Sep 02 2011
In many Southeast Asian countries being a vegetarian limits you to a boring diet of fried rice with veggies. This couldn’t be further from the case in Singapore.
As many Hindus are vegetarians, the easiest place to go for a meatless meal is Little India. Modest restaurants along Serangoon Road, particularly around the temples, have big signs reading “Pure Veg” and serve up dosa masala (lentil crepe stuffed with curried veggies), bhatura (fluffy bread) with chickpea curry, and thali platters at bargain prices. If you like spice it’s hard to make a wrong choice, but long-running favourites are Suriya Restaurant and Komala Vilas.
One of Singapore’s best vegetarian Indian restaurants oddly isn’t in Little India at all, but near Clarke Quay in the Central Square complex. Annalakshi serves rich North Indian dishes like paneer tikka malasa (cheese curry) and aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower) plus South Indian staples like dosa and vadai (savoury donuts) with spicy chutneys. Adding to the good karma from the no-animals-harmed meals, the restaurant has a “pay as you like” system, with all profits going to charity. The weekend buffets are very popular and reservations are a must.
Located in the Bugis area, Fortune Centre is a whole complex filled with vegetarian restaurants offering everything from homemade bean curd to avocado sushi rolls. For vegetarian visitors the real attraction is the opportunity to try meat-free versions of classic Singaporean hawker dishes like laksa (spicy coconut noodle soup) and char kway teow (fried noodles). At the Pine Tree Café on the second floor it’s even possible to get mock kway chap (pig intestines).
Another cluster of Chinese vegetarian restaurants is located near the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown. 8 Treasures Restaurant does mock-meat versions of famous Chinese dishes like Peking duck and sharkfin soup (the only time I’d ever recommend trying this cruel and unsustainable dish). Ci Yan Vegetarian Health Food has a changing menu of wholesome organic food that won’t break the bank – expect to pay about S$5 for a big portion of steamed veggies and brown rice. They also serve pure fruit juices and healthy baked goods for dessert.
Good Peranakan food (a unique fusion of Chinese and Malay flavours) is hard enough to find that you might assume vegetarian Peranakan cuisine is impossible – you’d be wrong. Whole Earth cooks up mushroom rendang, sambal eggplant, and assam pedas (a sour and spicy soup) that are so flavourful you won’t miss the meat. They also do vegetarian Thai dishes like tom yam soup.
If you’re hungry for vegetarian sushi or falafel burgers, come back to Travelfish.org next week for a companion post: Singapore’s Best Vegetarian Restaurants: International Eats.
Suriya Restaurant: 140 Serangoon Road, (65) 6296 3070
Komala Vilas: 76-78 Serangoon Road, Tel: (65) 6293 6980
Annalakshmi: #01-04 Central Square, 20 Havelock Road, (65) 6339 9993
Fortune Centre: 190 Middle Road
8 Treasures Restaurant: 282A South Bridge Road, (65) 6534 7727
Ci Yan: 8 Smith Street, (65) 6225 9026
Whole Earth: 76 Peck Seah St, (65) 6323 3308
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