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22nd December 2010

Ananda Bhavan Vegetarian Restaurant

58 Serangoon Rd, Singapore

It may have been hunger that drove me into the first restaurant in Serangoon Rd visible from the end of Buffalo St, and I wondered whether I’d made a mistake, for it has a western, bourgeois feel. But Ananda Bhavan is the real thing, with an alcove for washing hands, and its ambience is a reminder that globalization need not be sinister, but can represent non-Western people adopting western ways so as to integrate them into their own systems. They do a wonderful range of thosai (dosas), which come either with or without ghee, simply excellent, and there is a range of fruit drinks,among them the beautifully coloured watermelon.  

There are so many possibilities for vegetarian eating as you stroll along Serangoon Rd! Among the new looking places are a pure vegetarian halal restaurant, and place called Big Bites that seems to be modelled on Western fast food outlets…the former would certainly be interesting to try. And the surrounding streets, such as Racecourse Rd, are full of eateries. Little India is a wonderful section of a country where the food is simply fantastic.

This will be the last restaurant review posted in 2010. I’m grateful to the friends who’ve joined me at the table, and all those who have commented on the reviews. A happy and blessed celebration of the Nativity to all readers of this site! To finish for the year, here’s a short poem by Les Murray, entitled ‘In a Time of Cuisine’.

A fact the gourmet

euphemism can’t silence:

vegetarians eat sex,

carnivores eat violence.

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19th December 2010

Komala Villas

12-14 Buffalo St, Singapore (Little India MTR)

This vegetarian restaurant, the offshoot of a famous establishment just around the corner in Serangoon Rd, offers a range of light meals which, despite the unexpected appearance on the menu of mini chocolate dosas, described as a kids’ special, is basically traditional. The long dosas come with small dishes of dahl, a coconut paste and a tomato and chilli paste, which compliment them perfectly. They are also available with various fillings, but you don’t really need to order one, as the waiters prowl about asking diners whether they’d like refills of the accompaniments.  There is a range of fruit drinks available, and you end up with a satisfying and very cheap meal which, if you’re as lucky as I was, you will enjoy in charming company. Little India is the headquarters of the Indian community in Singapore, and should be on any visitor’s list of places to check out.

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12th December 2010

Ling Zhi Vegetarian Restaurant

541 Orchard Rd (#05-01/2 Liat Towers; enter by the side street), Singapore

As you study the menu at this stylish restaurant, munching the bowl of plump peanuts that have appeared on the table, it becomes clear that its cooks are keen to try new ideas. Slices of eggplant, stuffed with tofu, come stewed in a mixture of bamboo shoots, mushrooms and both red and green chillis; the dish is nicely textured, very tasty and well complemented by the four small buns that accompany it. The almond jelly recommended by the waiter isn’t as successful; while fine in itself, it comes with an avocado puree of a slightly unsettling colour, two berries and a sprig of mint, creating a mix of flavours that don’t really cohere. The freshly pressed juices are excellent. This restaurant is certainly worth a visit if you are keen to try new things, but you should be aware that you’ll pay twice as much for a meal as you would at the restaurant reviewed most recently.

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5th December 2010

Happy Realm Vegetarian Food Centre

 100 Eu Tong Sen St (#03-16, Pearl’s Centre), Singapore

When you see that sign on the wall, ‘Please no meat or alcoholics’, you realise that the people who run this restaurant are serious about what they do. Some of the enticing dishes on the menu are familiar, such as the bean curd with eight wonders, although the implication that green peas are wonderful might be pitching it a bit high; the soft tofu is nicely complemented by the wonders, among which are several types of mushroom. New to me were the preserved dough with green chilli (what I would call capsicum), which comes in a black bean sauce, and the seaweed ginger broth, the seaweed dark and soft yet chewy and the ginger in long strips; more mushrooms are included. The restaurant has a gentle air and is popular with families. You eat off  plastic, but the cooking has integrity, the menu, entirely vegetarian and almost completely vegan, is amazingly long, and the goodwill of the friendly staff makes exploring it a sheer delight.

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