Sunday, January 29, 2012

China Delights

At China Hefei where we visited the temple at their suburb, 开福禅寺 Kai Fu Chan Si, they have simple RMB5 lunch provided where there is strict adherence to traditional practice of eating at specific timing (around 11am) silently and ensuring each grain to be finished.
After paying RMB5 at the entrance of the canteen, one is given a card which serves as a ticket for one to be entitled to a big bowl of white rice and they serve a few variety of vegetables/dishes in a single bowl. At end of meal, they will pass the traditional hugh hot water container for one to pour into the bowls as after meal soup as well as to clean up the bowls simultaneously. Everyone is very disciplined to follow their rules and eat silently and contentedly, an experience.
Located at the busy walking street of Hefei town, there exists a historical temple 寺 MingJiaoShi at Hefei town where it is believed that the famous historical figure, CaoCao, used to inspect his troops there. According to our local friends, the small restaurant (教寺利生斋天然素食馆; 合肥市淮河路44号)situated just beside the entrance of the temple is the town's only vegetarian restaurant.
The standard of the restaurant is quite good and tasty and quite a number of patrons when we visited for dining so I am puzzled why a town has only 1 vegetarian restaurant that I am almost tempted to do a survey on the investment of vegetarian eatery in Hefei.:P Among the dishes we tried included Japanese style of fresh salad with light sauce. Light and fresh.
The refreshing mushroom lotus soup with the dried rice crackers (Woba) are must try together dishes, dipping the rice crackers into the soup creates an unique taste.  It is light with generous portion of shitake mushroom slices and I recall lotus is part of the name of the soup which the green vegetables may be part of the lotus plant. Nice light taste is just what I could recall.  
The rice crackers were freshly made and not those off-shelve products as I had tried to replicate with the instant brown rice crackers found in Singapore Vegetarian stores but it just don't taste as nice and fresh.
When dipped into the soup, it creates a sizzling sensation and tasted great.
Vegetarian Roast Chicken, I was amazed with the crispiness of the vegetarian exterior skin, better than those I had tried in Singapore.
The popular Mock Dongpo meat that really tasted like the real. The fatty oily center pieces replicated by the Yuju jelly tasted real alike.
Similarly, their mock fatty three-layered meat was also delicious and a good replica.
I didnt know that Wild Yam Huai Shan (淮山) can be used other than in soup until I tried this stir-fried version, very crunchy instead of mushy compared to being used in soup.
Another surprise is the stir-fry green pepper becoming a main dish instead of as a complement ingredient. The locally produced smaller green pepper has a slight spicy taste compared to the plainer taste bigger version found in Singapore markets and instead of slices, were cooked as a whole. The tasty dark-sauce (similar to Gongbao black-bean sauce taste) with slight sweetness complimented the spiciness of the vege well. Really miss the dish!   
Overall, the dishes are nice and I learnt new way of cooking Wild Yam and Green Peppers. Missing above recommended dishes already :P

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Local China Delights

Looking thru my past photos, I realised that I had not posted my earlier China Delights from my last Nov China trip to Jiuhuashan.
Saw the big pot of reddish Pumpkin Soup? Real rich stuff for a cool weather. Love their cucumber cubes, crunchy. Nice pot of green bean porridge. Their rice grains are those of short sticky grains like the Japanese rice that we all enjoyed. The fresh vegetables, the pickled ginger slices, stir-fry peeled  edamame beans (very common there as main dish unlike in Singapore we usually find it in only Japanese restaurants), the buns, the purplish sweet potatoes. Was told by the volunteers that usually if not with guests,  the temple Venerables will only have rice with simple dishes like pickles or their local wild vegetables.
We were really fortunate and grateful to be welcomed by having the sumptuous meals with the Venerables in a table and a long forgotten tradition whereby we help serve each other dishes that is a quick and good ice-breaking practice when dining with strangers (something that not often practised in Singapore anymore) and public hygiene of using separate chopsticks & spoons for the dishes is practised there.  How I miss those warm-heartening days of dining.
Warm heartening home-cooked vegetarian dishes by a sister from Hefei. It is hard to find vegetarian food in Hefei, in fact there is only 1 vegetarian restaurant in the town so she kindly prepared vegetarian breakfast & dinner for us: Pumpkin porridge, fresh vegetables, pickled young ginger slices, fresh fruits; Stir-fry walnuts, bean curb skin slices with green pepper slices, French bean alike wild vegetables with mock meat, fresh broccoli and edamame beans with mushroom & black fungus, etc.

This pickled young ginger is a must have local dish for the locals to cater for the coming winter that they would buy fresh younger gingers and marinate for weeks themselves. One of my favourite.:-)
Greatly appreciate all volunteer friends for the warmth in making our stay in your country an enjoyable one. Gan En, Thank you!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Loving Heart Cafe

I was feeling low energy and had orginally wanted to visit Kwan Inn Vegetarian Food 观音斋 to take some tonic soup to perk up some energy level but unfortunately it was crowded and tonic soup were sold out for the day. I moved to Loving Heart Cafe, a few doors away to try my luck but they did not serve tonic soup but instead I found on its menu : Indian traditional Soup! It is actually stewed mutton soup and has much similar effect as the Chinese tonic soup. As I had not touched this non vegetarian version of soup for ages, I was curious to try. It was served immediately, with strong herbal smell and coarser than the slight clear soup version that I thought it was to be.  It came with sesame bread pieces which tasted just okay but the mock mutton pieces fully absorbed the essence of the soup. Sprinkled with parsley & mock fried onion slices, it is considered quite a nice "curried" soup. Within minutes of taking, I could feel blood circulating...
On the menu are other interesting dishes like steamed dumplings, Hainan noodles, Roti Prata with banana slices, etc, which I will likely return to try.:-)

Located at Blk134, Geylang East Ave1, #01-219, same HDB block as Kwan inn Vegetarian Food.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vegetarian Stall at Singtel Comcentre Cafeteria

Ever since change of chef/owner? my past favourite daily special of Wantoon noodles and Spaghettis were no longer available. Although the economical rice dishes variety increased and improved, I do miss the old Daily Special. After stabilising their rice business, they started to have their Daily special as well. Their Laksa was not bad and this round tried their Kwap Chap which was done quite similar as previous chef to have the ingredients separate from the rice roll pieces. A big bowl at only $2.50, taste else reasonable, value for $ compared to its economical rice dishes which is getting more expensive.

The stall is located at Basement 1 of cafeteria of Singtel Comcentre at Somerset. No name (just known as stall m) but easily located when you visit the cafeteria, entering from door leading to car-park.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sheng Ji Vegetarian

The Curry noodles looked spicy but does not taste as hot. 
Located at Bt Ho Swee Estate, a mature estate, the patrons are mostly residents around the area.
Managed by an elderly couple, the Sheng Ji Vegetarian stall sells standard fried meehoon package as well as simple cooked dishes such as curry noodles & Lor-mee. At $2.50, the serving is generous.
Their Stir-fry Hor Fun are also flavourful and value for money at S$3, recommended choice! :-)

Sheng Ji Vegetarian is located at coffeeshop left of lift lobby of Blk 40, Havelock Road, which is just beside the market. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Vegetarian Pancake at Bt Ho Swee Estate

Explored the Bt Ho Swee Estate (about 2 streets away from Tiong Bahru MRT) and found at least 3 vegetarian stalls. 1 located at the market (Mei Jing Vegetarian Food) sells economical dishes as well as stir-fry dishes while two at 2 coffeeshops of Blk40 Havelock Road (just beside the market).
One known as Sheng Ji Vegetarian sells Curry & Lor mee as well as standard fried mee hoon while the other known as Ba Le (86) Havelock Vegetarian sells economical rice dishes and is located at same coffeeshop with this snack of Vegetarian Pancake .:-)
And at same stretch of shops nearer to Sheng Ji, I saw two shops selling healthy, pro-vegetarian alike products. What a blessing for the vegetarian residents!
Okay, Back to the Vegetarian Pancake stall, it sells a variety including traditional peanut, red bean, green bean paste, and unconventional black sesame, cheese and chocolate flavour! It also has the crispy version of pan-cake with peanut fillings. Quite a popular stall amongst the residents around the area.

Vegetarian Pancake is located at coffeeshop right of lift lobby of Blk 40, Havelock Road, which is just beside the market. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Classic Lao Di Fang Vegetarian Restaurant PL

My Favourite gathering place now with hearty appetite non-vegetarians would be Classic Lao Di Fang at Park Mall, B1-12.
It passed QC of my friend, B who has high expectations of food and service, especially on Vegetarian places as she is kind of anti-vegetarian.:P
We visited Classic Lao Di Fang recently, and ordered their buffet which has a good variety of Dim Sum and vegetables. Their Dumpling standard is back and praised by All to meet standard and perhaps surpasses some of non-vegetarian version. We ordered a variety of their mushroom and vegetables posted at earlier posts and were impressed with the freshness and the culinary skills. Overall, an enjoyable meal and value for $ at $15.90 per pax. (May have surcharge of $2 during Public holidays)

Their Lunar New Year (CNY) menu is out, and they are open on CNY eve and 1st day of CNY which is a blessings as it is difficult in the past to find vegetarian restaurants open on those days.

It is located at 9 Penang Rd, Park Mall, Basement 1, #B1-12, just turn left from the down escalator.
Tel: 6533 8959