There’s never been a better time to go meat-free in Singapore with delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes showing up at all our favourite food haunts plus many new fully plant-based restaurants vying for your #eatclean dollars.
Still, you’re forgiven for being a skeptic, particularly if you’re a hardcore carnivore. Heavy on the hummus, avocado, soy products and quinoa, how can vegan-friendly options compare to heartier meat dishes, chief among them being the glorious burger?
VeganBurg’s seasonal burger is the formidable chilli crab burger, a tender patty made from konjac doused in a rich sauce made from a sempah spice blend, and vegan mayo. Available till the end of September.
It turns out, they can, and there are many veggie burgers out there that prove our point. Perhaps you’re already acquainted with VeganBurg and Nomvnom, the two OGs in the vegan fast food business. If you’re looking to broaden your plant-based horizons, here are the best new plant-based burgers we’ve tried that will make putting down that beef burger so much easier.
Vegan and vegetarian burgers at Hans Im Gluck
There are no perfunctory tofu or portobello mushroom burgers at this German burger joint. What you get is 11 enticing vegetarian and vegan items to choose from created not with the usual suspects but with olives, spinach, cheeses, wheat and even walnut. Served between soft sourdough or multigrain buns, or if you prefer, naked, meaning without the bread. All burgers also come with a creamy secret sauce that, thrillingly, carries the tiniest hint of wasabi that lingers on your tongue.
The Horntrager ($16) is arguably one of the best vegetarian burgers this writer has ever sunk her teeth into. Its crusty walnut patty is dense and meaty, and holds together under a glob of sticky fig jam and chunks of feta cheese but yields easily to a knife. The Wohlfein ($16) combines the same walnut patty with aged cheddar and lingonberry jam.
Also on the menu is the Fabelhafter ($16), a vegan option with a wheat patty that tastes suspiciously like spam. None of the vegan burgers contain vegan cheese (to our despair), but the addition of tangy orange mustard and mashed avocado make this one a winning formula nonetheless.
Most surprising of all was the olive patty burger, the Starker Tobak ($16) - a savoury medley of chopped olives, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and mozzarella, which acts as the glue holding it all together. Lightly charred on the outside, it has a pleasing bite to it. A sweet and spicy sauce completes the dish.
Three outlets, including 9 Raffles Place, Tel: 9738-5662.
Beyond Burgers at Mezza9
A burger patty that’s plant-based, gluten-free and soy-free. If those descriptors are enough to turn you off, you’re forgiven. We too were skeptical at first when we heard that Mezza9 was introducing the Beyond Burger to its menu.
Created by US-based company Beyond Meat, the Beyond Burger patty contains pea protein, beetroot, potato starch and coconut oil, with zero cholesterol. At Mezza9, you can try it in a Classic Cheese Burger or a Modern Asian Burger (both fully vegan).
And you should. Because we can vouch for just how mindblowingly authentic the patty tastes. When our meat-loving friend took his first bite of the Classic Cheese Burger, which is piled high with walnut-based vegan cheddar cheese, mayo and pickled gherkins, he could only muster an admiring “wow” before sinking into a state of disbelief. Experiencing meatless meat for the first time was incredibly bizarre, and wonderfully so. Flavourful, crumbly, and it even mimics that chew you get from a hunk of grilled minced beef.
If that isn’t exotic enough for you, try the Modern Asian Burger, made with a wasabi mayo slaw and a sunny yellow corn bun. Both burgers are priced at $25, and come with a side dish of french fries, crispy organic cauliflower, steamed organic broccoli or ancient grains with herbs grown on the hotel’s rooftop garden.
Grand Hyatt Singapore, 10 Scotts Road, Tel: 6732-1234.
Sourdough toast at HRVST by Kilter Avenue
An open-faced sandwich and a burger are practically the same thing… right? Okay, maybe not. But we had to include the wholesome and tasty Sourdough Nut Butter Toast ($15) at this fully vegan cafe-cum-bar. The handsome stack is constructed upon a foundation of tangy sourdough from Bread Yard, smeared with a thin layer of smooth, creamy nut butter that is homemade using almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts.
The next layer is a block of tofu marinated overnight in orange juice and grilled for a zesty citrus glaze to form around it. The sandwich is topped off with crunchy broccoli and cauliflower florets blanched in mushroom stock and sharp pickled yellow zucchini ribbons. Interesting contrasts in texture and intriguing flavour combinations make this a dish to remember.
#05-01 Downtown Gallery, Tel: 6920-7500.
Sandwiches at Hello Baby
What is it about the idea of a food truck that is so enticing? Maybe it’s the connection to American city life that we find so charming. Or maybe it’s the permission it gives us to stuff our faces with oil-soaked, calorie-dense junk food. If you’ve got a tendency to overindulge when it comes to cheat meals, then Hello Baby provides a (marginally) cleaner, and certainly greener and nonetheless scrumptious option. The plant-based food kiosk in Chinatown, a little sister to HRVST, offers vegan street food with an Asian twist, including two variations of the Beyond Burger.
We loved the Hello Local ($15), the Beyond Burger patty topped with homemade peanut sauce and achar, and the Young Jack Cubano ($10), shredded jackfruit in hoisin sauce served between two generously greased panini-pressed slices of bread. Another notable item on the menu: the Chilli ‘Crab’ Mantou Sliders ($10), in which enoki mushrooms are substituted for crabmeat.
10 Trengganu Street, tel: 8738 5770.
Trufflebello Burg at Veganburg
Returning to Veganburg after some time is like meeting up with an old friend only to discover that they’ve gotten rich and fabulous. They’re still just as humble and lovable, except now when they walk into a crowded room, everybody turns to stare in awe. This festive season, they’ve launched the Trufflebello burger ($11.90). What we wouldn’t give to see this handsome stack all year round at the Rachel Chu of vegan burger joints, though. The monster of a portobello patty - the heftiest mushroom patty this writer has ever encountered - hand cut and freshly breaded, stayed crisp under a generous serving of sriracha truffle aioli sauce over slaw and tart sun-dried tomatoes.
And that sauce, Veganburg sure knows how to pack a punch with its vegan sauces. It’s just the right constellation of garlicky sweet and spicy notes, smooth and creamy (without any dairy or egg!) to complement that delicious herbed crust on the mushroom patty. We gleefully scarfed down our burger with a sinful side of fluffy sweet potato fries and maple vegan mayo dip.
44 Jalan Eunos, tel: 6844 6868.
Just Egg sandwich at Oasis
After the launch of the Beyond Burger at mezza9, we didn’t think Grand Hyatt Singapore could top their star vegan dish. So we must commend them on doing us another solid with their new Just Egg sandwich ($18), made with a vegan egg substitute that comes in a bottle. We have to be honest. On its own, Just Egg - a mung bean-based liquid mixture that is supposed to replicate the texture and taste of eggs - did not blow our minds. Scrambled, the pale yellow mush only vaguely kind of reminds us of egg, the way an adopted child kind of starts to resemble his non-biological parents if you’re insistent enough upon it.
But the chefs at Oasis disguised the lacklustre egg substitute in a yummy puck-shaped omelette packed full of vegetable and mushroom bits, with dairy-free cheddar cheese, a very child-friendly ketchup-y tomato chutney, guacamole and alfalfa sprouts on dairy-free brioche buns. The restaurant serves the burger with a choice of grilled corn cob, stir-fried vegetables, potato wedge or french fries.
Grand Hyatt Singapore, 10 Scotts Road, tel: 6732-1234.