The new Lotus Kitchen at Chinatown Point is an outpost of Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant (Quality Hotel) and is under the same management as Greendot, the vegetarian chain restaurants. The difference between the three is that Lotus Kitchen fills in the gap between buffet dining (Lotus Vegetarian) and fast dining (Greendot); Lotus Kitchen is a casual dining restaurant, as signalled by the open and contemporary decor.
Their experience in vegetarian cuisine puts them in good stead. They know what vegetarians want and do not want. Here, they use less flour and more mushroom, herbs, and oats to create mock meat. Many sauces are homemade and some ingredients are imported from Taiwan. Dim-sum is made upon ordering and noodles are handmade. Most dishes are newly created, differing from the Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant.
From their dim sum menu, the taro mee sua cake (6 pcs, $6.80) is a golden, deep-fried bar of delicious. Inside the bar, little bits of almost-smashed yam are interlaced with short strands of mee sua, giving a good texture, not at all starchy, and a natural sweetness.
Also dim sum: the lion’s mane mushroom pan-fried dumpling (8 pcs, $8.80) uses handmade skin. It’s difficult to beat the umami naturally occurring in mushrooms.
The double-boiled herbal tian ma soup ($8.80), steamed and brewed with more than 10 herbs and pearl mushroom, has the health benefit of “liver-calming.” It’s nice but has a twang of sourness.
The most expensive dish we had, crispy summer wrap ($35.80), mimics the flavour and texture of Peking duck. You wrap the soya slices with turnip soaked in passionfruit and homemade sweet bean paste sauce. It is nice and tastes like Peking duck, and I especially like passionfruit, but I wonder if it is expensive for a vegetarian dish.
The “fish” comes sizzling on a hotplate; it is spicy grilled oat slices ($18.80) that look like tofu. This is very spicy, but also very shiok and does taste like fish because there is seaweed.
The braised mushroom in stone hot pot ($18.80) is our favorite. They stir-fry bamboo shoots, chilli, ginger, together with lion’s mane and shiitake mushrooms, before putting them into the stone pot with basil. Other mock meats have its original ingredients processed beyond recognition, but this one is clear and sweet and delicious with the natural umami of mushrooms.
Lotus Kitchen also serves some local food. Made from soy slices, the homemade satay ($15.80) is marinated with 10 spices and comes with homemade sauce. Comparing this dish to others, this is just ok. It doesn’t taste like satay and it doesn’t taste anything. The stir-fried laksa ($9.80) uses in-house laksa and spices. It’s very spicy and delicious.
We like this restaurant quite a bit. Everything is delicious and we didn’t miss meat at all. However, there are three areas that require some improvement:
-Some dishes, like the two dim sum dishes and the soup, are oily, although they are good to moisturize lips.
-I am not a vegetarian and seldom go to vegetarian restaurants, but I wonder if the prices are set too high? Can any vegetarian weigh in?
-Some dishes have a herbal sourness to them. It’s not a bad sour, but it’s perceptible and that can be strange for some carnivores.
All in all, this meal is delightful. One of the better casual dining restaurants to open lately and I think it is a place I’d return. I’d rather go to Lotus Kitchen than the Michelin Bib Gourmand Whole Earth any time.
Here, I’ll leave you with the thought of the day: if a vegetarian doesn’t eat Peking duck, how do they create a dish that tastes like Peking duck? And how do other vegetarians know the mock Peking duck taste like real Peking duck? Can a vegetarian please answer this?
133 New Bridge Road, Chinatown Point #01-01/02, Singapore 059413
tel: +65 6538 1068
You may be interested in…
–Whole Earth, Tanjong Pagar: VERY SMELLY, Expensive But Excellent Food at the Only Vegetarian Restaurant to Be Awarded by the Michelin Guide
–The Living Cafe, Bukit Timah: Hangry at Inept Service of Vegan-Friendly Cafe
–Joie by Dozo, Orchard Central: Joie de Vivre From Meatless, Not Mock-Meat, Meal
–Zen Fut Sai Kai Vegetarian Restaurant 真佛世界, Kitchener Road: Oldest Surviving Vegetarian Restaurant in Singapore since 1953
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.