Bukit Timah road has shophouses situated at frequent intervals along its length. One such pretty cafe is KARA Cafe and Dessert Bar, tucked away in the cluster near Coronation Plaza. The team behind Sogurt have opened this cafe and its all-day dining menu will appeal to visitors instantly. The warm hues of the interiors, wooden furniture, and long mirrors on the walls add to the aesthetic appeal of this quaint cafe. The cafe is perfect for a weekend brunch or a quick catch-up with a small group of friends. If you are alone and looking to grab some grub, you can settle in a cozy corner of the cafe with a novel and watch passers-by.
The menu consists of grain bowls, toasties and snacks along with some desserts. The menu is focused on being health conscious with no compromise on taste. We ordered the Tomato Soup to begin our brunch. In a twist on the classic comforting soup, the tomatoes are smoked before being puréed. The soup has a thicker consistency and pairs well with cheese toasties. The Kara version was well-flavored and a befitting start to the meal.
As recommended by the staff, the signature Kara dish for vegetarians would be the ‘Classic Grilled Cheese Toasties’. The cheese blend and zesty sweet pickle relish are sandwiched in sourdough and grilled to perfection. The caramelized top with gooey cheese will pull the strings of your heart with ease. Dab the toast gently into your bowl of soup and you are bound to relish this combination. Highly recommended.
Tomato Soup at $5
To have a substantial meal, we ordered the ‘Taco Mexx’ grain bowl. For the vegetarians, this offering can be made without chicken. For the choice of grain base, we opted for the garlic Japanese rice which is the default version. For a healthy recharge, you can go for the fluffy quinoa salad. The grain bowl comes with the creamy avocado, chipotle salsa, crema, jalapeno and crisp corn tortilla chips. The freshness of the ingredients came to the forefront in this Mexican-inspired grain bowl. Do not miss this if you like these flavours.
Classic Grilled Cheese Toasties at $10
The service can be improved since the meal came in dribs and drabs even when the cafe was not crowded. We received our dishes with at least a lag of 25 mins between both the dishes and the sandwich was served much before the soup. On the whole, if you are looking for a relaxed outing along with healthy and simple food, head to KARA Cafe and Dessert bar if you are in the area.
Taco Mexx Grain Bowl at $14
| In a Nutshell
|| Deelightful Rating
|Cuisine Type: All-day dining
|Nearest MRT: Tan Kah Kee
|Address: 617 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 269718
|Timings: Mon-Sun: 11am – 10pm
The new cluster of restaurants owned and managed by Oxley Holdings on Stevens Road houses quite a few interesting places to grab a bite. One of them is Winestone, a restaurant with a strong focus on wines and Mediterranean platters. It serves as a late night bar/eatery with an attempt to retain quality at affordable prices. They also have a retail section that’s slightly separated from the dining area. The warm lighting in the evening sets the tone for business groups and special occasion dinners. There is also bar seating for a quick and casual drink. Strategically located near the Mercure and Novotel hotels on Stevens Road, this restaurant caters to locals, tourists and expats in the neighborhood.
The menu is comprehensive with a fair number of vegetarian options. We ordered the ‘Hummus with Lebanese bread’ which is a classic Mediterranean starter. The long Lebanese flatbread was nicely puffed up and quite substantial. The softness of the bread paired well with the protein packed hummus and we enjoyed it. The fresh parsley sprinkled on the top enhanced the taste of the dish.
Since we are fans of good cheese offerings, we decided to try the ‘Pepperonata’. The two adjectives I would use for this dish are – simple and authentic. The dish had straightforward ingredients in the form of goat cheese, truffle and pistachios and was delicious. I was surprised how good the combination tasted together as the sweet notes of honey cut through the salt of the cheese and pistachios effectively.
Hummus with Lebanese bread at $8
If there’s a vegetarian pasta, giving it variety in vegetables is of the essence. We tried the ‘Fettucine from the Farm’ from the Winestone menu. After seeing the portion size, I can definitely say that it one of the most substantial pastas I’ve eaten in Singapore. It had artichoke, sun-dried tomatoes, grilled zucchini and eggplants along with generous cheese shavings. It had the look of a timeless summer pasta dish – right from the taste to the crockery on which it was served. If you do not like any of the veggies, the restaurant is open to customizing the dish to your liking.
Pepperonata at $12
Next, we tried the ‘Winestone Pizza’. As with the pasta, the restaurant is open to customizing this dish to your liking. We removed the pumpkin and added on olives and roasted bell peppers. The pizza was superb – a good sauce, generous amounts of cheese and delicious veggies. Bear in mind that it’s quite filling. This is definitely a shareable main.
Fettucine at $25
On the whole, Winestone is so much more than a bar because of its high quality food. For its neat ambiance, convenient location and good food, Winestone is highly recommended for a visit.
Winestone Pizza at $25
In the Singapore culinary context, there is always some interest in Spanish cuisine. Tapas Club, situated in Orchard Central is a restaurant set up with a focus on serving authentic Spanish cuisine at an affordable price. The space lends itself to a casual tapas dining concept. The decor has glazed wall tiles, wrought iron grills and wine barrels. The celebratory music adds to the upbeat vibe of the restaurant.
Tapas Club decor
Tapas Club decor
Since the restaurant aims at serving tapas, the plates are perfect for sharing. The menu hits the right spot in its simplicity and attempts to showcase Spanish dishes by keeping it minimal in terms of ingredients. Bar snacks in a Spanish restaurant are incomplete without ordering a plate of ‘Patatas Bravas’ . The crisp and deep-fried potatoes blanketed in spicy brava and alioli sauce were a good start to the meal.
Next, we ordered what turned out to be my favourite dish of the meal – the ‘Croquetas De Setas’ which are basically Mushroom Croquettes. These were deep-friend, made wonderfully creamy using Bechamel and turned out to be extremely tasty tidbits of Spanish goodness. I know quite a few people who are not a fan of mushrooms – but this dish is highly recommended.
Patatas Bravas at $9.90
A unique dish to try here is the ‘Padron Peppers’ which originate from the region of Padron in the northwest of Spain. These tiny peppers are cooked with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. They are usually mild in taste. The Tapas Club version had a certain amount of juiciness to it and tasted better with a squeeze of lemon.
Croquetas De Setas at $10.90
We also tried the ‘Spanish Omelette’ which is a fritata made up of potatoes and eggs in an open-faced style. The omelette was well seasoned, dense and rich. It can be easily shared and can be considered a “main”.
Padron Peppers at $13.90
For a more filling option, we ordered the ‘Vegetable Paella’ which was loaded with greens. The rice was cooked with the right amount of smoky and charred flavour and the vegetables were cooked al dente that added to the texture and colour. On the whole, a good dish but it was lacking in salt.
Spanish Omelette at $9.90
For an overall reasonable and authentic Spanish tapas casual dining experience, Tapas Club is worth a visit.
Vegetables Paella at $20
| In a Nutshell
|| Deelightful Rating
|Cuisine Type: Spanish
|Nearest MRT: Somerset
|Address: 181 Orchard Road, #02-13 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896
|Timings: Mon-Thu: 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – 11pm ; Fri-Sun: 12pm – midnight
The food scene in Craig Road is changing and the newest kid on the block here is Pastaria Abate, a casual Italian restaurant serving affordable food. It is a restaurant started by a couple who serve traditional pasta made in-house and want to serve authentic Italian food that is easy on the wallet. The space furnished in a modern chic manner has tables laid out in a linear manner. The decor is neat and minimalist. The arrangement of tomato sauce cans piqued my interest since it boasted of San Marzano tomatoes which are known for their natural sweetness.
San Marzano tomatoes
Pastaria Abate has a self-service counter where you have to go and place your orders. The placement of orders is on the lines of creating a DIY pasta – select your type of pasta, sauce base and additional toppings, if required. In pastas, they have plain pasta, egg pasta and specialty pasta. In the sauce base they have options as red sauce, cream sauce and white sauce. They also have affordable Italian wines which act as a good accompaniment to your meals.
To start our meal, we ordered the ‘Fresh Garlic Bread’ which is one of those Italian appetizers that will never go out of fashion. The fresh and chewy baguette bread with garlic butter is guaranteed to whet everyone’s appetite with its good taste.
As I mentioned earlier, I got impressed with the tomato sauce cans and decided to try the ‘Penne with Marinara Sauce’ combination. As additional toppings, I asked for broccoli which they were kind enough to accommodate and that was priced at $2. The pasta could have cooked a little longer but my main gripe was the tomato sauce. It needed to cook longer for the raw taste to be removed and the fact that it was under-seasoned did not help its case. Overall, this pasta dish left a lot to be desired.
Fresh Garlic Bread at $4.80
Next, we tried the ‘Linguine with White Sauce’ which was the Mixed Mushroom dish. This pasta dish consisted of four varieties of mushrooms in a cream sauce. This was one of the better seasoned dishes and the combination of mushrooms worked perfectly. The pasta was al dente and the dish came together very well.
Penne with marinara sauce at $10.80
Overall, they have to iron out their teething issues in the kitchen, especially the ones related with seasoning of food. There are a few vegetarian options in terms of the menu and since they mainly serve only pastas, I expected better in terms of taste. For their friendly prices, warm ambiance and a central location, visit them if you are in the area.
Pasta with white sauce at $12.80
| In a Nutshell
|| Deelightful Rating
|Cuisine Type: Italian
|Nearest MRT: Tanjong Pagar
|Address: 43 Craig Road, Singapore 089681
|Timings: Mon-Sun: 10am – 10pm
In Singapore’s burgeoning food scene, it is heartening to see the newly opened Hans Im Glück German Burgergrill on the busy Orchard Road. This international German chain has chosen Singapore to be its first outlet in Asia and its 50th outpost in the world. The cushy and green ambiance – in the form of a rainforest promptly catches your attention if you are walking past the Royal Thai Embassy in Orchard. Named after the famous German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Im Glück has a sprawling space that seats 180 covers and extends in a narrow and linear passage perpendicular to Orchard road.
Hans Im Glück
Their menu is modeled after a storybook and is well-made with great visual appeal. By practice, I opened the second last page of the menu hoping to find some vegetarian options mentioned there. To my pleasant surprise, vegetarian and vegan burgers lead the menu. Apart from that, there are a total of 11 vegetarian and vegan burgers on the menu that boasts of a variety that will make you squeal in delight. Kudos to that as the menu shows that it not only Portobello that can go into making a vegetarian burger.
To begin with, we ordered the ‘Beer-battered Onion Rings’ to start our meal. Cooked in a light and airy batter, these golden onion rings are perfect as a simple snack. An appetizer that’s ideal for rustling up and sharing with friends. It disappeared in no time and I wished for more rings for that price point. They have four sauces on every table: Sweet Chilli, Orange Mustard, BBQ Sauce and Vegan Mayo. The Orange Mustard and BBQ are a must-try and go very well with the onion rings. Highly recommended.
Hans Im Gluck vegetarian and vegan menu
Next on the side, we tried the ‘Sweet Potato Fries’ which were well-seasoned. These fries are loaded with salt, crispy on the exterior and quite addictive. A tasty nibble that goes well as a side along with the burgers.
Beer-battered Onion Rings at $10
After staring at their menu for 10 minutes and being spoiled for choice, we ordered the ‘Wolpertinger’ Burger. This contains a spicy corn patty with aged cheddar cheese and avocado cream. They offer 3 options for the burgers – Sourdough, Multigrain in buns and the Naked version – without a bun. We tried the Sourdough bun which is specially flown in from Germany and went well with this patty. Add in the BBQ sauce to elevate this combination on the whole. They also offer an option to double up your patty at an additional price of $4 as mentioned on their menu. But when I inquired, the option to double up on a vegetarian patty comes at an additional price of $8 which is not mentioned on the menu. I wish they sort this out soon and keep the price at $4 which is the same as the other burgers.
Sweet Potato fries at $6
The other burger we tried was the ‘KÄSEBOR’ which has a spinach and cheese patty, parmesan and pesto. The pesto is on the salty side and you’ll need to take one or two bites to get used to the overall taste. This burger was top-notch in its overall rendition – packed with flavor and texture. It paired very well with the multi-grain bun. Their burgers give the wholesome meal experience because of the quality ingredients used in their preparation. For those who work or are roaming in the Orchard area, their daily lunch set is available from 11am to 5pm.
Wolpertinger at $15
Apart from this, in their drinks, we tried the ‘Still Lemonade’ in the mango-ginger flavour. An apt thirst-quencher to to get your taste buds to a fruity fresh feel. I’m sure I’ll head back to this place soon to try the other vegetarian burgers and the desserts.
For their lush and green environment and a convenient location, for their ample options for vegetarians and vegans and for offering quality ingredients at a good price point, Hans Im Glück German Burgergrill is a must-visit.
KÄSEBOR at $16
| In a Nutshell
|| Deelightful Rating
|Cuisine Type: Burgers
|Nearest MRT: Orchard
|Address: 362 Orchard Road, Singapore 238887
|Timings: Mon-Thu: 11am – midnight ; Fri-Sun: 11am – 1am
If you’re looking for Middle Eastern food in Singapore, look no further than the Kampong Glam neighborhood. The Turkish lamps and Persian carpets add to the colorful atmosphere of this locality in the evening. Bringing the touch of Lebanese cuisine to Bussorah Street is Byblos Grill which is done up in an ambiance that feels like home. Authentic ingredients are imported from the Mediterranean and food is cooked in traditional cooking utensils.
On their menu, they have quite a few options for vegetarians which include a variety of salads, hot and cold mezza platters and wraps.
To begin with, the ‘Mezza Platter’ is a good appetizer to share. It consists of 5 items – Hummus, Babaganoush, Labneh, Moussaka and Arabic salad. The hummus and labneh were the star items on this platter. Freshly baked pita bread and delicious dips make this platter worth ordering if you are a group of 3-4 people.
Halloumi is a cheese commonly used in Mediterranean cooking. We tried the ‘Grilled Halloumi Cheese’ which was a bit salty and had great depth of flavour. Its grilling method helped it to retain its shape well and is an apt choice for cheese lovers.
Mezza Platter at $27.50
There is no debate on the fact that ‘Falafels’ form a protein-rich meal for vegetarians and vegans in a place serving Mediterranean cuisine. These chickpea fritters are a favourite for most because of their crispy exteriors and fluffy internal texture that plays well in sandwiches and wraps. The Byblos Grill version was good with an authentic taste.
Grilled Halloumi cheese at $16.50
Falafel at $12.50
Next, we ordered the vegetarian casserole ‘Moussaka’. It had cubed eggplants, chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, and green pepper topped with fresh cream and cheese. The whole dish had simmered well but it could have done with more seasoning.
Falafel Wrap at $13.50
For dessert, we ordered the ‘Baklava’ which came as an assortment. It was not heavily drenched in syrup like the Turkish Baklava. This was more dry and crunchy and mainly filled with walnuts and pistachios. This was not one of my favourite dishes from their offerings since this could have had a much better texture.
Lebanese Mousakka at $17.90
Overall the food of this place was good in taste and has a reasonable variety for those looking to try Lebanese cuisine. The lacking factor for me was the quality of service and the wait time involved with absolutely no intimation on the progress of the order. And this can definitely be improved.
Baklava at $12.90
| In a Nutshell
|| Deelightful Rating
|Cuisine Type: Lebanese
|Nearest MRT: Bugis
|Address: 14 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199435
|Timings: Mon-Sun: 11am – 1am
Singapore has active community clubs in almost every area of the country. They conduct courses and recreational activities and occasionally have coffee shops or juice machines for light bites. But I have never visited a sprawling space in the form of a restaurant in a community club. Hence I was pleasantly surprised to see the lovely ambiance of Bliss Restaurant situated on the side of Cheng San Community Club which is around a 5 minute walk from Ang Mo Kio MRT. They have spacious indoor seating in the form of long community tables and four seater tables and the alfresco area consists of white furniture and a bar. The space is well-lit and has a vibrant atmosphere in the evening. Bliss restaurant is a social enterprise that offers employment opportunities to all without discrimination, even those with immutable traits. We went there for dinner and the place was abuzz with people indicating that it was clear favourite among people who stayed in and around the area.
The menu is quite exhaustive, but in terms of vegetarian options there are starters, juices, pastas and desserts. I wished they had 1 or 2 more vegetarian options in their mains section.
To begin the meal, we tried the ‘Cheesy Garlic Loaf’ which was substantial for 2 pax. The bread had been baked to garlicky perfection with the cheese nicely melting into the crevices and made it a good starter option. Its the pull apart bread that allows you to enjoy the strings of cheese as you grab a bite.
For the mushroom lovers, you have the ‘Mushroom Soup’ or the ‘Fried Mushroom’ dishes as starter options. At the onset, let me tell you that I am not a mushroom fan but I don’t mind trying it sometimes depending on the type of cuisine. Both the mushroom dishes lacked seasoning and I found the soup to be better than the mushroom fritters. The soup could do with a little more richness and was bland and hence the garlic bread on the side helped to lend more balance to the dish.
Cheesy garlic loaf at $7
Fried mushroom at $6
For light bites, we took a break from the usual potatoes and ordered the ‘Sweet Potato Fries’. One word that I would use for these fries is addictive. The fries were crunchy, a perfect mix of salt and sweet in taste and were well-seasoned. Highly recommended.
Wild mushroom soup at $6
It was heartening to see ‘Sugarcane Juice’ made using the actual sugarcane machine and that makes all the difference. Apart from that, the addition of chia seeds was a good way to pack some nutritional punch in the juice. I was thankful there were no artificial sweeteners or sugar added in the juice to make it extremely sweet. This was quite refreshing as a thirst quencher.
Sweet potato fries at $6
In the mains, for vegetarians, there are only pastas. The pastas can be made in 3 cooking styles – rich cream, aglio olio and marinara. And for toppings, you can choose from garden vegetables, plain pasta or mushroom. We tried the ‘Garden vegetables Pasta’ in aglio olio and marinara cooking styles. I was so glad to see that there was no dearth of veggies in the pasta and it has broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers and long beans. Both the pastas were top-notch and made with correct seasoning and doneness. In terms of the sauce, the Aglio Olio pasta has the cleaner flavour with the veggies taking center stage. On the other hand, the tomato sauce is well made, has the right consistency and complements the veggies. You can’t go wrong with either choice. I can safely say that for now, it features in my ‘Top 3 Vegetarian Pastas’ in Singapore. Highly recommended.
Sugarcane juice with chia seeds at $4
Aglio Olio with garden vegetables at $10
To end the meal, we tried the ‘Chocolate Cheesecake’. This turned out to be a small, but sinful dessert. I would have liked the texture to be a little looser and lighter. It was a touch too dense and rich. I’d recommend sharing it.
Marinara with garden vegetables at $10
Overall there were many hits and few misses in terms of the dishes. Its a good place to hangout with friends and families and eat quality food at affordable prices. If you are in the area, its definitely worth a visit.
Chocolate cheesecake at $6