Pepper Jade, a Thai vegetarian restaurant at Sunshine Plaza, is opened by the owners of Teng, a Japanese vegetarian restaurant in the same building
.But how do you cook Thai food without the all-important fish sauce? The kitchen manages very well. Some of the dishes on the menu are vegan and the kitchen does not use eggs, garlic, onions or shallots.
No eggs? Then why is there Son-In-Law Eggs ($14) on the menu? When the dish comes, I have to smile. The white of the eggs are made with mashed-up yam and the yolk is mashed pumpkin. These deep-fried croquettes are drizzled with a tangy sauce and tastes like a cross between a yam basket and the popular dim sum dish of wu kok.
No eggs, no fish sauce, no problem. The kitchen uses aromatic ingredients such as coriander leaves and roots, chilli, citrus juices and palm sugar to great effect. I do not miss the meat at all.
Tang Hoon Prawn In Claypot ($15) is a case in point. Coriander roots add depth of flavour and the noodles are just peppery enough and full of umami. I am happy to eat the dish without the mock prawns, which taste just like overcooked real prawns.
Other good things to order include Phap Thai ($8); Pomelo Salad ($10), full of sweet, juicy fruit and crunchy nuts; and Tom Yam In Claypot ($12), not too spicy but very aromatic and moreish.
Where: Pepper Jade, 01-20 Sunshine Plaza, 91 Bencoolen Street
Open: 11.30am to 3pm, 5.30 to 10pm (weekday, including today), 11.30am to 10pm (weekend)
Real Food is my go-to place for fresh, wholesome vegetarian and vegetable-centric fare. It offers a good range of gluten-free dishes and energising smoothies too.
My favourite things to eat here are the fresh homemade dumplings ($9.50) filled with organic ingredients such as carrots, mushrooms, beancurd, turnip and chestnuts. The tasty dumplings are nothing short of hearty and also have a nice crunch to them. Opt to have them in soup, steamed or fried.
There are also sandwiches, burgers with vegetarian patties made of soy, nuts, grains and legumes, as well as dishes such as salads, noodles and pasta.
Other things to try include the Original Banana Pancakes ($11.80). They are wheat and gluten-free, and sweetened with agave syrup.
Complete your meal with a juice or smoothie - plenty of options to suit your fancy.
Where: Four outlets including South Beach, 26 Beach Road, B1-19; The Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street, B1-52/53; Square 2, Novena, 10 Sinaran Drive, B1-105/106/129. Its outlet at 110 Killiney Road closes on Jan 1 (2017) and will be relocating to Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, 02-16. The Orchard Central outlet is slated to open in the second week of Jan 2017.
Open: Various opening hours
Tel: 6384-2206 (South Beach); 6224 -4492 (The Central); 6397-2289 (Square 2); 6737-9516 (Killiney Road)
MADRAS NEW WOODLANDS RESTAURANT
The VIP Thali meal at Madras New Woodlands Restaurant in Upper Dickson Road, is an Indian vegetarian meal that is so filling, you might even need to skip dinner.
A thali is a selection of dishes, usually served on a metal platter.
At Madras New Woodlands, katoris, or mini metal pots, are placed on a tray lined with a banana leaf. It is a packed tray as the small pots are placed rim-to-rim. Each is filled almost to the brim with a variety of vegetables and curries.
I have eaten the VIP Thali ($9.50) countless times, but what keeps the meal fresh is that I never know what will be served. The chefs decide what vegetable dishes to prepare each day, depending on what they get from the market.
On a recent visit, the selection includes lightly sauteed okra and a mildly spicy snake gourd fry.
There are also regular dishes that make it to the tray, including dhal made from split pulses and sambhar, a lentil-based vegetable stew. Raita, a soup-like yogurt dish filled with thick slices of cucumber, is a perfect cooling aid for the heat from some of the curries.
Carbohydrate lovers will appreciate having both white rice and biryani rice served in individual katoris.
Where: 14 Upper Dickson Road
Open: 7.30am to 10.30pm, daily
While I am nowhere close to switching to a plant-based diet, I enjoy having vegetarian meals because they never weigh me down.
Elemen, which has restaurants at Millenia Walk and Thomson Plaza, is one recent find and the flavourful food and modern presentation are impressive. The food defies categorisation as the dishes draw influences from Chinese, Japanese and Italian cuisines, among others.
Although diners can order a la carte, the best way to get the best of the menu might be to opt for the five-course ($23.80) or eight-course ($32.80) meal. It sounds like a lot, but one of those courses is a beverage.
Double-Boiled Maca Soup, made with the South American root, is supposed to give energy and stamina. Although the soup is made without meat bones, it has a rich, nuanced flavour that warms the belly on a rainy day.
I pick Sizzling Quinoa Brown Rice (above) for the main course, and it is the standout of the meal.
The quinoa is lost in it, but the nutty brown rice, which develops a crisp crust at the bottom of the heated stone bowl, is fantastic. Slices of mushroom, red and green bell peppers and greens make it a hearty choice. A tangy and lightly spicy sauce leaves a tingle on the tongue. More, I think to myself. More.
Where: Elemen, 01-75A Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard
Open: 11.30am to 4pm, 5.30 to 10pm daily
Head to Blue Bistro for affordable, Singapore-inspired vegetarian food.
Blue Bistro's signature blue rice (nasi kerabu) set ($6) includes blue basmati rice served with air-fried, soya-based ribbon fish, cucumber, boiled okra and sambal with grated coconut, chopped bunga kantan (torch ginger flower) and kaffir lime leaves. The rice is coloured with natural dye from the blue pea flower.
Other dishes include nasi lemak ($5), coconut basmati rice served with rendang (made from mushroom stems), cucumber and sambal; curry udon ($4.50), with tau pok and finely chopped laksa leaves; and eggless kaya toast ($2.50).
Where: Burlington Square, 175 Bencoolen Street, 01-49
Open: 8.30am to 6pm (Mondays to Fridays); 11am to 3pm (Sundays), closed on Saturdays and public holidays
Italian-inspired meat-free concept Sufood is run by home-grown restaurant chain Putien.
Tuck into dishes such as a strawberry snowflake salad and curry cheese calzone. Other dishes include a creamy potato black bean soup, zesty oyster mushroom stone pot rice and its signature Star Pizza. An seven-course meal costs $29.80.
Where: Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Road, 02-19
Open: It opens daily from 11.30am to 3pm (lunch), 3 to 4.30pm (high tea), 530 to 10pm (dinner)
BROWNICE ITALIAN BISTRO & ICE CREAM
Brownice is well-known for its range of vegan-friendly ice cream which is made with brown rice milk. Prices start at $14 for a 473ml tub. It also serves savoury pizzas such as its Hot Vegan Chick Pizza topped with soy chicken, soy ham, pineapple, tomatoes, vegan cheese, acai berries and chilli ($16).
Where: Sing Ming Centre, 8 Sing Ming Road, 01-03; and 53 East Coast Road
Open: noon to 10pm (Sundays to Thursdays), noon to 10.30pm (Fridays and Saturdays)
Tel: 6456 6431 (Sing Ming); 6348-2295 (East Coast)
LING ZHI VEGETARIAN
Dishes at Ling Zhi Vegetarian, which is part of the Tung Lok Group of restaurants, include everything from vegetable curry to an assortment of dim sum delights such as crisp-fried yam croquettes, and pan-fried carrot cake. It also offers steamboat. The restaurant has two outlets.
At Liat Towers, a weekday set lunch starts at $12.80++ a person, while over at Velocity, a lunch buffet is priced at $22.80++ a person from Mondays to Thursdays, and at $24.80++ a person on Fridays, weekends and public holidays.
Velocity's dinner buffet is priced at $24.80++ a person from Mondays to Thursdays, and $26.80++ a person on Fridays, weekends and public holidays. The outlet also offers a high tea buffet.
Where: Two outlets Liat Towers, 541 Orchard Road, 05-01; and Velocity@Novena Square, 238 Thomson Road, 03-09/10
Open: 11.30am to 3pm,6 to 10pm, daily
Tel : 6734-3788 (Liat Towers); 6538-2992 (Velocity)
Feast on a range of raw foods including a Raw Vegan Nut Cheese Platter with crackers ($16), where the nut cheese is made of cultured cashews and probiotics; guacamole dip ($14); and nori rolls filled with almond "rice" and toppings such as achar and kimchi ($14 each).
There is also raw lasagne ($20) made with sheets of zucchini, as well as raw taco bowls ($16), and salads (from $15).
Where: 24 Keong Saik Road
Open: noon to 2.30pm, 5.30 to 10.30pm (Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays); 5.30 to 10.30pm (Wednesdays and Thursdays); closed on Sundays.
The cafe in Race Course Road offers Western and fusion vegetarian cuisine.
Breakfast items here range from scrambled paneer on toast ($10.50), to eggless mini pancakes with maple syrup and strawberries ($9.50). Its cafe fare spans soups including a vibrant carrot and orange soup ($8), and salads; to sandwiches, burgers, pastas, pizzas and even a Thai red curry rice.
Things to try here include the Desi Sandwich ($10) - grilled potatoes served on white bread smeared with green chutney and topped with cucumber and tomato.
The menu indicates which items are vegan friendly and gluten-free, as well as dishes that can be prepared without onion or garlic.
Where: 176 Race Course Road
Open: 10am to 10.30pm (Sundays to Thursdays), 10am to 11pm (Fridays and Saturdays)
Located at Orchard Central's roof top garden, Joie offers an extensive range of fine vegetarian fare.
Tantalising treats include a zucchini tower, lime tofu and green curry emulsion, and a wild rice and eggplant terrine. Heartier dishes include a truffle risotto and a duo of pumpkin and spinach ravioli. A six-course set lunch is priced at $38.80++, while a seven-course set dinner is priced at $68.80++ a person.
Where: Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, 12-01
Open: noon to 3.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm, daily
Expect tasty, home-style fare from Peranakan-Thai vegetarian restaurant Whole Earth in Peck Seah Street. The restaurant was featured on Singapore's inaugural Bib Gourmand list in 2016.
Its most popular dishes include oatmeal tofu, braised shiitake mushroom kong bah, Penang rendang made with mushrooms, and a crispy yam ring basket. Prices of dishes range from about $15 to $20 each.
Where: 76 Peck Seah Street
Open: 11.30am to 3pm, 5.30 to 10pm, daily
Tel: 6323 -3308
This burger joint in Eunos has a range of hearty burgers. The patties are made with soy or mushroom, and topped with everything from crispy onion rings to grilled pineapple, and vegetables.
There are six burgers to choose from. These range from an Avocado Beetroot ($9.90) to a Char-Grilled Satay ($8.90) burger.
Side dishes include vegan smoked franks ($4.90) and spinach pops which look just like meatballs ($4.90).
Where: 44 Jalan Eunos
Open: 11.30am to 10pm, daily
The cafe serves Peranakan and Asian fare, as well as items such as burgers.
Expect dishes such as a Nonya Laksa - vermicelli laksa made with soy milk instead of coconut milk; Meatless Lor Ark, or braised duck, noodle; satay and more. Prices range from about $6 to $20 a dish, with most items averaging at about $10 to $12 each.
Where: 229 Joo Chiat Road, 01-01
Open: 11.30am to 3pm, 6 to 9.30pm (weekdays), 11.30am to 9.30pm (weekends and public holidays)
THE LIVING CAFE
The cafe is one of the pioneers of the raw food movement in Singapore. While it has a good range of raw and vegetarian dishes, hormone-free chicken and fish also feature on the menu.
However, the cafe does not use red meat, cow dairy, and white sugar. It also does not add preservatives or artificial colouring to its food.
The menu also has a range of gluten-free alternatives for those who are gluten sensitive or intolerant.
Dishes include salads such as Asian Quinoa ($17) and a Pumpkin Rocket ($17) with caramelised onion; brown rice nori rolls (from $11), zucchini pasta ($14) and raw-broccoli mushroom pizza with macadamia cheese ($19.50).
Where: 779 Bukit Timah Road, just before Sixth Avenue
Open: 11am to 7pm (Mondays to Thursdays); 11am to 10pm (Fridays); 9am to 10pm (Saturdays), 9am to 8pm (Sundays)
This story was originally published in The Straits Times.