Friday, February 29, 2008

莲芯茶坊, Lotus Heart Tea House, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

A new Tea house: Lotus Heart Tea House with an excellent ambiance is now open at level 2 of Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.
Located at the rear of the level 2 exhibition hall/museum, you could have easily missed it. So, if you enter the hall, just go all the way to the end & on the left rear end, you can find the entrance to the tea house.

Sample set shown before the entrance
I was told that currently they have 10 Set Meals that they are serving on different days. For e.g. if today you sampled set 9, so tomorrow they will be serving set 10 & repeat set 1 again the day after. So, if you want to repeat the Bento set that you had sampled today, you can count the days that they are serving set 9 again. Interesting:-)
For a price of $5, for today's Bento set, I get to enjoy rice with 3 dishes, soup of the day, appetizer, fruit of the day & free-flow of coffee or Chinese tea.
I didn't know that their rice served is such a big portion:P in comparison to their sample, if not, I would have asked them to give me a smaller bowl. The portion of the dishes served is quite reasonable though it will be better if they could increase the portion of gravy & vegn meat floss (shown on the bowl of rice) to match the big bowl of white rice served:P
Initially, I thought the name "Bento" means Jap rice set but I think here it is more likely used to describe lunch/dinner set in a box as the rice served tasted more like the normal rice we usually eat.
Sorry, I am not really a rice person & there are people who like to eat their rice plain & dry & there are those who like rice with gravy and I am the latter so I struggled a little to finish the big bowl of white rice trying hard to mix with the vege's gravy.
Just a thought, maybe they should serve a smaller portion of rice or ask the customer if they want small (as per sample set), medium (to rim of bowl) or large (mountain as seen in picture) portion of rice & allow top-up if customer still want more so as not to waste the rice.(粒粒皆辛苦) It will be a waste if someone does not have the habit of finishing their food considering it is actually still on temple premises.
And to save the washing of bowl, I would recommend that they just place the rice onto the Bento set section where they place the bowl.
Overall, the dishes are quite well-cooked & I especially like the soft potato cubes & the appetizer which I think is prickled cai xin that I believe will go even better with porridge. Considering the ambiance, I would think their price of $5 for their Set Meals is quite reasonable.
Besides serving Set Meals, they also serve Dim Sum set at $5 per set : "Ingots" with 5 treasures; Walnut pastry; Longevity Bun, etc,
Sweet Delight set at $3 : Peanut candy; Five Spice cake, etc, &
Noodles at $5: Shanghai Rice Cake Soup, Braised Wheat Vermicelli with Vege, etc.
I managed to catch a glance at their Sweet Delight set:-), it looked delicate & nice. I would definitely return to try their other dishes.
Latest: Dinner Buffet at $8!!!
The tea house's operating hours are daily from 11am to 7pm with last order at 6.30pm.
It is located at level 2 of Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum which is located at Chinatown: 288 South Bridge Rd, off Sago street or opposite the famous Maxwell food centre, nearest MRT: Outram/Chinatown MRT.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

健康斋素食 Vegetarian Food, Hong Lim Complex Food centre

Located near the Chinatown Point Shopping centre, where there exists many famous stalls at the Hong Lim Complex food centre, I have a favourite vegetarian stall that I frequent for its porridge or congee.
Its porridge is tasty with many ingredients at an economical price of <$1.50. It has vege, corn, carrot cubes, small slices of mock fish-cake & mushroom. They usually sell peanut porridge but sometimes brown rice porridge is available too which is a good alternative for those who do not take peanuts. But peanuts are also added by default to their brown rice porridge.

For those who can take eggs and miss otah, I would recommend you try their own-made otah. Besides eggs & coconut, their otah has seaweed & slices of mock fish cake that add texture & flavour to the otak. It's abit spicy though.

So far, I had not found any nice eggless otah, those frozen products in the market are factory made & had more coconut taste than otah taste. Ps let me know if you know of any nice pure vegetarian otah.
The stall also sells other nice mixed-rice dishes and I can find vegetarian rojak & fruit-salad like dishes. Check with the owner if the dish you want contains egg products before you order if you are a pure vegetarian.
But still, I like its porridge Best :-)

Thanks to a reader who inform me that the stall is now relocated to #01-49 (facing the market) of Hong Lim Complex Food centre after renovation. It is closed on Sundays.

Yuan Wei Quan Vegetarian (YWQ)

Another menu of the day: Lor Mee at $2.30. Quite a big portion, the gravy is average but the selling point is its crispy flour pieces & 斋鹅 mock gooses.
The food court is located at B1 of HDB Hub. You can either enter thru basement car park entrance or from entrance besides McDonald from Bus interchange.
The stall is located at far right end if from entrance besides McDonald.

Friday, February 22, 2008

欢心素 (Huan Xin Su) at Rocher Centre Coffee Shop

Their special for the day: Vegn Chicken Rice.

You should have seen the actual texture of the mock meat, such a replica to the real chicken meat. The taste of the meat & the rice is very similar too. Although I do not like gluten, this gluten meat is actually very smooth & soft. I wonder how they do it. :P

Address: 欢心素 (Huan Xin Su)
Blk 1, Rocher Rd, #01-506(Rocher centre corner coffeeshop, 2 doors away from the vegetarian cake house, opp Bugis OG, near the famous Simaru Guan Yin Temple)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

China Local Delights

Recommending 2 nice Dessert at the international buffet at 九寨天堂 (Jiu Zhai Tian Tang), a 5 star hotel at 九寨沟 (Jiu Zhai Gou).

Pumpkin Sago - very unique and nice. Had only tried honey dew & mango sago before this. It tasted very sweet & smooth, just like mango sago. Wonder if the pumpkin found in Spore can create its sweetness as pumpkin in china are really sweet.
Sago balls - its exterior is covered with sago while interior is like glutinous rice balls with red bean paste. Very smooth & soft.

Monday, February 18, 2008

China Local Delights

The idea of vegetarian (吃素) is still not very common to China Chinese. So, if you ask for vegetarian meals, to them as the word "素" means plain, simple, most likely you will just get simple boiled or stir-fried vegetables. They do not seem to know that you could cook the vege with sweet & sour sauce or chilli sauce.
It will especially be patheic if you are the only one alone like in my earlier tour to GuiZhou but fortunately in this recent tour I joined, there are 4 of us who requested vegetarian meals:-) so we get to sit in a small table by ourselves and get to enjoy at least 4 dishes while our other tourmates get to enjoy at least 7 dishes.
However, some of the dishes which looks vegetarian from a glance at my other tour mates' table like sweet & sour or spicy toufu dishes were still not served to us. Our Toufu is always plain toufu:P Fortunately, the vege in China are fresh so sometimes simplicity is all it needs. For e.g. below is the stalk of "Pang Cai" (which we usually use it to boil simple/fish soup) which is slightly larger than what we usually get from Spore market & is crunchy when you bite it.

Celery with carrot. The color of the carrot there is very beautiful, would have mistaken it as the red lantern chilli.
But occasionally, there are surprises in some of the vege dishes. E.g. Stir fried cabbage with black vinegar sauce. Very unique idea, usually we would only think of it to add in noodles or soup. With a bit of starch, the vege mixed with the black vinegar actually makes the vege very appetising and will be a new dish at my home:-)
This is served at one of the better restaurants: lotus roots with orange sauce & is a cold dish. Quite a refreshing taste.
Pumpkin is a common dish served at almost every meal & by plain steaming is always sweet by itself. However, there was once that one of the chef added sugar to it & we thought oh gosh it wld taste horrid but surprisingly the sugar further enhanced the sweetness of the pumpkin to bring it to another state of sweetness that tasted wonderful.
Mushroom (different types) is easily available at Sichuan & is a common dish at our meals.
I enjoyed the mushroom steamboat during one of our cold journey. There are several types of mushrooms plus lotus roots plus cauliflower plus some spinach like vege plus dried wolfberries. No flavouring is added to the soup but when it is well-boiled, naturally, the soup is flavoured by its natural ingredients.
On the whole, I quite enjoyed my vegetarian trip this round as we had more variety of dishes compared to my last trip being only one requesting vegetarian meals alone. During our meals, we also exchanged pointers on vegetarian dishes such as how we could have used the same ingredients to create more dishes besides boiling & stir-frying it and also where are the nice vegetarian eatery places in Spore we frequent.

China Local Delights

酸辣粉 Spicy Noodles
At the Cheng Du city centre, near shopping centre- Isetan, there are many small food stalls along the street. The name Sour & Spicy noodles attracted my attention so I decided to give it a try. Instead of tasting sour as its name suggested, it is actually MaLa 麻辣 in taste. But anyway, I love it as had not been tasting spicy dishes for meals as the packaged tour meals are usually quite plain in taste. Not quite sure what the small yellow beans are. They are abit tough to bite but I like the small sprinkle of vege and the 粉 is actually 冬粉 which is more like the Korean type of 冬粉 which is slightly fatter & smooth. Very Spicy, Nice!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

China Local Delights

麻辣豆花 (Spicy Bean Curb)
After tasting it many years ago at 四川(Si Chuan), China, I had been missing its taste. Now, back to this city known for its special spicy (麻辣numbess & spicy; numb bec of 花椒Hua Jiao, small flowery like spices) taste in food for tour again, I went in search for its spicy bean curb. And in its tourist attraction of ancient town: Huang Long Xi (黄龙溪), I finally had a chance to taste it again.
The smoothness of the bean curb is so smooth!!!! I cannot find any bean curb shop that matches its smoothness in Spore as yet. Instead of the usual sweet syrup, its unique spicy chilli sauce (麻辣酱) is being added to the bean curb. Hot, Smooth and Spicy....Such a delicacy for a cold weather...

Monday, February 4, 2008

慈缘轩 (Ci Yan Xuan) Chinatown

Finally had a chance to dropby Ci Yan Xuan again, and Special Menu for that day: Spicy Noodle (麻辣面) & Eight Treasury Porridge (八宝粥).

As usual, the porridge is nice, with lots of beans & nuts ingredients, a nice size for 2 to share. But abit disappointed with the Spicy noodles as can't really taste the spicyness and ingredients is just a few stalk of red & white carrots & a few pieces of mock mutton.

Was told by the owner that on Chinese New Year's Eve, they are going to open until mid-night & on that day, they would have more delicacies such as Peng Cai (盆菜), spring-rolls, porridge etc. Was told that several people already ordered their Peng Cai ($58 for small, $88 for bigger version) which consists of vegetables, different types of mushrooms & mock abalone for their reunion dinner.

With its extension of business hours, I would think it will be a good restpoint for those who are visiting Chinatown on the Eve for supper. :-)

Address: 8 Smith Street (shophouse near end of Food Street)

Tel: 6225 9026 (If you want to confirm menu of the day:P)

Usual Opening Hours: 12pm-9pm?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mai Zhi Su (Bt Batok)

After reading alot from Veggie Bun's blog on MZS, I finally had a chance to taste its food when I requested my brother to help me buy dinner from the Bt Batok branch on his way home today.

Instead of adding mushroom, its Bak Chor Mee or Minced Meat Mee has fishballs & fish-cakes instead. Surprisingly, the texture of both are very much replicate of actual fishball & fish-cake. Very different from the usual mock fishballs & fish-cakes sold in market that are rubbery in texture. The texture of the noodles is smooth, very much like the thicker mee hoon version. Nice:-)

Originally I also ordered their "Black-black Face" recommended by Veggie Bun but was told that they do not have it today & was introduced "White-white Face" instead. Well, I thought that maybe the soup or noodles is different but in comparison to Veggie Bun's picture on "Black-black face", they seem to be similar. The noodles is also white in color, same texture as the Bak Chor Mee. Hmm, maybe the soup is slighter lighter in color than "Black-black Face"? Anyway, the soup has a very strong herbal taste, with nice mushroom & well cooked mushroom stalks as mock meat. It also has mock pork-rib :P . Overall, it is quite nice especially for those who like strong herbal soup.

We were told that MZS (BB) will be open for business on Day 1 of Chinese New Year. A good choice for vegetarians if you are looking for vegetarian eateries that day.:-)

It is located near Bt Gombak Mrt, at Blk 376, Bukit Batok St 31, #01-126, S(650376). Tel: 65630973. On its namecard, it indicated operating hours as Mon-Sun & PH: 7am to 10pm (Wow, no rest days :P).- sad to inform that this branch had closed down

May visit their AMK outlet at Blk 128 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 St 12#01-1853. Tel: 64563307.