For various reasons, vegetarian cuisine has been gaining grounds among the younger generation of Singaporeans. Besides quality, vegetarian restaurants have to offer a wider variety of dishes to cater to such rising demands. Lotus kitchen recently opened as a slightly upscale spin off of Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant in the heart of Chinatown, promising to make gourmet vegetarian food more accessible to the masses.
The brightly lit dining space with glass windows has an inviting ambience, not unlike the cosy living room of a giant bungalow house. Like guests entering the house, we were offered a choice between Osmanthus Tea ($3.50) and Winter Melon ($3). I prefer the former since it is almost like drinking a glass filled half with osmanthus jelly, pretty refreshing.
Two Dim Sum items, the Lion’s Mane Mushroom Pan Fried Dumplings ($8.80) and Taro Mee Sua Cake ($6.80) were served. Both were decent but pale in comparison to Luk Yu’s vegetarian Dim Sums a few doors down.
The Double-Boiled Herbal Tian Ma Soup ($8.80), steamed and brewed with more than 10 herbs and pearl mushroom, was a little light and I thought they could do with more herbs and some tofu might have made this a much potent brew.
Their Signature Crispy Summer Wrap with Passionfruit Coulis ($35.80) was a feast to the eyes but fell short of expectation. Supposedly an alternative to the Peking Duck, I felt it got confused half way. The “duck” in question was made by soy, then deep fried and like any other Peking Duck wraps, you put them into a rice skin with cucumber, except here you also throw in the carrot and turnip silvers, with a sauce made of passionfruit. The taste is not unlike tamarind and the “duck” is essentially fried dough fritters. Profile wise, this is probably closer to our Chinese Rojak than the roasted Chinese fowl.
The Satay ($15.80) was also a letdown, and especially more so since it had so much potential. Like the Peking duck, the satays were also made from soy paste though they were much better flavoured with turmeric and spices this time. Having said that, a decent satay will still be ruined by a mediocre sauce. There were barely any peanuts and pineapple in the satay sauce for the one offered to us, not to mention the missing ketupat rice. I have had spicy and sweet satays, but tangy is the one I least desire.
I cannot say this for the Spicy Grilled Oat Slices in Hotplate ($18.80) though. The thought of recreating fish with oat is brilliant since the latter is packed with nutrients though they were barely similar to fish in taste or texture. The oat slices resemble tofu, if anything. It is the spicy chili paste, made with shallots and a little lemongrass that packed a formidable punch to the composition.
The Braised Mushroom in Hotpot ($18.80) was the unanimous favourite. An assortment of mushrooms were fried with both fresh and dried chili then caramelised by soy sauce while it was served on a piping hot stone pot. It was a spicy and hot experience devouring this one I almost forgot I was not eating meat.
Having laksas a few days in a row, I was sceptical of a vegetarian version but Lotus’s Signature Stir Fried Laksa ($9.80) was excellent too, surprisingly. I did not think it would be possible to make laksa without a proper dried shrimp base or chicken stock broth, (lest one that is dried and fried) simply because they lend most of the flavours to the rice noodle dish. Somehow they did it here, and the Konnyaku prawns can almost pass for the real thing. The portion is also big enough to share amongst 4-5 diners.
After some spiced sensation, we took on some sweets in the form of the Lotus Yam Paste with Purple Rice ($6.80) and Pumpkin Purée with Coconut Ice Cream ($6.80). Both were delicate and comforting, putting a sweet note to this flesh-free meal.
As someone who feeds heavily on a meat diet, eateries like Lotus provide a respite from animal consumption. Most of the vegetarian dishes here attempted to recreate meat dishes and replicate them with vegetarian alternatives as much as possible with familiar flavours, making these dishes palatable for the average diner.
The above article is written by @ramenking2017. You can find him on instagram where he shares his love for food and travel.
Address: 133 New Bridge Road, Chinatown Point #01-01/02, Singapore 059413
Telephone: +65 6538 1068
Opening Hours: 11.30am-3pm, 5.30pm-10pm