As a traveler, I explored quite a lot of Asia including Hong Kong, Bangkok, Colombo and Macau and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the local culture there. But I have predominantly seen that Non-vegetarian cuisine is the norm here and vegetarians face a lot of trouble in getting decent food apart from maybe few salads. Of course there are few Indian restaurants but they are few and far in between and quite expensive too. In my recent trip to Singapore on formal invitation from Singapore Tourism Board & Tigerair, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Singapore has a vast variety of vegetarian options (not just Indian!) which probably makes it the Vegetarian Paradise of South East Asia!
One of the torchbearers of the vegetarianism in Singapore is probably Real Food – which calls itself as a grocer and cafe with books. It also has an amazing restaurant, which serves healthy, organic vegetarian food which many Singaporeans, and tourists alike are warming up to. The address is 110 Killiney Rd but they also have 2 other branches across Singapore at Eu Tong Sen St and Sinaran Drive.
I tried the Grilled Veg Sandwich that costs around 9.8 Singapore dollars. Though a Sandwich, it was served like a burger that had inside it assorted grilled organic vegetables, mozzarella, cheddar and homemade tomato sauce. It was served with a side of fresh herb salad and boiled sweet potatoes. All the vegetables were really fresh and I enjoyed the healthy combination though the bun was a bit hard to bite into.
The highlight of the day at Real food was of course the Stuffed Veggies that costs about 9.8 Singapore Dollars. This had Grilled organic capsicum, filled with a homemade patty made from grated beetroot and carrots, mashed potatoes, onions, millet and fresh parsley. It was served with fresh greens, olives, lemon slices, tomatoes, baby radishes and avocado slices. I particularly loved the capsicum that was really crunchy and yummy.
Another pioneer in introducing Indian vegetarian food made with interesting ingredients in an interesting way is Saha, the brainchild of Chef Abhijit Saha of Caperberry fame from Bangalore, India. Started by an Indo-Russian couple, Saha’s menu is entirely created and curated by Chef Abhijit Saha. As soon as you enter, the menu is presented to you on an iPad where you could go for a set menu or ala carte menu.
Saha specializes in molecular cooking and reinventing traditional food in a new avatar. In the set menu, one of the highlights was Kerala Vegetable Istew Espuma which costs around 16 Singaporean dollars. This was Citrus pudding with garlic crumbs, black olive powder and cracked pepper. This was served with Kerala banana chips in a cocktail kind of glass. It had liquid nitrogen that enhances the taste and also makes it feel light on the stomach.
One amazing creation at Saha was the mini idlis served in a soup bowl and sambar and chutney poured in 2 different directions like Yin and Yang. The idlis were very fluffy and the sambar with the liquid nitrogen in it made for an amazing taste. Of course even the non-vegetarian food at Saha’s was good but that’s not for another blogpost! Saha is on Duxton Hill road in Singapore.
Not just Indian or vegetarian places, even artsy places like Artichoke on Middle Road had some very interesting Mediterranean vegetarian cuisine.
We enjoyed the hummus, baba ganoush with amazingly soft pita bread. I loved the taste of the vegetarian food even more than the non-vegetarian food there.
Of course there is no dearth of Indian restaurants in Singapore, especially in the Little India area or Race Course Road just next to it. One of the most popular restaurants is Banana Apollo Leaf, which had lip-smacking Indian food, both North Indian and South Indian. You could wash it down with Singapore’s very own Tiger Beer!
If you were craving for South Indian vegetarian meals, you could just step next door to Komala Vilas on Race Course Road (Little India) for rice meals with avial, sambar, papad and more kolumbo.
One very interesting restaurant we went to be Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant on Upper Dickson Road that served Veg Chicken 65, Veg Mutton curry and Veg Seafood rice! Can you imagine that! Vegetarians in our group had to be convinced that all the preparations are made in non-vegetarian style with spices but made of pure vegetarian ingredients like Soyabean and Tofu!
Loved the preparations at Gokul Veg restaurant and hoping something similar can be started in Bangalore or India soon. This would specially please those non-vegetarians who would want to stop eating non-veg or those vegetarians who would want to try out dishes made in non-vegetarian style.
In retrospect, I loved the vegetarian food in Singapore and can truly label it as the Vegetarian capital of South East Asia. Do visit Singapore this year not just to enjoy the food but also take part in their 50th year celebrations (SG 50).