first-time vegan. A surprisingly refreshing avocado smoothie ($7.90) – a creamy mix of avocado, coconut water and coconut flesh – takes the edge off the hunger pangs, while I await the Au Lac salad rolls ($6.90) with spicy chilli sauce, a twist on the Vietnamese classic. It’s difficult to believe the Royal Satay ($9.90), served with peanut sauce, is not chicken but a tasty soy substitute.
There are loads of choices, including pastas, burgers and hearty salads, and ingredients are often organic or non-GMO. Kids are not forgotten – look for fun interpretations on local hawker favourites, and do linger over a Fair Trade coffee and strawberry crumble pie (from $8.90). Spending an afternoon here gazing out of the large windows on to cosmopolitan Joo Chiat Road is definitely recommended.
Block 43 Jalan Merah Saga,
#01-62 Chip Bee Gardens | 6475 5605
‘Kashmir pizza – the combination of Middle Eastern flavours and mozzarella is just so good; I’m still dreaming about it.’
With a strong, expansive menu of flavourful offerings and a casual alfresco ambience, it’s really no wonder that Original Sin – the first Mediterranean vegetarian restaurant in Singapore – has enjoyed the success it has over the past 18 years, gaining a loyal following of not only vegetarians but all types of diners looking for impeccable Mediterranean fare.
Here, the focus isn’t on being “Mediterranean without meat” but, rather, offering fresh and delicious Mediterranean specialties loaded with flavour and texture. In fact, Original Sin soars way above the stigma of “boring” vegetarian cuisine, with hearty helpings of pizza, pastas and other mains so good that you’ll totally forget there’s no meat in sight – I can assure you, both carnivores and herbivores will be satisfied here.
Don’t miss the mezze platter ($28) for two (or even three!) as a starter – it’s a selection of dips including chickpea hummus, spiced pumpkin and carrot hummus (my favourite), baba ganoush (grilled eggplant puree) and tzatziki, along with pita bread and falafel balls. Another tasty starter is the basilico bruschetta ($14) – herb bread lightly spread with creamy goat cheese and topped with roasted capsicum, eggplant, rocket, garlic, olive oil and balsamic. For mains, try the deliciously flavourful moussaka ($28), baked layers of char-grilled eggplant, potato, tomatoes and lentils – almost like a Middle Eastern-spiced lasagna; or, my pick, the addictive Kashmir pizza ($24), layered with hummus, tandoori sauce, mozzarella, bocconcini, onions, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and tons of tofu. And, if you’ve still got room, finish things off with the restaurant’s signature tiramisu ($10) – mascarpone cheese mousse with layers of sponge biscuits soaked in marsala and coffee liqueur – or the ever-popular apple crumble ($12), made with stewed apples and raisins spiced with cinnamon and served with vanilla ice cream.
And, if you’re around for lunchtime, try the $28 set lunch, which includes the option of soup or salad, plus a choice of a Mediterranean wrap (filled with chickpea and pumpkin spread, grilled eggplant and feta), a veggie burger (brown rice and chickpea patty) or spaghetti with zucchini, olive and cherry tomatoes tossed in basil sauce and parmesan, and warm chocolate cake for dessert.
44 Jalan Eunos | 6844 6868
Must try: Creamy Shrooms burger
Some people go meat-free for health reasons, some because of ethical values, and some because it’s the “green” thing to do. I think we’re overlooking one more important thing: going meat-free can be delicious – and VeganBurg proves it. Most veggie burgers are a weak imitation of the all-beef original, but VeganBurg’s soya patties reached far above my expectations. The patties are GMO-free, the buns are soft and the greens are fresh and crisp. The home-grown brand has already expanded to San Francisco and was the catering partner for Taylor Swift’s 2014 tour – convinced yet?
Go for the Hawaiian teriyaki ($6.90) if you like a tang; the pan-grilled patty glazed with teriyaki sauce and a slice of pineapple is unforgettably flavourful. The Creamy Shrooms burger ($7.90) is hands-down my top pick, though, with juicy button mushrooms cooked in a dairy-free sauce and a patty crisped to perfection. Seaweed fries ($3.90) and handmade Spinach Pops ($3.90) – deep-fried potato and spinach balls – make for delicious sides. And, if you’ve any room to spare, the organic brown rice ice cream ($5.80) rounds things off nicely.
Afterglow by ANGLOW
24 Keong Saik Road | 6224 8921
Must try: Afterglow kimchi nori rolls
Were a hipster and a yogi to procreate, this would be their nursery – killer tunes, indie interior (think industrial chic with bookworm comforts) and a menu that continues to lead the “Eat Clean” movement in Singapore. Sustainability is a core theme here, from the repurposed décor to the farm-to-table cuisine that supports local and eco-friendly produce.
Despite being a mix of appetites, from staunch carnivores to strict vegetarians, the unanimous thumbs-up across our table of four spoke wonders for the food. The dishes fuelled great conversation as we marvelled at the flavours and at the surprising substitutes for meat and dairy. Most notable was the raw vegan nut “cheese” platter with crackers ($16), made from a cultured cashew nut base with probiotics; and the Afterglow kimchi nori rolls ($14) with almond sushi “rice” and seven-day-aged kimchi made on the premises. Most dishes are raw; many are a clever and guilt-free take on the usual sinful suspects – the raw taco bowl ($16) with walnut “meat”, for example, or the raw lasagne ($20), layered zucchini sheets, dehydrated cherry tomato sauces, cashew-nut cream with shitake mushrooms, and almond crumble.
We love that Afterglow allows room for a bit of sinful pleasure. Even if you don’t tap into its quirky menu of craft beers and cider, we recommend you share the raw chocolate salted caramel fudge ($12.50); it’s made with avocado and cacao fudge with vanilla, and a walnut crust infused with Medjool dates, sparing you any guilt!
60 Paya Lebar Square, #02-15 | 9168 9680
Must try: Mayo and yogurt soya burger
For a nutritious, tasty and meat-free meal with no GMOs, look no further than Greendot. This place has a great selection of Asian-fusion dishes at pocket-friendly prices. Set up by a group of friends who wanted to break the monotony of vegetarian food offered in local school canteens, Greendot has since expanded to two restaurant outlets (Bedok Mall and Paya Lebar Square).
The herbal noodles ($6.90) and rendang rice ($6.90) are a seemingly perennial favourite among Greendot diners, though my go-to dish is the mayo and yogurt soya burger ($5), made with an Asian-inspired, sweet-yet-savoury patty. And as my carnivorous husband also raved about the delicious burgers, I’d say they’re the ideal opportunity to be open-minded about plant-based eating.
Another great option is the bento set ($6.90), served with a choice of side dishes such as white or brown rice and fruit. For a lighter option, try the sesame rice ($5), which tastes like its ingredients have been handpicked from a fresh garden. Round off your meal with one of the eatery’s home-blended teas for a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. This place also does takeaways if you’re looking for something to go.
2 Bay Avenue, #L1-87 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands | 6688 7450
Must try: Shakshouka
Serving up yummy Middle Eastern dishes, Pita Pan is situated in a very convenient location: directly opposite the ArtScience Museum – so, it’s pretty perfect to pop into for a snack if you’ve just visited an exhibition, or for a casual, healthy meal with a partner. Don’t let the laid-back café vibe deceive you; the dishes pack a flavourful punch.
The popular falafel pockets ($13.90 for a half-pocket; $15.90 for a full one) served in doughy pita bread are perfectly cooked – not too dry and not too moist – and come with a choice of fresh salad ingredients and sauces (don’t hold back on the hummus!). There are also salads and soups, and from the drinks menu, cold- or fresh-pressed juices (from $6.90) to quench your thirst.
Undoubtedly, Pita Pan’s standout dish is the shakshouka ($13.90 to $18.90), which in Arabic means “mixture”. And what a mix it is – choose from a red tomato or green spinach base, then add ingredients of your choice, including eggs cooked to your liking, tomatoes, peppers, halloumi or feta cheese, and much more. In true rustic fashion, it’s all served up in a pan with bread on the side – perfect for sharing, and totally delicious. Psst! For extra-cheeky dipping action, we recommend grabbing a side of sweet potato fries ($7.90), too!
Know the Lingo
Just because something’s vegetarian doesn’t mean it’s organic; but it’s worth noting that many vegetarian and vegan restaurants often incorporate organic produce into their menus. And, just because a menu is vegetarian, doesn’t mean it’s vegan; though, if something’s vegan, it automatically falls under the vegetarian umbrella. Confusing? Here’s a little cheat sheet.
Vegetarianism can be traced to Ancient Greece and India, but the English word “vegetarian” came into use in the 19th century to refer to anyone who avoided eating red meat, poultry or seafood, be it for dietary, ethical or religious reasons.
Veganism refers to the practice of abstaining from not just animal meat, but also from animal by-products such as dairy, eggs and honey, for instance. Instead, vegan diets are mostly based on grains, seeds, legumes, fruits, soy, nuts and plant-based creams. Also, many vegans avoid using or wearing anything made with leather, fur, wool, silk, beeswax or any other materials derived from animals.
Going even beyond avoiding animal products, raw veganism involves a vegan diet in which nothing is heated above 40 to 49 degrees Celsius, and ingredients are not pasteurised, processed or genetically modified. The basic principle behind a raw food diet is that cooking and processing foods reduces their digestibility, their vitamin and mineral density and their overall health-promoting qualities. Among raw vegans, there are even subgroups such as fruitarians and juicearians.
Something’s officially organic when more than 95 percent of its ingredients are labelled “certified organic” by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or another accredited certifying agent; a product that’s “made with organic ingredients” contains only 70 percent or less of certified organic ingredients. In fact, only a handful of countries – including the US, Canada, members of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Thailand – issue organic certifications through accredited third-party organisations.
Certified organic produce is free of synthetic pesticides, while certified organic meat is free of growth hormones, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and antibiotics; additionally, meat is only considered certified organic when the animals are free to roam, have access to the outdoors and are given only organic feed.
Going Veggie? Grab Vino!
Looking for some wine to go with all that health- and eco-conscious grub? We’ve rounded up some organic and biodynamic picks from ewineasia.com, one of Asia’s leading fine wine wholesalers and online retailers.
What’s the Difference?
While organic wines are made from organically grown grapes and have no added sulphites, biodynamic winemakers take a holistic, everything-is-connected approach to agriculture and believe that there’s a lot more to growing organic grapes than simply refraining from the use of pesticides. In fact, they use nine types of special preparations to maximise soil quality and stimulate plant life, including a mixture of extracts, minerals and animal manure, not to mention a strict harvesting schedule controlled by the cosmos!
Pieropan Soave Classico Doc 2013, $43
Dry notes of ripe peach, pear and honeydew melon characterise this crisp white.
Domaine Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Rosé La Moussiere 2013, $54
This fresh and fruity rosé blends an aromatic pinot noir with a delicate Sancerre.
Cosse Maisonneuve Cahors Le Combal 2008, $47
Sour cherry and dried raspberry flavours define this savoury red.
Domaine De Perrieres 2010 Costieres De Nimes, $46
This red varietal is loaded with tobacco and chestnut notes, and features hints of blackberry, red currant and black cherry.
252 North Bridge Road #02-19 Raffles City
176 Race Course Road
76 Peck Seah Street
Chinese and Western vegan:
Genesis Vegan Restaurant
1 Lorong Telok | 6438 7118
North and South Indian, and Asian vegetarian:
19 Upper Dickson Road
541 Orchard Road, #05-01 Liat Towers; 238 Thomson Road, #03-09/10 Velocity@Novena Square
Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Western vegetarian:
41 Sam Leong Road
Japanese vegetarian and vegan:
Teng Bespoke Vegetarian Restaurant
91 Bencoolen Street | 6337 7050
Asian fusion vegetarian:
28 Stanley Street
This story first appeared in Expat Living’s July 2015 issue.